DAVID BIANCULLI

Founder / Editor

ERIC GOULD

Associate Editor

LINDA DONOVAN

Assistant Editor

Contributors

ALEX STRACHAN

MIKE HUGHES

KIM AKASS

MONIQUE NAZARETH

ROGER CATLIN

GARY EDGERTON

TOM BRINKMOELLER

GERALD JORDAN

NOEL HOLSTON

 
 
 
 
 
Ken Burns Remembers Hal Holbrook, 1925-2021
February 2, 2021  | By David Bianculli  | 19 comments
 

Today, on the day that Hal Holbrook’s Jan. 23 death at age 95 was revealed, PBS held a video press conference for Hemingway, the latest film by Ken Burns and company. I asked Burns to comment on Holbrook, who was the key ingredient in his fabulous 2001 documentary about another seminal American writer, Mark Twain.

“Hal was a friend,” Ken Burns said. “He was a narrator of our Lewis & Clark film, and someone we interviewed for our Twain film. We loved him. He was really great at what he did.

"You must understand, he had on his hard drive – I thought it was six hours; the [New York] Times suggested today it was 10 hours – of memorized material,” from which he would draw for his various one-man Mark Twain Tonight! stage shows.

“And he would sometimes, just minutes before he went on stage, decide which of the two hours he was going to put [into that night’s one-man stage show]. Do I have a lot of Republicans? Well, then, I’m going to throw thunderbolts about the Republicans. Do I have a lot of Democrats? Then I’m going to throw the torpedo like that.

“He was fantastic. And in fact, one of the best shows – I saw him as a little boy, I saw him several times, and then the last time I saw him perform it, not on tape or anything, was right after 9/11, in November, on Twain’s birthday, the 30th of November. And he performed at Ford’s Theatre, a pretty sacred ground for me. And he had, for the first time, basically most of President Bush’s cabinet out [in the audience], and he just let go, until these people were squirming in their seats. And just with material that was, in many cases, 100 years old.”

Burns smiled and concluded, “He’s sui generis. There’s nobody like him, and I’m so happy to count him – and I know I’m speaking for Dayton Duncan, who worked on both those films, the Lewis & Clark and the Mark Twain – how much we loved him and miss him so.”

I echo those sentiments. I interviewed Hal Holbrook for my book on the Smothers Brothers, and on several other occasions. Like Ken Burns, I saw him perform live on stage at different points in my life and his. And as a TV viewer and critic, I was the beneficiary of a generous number of fabulous televised performances, from That Certain Summer to Pueblo.

But my biggest debt to Hal Holbrook comes from his CBS telecast of Mark Twain Tonight! in 1967. It was the year I discovered both Mark Twain the writer, thanks to Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and Holbrook’s dramatic delivery of excerpts from that same novel in that CBS special.

I never forgot either, and both of them shaped me. Thank you, Hal.

 
 
 
 
 
Leave a Comment: (No HTML, 1000 chars max)
 
 Name (required)
 
 Email (required) (will not be published)
 
AOTMO
Type in the verification word shown on the image.
 
 
 Page: 1 of 1  | Go to page: 
19 Comments
 
 
Very informative post! There is a lot of information here that can help any business get started with a successful social networking campaign.
Jul 31, 2022   |  Reply
 
 
Positive site, where did u come up with the information on this posting?I have read a few of the articles on your website now, and I really like your style. Thanks a million and please keep up the effective work.
Jul 30, 2022   |  Reply
 
 
Fabulous post, you have denoted out some fantastic points, I likewise think this s a very wonderful website. I will visit again for more quality contents and also, recommend this site to all. Thanks.
Jul 30, 2022   |  Reply
 
 
Nice to read your article! I am looking forward to sharing your adventures and experiences.
Jul 11, 2022   |  Reply
 
 
It’s appropriate time to make some plans for the future and it is time to be happy. I have read this post and if I could I wish to suggest you few interesting things or advice. Perhaps you could write next articles referring to this article. I desire to read even more things about it!
Jun 27, 2022   |  Reply
 
 
All the contents you mentioned in post is too good and can be very useful. I will keep it in mind, thanks for sharing the information keep updating, looking forward for more posts.Thanks
 
 
very interesting keep posting.
 
 
Some truly wonderful work on behalf of the owner of this internet site , perfectly great articles .
Jun 25, 2022   |  Reply
 
 
I’m going to read this. I’ll be sure to come back. thanks for sharing. and also This article gives the light in which we can observe the reality. this is very nice one and gives indepth information. thanks for this nice article...
Jun 23, 2022   |  Reply
 
 
Hello, this weekend is good for me, since this time i am reading this enormous informative article here at my home.
Jun 22, 2022   |  Reply
 
 
Hello, this weekend is good for me, since this time i am reading this enormous informative article here at my home.
Jun 22, 2022   |  Reply
 
 
Hello, this weekend is good for me, since this time i am reading this enormous informative article here at my home.
Jun 22, 2022   |  Reply
 
 
It is the kind of information I have been trying to find. Thank you for writing this information. It has proved utmost beneficial for me.
Jun 19, 2022   |  Reply
 
 
 
 
I really loved reading your blog. It was very well authored and easy to understand. Unlike other blogs I have read which are really not that good.Thanks alot!
Jun 14, 2022   |  Reply
 
 
I was surfing the Internet for information and came across your blog. I am impressed by the information you have on this blog. It shows how well you understand this subject.
Jun 14, 2022   |  Reply
 
 
You made such an interesting piece to read, giving every subject enlightenment for us to gain knowledge. Thanks for sharing the such information with us to read this...
Jun 9, 2022   |  Reply
 
 
pembuatan bendera, cetak bendera, buat bendera, sablon bendera, bikin bendera, print bendera, vendor bendera, jasa pembuatan bendera, tempat bikin bendera, bendera custom.
Apr 28, 2022   |  Reply
 
 
Bruce E Shaw
I once saw Hal Holbrook's "Mark Twain Tonight" show in Ambler, PA. He did a terrific job of capturing what we know of Mark Twain's style. He also was a great actor in numerous movies and TV shows! Always admired Holbrook's passion for progressive causes and social justice. He always advocated with politeness, intelligence, and often with wit.
Feb 3, 2021   |  Reply
 
 
 
 Page: 1 of 1  | Go to page: