The delightful actress Celeste Holm, star of stage and screen, passed on today at the age of 95.
Celeste Holm was equally talented as a musical star, a comedienne, and a straight dramatic actress. She made her first big splash as Ado Annie in the original Broadway cast of Rodgers & Hammerstein's OKLAHOMA! (1943), then won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for a dramatic role in her third film, GENTLEMAN'S AGREEMENT (1947).
She received additional Supporting Actress nominations for COME TO THE STABLE (1949) and ALL ABOUT EVE (1950); she's wonderfully good in both, in hugely different roles, playing a simple French nun in the earlier film and the sophisticated wife of a Broadway playwright in the latter.
Her first film was in the 20th Century-Fox musical THREE LITTLE GIRLS IN BLUE (1946), where she registered strongly in a small but showy role as Frank Latimore's matchmaking sister. That movie was followed by varied films such as CARNIVAL IN COSTA RICA (1947), ROAD HOUSE (1948), THE SNAKE PIT (1948), and CHICKEN EVERY SUNDAY (1949). She also provided the voice for Addie Ross, the calculating narrator of A LETTER TO THREE WIVES (1949).
After ALL ABOUT EVE (1950) Holm didn't make a film for half a decade; her work during this time included replacing Gertrude Lawrence in the Broadway cast of Rodgers & Hammerstein's THE KING AND I. When she returned to the screen, it was to star in a pair of MGM films which I've seen countless times over the years, THE TENDER TRAP (1955) and HIGH SOCIETY (1956). Holm, in each film playing a witty woman with an underlying sadness, is a huge reason why these films have been watched by me so many times.
She's also beloved to me for yet another Rodgers & Hammerstein role, as the Fairy Godmother in the 1965 Lesley Ann Warren TV version of CINDERELLA.
Over the years Holm continued to appear on stage, films, and television, and in fact her IMDb credits indicate she appeared in films due out later this year and next year.
It's been a tough month for film fans, with the passing of beloved performers including Ann Rutherford, Andy Griffith, and Ernest Borgnine, as well as writer-director Nora Ephron. Although we will miss them greatly, it's a wonderful thing that they have each left us with unique work which has stood the test of time and will continue to delight audiences for generations.
I feel deep gratitude for the life of Celeste Holm and the pleasure she brought to all of us who enjoyed her performances over the decades, and I'm sure countless fans of her work on stage and screen feel the same.
Update: A video tribute to Celeste Holm is now available on the TCM website.