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Oscar Winner and Original Oklahoma! Star Celeste Holm Dies at Age 95

Oscar Winner and Original Oklahoma! Star Celeste Holm Dies at Age 95
Celeste Holm
Stage and screen great Celeste Holm dies at age 95.

Celeste Holm, the Academy Award-winning actress who created the role of Ado Annie in the Broadway musical Oklahoma!, died at her Manhattan home on July 15. She was 95 and had recently suffered a heart attack.

Holm’s Broadway career spanned more than five decades, from her debut in the short-lived 1938 comedy Gloriana to Paul Rudnick’s 1991 comedy I Hate Hamlet. As a stage actress, she was best known for her comic turn in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s 1943 classic musical (in which she sang “I Cain’t Say No”), the 1944 musical Bloomer Girl and for replacement runs in The King and I and Mame. Her most recent NYC stage appearance was in the 1994 Encores! concert of Allegro. She was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame in 1992. 

On the strength of her performance in Bloomer Girl, Holm was signed to a film contract and quickly won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Gentleman’s Agreement, a 1947 drama centering on anti-Semitism in America. She received two additional Oscar nominations for Come to the Stable (1949) and All About Eve (1950). TV roles included supporting parts in the series Promised Land and Falcon Crest and the fairy godmother in the 1965 telecast of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella.

Born in New York on April 29, 1917, Holm spent her childhood in cities around the world due to the business career of her Norwegian father. She studied drama at the University of Chicago before winning her first stage role opposite Leslie Howard in Hamlet. The actress was married five times, including a 35-year union with Broadway veteran Wesley Addy, who died in 1996. She is survived by her fifth husband, Frank Basile, and two sons.

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