Earl Holliman

Earl Holliman

actor

Ruggedly handsome, slack-jawed actor Earl Holliman was born on September 11, 1928, in northeastern Louisiana amid meager surroundings. His father, a farmer named William Frost, died several months before Earl's birth, forcing his poverty-stricken mother to give up seven of her ten children. He was adopted as a baby by an oil-field worker named Henry Earl Holliman and his waitress wife Velma, growing up in the Louisiana and Arkansas areas. Though Henry died when Earl was 13, the adoptive parents were a source of happiness and inspiration growing up.Entertaining became an early passion after ushering at a local movie house and Earl at one point was a magician's assistant as a young teen. Hoping to discovered, Earl ran away from home hoping to be discovered in Hollywood. Following that aborted attempt, the teenager returned to Louisiana and immediately enlisted in the United States Navy during World War II by lying about his age (16). Assigned to a Navy communications school in Los Angeles, this re-stimulated his passion for acting, spending much of his free time at the Hollywood Canteen.Discharged from the Navy a year after enlisting when his true age was discovered, he returned home to work in menial jobs and complete his high school education. Reenlisting in the Navy, he was cast as the lead in several Norfolk (Virginia) Navy Theatre productions. This led to a trek back to Hollywood after his (this time) honorable discharge[ where he attended USC and studied acting at UCLA Drama School and the Pasadena Playhouse, working as a Blue Cross file clerk and airplane builder at North American Aviation.Earl started off apprenticing in uncredited film bits in several films --Destination Gobi (1953) and Tu trembles carcasse (1953). He soon rose in rank and gained clout playing jaunty young rookies and tenderfeet and young stud types in rugged westerns, war drama and rollicking comedy. His swaggering characters in such films as Tennessee Champ (1954), La lance brisée (1954), Les ponts de Toko-Ri (1954), Association criminelle (1955), La peur au ventre (1955), Planète interdite (1956), Collines brûlantes (1956) and Géant (1956) ranged from dim and good-natured to impulsive and threatening.Holliman won a Golden Globe for his support performance as a girl-crazy brother in Le Faiseur de pluie (1956), holding his own against stars Burt Lancaster and Katharine Hepburn. Without progressing to star roles, he continued to provide durable late 50's support to big name stars including Règlements de comptes à O.K. Corral (1957) starring Lancaster and Kirk Douglas; Femme d'Apache (1957) starring Joel McCrea and Barbara Stanwyck; Prenez garde à la flotte (1957) starring Glenn Ford; Vague de chaleur (1958) starring Shirley Booth, Anthony Quinn and Shirley MacLaine; Dans la souricière (1959) starring Richard Widmark; and Le dernier train de Gun Hill (1959) again with Douglas and Quinn.Although film offers began drying up in the 1960s, Earl was enjoyable boorish in his dealing with innocent alien Jerry Lewis in the wacky comedy Mince de planète (1960); had a touching final scene in a park with Geraldine Page in the somber Tennessee Williams period piece Eté et fumées (1961); played one of John Wayne's younger punch-drunk brothers in the freewheeling western Les quatre fils de Katie Elder (1965); portrayed a salesman on trial for murdering his wife in A Covenant with Death (1967); and was a platoon sergeant in command in La bataille pour Anzio (1968).Holliman found a highly accepting medium in TV with a lead series role as reformed gunslinger "Sundance" (not The Sundance Kid) in the short-lived western series Hotel de Paree (1959), plus showed off a virile stance in episodes of "The Twilight Zone," "Bus Stop," "Checkmate," "Bonanza," "Dr. Kildare," "The Fugitive," "Marcus Welby, M.D.," "It Takes a Thief," "Alias Smith and Jones," "Gunsmoke," "Medical Center," "Ironside," "The Magical World of Disney" and "The F.B.I." He also appeared in a number of TV movies that became popular in the late 1960's. He played hard-ass, redneck types in the action adventure Joaquin Murieta, le rebelle (1969) and in the military drama Tribes (1970), but did a complete turnaround as a good guy psychologist trying to help get a kid hooker off the streets in Alexander: The Other Side of Dawn (1977). This all culminated in his most popular series program, a four-year stint as the macho partner to sexy Angie Dickinson in Sergent Anderson (1974), a role that helped make him a household name.On the side, the never-married Holliman found a brief, yet successful, career in the late 1950's as a singer and copped a record deal with Capitol Records at one point, while scoring as Curly in a tour of the musical "Oklahoma" in 1963. Other non-musical roles included "Sunday in New York," "The Country Girl," "The Tender Trap," "Camino Real," "A Streetcar Named Desire" (as Mitch) and "A Chorus Line" (as Zach). He also owned the Fiesta Dinner Playhouse for a decade in the late 1970's and performed there, between film and TV assignments, in such shows as "Mister Roberts," "Arsenic and Old Lace" and "Same Time, Next Year."An intermittent presence in later years, Earl was seen primarily on TV including the acclaimed miniseries Les oiseaux se cachent pour mourir (1983), as well as the TV programs "Empty Nest," "In the Heat of the Night," "Murder, She Wrote" and "Caroline in the City." regular roles on three drama series: the urban drama Enquêtes à Palm Springs (1991); the comedy series Delta (1992) (Golden Globe nomination) which starred Delta Burke in a short-lived follow-up to her "Designing Women" exit; and the sci-fi action adventure Night Man (1997).A conservative political activist and animal rescuer on the side, Earl retired from the screen into the millennium -- shortly after appearing in the movies Bad City Blues (1999) and The Perfect Tenant (2000).

  • Birthday

    Sep 11, 1928
  • Place of Birth

    Delhi, Louisiana, USA
  • Also known

    Henry Earl Holliman

Known For

Awards

3 wins & 1 nominations

Walk of Fame
1977
Television
Winner - Star on the Walk of Fame
Western Heritage Awards
1966
Theatrical Motion Picture
Winner - Bronze Wrangler
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Movies & TV Shows

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Movies
TV Shows