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For other uses, see William Holden (disambiguation). William Holden (April 17, 1918 - November 12, 1981) was an American actor. Among the most popular movie stars of all time, Holden was one of the biggest box office draws of the 1950s. Holden won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1953 for his role in Stalag 17, and a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor for his role in the 1973 television film The Blue Knight. Holden starred in some of Hollywood's most popular and critically acclaimed films, including such blockbusters as Sunset Boulevard, The Bridge on the River Kwai, The Wild Bunch, Picnic, The Towering Inferno, and Network. He was named one of the "Top 10 Stars of the Year" six times (1954-1958, 1961), and appeared on the American Film Institute's AFI's 100 Years...100 Stars list as number 25. Early life and career: Holden was born William Franklin Beedle, Jr. in O'Fallon, Illinois, the son of Mary Blanche (née Ball; 1898-1990), a schoolteacher, and William Franklin Beedle, Sr. (1891-1967), an industrial chemist. He had two younger brothers, Robert and Richard. Holden's paternal great-grandmother, Rebecca Westfield, was born in England in 1817, while some of his mother's ancestors settled in Virginia's Lancaster County after emigrating from England in the 17th century. His younger brother, Robert W. "Bobbie" Beedle, became a U.S. Navy fighter pilot and was killed in action in World War II, over New Ireland, on January 5, 1944. His family moved to South Pasadena when he was three. After graduating from South Pasadena High School, Holden attended Pasadena Junior College, where he became involved in local radio plays. Contrary to legend and theatre publicity, he did not study at the Pasadena Playhouse, nor was he discovered in a play there. Rather, he was spotted by a talent scout from Paramount Pictures in 1937 while playing the part of an 80-year-old man, Marie Curie's father-in-law, in a play at the Playbox, a separate and private theatre owned by Pasadena Playhouse director Gilmor Brown. His first film role was in Prison Farm the following year. Career: Holden's first starring role was in Golden Boy (1939), in which he played a violinist-turned-boxer. Next he starred with George Raft and Humphrey Bogart in the Warner Bros. gangster epic Invisible Stripes later the same year, followed by the role of George Gibbs in the film adaptation of Our Town. After Columbia Pictures picked up half of his contract, he alternated between starring in several minor pictures for Paramount and Columbia before serving as a 2nd lieutenant in the United States Army Air Forces during World War II, where he acted in training films for the First Motion Picture Unit. Beginning in 1950, his career took off when Billy Wilder tapped him to star as the down-at-the-heels screenwriter Joe Gillis, who is taken in by faded silent-screen star Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) in Sunset Boulevard, for which Holden earned his first Best Actor Oscar nomination. Following this breakthrough film, his career quickly grew in stature as he played a series of roles that combined good looks with cynical detachment, including a prisoner-of-war entrepreneur in Stalag 17 (1953), for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor, a pressured young engineer/family man in Executive Suite (1954), an acerbic stage director in The Country Girl (1954) with Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly, a conflicted jet pilot in the Korean War film The Bridges at Toko-Ri (1954), a carefree playboy in Sabrina (1954), a wandering college football star in Picnic (1955), a dashing war correspondent in Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955), his most widely recognized role as an ill-fated prisoner in The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) with Alec Guiness, a World War II tug boat captain in The Key (1958), and an American Civil War military surgeon in John Ford's The Horse Soldiers (1959) opposite John Wayne. He also played a number of sunnier roles in light comedy, such as the handsome architect pursuing virginal Maggie McNamara in the controversial Production Code-breaking The Moon Is Blue (1953) with David Niven, as Judy Holliday's tutor in Born Yesterday (1950), as a playwright captivated by Ginger Rogers' character in Forever Female (1953) and as Humphrey Bogart's younger brother, a playboy, in Sabrina (1954), which also starred Audrey Hepburn. In 1954, Holden was featured on the cover of Life. On February 7, 1955, he appeared as a guest star on I Love Lucy as himself. His career peaked in 1957 with the enormous success of The Bridge on the River Kwai, but Holden spent the next several years starring in a number of films that rarely succeeded commercially or critically. By the mid-1960s, the quality of his roles and films had noticeably diminished. Later career: In 1969, Holden made a comeback when he starred in director Sam Peckinpah's graphically violent Western The Wild Bunch, winning much acclaim. Also in 1969, Holden starred in director Terence Young's family film L'Arbre de Noël, co-starring Italian actress Virna Lisi, based on the novel of the same name by Michel Bataille. This film was originally released in the United States as The Christmas Tree and on home video as When Wolves Cry. Five years later, he starred with Paul Newman and Steve McQueen in the critically acclaimed disaster film The Towering Inferno, which became a box office smash and one of the highest grossing films of Holden's career. He was also praised for his Oscar-nominated leading performance in Sidney Lumet's classic Network (1976), a prescient examination of the media written by Paddy Chayefsky, playing an older version of the character type he had become iconic for in the 1950s, only now more jaded and aware of his own mortality. In 1974, Holden won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie for his portrayal of a cynical, tough veteran LAPD street cop in the television film The Blue Knight, based upon the best-selling Joseph Wambaugh novel of the same name. In 1980, Holden appeared in The Earthling with popular child actor Ricky Schroder, playing a loner dying of cancer who goes to the Australian outback to end his days, meets a young boy whose parents have been killed in an accident, and teaches him how to survive. During his last years, Holden also appeared in his second Irwin Allen film, When Time Ran Out, a critical and commercial failure and heavily disliked by Holden himself; his final film, Blake Edwards's S.O.B., was more successful and a Golden Globe-nominated picture. In 1981 Holden was offered the role of Coach Daniel B. Delaney in That Championship Season. He became very depressed when filming was delayed until 1982, and drank even more heavily. Personal life: While in Italy in 1966, Holden killed another driver in a drunk driving incident. He received an eight-month suspended sentence for vehicular manslaughter. Holden maintained a home in Switzerland and also spent much of his time working for wildlife conservation as a managing partner in an animal preserve in Africa. His Mount Kenya Safari Club in Nanyuki (founded 1959) became a mecca for the international jet set.On a trip to Africa, he fell in love with the wildlife and became increasingly concerned with the animal species that were beginning to decrease in population. With the help of his partners, he created the Mount Kenya Game Ranch and inspired the creation of the William Holden Wildlife Foundation. The Mount Kenya Game Ranch works to assist in Kenya with the wildlife education of its youth. Marriage and relationships: Holden was married to actress Ardis Ankerson (stage name Brenda Marshall) from 1941 until their divorce (after many long separations) in 1971. They had two sons, Peter Westfield (born November 17, 1943) and Scott Porter (born May 2, 1946; died January 21, 2005, San Diego, California). He also adopted his wife's daughter, Virginia, from her first marriage. William was also a distant cousin to news anchor and game show panelist, the late John Cameron Swayze through the family of 17th century British judge Samuel Swayze. Holden was best man at the marriage of his friend Ronald Reagan to Nancy Davis in 1952; however, he never involved himself in politics. During the filming of Sabrina (1954), Audrey Hepburn and the already-married William Holden became romantically involved. She hoped to marry him and have children, but she broke off the relationship when Holden revealed that he had undergone a vasectomy. Holden met French actress Capucine in the early 1960s. The two starred in the films The Lion (1962) and The 7th Dawn (1964). They began a two-year affair, which is alleged to have ended due to Holden's alcoholism. Capucine and Holden remained friends until his death in 1981. In 1972, Holden began a nine-year relationship with actress Stefanie Powers, which sparked her interest in animal welfare. After his death, Powers set up the William Holden Wildlife Foundation at Holden's Mount Kenya Game Ranch. Death: According to the Los Angeles County Coroner's autopsy report, Holden was alone and intoxicated in his apartment in Santa Monica, California, on November 12, 1981, when he slipped on a rug, severely lacerated his forehead on a teak bedside table, and bled to death. Evidence suggests he was conscious for at least half an hour after the fall. It is probable that he may not have realized the severity of the injury and did not summon aid, or was unable to call for help. His body was found four days later. Holden had dictated in his will that the Neptune Society cremate him and scatter his ashes in the Pacific Ocean. No funeral or memorial service was held, per his wishes. For his contribution to the film industry, William Holden has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame located at 1651 Vine Street. He also has a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame. In popular culture: Holden makes a cameo appearance in Walker Percy's 1961 novel "The Moviegoer". Percy's hero, Binx Bolling, encounters the star in the French Quarter: "Today I am in luck. Who should come out of Pirate's Alley half a block ahead of me but William Holden!" In 2011, Holden's stepdaughter, Virginia Holden Gaines, published a book, Growing Up with William Holden: A Memoir, reliving her memories of life with her father. In a podcast for Turner Classic Movies (February 2012) singer-songwriter Suzanne Vega revealed that years after she had released her famous song "Tom's Diner", she was told that her line from this song ("I open up the paper, there's a story of an actor who had died while he was drinking, it was no one I had heard of") actually referred to William Holden, and that "You can date Tom's Diner day by the date of his death". Video on YouTube In the film Mona Lisa Smile, students gossip about an affair between their professor Katherine Watson, a California native, and William Holden. The Canadian band Blue Rodeo recorded a song called "Floating" with the last line of the chorus being, "And I feel like William Holden floating in a pool." Filmography: Film Year Title Role Notes 1938 Prison Farm Prisoner uncredited 1939 Million Dollar Legs Graduate who says "Thank You" uncredited Golden Boy Joe Bonaparte Invisible Stripes Tim Taylor 1940 Our Town George Gibbs Those Were the Days! P.J. "Petey" Simmons Arizona Peter Muncie 1941 I Wanted Wings Al Ludlow Texas Dan Thomas 1942 The Fleet's In Casey Kirby The Remarkable Andrew Andrew Long Meet the Stewarts Michael Stewart 1943 Young and Willing Norman Reese Reconnaissance Pilot Himself short film Wings Up Himself short film 1947 Blaze of Noon Colin McDonald Dear Ruth Lt. William Seacroft Variety Girl Himself 1948 The Man from Colorado Capt. Del Stewart Rachel and the Stranger David Harvey Apartment for Peggy Jason Taylor The Dark Past Al Walker 1949 Streets of Laredo Jim Dawkins Miss Grant Takes Richmond Dick Richmond Dear Wife Bill Seacroft 1950 Father Is a Bachelor Johnny Rutledge Sunset Boulevard Joe Gillis Nominated - Academy Award for Best Actor Union Station Lt. William Calhoun Born Yesterday Paul Verrall 1951 Force of Arms Sgt. Joe "Pete" Peterson Submarine Command Lt. Cmdr. Ken White 1952 Boots Malone Boots Malone The Turning Point Jerry McKibbon 1953 Stalag 17 Sgt. J.J. Sefton Academy Award for Best Actor, Nominated - New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor The Moon Is Blue Donald Gresham Die Jungfrau auf dem Dach Tourist cameo Forever Female Stanley Krown Escape from Fort Bravo Capt. Roper 1954 Executive Suite McDonald Walling Venice Film Festival Special Award for Ensemble Acting Sabrina David Larrabee Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto Narrator uncredited The Country Girl Bernie Dodd The Bridges at Toko-Ri Lt. Harry Brubaker 1955 Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing Mark Elliott Picnic Hal Carter Nominated - BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Actor 1956 The Proud and Profane Lt. Col. Colin Black Toward the Unknown Maj. Lincoln Bond 1957 The Bridge on the River Kwai Shears 1958 The Key Capt. David Ross 1959 The Horse Soldiers Major Henry Kendall 1960 The World of Suzie Wong Robert Lomax Nominated - Laurel Award for Top Male Dramatic Performance 1962 Satan Never Sleeps Father O'Banion The Counterfeit Traitor Eric Erickson The Lion Robert Hayward 1964 Paris When It Sizzles Richard Benson/Rick The 7th Dawn Major Ferris 1966 Alvarez Kelly Alvarez Kelly 1967 Casino Royale Ransome 1968 The Devil's Brigade Lt. Col. Robert T. Frederick 1969 The Wild Bunch Pike Bishop The Christmas Tree Laurent Ségur 1971 Wild Rovers Ross Bodine 1972 The Revengers John Benedict 1973 Breezy Frank Harmon 1974 Open Season Hal Wolkowski The Towering Inferno Jim Duncan 1976 Network Max Schumacher Nominated - Academy Award for Best Actor, Nominated - BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, Nominated - National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actor 1978 Fedora Barry "Dutch" Detweiler Damien: Omen II Richard Thorn 1979 Escape to Athena Prisoner smoking a cigar in prison camp uncredited Ashanti Jim Sandell 1980 When Time Ran Out Shelby Gilmore The Earthling Patrick Foley 1981 S.O.B. Tim Culley Television Year Title Role Notes 1955 Lux Video Theatre Intermission Guest episode: Love Letters I Love Lucy Himself episode: Hollywood at Last 1956 The Jack Benny Program Himself episode: William Holden/Frances Bergen Show 1973 The Blue Knight Bumper Morgan Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie 1976 21 Hours at Munich Chief of Police Manfred Schreiber Box Office Ranking: For a number of years exhibitors voted Holden among the most popular stars in the country: 1954 - 7th (US), 1955 - 4th (US), 1956 - 1st (US), 1957 - 7th (US), 1958 - 6th (US), 6th (UK), 1959 - 12th (US), 1960 - 14th (US), 1961 - 8th (US), 1962 - 15th (US)

Source: Wikipedia

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