William Holden Poster


Jump to: Overview (5)  | Mini Bio (2)  | Spouse (1)  | Trade Mark (4)  | Trivia (58)  | Personal Quotes (13)  | Salary (7)

Overview (5)

Born in O'Fallon, Illinois, USA
Died in Santa Monica, California, USA  (injuries from a fall)
Birth NameWilliam Franklin Beedle Jr.
Nicknames The Golden Boy
Golden Holden
Height 5' 10½" (1.79 m)

Mini Bio (2)

William Holden was born William Franklin Beedle, Jr. in O'Fallon, Illinois, to Mary Blanche (Ball), a schoolteacher, and William Franklin Beedle, Sr., an industrial chemist. He came from a wealthy family (the Beedles) that moved to Pasadena, California, when he was three. In 1937, while studying chemistry at Pasadena Junior College, he was signed to a film contract by Paramount. His first starring role was as a young man torn between the violin and boxing in Golden Boy (1939). From then on he was typecast as the boy-next-door.

After returning from World War II military service, he got two very important roles: Joe Gillis, the gigolo, in Sunset Blvd. (1950), and the tutor in Born Yesterday (1950). These were followed by his Oscar-winning role as the cynical sergeant in Stalag 17 (1953). He stayed popular through the 1950s, appearing in such films as Picnic (1955). He spent much of his later time as co-owner of the Mount Kenya Safari Club, dividing his time between Africa and Switzerland.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Billy Wilder proclaimed William Holden to be "the ideal motion picture actor". For almost four decades, the handsome, affable 'Golden Holden' was among Hollywood's most durable and engaging stars. He was born William Franklin Beedle Jr., one of three sons to a high school English teacher and a chemical and fertilizer analyst, head of the George W. Gooch Laboratories in Pasadena. His father, a keen physical fitness enthusiast, taught young Bill the art of tumbling and boxing. During his days as a student at South Pasadena High, he also became adept at team sports (football and baseball), learned to ride and shoot and to be proficient on piano, clarinet and drums.

To his father's chagrin, Bill had no inclination of following in dad's footsteps, though he did major in chemistry at Pasadena Junior College. A trip to New York and Broadway had set Bill's path firmly on an acting career. He had already performed in school plays and lent his voice to several radio plays in Los Angeles by the time he was spotted by a Paramount talent scout (playing the part of octogenarian Eugene Curie) at the Pasadena Workshop Theatre. In early 1938, he was offered a six-month studio contract for a weekly salary of $50. Naturally, the name Beedle had to go. Several alternatives were bandied around -- including Randolph Carey and Taylor Randolph - until the head of Paramount's publicity department settled on the name Holden (based on a personal friend who was an associate editor at the L.A. Times, also named Bill).

Having joined Paramount's Golden Circle Club of promising young actors, Bill was now groomed for stardom. However, it was a loan-out to Columbia that secured him his breakthrough role. He was the sixty-sixth actor to audition for the part of an Italian violinist forced to become a boxer in Golden Boy (1939). His earlier training as a junior pugilist proved somewhat beneficial but it was self-effacing co-star Barbara Stanwyck who turned out to be most instrumental in helping him rehearse and overcoming his nerves to act alongside her and thespians Lee J. Cobb and Adolphe Menjou. The picture was a minor hit and Columbia consequently acquired half his contract. For the next few years, Bill continued playing wholesome, guy-next-door types and rookie servicemen in pictures like Our Town (1940), I Wanted Wings (1941) (which was the making of 'peek-a-boo' star Veronica Lake) and The Fleet's In (1942). His salary had been enhanced and he now earned $150 a week. In July 1941, he married 25-year old actress Brenda Marshall, who commanded five times his income.

In 1942, he enlisted in the Officers Candidate School in Florida, graduating as an Air Force second lieutenant. He spent the next three years on P.R. duties and making training films for the Office of Public Information. One of his brothers, a naval pilot, was shot down and killed over the Pacific in 1943. After war's end, he was demobbed and returned to Hollywood to resume playing similar characters in similar movies. He later commented that he found "no interest or enjoyment" in portraying the same type of "nice-guy meaningless roles in meaningless movies". That was to change - along with his image - when he was invited to play the part of caddish, down-on-his-luck scriptwriter Joe Gillis in Sunset Blvd. (1950). The brilliantly acidulous screenplay was by Charles Brackett and director Billy Wilder (from their story A Can of Beans) and the story was narrated in flashback by Bill's character, opening with Gillis floating face-down in the swimming pool of a decrepit mansion "of the kind crazy people bought in the 20s".

With Sunset Blvd. (1950), Holden had effectively graduated from leading man to leading actor. No longer typecast, he was now allowed more hard-edged or even morally ambiguous roles: a self-serving, cynical prisoner-of-war in Stalag 17 (1953) (for which he won an Academy Award); an unemployed drifter who disrupts and changes the lives (particularly of womenfolk) in a small Kansas town, in Picnic (1955); a happy-go-lucky gigolo (who, as Billy Wilder explained the part to Bill, gets the sports car while Bogey -- Humphrey Bogart -- gets the girl), in the delightful Sabrina (1954); and an ill-fated U.S. Navy pilot in The Bridges at Toko-Ri (1954), set during the Korean War. Clever dialogue and the Holden likability factor also improved what potentially could have turned out dull or maudlin in pictures like Forever Female (1953) and Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955).

Already one of the highest paid stars of the 1950s, Holden received 10% of the gross for The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), making him an instant multi-millionaire. He invested much of his earnings in various enterprises, even a radio station in Hong Kong. At the end of the decade, he relocated his family to Geneva, Switzerland, but spent more and more of his own time globetrotting. In the 1960s, Holden founded the exclusive Mount Kenya Safari Club with oil billionaire Ray Ryan and Swiss financier Carl Hirschmann. His fervent advocacy of wildlife conservation now consumed more of his time than his acting. His films, consequently, dropped in quality.

Drinking ever more heavily, he also started to show his age. By the time he appeared as the leader of an outlaw gang on their last roundup in Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch (1969), his face was so heavily lined that someone likened it to 'a map of the United States.' He still had a couple more good performances in him, in The Towering Inferno (1974) and Network (1976), until his shock death from blood loss due to a fall at his apartment while intoxicated. In 1982, actress Stefanie Powers, with whom he had been in a relationship since 1972, helped set up the William Holden Wildlife Foundation and the William Holden Wildlife Education Center in Kenya. Bill also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. His wanderlust has left traces of him all over the world.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: I.S.Mowis

Spouse (1)

Brenda Marshall (12 July 1941 - 1971) ( divorced) ( 2 children)

Trade Mark (4)

Often infused his parts, even the more serious ones, with sardonic humor
Often portrays men related to war
Often portrays flirting men
Blue eyes and dark brown hair

Trivia (58)

Chosen by Empire magazine as one of the 100 Sexiest Stars in film history (#57). [1995]
Holden was the best man at the 1952 wedding of Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan.
Not to be confused with the character actor William Holden (1862-1932).
Brian Donlevy was his best man when Holden married Brenda Marshall in 1941. A Congregationalist Church service was planned in Las Vegas. Since William and Brian were still filming The Remarkable Andrew (1942), there were delays and it was 3am before they arrived for the ceremony. By that time the minister had long gone to bed. It was 4pm Sunday before another preacher could be found to perform the wedding. After they were married, they had a champagne breakfast and hopped a plane back to Los Angeles so he and Brian could wrap up shooting, and Brenda was off to Canada to film some location footage that she was still working on. It would be three more months before they would have a real honeymoon (one mishap after another postponed it ... including the TWO of them having to undergo emergency appendectomies)!
He was very instrumental in animal preservation in Africa. In the 1970s he purchased a large acreage of land with his own money and began an animal sanctuary. His love of the wild animal was shared with his then companion Stefanie Powers (from Hart to Hart (1979)). He would appear on talk shows to promote the saving of animals and to spread the word of anti-poaching and illegal animal trade.
A hygiene fanatic, he reportedly showered up to four times daily.
The eldest of three sons born to Mary Ball (1898-1990) and William Franklin Beedle (1891-1967). He had two brothers, Robert Westfield Beedle (1921-1945) and Richard P. Beedle (1924-1964). The family was of English, Irish, and distant French, ancestry. Mary outlived all three of her sons.
Immortalized in [Canadian band], Blue Rodeo's song "Floating" with the lyric: "I need love and it's you, And I feel like William Holden floating in a pool" - Greg Keelor, the writer of the song, said this: "That sort of quiet desperation at the end of a relationship when nothing's really making sense and I sort of had the image of William Holden at the beginning of Sunset Blvd. (1950) in my head, and I'd always sort of related to that character floating in that pool. I was always hoping for the opportunity to play the gigolo for some wealthy woman. This is a song about identifying with that sort of compromised existence."
Although it is thought by some that J.D. Salinger got the name for his hero Holden Caulfield in "The Catcher in the Rye" when he saw a marquee for Dear Ruth (1947), starring William Holden and Joan Caulfield, Salinger's first Holden Caulfield story, "I'm Crazy," appeared in Collier's on December 22, 1945, a year and a half before this movie came out.
Won Best Actor for his role in Stalag 17 (1953). When accepting his statue at the Acadamy Awards, simply stated, "Thank you" and walked off.
Holden said that, at some point, he lost his passion for acting and that it eventually just became a job so that he could support himself.
He was voted the 63rd Greatest Movie Star of all time by Entertainment Weekly.
A registered Republican, he rarely involved himself in political campaigns. In 1947, he joined the Committee for the First Amendment to oppose blacklisting in Hollywood. He was good friends with two blacklistees, Dalton Trumbo and Larry Parks.
Was named #25 Actor on the 50 Greatest Screen Legends by the AFI
Was friends with photographer Peter Beard.
Is portrayed by Gabriel Macht in The Audrey Hepburn Story (2000)
In the song "Tom's Diner" by Suzanne Vega, the lyrics "I open up the paper / there's a story of an actor / who died while he was drinking / he was no one I had heard of" refer to Holden, whose death was indeed reported in the New York Post on November 18, 1981, when the song was written. Vega has subsequently expressed embarrassment at these lyrics.
Made two films with Audrey Hepburn: Sabrina (1954) and Paris When It Sizzles (1964).
Was an avid art collector. His private collection at his exclusive hilltop home in Palm Springs featured antique Asian art. Upon his death, the priceless collection was donated to the Palm Springs Museum of Art, where it is proudly displayed today.
Was involved in a serious road accident in Italy in July 1966.
Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume One, 1981-1985, pages 391-397. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1998.
Turned down Henry Fonda's role in Mister Roberts (1955).
Turned down The Guns of Navarone (1961) because producer Carl Foreman wouldn't meet his fee of $750,000 + 20% of the gross.
Holden was cast as Pike Bishop in The Wild Bunch (1969) after the role had been turned down by Lee Marvin, Burt Lancaster, James Stewart, Charlton Heston, Gregory Peck, Sterling Hayden, Richard Boone and Robert Mitchum. Marvin actually accepted the role but pulled out after he was offered a larger pay deal to star in Paint Your Wagon (1969).
He was so grateful to Barbara Stanwyck for her insistence on casting him in Golden Boy (1939), his first big role, that he reportedly sent her flowers every year on the anniversary of the first day of the filming.
Starred alongside Gloria Swanson in Sunset Blvd. (1950) and Judy Holliday in Born Yesterday (1950). Both actresses were nominated for the Best Actress Oscar for their performances in these films. Holliday won.
Starred alongside Grace Kelly in The Country Girl (1954) and Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina (1954). Both actresses were nominated for the Best Actress Oscar for their performances in these films. Kelly won.
Holden appeared among the top ten box office stars six times, as ranked by Quigley Publications' annual poll of movie exhibitors, The Top Ten Money-Making Stars, the definitive list of movie stars' pull at the box office. He actually topped the list in 1956, two years after entering it at #7 in 1954, the year he won the Best Actor Oscar with his performance in Stalag 17 (1953). In 1955, he was ranked #4, then hit #1 for the first and only time in 1956, and then dropped to #7 in 1957 before rebounding slightly to #6 in 1958. After five straight years in the Top 10, he dropped off the list in 1959 and 1960, but reappeared in the Top Ten in 1961, ranked in eighth place. His 1961 appearance among the Top Ten Box Office stars was his last. He moved to Switzerland for tax reasons in 1959, and did not return to live in Hollywood until 1967.
Was the Top Box Office Star of 1956, as ranked by Quigley Publications' annual poll of movie exhibitors, The Top Ten Money-Making Stars, the definitive list of movie stars' pull at the box office.
For The Horse Soldiers (1959) both Holden and John Wayne received $775,000, plus twenty per cent of the overall profits, an unheard-of sum for that time. The final contract, heralded as marking the beginning of mega-deals for Hollywood stars, involved six companies and numbered twice the pages of the movie's script. The film, however, was a critical and commercial failure, with no profits to be shared in the end.
Turned down Marlon Brando's role in Sayonara (1957) in order to make The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957).
William Holden died one day before his eldest son Peter's 38th birthday. Holden's remains were cremated and his ashes scattered over the Pacific Ocean.
A Japanophile, someone preoccupied with Japanese culture, he befriended actor Toshirô Mifune on a visit to Japan in 1954. After seeing the film Mifune was working on at that time, Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto (1954), Holden offered to distribute the film in America. The producers agreed to let Holden record a narration to explain the film when it was released in America. This addition led American critics to wrongly think that Holden had recut the film for American distribution.
Held a press conference in late 1980 to deny newspaper reports that he had been diagnosed with lung cancer, which was borne out by his death certificate, which made no mention of any type of cancer.
Although married to Brenda Marshall for over 30 years, they were actually separated for most of their marriage. At the time of his death, he was the companion of Stefanie Powers.
In the last years of his life he increasingly suffered from emphysema.
Was originally cast for the lead in The Rainmaker (1956), role eventually played by Burt Lancaster.
Was considered for the role of "Maurice Novak" in Career (1959).
Felt he didn't deserve the Academy Award for Best Actor for Stalag 17 (1953), and that the award should have gone to Burt Lancaster for From Here to Eternity (1953). His wife also felt that the honor was just a belated apology for snubbing his nomination for Sunset Blvd. (1950).
Toward the Unknown (1956) was the only movie made by his production company, "Toluca Productions".
Adopted his stepdaughter, Virginia Holden (Virginia Gaines), from Ardis Ankerson (actress Brenda Marshall)'s first marriage. He and Marshall had two sons together, Peter Westfield "West" Holden (born November 17, 1943) and Scott Holden (Scott Porter Holden, born May 2, 1946). Holden also had a daughter, Arlene, in 1937 with actress Eva May Hoffman. Arlene was raised by her mother and her stepfather, composer Emil Newman.
Holden was vice-president of the Screen Actors Guild (when Ronald Reagan was its president) and Parks Commissioner for Los Angeles.
Holden did not legally change his name from Beedle until he joined the USAF in 1942. For a time in 1943, Holden shared an apartment in Ft. Worth, Texas with baseball superstar Hank Greenberg while both of them were serving stateside in WWII. Holden's younger brother, Robert Beedle, was actually a Navy fighter pilot who was killed in action in World War II, and after The Bridges at Toko-Ri (1954) was released, he was remembered by his squadron-mates as having been very much like Holden's character of Lt. Harry Brubaker in that movie.
He was a favorite actor of First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy but disappointed her immensely when she discovered he was a Republican.
Billy Wilder on Holden's death: "If someone had said to me, 'Holden's dead,' I would have assumed that he had been gored by a water buffalo in Kenya, that he had died in a plane crash approaching Hong Kong, that a crazed, jealous woman had shot him, and he drowned in a swimming pool. But to be killed by a bottle of vodka and a night table - what a lousy fade-out of a great guy!".
"Hollwood Reporter" reported that Holden had signed to play the coach in That Championship Season (1982), but his death precluded that, and he was replaced by Robert Mitchum. Holden had also agreed to co-star with old friend Glenn Ford in "Dime Novel Sunset", which was never made.
Holden bequeathed $250,000 to girlfriend Stefanie Powers, $50,000 to former co-star Capucine, and $50,000 to socialite friend Patricia Stauffer. The bulk of his estate was divided between ex-wife Brenda Marshall, their two actor sons, his step-daughter, his sister, and his mother.
Appeared in nine films that were nominated for the Best Picture Oscar: Our Town (1940), Born Yesterday (1950), Sunset Blvd. (1950), The Country Girl (1954),Picnic (1955), Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955), The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), The Towering Inferno (1974) and Network (1976). Of those, only The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) won in the category. In both 1950 and 1955, he appeared in two Best Picture nominees.
Owned the "Mount Kenya Safari Club" with his business partners oil billionaire Ray Ryan and Swiss financier Carl Hirschmann. The most elite private members' club in the world. Membership was by invitation only and members included Bing Crosby, David Lean, Charles Chaplin, Steve McQueen, Conrad Hilton, Winston Churchill and Man Singh II. Stefanie Powers and John Hurt still keep houses adjoining the club.
He was quoted as saying that Fredric March and Spencer Tracy were his acting ideals.
Son of William (December 12, 1891-November 18, 1967) and Mary (née Ball) Beedle (May 1, 1894-March 17, 1990). Both were born and raised in the state of Illinois, relocating to California in 1921.
Paternal grandson of Walter (1857-1942) and Cynthia (née Begole) Beedle (1863-1914). Both were born and raised in the state of Illinois.
Paternal great grandson of Franklin (1818-1900), born in the state of Illinois, and Rebecca (née Westfield) Beedle (1818-1888), born in England.
Maternal grandson of Henry (1858-1930), born in the state of Ohio and Emma (née Floman) Ball (1862-1947), born in the state of Illinois.
In honor of the 100th anniversary of his birth, Holden was recognized as Turner Classic Movies Star of the Month for April 2018.
Awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on February 8,1960 at 1651 Vine Street in Los Angeles, California.
He has appeared in six films that have been selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant: Sunset Blvd. (1950), Born Yesterday (1950), Sabrina (1954), The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), The Wild Bunch (1969) and Network (1976).
His mother outlived him by nine years.

Personal Quotes (13)

For me, acting is not an all-consuming thing, except for the moment when I am actually doing it.
Take any picture you can. One out of four will be good, one out of ten will be very good, and one out of 15 will get you an Academy Award.
Movie acting may not have a certain kind of glory as true art, but it is damn hard work.
I don't really know why, but danger has always been an important thing in my life - to see how far I could lean without falling, how fast I could go without cracking up.
I'm a whore, all actors are whores. We sell our bodies to the highest bidder.
[on Barbara Stanwyck] Thirty-nine years ago this month, we were working in a film together called Golden Boy (1939). It wasn't going so well and I was going to be replaced. But due to this lovely human being and her encouragement and above all her generosity, I'm here tonight.
[on working with Clint Eastwood on Breezy (1973)] He's even-tempered -- a personality trait not much in evidence among directors. The crew is totally behind him and that really helps things go smoothly.
[on Humphrey Bogart] I hated that bastard.
I found the jungle a beautiful and fascinating place to be, I like to come here because I want to stay away from the jungle as much as I can.
I made Toward the Unknown (1956) as an actor by day and, by night, a caster, a cuter, and a producer. I'll never do anything like that again.
[on Toni Helfer and Ralph Helfer] Years after our initial meeting in Africa, I visited Ralph and Toni at Africa U.S.A. in Sangus, California, and there I was even more amazed at the rapport the two of them had with their wildlife. Toni is an absolutely fearless human being who is totally loved by every animal she has ever touched. She is undaunted by any endeavor or undertaking. A remarkable painter, naturalist, zoologist, conservationist, and now author. Toni Helfer has the courage and the curiosity we all should have. For the sake of the world I wish Ralph and Toni a long, rich, and productive life.
The other day I drove into the garage of my Palm Springs house with some groceries. Suddenly one of those tour buses pulled up and a voice said, "This is William Holden's house, and I think I just saw him pull in." I flattened myself against the garage wall - the garage was separate from the house - and tried to hide. But the bags got heavy so I finally thought to hell with it, and walked out. And the voice said, "There he is, folks, I told you he'd come out sooner or later."
Let's face it, it's pretty difficult to kiss someone who is a stranger. I don't think anyone in movies enjoys playing a love scene. Kissing someone is an intimate act, and when you have to do it in front of other people it's not easy.

Salary (7)

Sunset Blvd. (1950) $30,000
Sabrina (1954) $150,000
The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) $250,000 + 10% of the gross (World-wide)
The Horse Soldiers (1959) $750,000 + 20% of profits
The Counterfeit Traitor (1962) $750,000
The Wild Bunch (1969) $250,000
The Towering Inferno (1974) $750,000

See also

Other Works |  Publicity Listings |  Official Sites

View agent, publicist, legal and company contact details on IMDbPro Pro Name Page Link

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed