Earl Holliman

Earl Holliman


Also Known As
Henry Earl Holliman
Birth Place
Tennesas Swamp, Delhi, Louisiana
September 11, 1928


Occasional leading man and but usually a supporting player of motion pictures and TV with a distinctive soft, high resonant voice which can lend itself to playing adventurous men, macho types, and often simple souls, Earl Holliman is best recalled for his work as the youngest son in "The Rainmaker" (1956) alongside Katharine Hepburn and as Lt. Bill Crowley opposite Angie Dickinson on "Po...


Occasional leading man and but usually a supporting player of motion pictures and TV with a distinctive soft, high resonant voice which can lend itself to playing adventurous men, macho types, and often simple souls, Earl Holliman is best recalled for his work as the youngest son in "The Rainmaker" (1956) alongside Katharine Hepburn and as Lt. Bill Crowley opposite Angie Dickinson on "Police Woman" (NBC, 1974-78).

Holliman's natural father died before he was born, leaving his mother with seven children and in poverty. When he was a week old, Anthony Numkena (his birth name) was adopted by the Holliman family. From early childhood, Holliman dreamed of being an actor, but reality found him waiting tables for $7 per week at a Louisiana cafe when he was 13 years old. At age 15, he hitchhiked to Hollywood with dreams of breaking into the movies, but he returned home after a week. Instead, he lied about his age and joined the Navy, finding himself sent to radio school in Hollywood. For a year, he took classes by day and went to the Hollywood Canteen by night, meeting the stars who came by during wartime to life the morale "of the boys." Among those he met was Katharine Hepburn, with whom he would later work. When the Navy discovered Holliman's age deception, he was sent home, where he worked in an oil field. But, as soon as he finished with high school, he again enlisted in the Navy, and played leading roles in productions at the Norfolk (VA) Navy Theatre. Upon discharge, Holliman headed to Hollywood, where he studied drama at USC and the Pasadena Playhouse.

In 1953, he made his motion picture debut with one line in "Scared Stiff," a Dean Martin-Jerry Lewis vehicle. He received supporting billing in 1954, playing the youngest ranch hand son of tough papa Spencer Tracy in "Broken Lance." In 1955, he gave support to William Holden in "The Bridges at Toko-Ri" and was one of Richard Conte's thugs in "The Big Combo." Holliman's break came with "The Rainmaker," as the son who snatches hope from con man Burt Lancaster. Holliman won a Golden Globe as Best Supporting Actor for his performance. Also in 1956, he was able to work with Elizabeth Taylor, whom he had first met as a 15-year old at the Hollywood Canteen, in George Stevens' "Giant." He worked with Lancaster again in "Gunfight at the OK Corral" (1957) playing assistant to Wyatt Earp. Holliman was the lonely traveling salesman who spent the night with Geraldine Page in "Summer and Smoke" (1961) and Matt Elder, who dies in a gunfight early in the story in "The Sons of Katie Elder" (1965).

By the late 50s, Holliman was locked into being a supporting player in feature films, so he turned to TV for leading roles. He broke into the medium on a 1957 episode of "Playhouse 90" entitled "The Dark Side of the Earth," written by Rod Serling and also starring Kim Hunter and Van Heflin. Serling remembered Holliman, and when he was doing the pilot of "Twilight Zone" in 1959, cast him in the one-man tour de force "Where Is Everybody?." By then, Holliman also had a recording contract with Capitol Records, a result of his singing on an episode of "Kraft Television Theatre" in 1958. On another 1958 episode of "Kraft Television Theatre," Holliman was memorable playing opposite Sessue Hayakawa in "The Sea Is Boiling Hot." In the live drama, Holliman spoke only English, Hayakawa only Japanese. Holliman made his regular series debut as the star of "Hotel De Paree" (CBS, 1959-60), as a man who served 17 years for killing another man, then returns to town to work for the relatives of the man he murdered. Holliman's second series, "The Wide Country" (NBC, 1962-63), found him again in the West, this time as a bronco buster. It was more than a decade before he returned to regular series, playing Angie Dickinson's boss on "Police Woman" (NBC, 1974-78). In the last decade, he co-starred in the short-lived "P.S. I Luv U" (CBS, 1991-92), and opposite Delta Burke on "Delta" (ABC, 1992-93).

Holliman has also frequently played in TV-movies, commencing with the Marine saga "Tribes" (ABC, 1970). In 1977, he played a gay social worker trying to help boys who are turning tricks on the streets of L.A. in "Alexander: The Other Side of Dawn" (ABC), and he had one of his favorite roles in "Solitary Man" (CBS, 1979), playing a blue collar worker who gets a long-awaited promotion on the same day his wife announces she wants a divorce. In 1983, Holliman co-starred in "The Thorn Birds" miniseries for ABC, and in 1987, was back in Western gear, this time with Marshall Dillon on "Gunsmoke: Return to Dodge" (CBS).



Cast (Feature Film)

The Perfect Tenant (2000)
Bad City Blues (1999)
Joe Gags
Burt Lancaster: Daring To Reach (1996)
The 61st Annual Hollywood Christmas Parade (1992)
Gunsmoke: Return To Dodge City (1987)
Race Against The Harvest (1987)
Country Gold (1982)
Sharky's Machine (1981)
Where the Ladies Go (1980)
Good Luck, Miss Wyckoff (1979)
Editor Eckles
The Solitary Man (1979)
Dave Keyes
Alexander: The Other Side of Dawn (1977)
I Love You... Goodbye (1974)
Tom Chandler
Cry Panic (1974)
Trapped (1973)
The Biscuit Eater (1972)
Harve McNeil
Cannon (1971)
The Desperate Mission (1971)
Shad Clay
Alias Smith and Jones (1971)
Tribes (1970)
Smoke (1970)
Cal Fitch
Anzio (1968)
Sergeant Stimler
The Power (1968)
Talbot Scott
A Covenant With Death (1967)
Bryan Talbot
The Sons of Katie Elder (1965)
Matt Elder
Summer and Smoke (1961)
Archie Kramer
Armored Command (1961)
Sergeant Mike
Visit to a Small Planet (1960)
Last Train from Gun Hill (1959)
Rick Belden
The Trap (1959)
Tippy Anderson
Hot Spell (1958)
John Henry "Buddy" Duval, Jr.
Trooper Hook (1957)
Jeff Bennett
Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957)
Charles Bassett
Don't Go Near the Water (1957)
Adam Garrett
Giant (1956)
Bob Dace
The Rainmaker (1956)
Jim Curry
The Burning Hills (1956)
Mort Bayliss
Forbidden Planet (1956)
The Bridges at Toko-Ri (1955)
Nestor Gamidge
I Died a Thousand Times (1955)
The Big Combo (1955)
Tennessee Champ (1954)
Happy Jackfield
Broken Lance (1954)
Denny Devereaux
Devil's Canyon (1953)
Destination Gobi (1953)
Frank Swenson
Scared Stiff (1953)
Elevator boy
The Girls of Pleasure Island (1953)

Music (Feature Film)

Where the Ladies Go (1980)
Song Performer

Cast (Special)

Intimate Portrait: Angie Dickinson (2003)
Intimate Portrait: Lisa Hartman Black (2001)
14th Annual Genesis Awards (2000)
Thirteenth Annual Genesis Awards (1999)
Ninth Annual Genesis Awards (1995)
The Golden Globe's 50th Anniversary Celebration (1994)
The Seventh Annual Genesis Awards (1993)
The Television Academy Hall of Fame (1990)
The Hollywood Christmas Parade (1989)
The Hollywood Christmas Parade (1988)
Wildside (1986)
Wildside (1986)
Circus of the Stars (1977)
The Lady Died at Midnight (1958)
Wayne Pilgrim

Life Events


Adopted by Holliman family when one week old


At age 13, waited tables at Louisiana cafe for $7 per week


Hitchhiked to Hollywood; stayed one week and returned home; enlisted in Navy and sent to radio school


The Navy discovered his real age; sent home; worked in oil fields


Made film debut with one line in "Scared Stiff"


Won Golden Globe for his work in "The Rainmaker"


Made TV debut on "Playhouse 90"


Sang on "Kraft Theatre"; earned recording contract with Capitol Records


Starred in first TV series, "Hotel De Paree" (CBS)


Starred in pilot for "The Twilight Zone"


Made TV-movie debut in "Tribes" (ABC)


Had one of his favorite roles in "The Solitary Man" (CBS)


Co-starred on "The Thorn Birds" miniseries (ABC)


Movie Clip

Broken Lance (1954) -- (Movie Clip) The Governor Wants To See You Emerging from a deep dark prison to 20th Century-Fox Cinemascope Technicolor, Robert Wagner as Joe Devereaux gets escorted (by John Epper) to the see the governor at the state capitol, stopping to gaze at a portrait of his dad (Spencer Tracy), opening Edward Dmytryk’s burly Western Broken Lance, 1954.
Broken Lance (1954) -- (Movie Clip) Stay Close To Me Director Edward Dmytryk staging a tense prelude to a big action piece, Spencer Tracy as rancher Devereaux with his sons (Richard Widmark, Hugh O’Brian, Earl Holliman and Robert Wagner as Joe) confronts McAndrews (Robert Burton), boss of the copper mine that’s poisoning his cattle, in Broken Lance, 1954.
Giant (1956) -- (Movie Clip) So Fascinating And Uncouth After maybe the biggest single leap in time, still before WWII, the Texan Benedict kids have grown up to be Carroll Baker as Luz II, and Dennis Hopper and Fran Bennett as twins Jordan and Judy (Earl Holliman her boyfriend), perplexing their parents Bick and Leslie (Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor), in Giant, 1956.
Burning Hills, The (1956) -- (Movie Clip) You Dirty Gringos! Vengeful Trace (Tab Hunter) is observing a gang led by nasty ranch hand Mort (Earl Holliman) but plays it cool as they harass Chicana Maria Cristina (Natalie Wood) outside the bar, in The Burning Hills, 1956.
Burning Hills, The (1956) -- (Movie Clip) Don't Let Him Go Soft! Rancher Sutton (Ray Teal) has been shot and chews out son Jack (Skip Homeler) and crew (Claude Akins, Earl Holliman, Tyler MacDuff) on local politics, in The Burning Hills, 1956.
Power, The (1968) -- (Movie Clip) He Won't Expose Himself! Nordlund (Michael Rennie), supervisor from the Pentagon, is intrigued because Hallson (Arthur O’Connell) claims that someone on the committee (including Earl Holliman, Richard Carlson, Suzanne Pleshette, Nehemiah Persoff and George Hamilton as Tanner), has the power to take over using mind-control, in The Power, 1968.
Gunfight At The O.K. Corral (1957) -- (Movie Clip) No Women Gambling Still in Dodge City, Marshal Earp (Burt Lancaster) drops in to enforce his rule against women gambling on the north side, Laura Denbow (Rhonda Fleming) his target, in John Sturges' Gunfight At The O.K. Corral, 1957.
Bridges At Toko-Ri, The -- (Movie Clip) Two Frozen Mackerel Chopper pilot Forney (Mickey Rooney) and pal Nestor (Earl Holliman) rescue ditched flier Brubaker (William Holden), to the great relief of the Admiral (Fredric March) in The Bridges at Toko-Ri, 1955.


Bridges At Toko-Ri, The - (Re-Issue Trailer) Two jet pilots forge a lasting friendship while fighting the Korean War in The Bridges At Toko-Ri (1954).
Forbidden Planet - (Original Trailer) A group of space troopers investigates the destruction of an earth colony on a remote planet in Forbidden Planet (1956), the sci-fi thriller that introduced Robby the Robot.
Don't Go Near The Water - (Original Trailer) Navy office workers scheme to build a recreation hall on a remote Pacific island in the military comedy Don't Go Near The Water (1957) starring Glenn Ford.
Giant - (Original Trailer) A Texas ranching family fights to survive changing times in Giant (1956) starring James Dean, Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor.
Sons of Katie Elder, The - (Original Trailer) John Wayne stars in The Sons of Katie Elder (1965) about four sons of a ranch owner out to avenge his death.
I Died a Thousand Times - (Original Trailer) I Died a Thousand Times (1955), High Sierra in color and widescreen with Jack Palance and Shelley Winters in the Humphrey Bogart and Ida Lupino roles.
Tennessee Champ - (Original Trailer) A religious man becomes a boxing champ only to discover his manager is crooked in Tennessee Champ (1954).
Power, The - (Original Trailer) A scientist tries to unmask a murderous genius with telekinetic skills in The Power (1968), starring George Hamilton & Suzanne Pleshette.
Summer And Smoke - (Original Trailer) A small-town spinster's repressed love for the local rebel spells danger in Tennessee Williams' Summer And Smoke (1961).
Devil's Canyon - (Original Trailer) A U.S. Marshal is unjustly convicted and sent to a notorious Arizona prison in Devil's Canyon (1953).
Last Train from Gun Hill - (Original Trailer) Kirk Douglas sets out to find who raped and murdered his wife in John Sturges' Last Train from Gun Hill (1959).