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‘Oklahoma!’ Actress Celeste Holm Dies

Oscar winner and Broadway veteran Celeste Holm passed away at the age of 95 on Sunday, according to a relative. Holm spent the final years of her life battling financial problems and was estranged from her sons. Holm won an Oscar for ‘Gentleman’s Agreement’ and became famous on Broadway as a member of the case ‘Oklahoma.’ Holm was in the hospital for two weeks due to dehydration and asked her husband to bring her home on Friday so she could spend her final days with him. Holm’s husband, Frank Basile, and her relatives spent her final days with her. Holm passed away at 3:30 a.m. at her apartment in Central Park West.

“I think she wanted to be here, in her home, among her things, with people who loved her,” said great-niece Amy Phillips.

Holm won an Academy Award for best supporting actress in 1947 for her role in ‘Gentleman’s Agreement.’ She was also nominated for her work in the 1949 film ‘Come to the Stable’ and the 1950 film ‘All About Eve.’ In 1982, President Ronald Reagan appointed Holm to the National Council on the Arts for a term of six years. During Holm’s later years in life she was embroiled in a legal battle with her two sons and her fifth husband, Basile. She married Basile in 2004. The legal battle wiped out the majority of her savings and had to become dependent on Social Security. Holm and her sons had not spoken in a long time and was sued because of overdue legal fees and maintenance for her apartment.

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Holm was born on April 29, 1917 in New York. She became enthralled with the theatre at the age of 3 when her grandmother took her to see Anna Pavlova, the ballerina. “There she was, being tossed in midair, caught, no mistakes, no falls. She never knew what an impression she made,” Holm said years later.

Holm made a name for herself as Ado Annie Carnes in the musical ‘Oklahoma!’ in 1943. Holm said that the only reason she auditioned for the role was because of World War II. “There was a need for entertainers in Army camps and hospitals. The only way you could do that was if you were singing in something.” When the musical ended on Broadway Holm decided to head west to try her career out in Hollywood. “Hollywood is a good place to learn how to eat a salad without smearing your lipstick,” Holm said. “Oscar Hammerstein told me, `You won’t like it,’” and he was right, she said. Hollywood “was just too artificial. The values are entirely different. That balmy climate is so deceptive.”

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