When Hal Holbrook Came to Owensboro and My Dad Was His Chauffeur
We got the news today that one of the greatest actors ever, Hal Holbrook, had passed away at the age of 95 back on January 23rd. Let me tell you a little story about Hal and my dad.
Back in the 90s, the RiverPark Center had a theater series in which celebrity actors would come perform in plays at the venue.
Some of the those performances included Kevin McCarthy (Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Death of a Salesman) in Give 'Em Hell Harry, Gavin MacLeod (The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Love Boat) and Michael Learned (The Waltons) in Love Letters, and Hal Holbrook (countless film and TV appearances, including an Oscar-nominated turn in Into the Wild) in Mark Twain Tonight--arguably the role for which he is best known.
And Dad got to meet all of them. In fact, he got to spend a great deal of time with them, since the RiverPark hired him to chauffeur these actors from the airport in Evansville to the theater in Owensboro.
They probably had no idea they'd get a talker like my dad, but they did. And he enjoyed his conversations with every one of them.
I truly wish I'd picked Dad's brain more about these conversations, but he did seem to indicate that Holbrook was just as big a conversationalist.
I wish I'd gotten to meet the man. I was, well AM, a huge fan. Among his many roles was Reece Watson, the boyfriend of Julia Sugarbaker, played by his late wife Dixie Carter, on the hit sitcom Designing Women (better than The Golden Girls). And, in fact, he is interred in their family mausoleum in her hometown of McLemoresville, Tennessee, just about six hours from here.
I know because I've been there as part of my hobby of collecting photos of the headstones of famous people.
What a great actor he was and kept working into his 90s. I'll never forget many of his performances OR that he once had a pretty lengthy conversation with my dad in a limo between here and Evansville.