Hal Holbrook, Emmy- and Tony-winning actor known for playing Mark Twain, dies at 95
Hal Holbrook, the Emmy- and Tony Award-winning actor who portrayed Mark Twain for decades, has died at age 95.
Holbrook died on Jan. 23 in Beverly Hills, California, his representative, Steve Rohr, told The Associated Press on Tuesday. USA TODAY has reached out to a representative for further information.
Holbrook's long-running career spanned film, television and stage, though he is perhaps best known for his role as writer Twain, which he began workshopping as a college student and would go on to develop the one man show "Mark Twain Tonight." The role would lead to his first and only Tony Award in 1966 and one of 12 Emmy nominations the following year.
His most famous film roles included Deep Throat in 1976's "All the President's Men," credits in 1982's "Creepshow," 1987's "Wall Street," 1993's "The Firm," 1997's "Hercules," and 2000's "Men of Honor." He received an Oscar nomination in 2008 for a supporting role in "Into The Wild" and appeared in Stephen Spielberg's 2012 "Lincoln" film.
"When you've done a character this long, it turns into you, in a way," he told newscaster Bob Costas in 1990. "I spent most hours of every day either thinking of Twain or researching him for quite a few years. … I finally came to the conclusion… that it wasn't possible to become somebody else. You can't. And then I started to relax and let myself come into the role."
Ken Burns, whose "Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery" documentary Holbrook narrated, gave a touching tribute to the actor during a TCA panel Tuesday.
"It’s been really tough today. Hal was a friend, he was the narrator of our Lewis and Clarke film, he’s someone we interviewed for our Twain film. We loved him, he was really great," Burns said adding the last time he saw Holbrook perform was right after the Sept. 11 attacks.
"There’s nobody like him," Burns said.
Born in 1925 to Aileen and Harold Rowe Holbrook Sr., Hal Holbrook's life had a difficult beginning: His mother and father abandoned him when he was 2 years old.
"So what? I don't expect someone to come over and pat me on the head," he told Costas. "It left me a survivor. I had to find out how to survive. And I did, by George."
He and his siblings were raised by their grandparents before Holbrook attended Denison University, where he developed a project that would later turn into his Twain show.
On the small screen, the actor twice played Abraham Lincoln, in miniseries "Lincoln" (1976) and "North and South" (1985). The former would win him an Emmy Award in 1976. In total, he boasted five Emmy wins.
Elsewhere on the small screen, he had a recurring role on the sitcom "Designing Women," opposite wife Dixie Carter, who died in 2010.
Holbrook is survived by three children, David, Victoria and Eve Holbrook; two stepchildren, Ginna Carter and Mary Dixie Carter; and four grandchildren, according to The New York Times and Washington Post.
Contributing: Associated Press, Kelly Lawler