Hal Holbrook, veteran actor who portrayed Mark Twain, dies at 95
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Hal Holbrook, veteran actor who portrayed Mark Twain, dies at 95


He was 95.

Holbrook featured iconic writer Mark Twain on the show for more than six decades, winning the Tony Award for Best Actor in 1966 for his role in “Mark Twain Tonight”. Which he also directed.

He performed throughout the country and Europe synonymous with famous comedians.

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, the mother of a Woodville artist and shoe-selling father, Holbrook and her siblings were raised by her grandparents in South Weymouth, Massachusetts.

Sent to boarding school as a youngster, and later to military school, he found solitude in the costumes and characters depicted in the drama club.

Holbrook first got the idea to do the Twain Show after portraying the writer as part of an honor project as a play at Denison University in Granville, Owen.

While serving in the military during WWII, she performed in amateur theater productions, including “Madame Precious” while stationed in Newfoundland.

It was his first wife, actress Ruby Johnston, whom he married in 1945.

Back home, Holbrook landed a steady acting gig on the daytime soap opera “The Brighter Day” and continued to perform his twin shows.

Ed Sullivan later caught a performance of this and in 1956 invited Holbrook to appear on his various shows.

Holbrook’s career on stage and screen was remarkable.

He wrote “Do You Know the Milky Way?” In 1961. And The Great White Way would become a familiar home for him as he appeared in several productions over the years, including “Man of La Mancha,” “An American Daughter” and of course – “Mark Twain Tonight.”

He made his mark on the small screen with the 1972 television film “The Same Summer”, in which he played the role of a divorced father who turns out to be a gay man.

Holbrook appeared in several other TV productions such as the NBC miniseries “Lincoln”, which won him an Emmy in 1976, and the 1980s sitcom “Designing Women”, starring his then wife, Dixie Carter.

His marriage to his first wife ended in 1965 with a divorce. The following year, she married actress Carol Eve Rawson.

They divorced in 1983 and married Carter in 1984 until his death in 2010 due to complications from endometrial cancer.

He also got success in films.

Holbrook’s role as “Deep Throat” in the 1976 political film “All the President’s Men” gave the public something to put on their hat as the real source, which led Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward (Robert in the film Played by Radford) to what became a Watergate scandal.

In 2008, his Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his role as a retired widower in “Into the Wild” made 82-year-old Holbrook as the oldest artist in that category at the time.

But it was Twain who Holbrook bounced back time and again.

“I’m an actor, and that’s all I’ve ever done,” Holbrook Told the San Luis Obispo Tribune in 2016. “But I’ll tell you one thing: Mark Twain has been my education. He has taught me more than I have learned in college.”

Stella Chan of CNN contributed to this report.

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