In the last couple weeks we’ve lost three of the best character actors: Ernest Borgnine, Andy Griffith and now Celeste Holm. Ironically, Ernest and Celeste were both 95.
Celeste Holm was one of those actresses that lit up the screen when ever she appeared. She was the archetypal best friend or favorite aunt. Never the leading lady, but what would All About Eve have been without Celeste’s witty and touching performance? She held her own with being a buddy to Frank Sinatra in High Society, and was the voice of reason in Gentlemen’s Agreement (for which she won an Academy Award). Actresses like her are few and far between.
Growing up in the 60’s I knew her best for playing Cinderella‘s fairy godmother. It was probably the first color program I recall seeing and most likely my first organized group viewing. I remember the excitement of going to my Uncle Jim and Aunt Tootie’s house to watch it with my sister and cousins on their Spanish Modern design twenty-five inch console (of which my parents soon bought one that was more elaborate, so as not to be outdone). Sitting on the pea green colored, stain resistant carpet, I watched Celeste sing,
“But the world is full of zanies and fools who don’t believe in sensible rules and won’t believe what sensible people say…and because these daft and dewey eyed dopes keep building up impossible hopes impossible things are happening every day!” I wanted her to be my fairy godmother.
Celeste Holm in Cinderella
Through the years she was always popping up like an old friend on my favorite shows, “Colombo“, “Fantasy Island“, “The Love Boat“. A few years ago I saw one of her last movies, “Still Breathing” which is a lovely indie romance story. She plays Brandon Fraser’s wise old grandmother telling him to listen to his heart to find his true love. A lovely later role. I highly suggest seeing her in it.
Miss Holm lived a full and rich life and leaves behind a fine and varied body of work. I think it’s less sad that she passed away, but it’s as if with her passing the last of the old Hollywood is finally sinking into the sunset.
I’d like to remember her this way, as she is on What’s My Line. You can see why she stole the show every night in Oklahoma. She’s funny, playful and everyone’s best friend.
Celeste Holm on What’s My Line