Monday, July 16, 2012

Celeste Holm R.I.P.

ah, Celeste Holm. 95 is a bloody good innings. Most of the obituaries note that she really rose to fame as the original Ado Annie in Oklahoma, although Gloria Grahame got to play that role in the movie version. The Telegraph obit recalls Holm's audition:

"She was to sing before the composer, Richard Rodgers, and her agent advised her not to attempt any of his songs lest she get them wrong, nor any by his rivals lest she drive him wild. That narrowed the field alarmingly. So she resolved to sing Who Is Sylvia? which could not possibly offend. Sweeping up to the microphone, she tripped on the wire and ended in an undignified heap on stage. “Could you do that again?” Rodgers called. And that was how she landed the plum comic role in what was to be the most influential musical of its time."

She remains in my memory, however, for two reasons. She's the best thing in the film High Society (a glamorous remake of the Philadelphia Story, but who could ever remake something starring Cary Grant/Katharine Hepburn/James Stewart at their most elegant?). And she won an Academy Award for best supporting actress in Gentleman's Agreement. Actually, that film made me so mad. It's clear that Gregory Peck should end up with her character, but instead they make his antisemitic fiancee reform so he can stay with her. Should've married Celeste!

Thank you for the joy your performances continue to give to me, and may you rest in peace.

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