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Tim Holt Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (2) | Spouse (3) | Trade Mark (1) | Trivia (28) | Personal Quotes (1) | Salary (1)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 5 February 1919Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA
Date of Death 15 February 1973Shawnee, Oklahoma, USA  (cancer)
Birth NameCharles John Holt III
Height 5' 10" (1.78 m)

Mini Bio (2)

As they say, like father, like son. Cowboy hero Tim Holt avidly followed in the boots of his famous character-actor dad, the granite-jawed Jack Holt (b. Charles John Holt), who appeared in hundreds of silents and talkies (many of them westerns) over the years. The two actually appeared together as father and son in the western The Arizona Ranger (1948), and Jack was glimpsed (as a hobo in the Mexican flophouse that Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston, and Tim were staying in) in the classic The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948). Also a part of the acting Holt clan was the beautiful "prairie flower" Jennifer Holt (nee Elizabeth Marshall Holt), Tim's younger sister, who appeared in scores of 1940s oaters. The three, however, never performed together in a single film.

Tim was born Charles John Holt, Jr. in Beverly Hills on February 5, 1918, to Jack and his wife, Margaret Woods, at a time when Jack was just making a dent in silent films. Nicknamed "Tim", he was raised on his father's ranch in Fresno, where he performed outside chores and learned to ride a horse. Tim, in fact, made his debut at age 10 in one of his father's westerns, The Vanishing Pioneer (1928), based on a Zane Grey story. He played Jack's character as a young boy.

The boyishly rugged, athletically inclined Tim attended military school in his teens, excelling in polo. While studying at college, he married his college sweetheart, Virginia Ashcroft, in 1938. At this point he decided to try to put together an acting career. Virginia herself made a very brief foray into acting.

Tim apprenticed at various stock companies before he eased his way back into films with an unbilled part in History Is Made at Night (1937). He then earned strong notices in the classic Barbara Stanwyck tearjerker Stella Dallas (1937) and as Olivia de Havilland's brother in Gold Is Where You Find It (1938). His horseback riding capabilities and fast-drawing technique quickly kicked in with The Law West of Tombstone (1938), and he joined a superb cast in John Ford's classic western Stagecoach (1939) as a by-the-book cavalry lieutenant.

Hardly confined to westerns at this early stage, Tim showed impressive acting abilities in comedy (Fifth Avenue Girl (1939)), adventures (Swiss Family Robinson (1940)), and high drama (Back Street (1941)), all for RKO Pictures. He reached an early peak when Orson Welles cast him against type as the cruel, malicious son George in The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), a role Welles initially contemplated playing himself. By the mid '40s, however, Tim had settled into the western genre. He starred in a series of dusty RKO features partnered with comic Cliff Edwards by his side and also appeared solo elsewhere.

World War II interrupted his thriving career. He was a decorated hero (Distinguished Flying Cross, Victory Medal, and Presidential Unit Citation among his awards) while serving in the Air Corps and was discharged with the rank of second lieutenant. Wounded over Tokyo on the last day of the war, he was also given the Purple Heart. He made an auspicious return to films in the role of Virgil Earp in Ford's My Darling Clementine (1946) and then continued in a somewhat lesser vein with "B"-level oaters. He came to the forefront one more time, co-starring with gold prospecting rivals Humphrey Bogart and Walter Huston in John Huston's masterpiece The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), arguably the high point of Tim's entire film career, which rightfully earned him the best notices he ever received.

Richard Martin became his second sidekick in another popular string of RKO westerns, with Tim repeatedly making the "top ten" ranks of money-making cowboy stars. Appearing almost exclusively for RKO from 1939 on, Tim eventually became disillusioned with the quality of his pictures and decided to abandon films after appearing in RKO's Desert Passage (1952) while still a popular draw. Divorced from his second wife, Alice Harrison, he retired for the most part to his Oklahoma ranch with his third wife, Berdee Stephens, and their three children. He later became a manager for a radio station in Oklahoma City. In 1957 he came out of retirement to head up the cast in the subpar sci-fi horror film The Monster That Challenged the World (1957) and then quickly returned to obscurity.

Little was heard from Tim over the years save a co-starring role in a low-budget hillbilly moonshine extravaganza for exploitation king Herschell Gordon Lewis called This Stuff'll Kill Ya! (1971). He was diagnosed with bone cancer in August of 1972 and passed away rather quickly on February 15, 1973, shortly after his 54th birthday. Buried in Oklahoma, he was posthumously inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame in 1991 and was a recipient of the "Golden Boot" award in 1992.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Born Charles John Holt III, he was given the nickname of Tim as a child. As a toddler Tim had an imaginary friend named "Casey," which was also the name of his favorite childhood dog. His father, Jack Holt, was "King of the Rodeo" at the 1924 Fresno Rodeo and was accompanied by five-year-old Tim riding in the parade as the "Crown Prince." In an article for Western Stars magazine in 1950, he recalled the parade as a wonderful time: "No kid in the whole world could have been happier than I was at that moment." Tim decided then that "I was going to be a cowboy for the rest of my life."

His father, Jack Holt, from an aristocratic Virginia family, was known in the Hollywood British colony as "Sir Charles." After leaving VMI, Jack went to Alaska for six years, working as a prospector, miner, surveyor, and trapper. Tim's paternal grandmother was the great granddaughter of John Marshall, Chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1801 to 1835. His grandfather Holt was an Episcopal minister.

His mother, Margaret Wood Holt, was the daughter of industrialist Henry Morton Stanley Wood of St. Paul, Minnesota, the owner of American Hoist & Derrick, known worldwide for its steam shovels. He emigrated from England to the United States.

Tim attended the Carl Curtis School for Boys, as did many celebrity children at the time. He went to Beverly Hills High School for one year and then transferred to Culver Military Academy in Indiana because of its strong horsemanship program, hoping to join the cavalry after graduation. Classmate Budd Boetticher recalls evenings when the younger Tim, wearing his toy six shooters over his bath robe, practiced drawing his guns, stating he was going to be a western star someday. He participated in amateur dramatic productions at Culver and was captain of the polo team. Tim graduated cum laude and won the "Golden Spurs," Culver's highest award for horsemanship. In the film Spirit of Culver (1939), which was filmed on location, he played Captain Wilson, the senior class officer and mentor to plebes. Returning to Los Angeles, he attended UCLA for two years. It was there that he met his first wife, Virginia Ashcroft. They eloped in December 1938. Tim never attended USC.

In 1936 while doing a play about Pennsylvania Dutch called "Papa Is All" with the Westwood Theatre Guild, Tim asked producer Walter Wanger, whom he knew from playing polo, to set up a screen test. The successful results led to a personal contract with Wanger and Tim's first role as an adult in History Is Made at Night (1937), which began his film career. When RKO bought Tim's contract from Wanger in 1939, Tim made a special request to use the same dressing room his father had.

In Fifth Avenue Girl (1939) with Ginger Rogers, Tim was seen on-screen with a pipe for this first time. He smoked pipes from an early age and had an impressive collection. He was often photographed with a pipe in family pictures. While living in Pacific Palisades with Virginia and son Lance (b. 1940), the family had a pet German shepherd named "Tell" who was a descendant of the famous silent film star Strongheart the Dog. The Holts also had a small ranch in the San Fernando valley.

Over the years he suffered many bruises, sprains, and broken bones, having broken both arms and shoulders, his leg once, and his nose countless times. Once after a fall during a polo game, another horse's hoof seriously cut the back of his head. The most severe injury occurred on the set of My Darling Clementine (1946) when Holt broke seven ribs and had to be airlifted from Monument Valley, Utah, to medical facilities in Tucson, Arizona.

Father and son appeared together in three films. During a visit to the set of The Vanishing Pioneer (1928) at 9 years of age, Tim played Jack Holt's character as a child. This was Tim's first appearance in a film. They later co-starred in The Arizona Ranger (1948). Their third film together was The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), in which Jack had a bit role.

Tim was active in various rodeos his whole life. He bought into the Jennings Lamar Rodeo in 1947 and toured with it whenever he wasn't busy with his film work. A New York Times story datelined November 2, 1951, from Little Rock, Arkansas, reported that Holt was fined $200 for perjury in his divorce from Alice Harrison. Tim claimed that he had fulfilled the 90-day residency requirement, mistakenly believing his ownership of property qualified him as a resident, and as a result his petition for divorce was dismissed at that time. They had separated in 1948 and were finally divorced in 1952. She was unhappy because Tim spent so much time away with filming and rodeos and because of his desire to move to a ranch in Oklahoma.

He'd turned in solid performances in several "A"-list pictures, and many believed his career could take off, but Tim loved horses and was happy as a "B"-list actor making westerns. After his father died in 1951, he became less interested in making films. Tim had always had to answer to others (first his parents, then RKO, then the military, and then RKO again), and now that his contract with RKO had ended, he didn't have to answer to anyone. He also felt that the business was changing, and so he left Hollywood behind and moved to Oklahoma to ranch full time while traveling for rodeos. Like Randolph Scott, Tim was able to walk away from Hollywood, only working on a handful of projects and usually only because of encouragement from a friend or for public service.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Marshall P. Smith

Spouse (3)

Berdee Stephens (September 1952 - 15 February 1973) (his death) (3 children)
Alice Harrison (24 June 1944 - 1952) (divorced)
Virginia Ashcroft (10 December 1938 - 16 June 1944) (divorced) (1 child)

Trade Mark (1)

His on screen character usually wore gloves since Tim believed this was a realistic view of a "real" working cowboy.

Trivia (28)

Perhaps best remembered as the younger partner of Humphrey Bogart in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), in which his father, Jack Holt, played a bit part.
Older brother of actress Jennifer Holt.
At the peak of his career in the 1940s "B" westerns, he was the "fastest draw" in the movies with the ability to draw his revolver in five frames of film (slightly over one-sixth of a second).
Inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in 1991.
From 1941-43 and 1948-53, he was a top ten western star.
Attended Culver Military Academy in Indiana, where his roommate was Hal Roach Jr.
During World War II Holt was a member of the Army Air Corps and was wounded - ironically, on the last day of the war - in a bombing raid over Tokyo, for which he received a Purple Heart.
Was the bombardier/executive officer for the top secret Adams Plan (Project X-ray), which was designed to drop incendiary bat bombs on Japan during World War II, as detailed in the book "Bat Bomb" by Jack Couffer.
While in the Army during WW II he narrated a VD film seen by US military personnel for many years afterward.
The only time the three Holts appeared together was in 1946 in a CBS radio program entitled "All-Star Theatre", a country flavored show featuring Western music by Foy Willing and the Riders of the Purple Sage with a dramatic sketch. The Holts played father, son, and daughter.
Not related to actor David Holt.
His father, Jack Holt was one of the 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS).
Made a couple of NRA gun safety films called "Shooting Straight with Tim Holt" in the 1950s.
Occasionally made personal appearance tours with friends Richard Martin, Ray Whitley, and Jack O'Shea, calling themselves "Tim Holt's Ranch Review".
In the late 1950s he managed a 1400-acre dude ranch, and to promote it he hosted "The Tim Holt Western Theatre," a Saturday morning television series on KOCO-TV (Channel 5) in Oklahoma City, which telecast many of his western films.
Went to work at Oklahoma City radio station KLPR in 1961, doing sales and making personal appearances. It was Jack Beasly, owner of the radio station, and Ralph White, a co-worker, who encouraged him to take a role on The Virginian (1962).
He was a home builder with developer Bill Atkinson. While developing Midwest City, near Tinker AF base, Atkinson would give away a Shetland pony with each house sold and Tim helped with the livestock. He campaigned for Atkinson in his run for lieutenant governor and developed an interest in politics. He was encouraged to run for Oklahoma lieutenant governor himself but didn't pursue office because he was worried others would claim he was trying to capitalize on his film career.
Kirby Grant, of Sky King (1951) fame, was up for the part Tim won in The Magnificent Ambersons (1942).
Ronald Reagan was considered for his role in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948).
During a promotional visit to the Oklahoma City theme park "Frontier City," Nick Adams, star of The Rebel (1959), visited the Holt family home.
In WW II, while flying as a bombardier in a B-29 returning from a mission over Japan he saw the mushroom cloud over Hiroshima from the atomic bomb.
According to his daughter, Bryanna Holt, Tim was a Christian Scientist but wasn't "overly religious".
John Wayne and he were good friends ever since their Stagecoach (1939) days. Wayne visited Tim at the Shawnee Hospital shortly before his death. While living in Malibu years earlier, Wayne and Holt would practice shooting and different styles of wearing their holsters.
He was an account executive at the Oklahoma City radio station KEBC at the time of his death. He is buried at the Memory lane cemetery in Harrah, Oklahoma, USA.
Was one of few "B" Western heroes to smoke in his films. He smoked a pipe. Bill Elliott (aka "Wild Bill Elliott") also smoked a pipe at times in his movies (i.e., The Homesteaders (1953)).
Ex-brother-in-law of William Bakewell.
Grandfather of Shaeffer Holt.
Had one son from his first marriage, Lance Holt. Had three children from his third marriage, Jack, Jay and Bryanna.

Personal Quotes (1)

I never did feel there was anything mystic about Hollywood. I never really did like it.

Salary (1)

Stagecoach (1939) $5,000

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