"Who would have thought that a young boy from Weymouth would become part of such a large family of vagabonds," remarked HAl Holbrook about the actors and industry professionals that gathered to honor him at the 15th annual TONY Award party in Los Angeles. "Not all of us have been lucky enough to make a steady income from this profession we love so much. It's nice to know an organization such as the Actors Fund exists to watch our backs, while we concentrate on using our craft to make the world a richer place to live," added Holbrook just after friend and colleague, Sean Penn, presented the accomplished thespian with the Julie Harris Award. Penn, who directed Holbrook in "Into The Wild," said "Hal always got it in the first take, but you wanted him to do it again, just so you could watch him work."
This year's program was written and produced by David Rambo, directed by John Holly and gloriously hosted by actress Marilu Henner, who played Holbrook's daughter in the hit series "Evening Shade." The gala, which features the only approved live feed of the Tony Awards as they happen in New York, has become a Los Angeles tradition. Among those who attended the gathering were Orson Bean, Ian Buchanan, Maxwell Caulfield, Emrhys Cooper, Patrika Darbo, Ramon Estevez, Davis Gaines, Dick Gautier, Ilene Graff, Richard Herd, Anne Jeffreys, Ruta Lee, Lee Meriwether, Alley Mills, Juliette Mills, Linda Purl, Stefanie Powers, Holland Taylor and Barbara Van Orden, with heartfelt words from friend Martin Sheen and a particularly moving performance of "Dulceina" from Man of La Mancha by Brian Stokes Mitchell for Holbrook in memory of Dixie Carter.
This year's honorary celebrity host committee included Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, Carol Burnett, Phyllis Diller, Jerry Herman, Ken Howard, Judith Ivy, Angela Lansbury, Annie Potts, Brian Stokes-Mitchell, Holland Taylor, Harry Thomason and John Wells. A truly deserving honoree, TONY Award winner and Academy Award-nominated actor HAl Holbrook's first solo performance as Mark Twain was in 1954 and Mark Twain Tonight! has since become perhaps the longest running show in theatre history. A role he would perform for President Eisenhower and eventually win him a Tony Award and a Drama Critics' Circle Award followed by a 90 minute CBS television special that was Emmy nominated and seen by 22 million. In New York he appeared in Marco Millions, After the Fall, Incident at Vichy and Tartuffe, as well as starring roles on Broadway in The Glass Menagerie, The Apple Tree, I Never Sang For My Father, Man of La Mancha, and Does A Tiger Wear A Necktie? (with a young Al Pacino). Mr. Holbrook has done some 50 television movies and mini-series, been nominated for 12 Emmys and won five for The Senator, Pueblo, Best Actor Of The Year (1974), Sandburg's Lincoln, and as host and narrator of Portrait Of America: Alaska. He has had memorable roles on two sitcoms: Designing Women (along side wife, Dixie Carter) and Evening Shade, with guest appearances on The West Wing, Becker, Hope & Faith, Sons of Anarchy, The Event, ER, The Sopranos, and NCIS. His over 40 films include the just completed Savannah, Water for Elephants, Magnum Force, Midway, All The President's Men, Julia, Capricorn One, The Fog, Star Chamber, Creepshow, Wall Street, The Firm, The Bachelor, Waking The Dead, Men of Honor, The Majestic, Shade, Killshot and That Evening Sun. In 2008, he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for Into the Wild written and directed by Sean Penn. He has consistently returned to the stage in productions including Buried Inside Extra, The Country Girl, King Lear, An American Daughter and a National Tour of Death Of A Salesman. Holbrook has received numerous Honorary Doctors, Degrees, the Edwin Booth Award and the William Shakespeare Award. In 2000 he was inducted into the New York Theatre Hall of Fame and in 2003 received the Nat'l Humanities Medal from President Bush.
Previous recipients of the Julie Harris Award have included Julie Harris, Gwen Verdon, Charles Durning, Rita Moreno, James Earl Jones, Tyne Daly, Lauren Bacall, Stockard Channing, Carol Channing, Liza Minnelli, Jerry Herman, Tommy Tune, Chita Rivera and Brian Stokes Mitchell.
The Actors Fund is a national human services organization that helps everyone - performers and those behind the scenes - who works in performing arts and entertainment, helping more than 12,000 people directly each year, and hundreds of thousands online. Serving professionals in film, theatre, television, music, opera, radio and dance, The Fund's programs include social services and emergency assistance, health care and insurance, housing, and employment and training services. With offices in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, The Actors Fund has - for nearly 130 years - been a safety net for those in need, crisis or transition. Visit www.actorsfund.org.
Photo Credits: Bill Dow
Brian Stoke Mitchell
Ruta Lee, Linda Purl, Juliette Mills, Stefanie Powers & Kate Edelman Johnson
John Holly, Joe Benincasa, Sean Penn, HAl Holbrook, Marilu Henner, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Jomarie Ward
Stephen Heath, HAl Holbrook and Ginna Carter
Joe Benincasa, Keith McNutt, Meg Thomas, John Holly, HAl Holbrook, Marilu Henner, Brian Stokes Mitchell and David Rambo