William Holden was one of the biggest box office draws in the 1950s yet most of what you read about him today focuses on his love affairs and untimely death at the age of 63. A lot of what you read about the men and women of classic Hollywood can be difficult. Many stars dealt with demons as they navigated the pressures and difficulties of fame. But for some reason Holden can not escape the tawdry details of his life even in death. Any time I mention him on Twitter or in person, someone immediately wants to discuss either one of his affairs or his heavy drinking. It’s upsetting because it negates the work of a talented actor who changed our ideas of heroes and masculinity. Perhaps it’s because Holden made acting look so easy with his subtlety that he’s taken for granted?
Whatever the case may be, it’s time to change the conversation to celebrate his work. On this day in 1918, Holden was born in O’Fallon, Illinois. He would have been 99-years-old had he lived. Joining me in a special audio discussion about Holden’s body of work and enduring legacy are actress and author Monika Henreid, founder and host of the podcast Wrong Reel James Hancock, and blogger of Cinema Crossroads Julia Ricci.
After listening, here are the William Holden films you should check out:
Golden Boy (1939, Dir. Rouben Mamoulian)
Apartment for Peggy (1948, Dir. George Seaton)
Sunset Boulevard (1950, Dir. Billy Wilder)
Born Yesterday (1950, Dir. George Cukor)
Stalag 17 (1953, Dir. Billy Wilder)
Love is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955, Dir. Henry King)
Picnic (1955, Dir. Joshua Logan)
The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957, Dir. David Lean)
The Wild Bunch (1969, Dir. Sam Peckinpah)
Breezy (1973, Dir. Clint Eastwood)
Network (1976, Dir. Sidney Lumet)