Celeste Holm was born in New York City, and grew up in Long Valley, New Jersey as an only child. Her father, Theodor Holm, was a Norwegian insurance adjuster for Lloyd’s of London, and her mother, Jean Parke, was an American portrait artist and author.
Holm studied acting at the University of Chicago before becoming a stage actress in the late 1930s following a brief first marriage, which produced her first child, son Ted Nelson.
She would study acting at the University of Chicago and make her stage debut in 1936. Her Broadway debut came when she was 19. She appeared in many successful plays.
Holm quickly rose to prominence with her portrayal of “Ado Annie” in the original Broadway production of “Oklahoma! in 1943.” It was in that production that Celeste would sing the show stopper “I Cain’t Say No.”
After starring in the Broadway production of “Bloomer Girl,” 20th Century Fox signed Holm to a movie contract in 1946, and in her first two years as a film actress, Holm established herself immediately as a formidable performer. Her first film was “Three Little Girls in Blue.” With her third film, “Gentlemen’s Agreement” (1947), she would win the Supporting Actress Oscar and a Golden Globe. Holm would be nominated twice more for Academy Awards in the “Come to the Stable” (1949) and “All About Eve” (1950).
After her noteworthy performance in “All About Eve,” however, Holm realized she preferred working in live theater than on movie sets, and took on very few filmed roles over the following decade. She did return for two MGM musicals in the 1950s: “The Tender Trap” (1955) and “High Society” (1956).
In addition to her stage career, Celeste appeared on television in her own series “Honestly Celeste” (1954) and as a panelist on “Who Pays?” (1959).
In 1965, she starred alongside Lesley Ann Warren as the Fairy Godmother in the TV production of “Cinderella.”
In 1970, Holm returned to series television as the chaperone to the president’s daughter on “Nancy.”
In the 1970s and 1980s, Holm returned more fully to screen acting, with roles in films such as “Tom Sawyer,” “Three Men and a Baby” and in television series (often as a guest star) such as “Columbo” and “Falcon Crest.”
In the 1990s, Holm was a series regular on the ABC soap opera “Loving” as Isabella Alden #2 (1991-1992) and the CBS primetime series “Promised Land” (1996-1999).
Holm has received many honors in her lifetime, including being knighted by King Olav of Norway. In addition, she was appointed to the National Arts Council by President Ronald Reagan, received the 1968 Sarah Siddons Award for distinguished achievement in Chicago theatre, and was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame in 1992.
She remains active for social causes as a spokesperson for UNICEF, and for occasional professional engagements.
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