Hal Holbrook, the versatile stage and screen actor best known for his Tony-winning portrayal of Mark Twain, died Jan. 26 at his home in Beverly Hills. He was 95.
Holbrook’s assistant told the New York Times about his death on Monday.
In the one-man play “Mark Twain Tonight!,” which Holbrook developed in 1954, he portrayed Twain reading from a selection of his dramatic and comedic writing. The play debuted in Pennsylvania before moving to New York in 1959 Off Broadway, and finally premiered on Broadway in 1966. Holbrook won the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play for that performance, and in 1967, he was nominated for an Emmy for the television broadcast.
Holbrook continued to revive the play for decades. His final Broadway appearance in the role came in 2006, and he retired from the role for good in 2017.
Born in 1925 in Cleveland, Ohio, Holbrook began acting during his service in World War II, serving from 1942-1946. After attending Denison University, he began his acting career in the 1950s, with one of his earliest roles coming on the soap opera “The Brighter Day” in 1954. He made his movie debut in Sidney Lumet’s 1966 film “The Group,” leading to a nearly six-decade film career and establishing himself as a hard-to-pin-down actor able to disappear into his characters.
Among his most notable films were “Jonathan Livingston Seagull,” “Magnum Force,” “All the President’s Men,” in which he portrayed Deep Throat, “Capricorn One,” “Creepshow,” “Wall Street,” “The Firm” and Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln.” His final film appearance came in 2015’s “Blackway.” Holbrook was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for 2007’s “Into the Wild.”
For his television work, Holbrook won five Emmys, including for his portrayal of Abraham Lincoln in the 1976 miniseries “Sandburg’s Lincoln.” Other notable appearances include his roles on “North and South,” “Designing Women,” “Evening Shade,” “The West Wing,” “The Sopranos,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and most recently, “Hawaii Five-O.”
Holbrook was married three times: to Ruby Elaine Johnston from 1945-1965, to Carol Eve Rossen from 1966-1983 and to actress Dixie Carter from 1984 until her death in 2010. He had three children.