Did Hal Holbrook Ever Win an Oscar?
The career of Hal Holbrook
In the early days of television, Holbrook played Grayling Dennis over six episodes of The Brighter Day. He appeared on TV series through the ’60s and his first movie role was Sidney Lumet’s 1966 fim The Group. Subsequent movie roles included the James Earl Jones boxing drama The Great White Hope and a villain in Magnum Force as a cop who’s even dirtier than Dirty Harry.
In the Watergate drama All the Presidents Men, Holbrook played Deep Throat himself, informing Woodward (Robert Redford) and Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) in a parking garage. Holbrook played Abraham Lincoln in a 1974-76 miniseries and a WWII commander in Midway. Capricorn One was a fun conspiracy thriller about a fake Mars landing. Holbrook’s costar in the horror movies The Fog and Creepshow, Adrienne Barbeau, shared her memories of Holbrook.
Holbrook played Lincoln again in North & South after playing John Adams in a George Washington miniseries. He would play Preston Blair in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln movie. His diverse career included more dramas like Wall Street, horror like The Unholy, voices in animated films including Cats Don’t Dance and Planes: Fire & Rescue, and comedy like Fletch Lives.
He also appeared on Designing Women with his wife Dixie Carter. He continued working through a recurring role on Sons of Anarchy and 2017 episodes of Grey’s Anatomy and Hawaii Five-O.
Hal Holbrook won Emmy and Tony Awards
10 of Holbrook’s television roles earned Emmy nominations, including two in 1971 for A Clear and Present Danger and The Bold Ones: The Senator and 1978 for The Awakening Land and Our Town. Wins include The Senator, a double 1974 win for Best Lead Actor and Actor of the Year for Pueblo, Lincoln and Portrait of America: Alaska in 1989.
Holbrook’s stage work earned him a Tonys, too. He won for Mark Twain Tonight, a role he recreated on television, too. Holbrook continued playing Twain until 2005.
He was only nominated for one Oscar
Amazingly, only one of Holbrook’s movie roles ever earned him an Oscar nomination. It was a role in the 2007 drama Into the Wild, based on the true story of Chris McCandless, that led to Holbrook’s Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor, along with many others for the role.
He played Ron Franz, an old man who teaches McCandess outdoors skills. Franz has a paternal bond with McCandless but is unsuccessful in convincing him to stay with him. McCandless ultimately dies in the Alaskan wilderness.
Halbrook did not win the Oscar that year. Javier Bardem would win for No Country for Old Men. Still, Into the Wild and many other roles will be Holbrook’s legacy as they stay with viewers, and connect with new viewers every day.