Celeste Holm, the versatile actress who achieved fame on Broadway in the original production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s hit musical “Oklahoma!” in 1943 and five years later won an Oscar for best supporting actress in the movie drama “Gentleman’s Agreement,” died Sunday at 95. Holm, whose career in show business lasted over 70 years, died in her apartment on Central Park West in New York City, said her husband, Frank Basile.
She had recently spent two weeks in a hospital, where she was discovered to be dehydrated and ended up suffering a heart attack. She asked to be taken home Friday, Basile said.
Holm had great success on Broadway, and already had 10 productions behind her when she was cast in the star-making role of man-crazy Ado Annie in “Oklahoma!”
Holm’s Broadway work, including the lead in the hit 1944 musical comedy “Bloomer Girl,” led to a long-term contract with 20th Century Fox.
Her third film with Fox was “Gentleman’s Agreement,” the groundbreaking 1947 drama directed by Elia Kazan and starring Gregory Peck as a journalist who adopts a Jewish identity to chronicle his experiences dealing with anti-Semitism.
Holm received two more supporting-actress Oscar nominations while under contract to Fox – for playing a nun in the 1949 drama “Come to the Stable” and for playing the best friend of Bette Davis’ aging Broadway star Margo Channing in the classic 1950 backstage drama “All About Eve.”
She made frequent television appearances and played the Fairy Godmother in the 1965 musical television production of “Cinderella.”
She spent a season on the prime-time soap opera “Falcon Crest” and played Hattie Greene, the grandmother on “Promised Land,” the 1996-’99 family dramatic adventure series.
Holm married Basile, her fifth husband, in 2004. She is survived by her two sons, Theodore Holm Nelson and Daniel Dunning, from previous marriages, as well as three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.