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In Memory of Celeste Holm

July 16th, 2012

Celeste Holm. Image via CelesteHolm.com.

Oscar-winning actress Celeste Holm passed away yesterday at her home in New York City.

Perhaps best known for her supporting performances in classic films such as All About Eve (alone worthy of immortality) and Gentlemen’s Agreement, she had a long and distinguished career on Broadway with more than twenty credits to her name — from William Saroyan’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Time of Your Life in 1939 to I Hate Hamlet in 1991. She even stepped in as a replacement for  heavy hitting divas Gertrude Lawrence in The King and I and Angela Lansbury in Mame.

Given that she often played a classy, witty woman of the world, it’s almost inconceivable to imagine that her breakthrough role was as the love-starved, countrified Ado Annie in the landmark original production of Oklahoma. But just listen to the original cast recording and you realize how indelible her performance was.

Here she is, from a film festival interview a few years ago, singing a bit of her signature song “I Cain’t Say No” at a film festival, still sassy and still playful with a lyric…

But for many music theater types, she’ll always be their Fairy Godmother, appearing in a whirl of pink sparkles to Lesley Ann Warren in the television Cinderella.

Celeste, thanks for making so many wishes come true.

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