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Biofile: Celeste Holm Interview

By Scoop Malinowski

Status: Academy Award-winning actress for her performance in Gentleman’s Agreement (1947) and Oscar-nominated for her performance in All About Eve (1950). Also appeared in the film Champagne For Caesar, Three Men & A Baby, Tom Sawyer, High Society, TV shows like Columbo, Falcon Crest, and numerous Broadway productions. 

DOB:  April 29, 1917  In: New York, NY  Died:  July 5, 2012.

Childhood Dream:  “Just what I am.”

Inspiration:  “Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne. Famous actors who worked together. It’s all about good actors who never lose sight of themselves even though they’re playing other people. There’s a kind of truth in what they do.”

Hobbies/Interests:  “My work is my hobby (she’s Chairman of Arts Horizons, mission is foster development of the whole person and to improve education by delivering quality arts programs and activities to schools and communities.). I love cooking. I like to play tennis. I’m pretty good at it.”

Early Hollywood Memory:  “Hollywood is a silly town. Once I got the lay of the land I enjoyed it. But it seemed very trivial to me.”

Favorite TV Shows: “Oh that’s too many. I don’t have any like that.”

Favorite Movies:  “What do you like? Maybe we like the same thing. What do you like? (Charlie Chaplin in City Lights. Camille with Greta Garbo.) Oh, I loved Garbo.”

Musical Tastes:  “Rachmaninoff, Chopin, Brahms, lots of them.”

Last Book Read:  “Well, I’m just reading it now, called ‘Majesty.'”

First Job: “Was acting in summer theater.”

Favorite Meal:  “Spaghetti and white clam sauce. I make that very well.”

Favorite Ice Cream Flavor:  “Peach I think.”

Greatest Career Moment:  “Oh, they’re all on top of each other.”

Most Painful Moment:  “I don’t think so.”

Films You’re Most Proud Of Being In:  “All About Eve.”

Favorite Actors:  “Ronald Coleman, Garbo.”

Embarrassing Memory: “Harry Truman, I bumped into Harry Truman in the men’s room [smiles]. Well, it was a communal lavatory. But it just happened. We were in it the same minute. I said, Oh. I was about to say I beg your pardon. He said, I beg your’s.”

Favorite Vacation Spot:  “Our farm in the country, on top of Hackettstown (N.J.). (Near where she grew up in Long Valley, N.J.)”

If You Weren’t A Successful Actor, What Would You Be:  “[Pause] I don’t know. Can’t think of anything. I always did what I wanted to do.”

People Qualities Most Admired:  “Those who cling to what they believe. And what they want to do. And do it.” 

Family: Husband, Frank Basile; two sons from previous marriages.

Career Accomplishments:  Appointed to National Arts Council by President Ronald Reagan; Knighted by King Olav of Norway; Inducted into American Theatre Hall of Fame in 1992.

Celeste Holm and Frank Sinatra scene in “High Society”

(Note: This interview was conducted in New York City on June 16, 2008 after meeting the former Hollywood star at a LeRoy Neiman exhibit. – SM)

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