Friday, February 5, 2016

Born Today February 5: Tim Holt


Born Charles John Holt III, in Beverly Hills, to actor Jack Holt and his wife Margaret.  His father was a star of silent westerns; so acting, particularly in westerns, was in his blood.  When he was a very young child, he would accompany his father to the set of many a silent film.  Due to his father's ample connections, he found himself in his first film role before the age of ten. So it came as no surprise that his father found him work as an extra on the piece of comedy fluff that was French Dressing in 1927 at the age.  By the next year, he had his very first film acting credit, playing a 7 year old version of a character his father was assaying as an adult in the western The Vanishing Pioneer.  Young Holt was on his way.  By the late 1930's he was under his first contract to work in westerns.  This contract lasted for just two years, after which RKO snapped him up; they had seen him in a film that was produced by Sam Goldwyn the year before.  From there, all throughout the 1940's (when not serving his country in WWII), he was known as fixture in singing westerns [this makes him a very likely inspiration for Hobie Doyle in the Coen Brother's latest film Hail, Caesar!--his many singing side-kicks would have provided fodder for the character as well).  He did have genuine original talent outside the western genre (unlike the Hobie Doyle character); and was well adapted to other types of roles.  In one interesting twist, he was hired by none other than Orson Welles to play the lead in his second film The Magnificent Ambersons.  Welles said of his decision to hire the younger Holt, "It was a lucky decision."  He later remarked the Holt was  "one of the most interesting actors that's ever been in American movies."  Holt also played a Nazi in 1943 in Hitler's Children, before heading off to war himself.  He served in the Pacific Theater in World War II with distinction with as a 29-Bombardier.  He was wounded over Tokyo in the last day of combat, and was rewarded the purple heart.  He returned to RKO after the war.  Later in his career he moved away from making films; he veered instead toward producing rodeos, managing theaters and making personal appearances--he even worked as an independent builder for a time.  By the time he made the horror/sci-fi film The Monster That Challenged The World, he had already been absent from the world of film making for five years.  After this, he would go on to make just 2 more films; spending much of his time continuing with rodeos, producing and starring in western music jamborees and working as an advertising manager at a radio station. All the while, apparently have the time of his life doing it.  His life was cut short by bone cancer at the age of 54 on the 15th of February in 1973.  He was living in Shawnee, Oklahoma, where he was managing a radio station.  This makes him one of the only movie stars born into silent film industry privilege in Los Angeles, to leave and die somewhere far from movieland--not the other way around.  He is buried in the Memorial Lane Cemetery in Harrah, Oklahoma.  He is buried under his birth name "Charles J. Holt."

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