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Why Hal Holbrook deserves a Kennedy Center Honor

I just finished writing a story about Hal Holbrook — it will appear in the paper March 10 in advance of his March 12 appearance here in “Mark Twain Tonight!” — when I realized something surprising. Holbrook has never received a Kennedy Center Honor or a National Arts Medal.

Few actors have, of course; these are very selective honors. Yet it seems to me that Holbrook has a particularly strong claim for consideration:

  • His Emmy-winning portrayal of Abe Lincoln in the 1974 TV series based on Carl Sandburg's biographies (one of three Emmy awards).
  • His portrayal of Deep Throat in “All the President's Men.”
  • His portrayal as the Stage Manager in the 1977 version of “Our Town”
  • His many other film roles, including his Oscar nominated performance at age 82 in Sean Penn's “Into the Wild.”
  • And finally, for his stage show, “Mark Twain Tonight!” which has brought the words of Mark Twain alive for more than 50 years.

I say he belongs in the same company as other Kennedy Center recipients, such as Jack Lemmon, Charlton Heston and Robert Redford, and other National Arts Medal winners, such as Robert Duvall and Angela Lansbury.

Let's mount a Hal Holbrook appreciation campaign. Is anyone with me on this?


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