LOS ANGELES (US) – The New York Times reported on Tuesday that award-winning actor Hal Holbrook, who is known for portraying literary legend Mark Twain and the mysterious ‘Deep Throat’ in “All the President’s Men”, died at the age of 95.
The report said the actor died on January 23 at his home in Beverly Hills, California, and his death was confirmed late on Monday by his assistant Joyce Cohen.
At the age of 82. Holbrook became the oldest male performer ever to be nominated for an Academy Award for his supporting role in the flick, “Into the Wild” in 2008.
He shot into fame for his recreation of the novelist, humorist and social critic in “Mark Twain Tonight”. It also fetched him a Tony award for his Broadway performance in 1966 and the first of his 10 Emmy nominations in 1967.
When he essayed the role of Twain in the mid-50s, Holbrook was still a young man and his first big break came when he took the act to the popular “The Ed Sullivan Show.”
He took part in the performance for former President Dwight Eisenhower and in an international tour sponsored by the US State Department. He continued with his Twain act well into his 90s.
“Mark Twain is something precious to me. It’s my side arm through life,” Holbrook told said in an interview in 2007.
The actor said he took on the persona of the literary figure after trying to spot a personality to portray in a one-man play. After reading a few pages of “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer”, he said he felt a connection.
Holbrook polished the act in New York City nightclubs and first took it to Broadway in 1959.
Donning makeup, a wig, bushy white moustache, white suit and a cigar, the actor bore an uncanny resemblance to Twain at the age of 70 as he delivered a monologue from his writings and speeches on subjects spanning religion, politics and human frailties. He performed the show year after year and in all US states and even abroad.
He was also known for his portrayals of President Abraham Lincoln and won an Emmy award for lead actor in a limited series in 1976 for specials based on Carl Sandburg’s biography of the president.
Holbrook won Emmys for a TV special in which he essayed the role of Captain Lloyd Bucher in 1973’s “Pueblo” and as lead actor in a dramatic series in 1970 titled “The Bold Ones: The Senator.”
He was born in Cleveland on Feb. 17, 1925, where his mother was a vaudeville dancer. During World War Two, he served in the Army in Newfoundland and then went on to attend Denison University in Granville, Ohio, where his senior honors project was on Twain.
His other movies include “The Group” in 1966, “Wild in the Streets” in 1968, “Magnum Force” in 1973, “The Star Chamber” and “Wall Street” in 1987, “The Firm” in 1993, “That Evening Sun” in 2009 with wife Dixie Carter, and Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” in 2012.