Sunday, August 19, 2012

Oscar winner and 'Oklahoma!' star Celeste Holm dies at 95 - New York Daily News

Celeste Holm

Kevork Djansezian/AP

Oscar-winner Celeste Holm, 95, died in her Central Park West apartment on Sunday. 

Celeste Holm, who soared to Broadway fame in “Oklahoma!” and won an Oscar for “Gentleman’s Agreement” but whose last years were marred by money troubles and family conflict, died Sunday, a relative said.

She was 95.

Holm died at her longtime apartment on Central Park West, in the same building where Robert De Niro lives and where a fire broke out last month.

In a career that spanned more than half a century, Holm played everyone from Ado Annie â€" the girl who just can’t say no in “Oklahoma!”â€" to guest star turns on “Fantasy Island” and “The Love Boat II” to Bette Davis’ best friend in “All About Eve.”

She won the Academy Award in 1948 for best supporting actress for “Gentleman’s Agreement” and received Oscar nominations for 1949’s “Come to the Stable” and “All About Eve” a year later.

But late in her life she was in a bitter legal battle that pitted her two sons against her and her fifth husband â€" former waiter Frank Basile, whom she married in 2004 and was more than 45 years her junior. The court fight over investments and inheritance wiped away much of her savings and left her dependent on Social Security. Her first Broadway success came in 1939 in the cast of William Saroyan’s “The Time of Your Life.” But it was her creation of the role of man-crazy Ado Annie Carnes in the Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein musical “Oklahoma!” in 1943 that really impressed the critics.

The slender, blue-eyed blond moved west to pursue a film career. “Hollywood is a good place to learn how to eat a salad without smearing your lipstick,” she would say.

She returned to New York after several years.

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