Celeste Holm, one of the grande dame character actresses of Broadway and Hollywood in the 1940s and ’50s, died yesterday at the age of 95. Holm started out in the theater, playing opposite the young Gene Kelly in the 1940 Broadway revival of The Time Of Your Life before creating the role of Ado Annie and singing “I Cain’t Say No” in the smash Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Oklahoma! Holm made her movie debut in 1946's Three Little Girls In Blue, then won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress the next year for Elia Kazan’s Gentleman’s Agreement. In the ‘50s, Holm appeared in the Frank Sinatra musicals The Tender Trap and High Society, and had perhaps her most memorable film role as Bette Davis’ best friend in the Oscar-winning backstage melodrama All About Eve.
By then, Holm was devoting most of her energy to her stage career, and began appearing in movies only sporadically. In her later years, she would seem to disappear for years, then turn up in something like Three Men And A Baby as Ted Danson’s mother. However, she did become a familiar face on TV, playing the Fairy Godmother in a 1965 musical version of Cinderella starring Lesley Ann Warren, and making guest appearances, often in recurring roles, on such series as Archie Bunker’s Place, Touched By An Angel, Falcon Crest, and the daytime soap opera Loving. Holm continued to appear on the New York stage into her seventies, with roles in the Broadway comedy I Hate Hamlet and the 1994 Encores! series revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Allegro.