William Holden Wildlife Foundation
 
 

Wiliam Holden Wildlife Foundation

William Holden was born William Franklin Beedle Jr. in O'Fallon IL on April 17, 1918. He had two younger brothers, Robert and Richard. Their mother Mary Blanche Ball Beedle was a school teacher and a direct descendant of Mary Ball, George Washington's mother. Mary's father was cousin to Senator Warren G. Harding, who later became the 29th President of the United States.

Their father, William Franklin Beedle, Sr. , was an industrial chemist, who moved the family from O'Fallon to South Pasadena, California where he opened up his own chemical laboratory. Misdiagnosed with heart disease, which allegedly would lead to an early death, William Beedle, Sr. was a workaholic who had little time to engage with his elder son, whose curiosity led him to pursue after school activities such as sports, gymnastics and local radio.

After graduating from South Pasadena High School, Bill appeared in amatuer theatricals. One production in 1937, directed by Gilmor Brown of the Pasadena Playhouse, had Bill appearing as an old man. A talent scout from Paramount Pictures happened to see this production and invited Bill to Paramount to test for their talent program. It was a long ride on his motorcycle from South Pasadena to Melrose and Gower Streets, where Paramount Pictures was located, but it was the most important motorcycle ride of his life.

Begining with his first major role as the young violinist / boxer in GOLDEN BOY in 1939 until his final film S.O.B. in 1981, he amassed a legendary body of work. The appearance in GOLDEN BOY was followed by the role of 'George Gibbs' in the film adaption of OUR TOWN. When Columbia Pictures picked up half of his contract, he starred in several pictures for both Paramount and Columbia before serving as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Force in World War II.

Returning after the war he was put to work at Paramount and Columbia, co-starring with Glenn Ford in THE MAN FROM COLORADO, RACHEL AND THE STRANGER with Robert Mitchum and Loretta Young. THE DARK PAST reunited him with Lee J. Cobb, and the first of his two colloborations with Lucille Ball in MISS GRANT TAKES RICHMOND.

In 1950 one of his old friends from Paramount, Billy Wilder, called him regarding a role as "Joe Gillis" in SUNSET BOULEVARD which launched Bill's career into top star billing, and earned him an Oscar nomination.

Bill entered the most productive time of his acting career with starring roles in the prime properties at both his studios and a few others. UNION STATION, BORN YESTERDAY, FORCE OF ARMS, SUBMARINE COMMAND, BOOTS MALONE, and THE TURNING POINT, among others. When he reunited with Billy Wilder for a second time in STALAG 17, it resulted in Bill's Academy Award for Best Actor.

FOREVER FEMALE with Marion Ross followed, and in 1954 one of his favorite films, EXECUTIVE SUITE reunited him with Barbara Stanwyck. SABRINA came out next and was the first of two films he would do with Audrey Hepburn, PICNIC with Kim Novak, THE PROUD AND PROFANE with Deborah Kerr, THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI, THE KEY with Sophia Loren, THE HORSE SOLDIERS with John Wayne and Constance Towers, THE WORLD OF SUZIE WONG with Nancy Kwan, and THE COUNTERFEIT TRAITOR with his dear friend Lilli Palmer.

THE LION, co-starring Capucine, was filmed in Kenya with the cast, crew and an American lion all living at the Mt. Kenya Safari Club for the duration of the filming.

THE SEVENTH DAWN was a story Bill helped to create as a film. He had has his co-star Richard Widmark in ALVAREZ KELLY, THE DEVIL'S BRIGADE with Tom Troupe, followed by THE WILD BUNCH, WILD ROVERS with Ryan O'Neal, BREEZY with Kay Lenz and directed by Clint Eastwood, and THE TOWERING INFERNO with Paul Newman, Steve McQueen and Robert Wagner.

Bill was praised for his Oscar nominated leading performance in Sidney Lumet's NETWORK. In 1980 he starred in THE EARTHLING with Ricky Schroeder. Ricky later named one of his sons Holden. His last film was S.O.B. which was directed by Blake Edwards, co-starring Julie Andrews and was a Golden Globe nominated picture.

Many have asked which of the extraordinary films Bill worked in was his favorite. It was THE BRIDGES OF TOKO-RI which reunited him with Fredric March his co-star from EXECUTIVE SUITE. Bill loved working with Fredric, whom he considered a consummate actor's actor and he adored Grace Kelly, but it was the film's story that was the most attractive to Bill because he played an ace fighter pilot in the Korean War charged with the impossible mission to blow up bridges. Bill was touched by the story and the role which he saw as a homage to his brother. During World War II Robert 'Bob' Beedle, a decorated ace fighter pilot for the Navy was shot down near an island in the chain of New Guinea during the South Pacific campaign on Jan. 5, 1945. Sadly, in 1964, Bill's remaining brother Richard who had moved to Peru with his family, perished in a plane crash off the coast of Lima. Both brothers disappeared into the sea with no trace of wreckage.

In 1974, he began a relationship with actress Stefanie Powers which was enhanced by her interest in animal welfare. Bill was a inveterate traveler, but it was his first safari to Africa in 1956 that cemented his lasting involvement and commitment to wildlife and conservation in East Africa and around the world, long before these issues were a popular concern

   
Feature Films

Prison Farm (1938) (uncredited)
Million Dollar Legs (1939) (uncredited)
Golden Boy (1939)
Invisible Stripes (1939)
Our Town (1940)
Those Were the Days! (1940)
Arizona (1940)
I Wanted Wings (1941)
Texas (1941)
The Fleet's In (1942)
The Remarkable Andrew (1942)
Meet the Stewarts (1942)
Young and Willing (1943)
Blaze of Noon (1947)
Dear Ruth (1947)
Variety Girl (1947)
The Man from Colorado (1948)
Rachel and the Stranger (1948)
Apartment for Peggy (1948)
The Dark Past (1948)
Streets of Laredo (1949)
Miss Grant Takes Richmond (1949)
Dear Wife (1949)
Father Is a Bachelor (1950)
Sunset Boulevard (1950) - Academy Best Actor Nomination
Union Station (1950)
Born Yesterday (1950)
Force of Arms (1951)
Submarine Command (1951)
Boots Malone (1952)
The Turning Point (1952)
Stalag 17 (1953) - Academy Best Actor Award
The Moon Is Blue (1953)
Forever Female (1953)
Escape from Fort Bravo (1953)
Executive Suite (1954)
Sabrina (1954)
The Country Girl (1954)
The Bridges at Toko-Ri (1954)
Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955)
Picnic (1955)
The Proud and Profane (1956)
Toward the Unknown (1956)
The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
The Key (1958)
The Horse Soldiers (1959)
The World of Suzie Wong (1960)
Satan Never Sleeps (1962)
The Counterfeit Traitor (1962)
The Lion (1962)
Paris, When It Sizzles (1964)
The 7th Dawn (1964)
Alvarez Kelly (1966)
Casino Royale (1967)
The Devil's Brigade (1968)
The Wild Bunch (1969)
The Christmas Tree (1969)
Wild Rovers (1971)
The Revengers (1972)
Breezy (1973)
Open Season(1974)
The Towering Inferno (1974)
Network (1976)  - Academy Best Actor Nomination
Fedora (1978)
Damien: Omen II (1978)
Ashanti (1979)
The Earthling (1980)
When Time Ran Out (1980)
S.O.B. (1981)

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