The original girl who couldn’t say no: Remembering Celeste Holm

The heavens gained several stars this year as classic film stars passed away in 2012.

Since Comet Over Hollywood did not give several of them the full attention they deserved, the first few days of 2013 will be dedicated to some of the notable celebrities who left us.

Celeste Holm as Ado Annie in "Oklahoma"-Broadway 1943

Celeste Holm as Ado Annie in “Oklahoma”-Broadway 1943

She was the first one who couldn’t say no to kisses from men in the Oklahoma Territory.

Celeste Holm originated the role of Ado Annie in the first 1943 “Oklahoma” Broadway performance.

She auditioned so she could do her part during World War II.

“There was a need for entertainers in Army camps and hospitals,” Holm was quoted in a USA Today article. “The only way you could do that was if you were singing in something.”

Holm didn’t have the typical Hollywood look when she signed on with 20th Century Fox in 1946. But Holm made her mark in films.

One of Holm’s first films in Hollywood won her an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in 1947’s “Gentleman’s Agreement;” a film about anti-Semitism in America.

She was nominated for her role as a nun with Loretta Young in “Come To The Stable” (1949) and also starred in the psychiatric drama with Olivia de Havilland, “The Snake Pit.”

But Holm’s biggest role was in between Bette Davis and Anne Baxter in “All About Eve” (1950). Her role as Karen won her another Oscar nomination but it didn’t win her Davis’s friendship.

“I walked onto the set and there’s Bette and I say, ‘Good Morning,’ and she said, ‘Oh, shit, good manners,’” Holm said. “I felt as if I’d been hit in the face with a wet flounder and I never spoke to her again. She called me a ‘Bitch,’ okay.”

Holm was cast in the musical remake of “The Philadelphia Story,” “High Society” with Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Grace Kelly, who became engaged to Prince Rainier of Monaco during the filming.

Holm remembers Kelly’s ring being as “big as a skating rink,” according to the book Grace: The Secret Lives of a Princess by James Spada.

When people marveled over the ring, Holm said Kelly would reply, “It is, sweet isn’t it?”

Anne Baxter and Celeste Holm in "All About Eve" (1950). Photo from LIFE magazine

Anne Baxter and Celeste Holm in “All About Eve” (1950). Photo from LIFE magazine

While Holm’s film career dwindled in the 1960s, she turned to acting on television and charity work; advocating organizations such as National Mental Health Association, National Council on the Arts and UNICEF.

Since the early 2000s, Holm’s health began to decline, and she began to suffer from memory loss in 2002.

Holm passed away on July 15, 2012, at the age of 95 from a heart attack. Her family asked for memorial donations to be made to some of her favorite charities, according to her USA Today obituary.

Now, from January to March, I hope to honor Holm’s memory as I perform a role she originated. I’ll be acting as Ado Annie in a local performance of “Oklahoma.” I hope I make her proud as I recreate the man-crazy role.

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6 thoughts on “The original girl who couldn’t say no: Remembering Celeste Holm

  1. I saw Celeste Holm appear as a guest of honor at an ‘All About Eve’ screening several years ago. I kinda wished I had gotten her autograph or spoke to her or something, but I didn’t. No real reason, except I suppose I had trouble making the connection between the old woman signing autographs in the lobby with the woman on screen. She was a good actress.

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