Actor: William Holden


While he had the good looks of a leading man, William Holden's specialty was playing disaffected loners trying to find their way through life's complications. Uploaded by

William Holden was what some people call a “man’s man.” Not in the John Wayne shoot-em-up kind of way, but in a solid, securely masculine way. He seemed to dominate any scene he was in, which must be the highest compliment a movie star can receive. Yet he often wasn’t a “hero”; he frequently played cynical or detached men who fought against established forces. He made some terrific movies, and was one of the leading actors of his time.

He made two dozen movies before his breakthrough part came in Sunset Boulevard. His memorable films include:

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  • Sunset Boulevard (1950 – Nomination)
  • Born Yesterday (1950)
  • Stalag 17 (1953 – Academy Award)
  • Sabrina (1954)
  • The Bridges at Toko-Ri (1954)
  • Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955)
  • Picnic (1955)
  • The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
  • The Wild Bunch (1969)
  • Network (1975 – Nomination)

Looking at that list, the obvious omission is Holden not receiving an Oscar nod for The Bridge on the River Kwai. (His co-star Alec Guiness earned Best Actor.) In the American Film Institute’s list of 100 Years…100 Stars, Holden appeared at number 25.

Check out this charged dance scene (of all things!):


7 responses to “Actor: William Holden

  1. Pingback: “Love Is A Many-Splendored Thing” Performed by The Four Aces (1955) — Old School Music Lover

  2. William Holden is definitely one of my favorite actors of all time. He played his roles so brilliantly, I loved Sunset Blvd., and Bridge on River Kwai, among many others. I read that he was not comfortable making Picnic, as he thought he was too old to play the character; however, you can’t deny the chemistry between him and Kim Novac, and he really didn’t come off as being that much older than her – even so, he was hot! And this scene in Picnic is one of my favorites! As an actor, he came across as very masculine, yet not ‘macho,’ tough, but sensitive, and very sexy! I love in Picnic when he says to her ‘ you make me patient…’ and then the following morning, after they were obviously intimate, he asks her, ‘are you ok’? Corny, I know, but ya gotta love it! I wasn’t born yet when this was made, but boy would I have loved to be Kim Novac in that movie! (Or even Norma Desmond! HA!)

  3. Verita Thompson, mistress of Bogart was a friend of mine. I once saw a picture of Bogart, Holden and her together on the set of the original Sabrina… I mentioned how handsome Holden was, she replied “You’re not kidding kid, he was really nice too.” You can see the picture in her book “Bogie and Me.”

    • How did you meet Verita Thompson?

      • Additional comment. It is my understanding that affair ended, 1954, and she married other lover, Thompson, 1955. She and Bogart, 1942-1954 =
        12yrs! So much irresponsible reporting: 15, 17, even 20yr. affair, has
        been written.

  4. I always thought William Holden was one of the best looking men I had ever seen. However, as he aged, his looks deteriorated probably because of his alcoholism. But in his prime, I didn’t think anybody could hold a candle to him and he was a great actor. There aren’t any like him, or many others, today.

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