Beyond Mark Twain: A Conversation With Hal Holbrook

Feb 4, 2015

Hal Holbrook and his wife, Dixie Carter at the 41st Emmy Awards, 1989
Credit Alan Light / Creative Commons

I get to talk to a lot of remarkable people and still I tell you that you're about to hear a conversation with one of the most remarkable people I've encountered in five years. 

He is Hal Holbrook, he's about to turn 90 on February 17, and he will celebrate by performing as Mark Twain in Hartford on that day. We recorded this conversation about 20 hours ago. He's so dynamic, and passionate, and fun to talk to that I lost track of time and never got to ask him about the love of his life, his third wife, actress Dixie Carter, who died five years ago. A southern Republican married to Holbrook, a northeastern liberal. She is to him what Olivia Clemens is to Twain, a loss from which he can never recover.

I also didn't get to ask Holbrook about his nightmarish childhood, abandoned by both parents as a little boy and sent to Suffield Academy at age seven.

So, maybe a second interview... Please?

The Mark Twain House and Museum presents Hal Holbrook in his solo performance of "Mark Twain Tonight." Holbrook will perform at the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford on his 90th birthday, Tuesday, February 17, at 7:30 pm. The show benefits the Mark Twain House and Museum. Tickets can be purchased online at bushnell.org or by phone at (860) 987-5900.

What do you think? Comment below, email Colin@wnpr.org, or tweet @wnprcolin.


  • Hal Holbrook is an American film and stage actor, best known for his portrayal of Mark Twain in the solo show he created, “Mark Twain Tonight,” for which he won a Tony Award. His movies include “Lincoln,” and “Into the Wild,” for which he was nominated for an Oscar in 2007. He’s been in numerous television series, including more recently, “Sons of Anarchy,” and been nominated for several Emmy Awards, winning one for playing President Lincoln in “Sandburg’s Lincoln.” He's also featured in a documentary by Scott Teems and Laura D. Smith of his life, "Holbrook/Twain: An American Odyssey"