Hal Holbrook, Tony and Emmy winner known for embodying Mark Twain onstage, dies at 95
Hal Holbrook, who parlayed early fame performing a one-man show as Mark Twain into a long and celebrated career in film, television, and on the stage, has died at age 95, according to The New York Times.
His assistant, Joyce Cohen, told the outlet on Monday evening that the actor died on Jan. 23 at his home in Beverly Hills, Calif.
Holbrook, who for years was best known to movie audiences for playing Deep Throat in the 1976 hit All the President's Men, enjoyed a late-career resurgence following his critically acclaimed turn in the 2007 drama Into the Wild, which earned him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination.
Harold Rowe Holbrook Jr. was born in Cleveland on Feb. 17, 1925, and endured a hardscrabble childhood in the Depression era, abandoned by his parents and raised by his grandfather. In 1956, he was propelled to overnight national stardom when he appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show performing selections from a Mark Twain act he had developed, Mark Twain Tonight, for which he would eventually win a Tony Award.
Holbrook would continue to regularly perform Twain monologues on stage for decades, even as he found a wide range of other roles in films such as Magnum Force, Wall Street, and The Firm as well as '80s and '90s sitcoms like Designing Women and Evening Shade. In his 80s, at a time when many actors are easing into retirement, Holbrook played a lonely widower in Into the Wild. He followed that role with turns in 2011's Water for Elephants and Steven Spielberg's 2012 period epic Lincoln.
Speaking to EW in 2008, Holbrook expressed some disappointment about his career: "There are roles I would have loved to have done. But now I'm too old. I missed my window." But what ultimately mattered most to him, he said, was not money, fame, or awards but simply doing good work. He recalled his experience shooting a 2006 episode of The Sopranos: "I did this scene, and David Chase was at the monitors, watching. Apparently, someone said to him, 'Boy, that was good, wasn't it?' And David Chase said, 'When you want to get it right, hire a pro.' I treasure that remark."
He is survived by his children as well as two stepdaughters, Ginna Carter and Mary Dixie Carter; two grandchildren; and two step-grandchildren, according to the Times.