Taylor Holmes: From Sleeper Cars to “Sleeping Beauty”

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Taylor Holmes (1878-1959) started out by acting in one-act playlets in vaudeville. He began his career in 1899 at Keith’s Theatre in Boston, and then spent a few months in English music hall. By 1900 he was starting to get roles on the legitimate stage, appearing in 100 of them through 1946, including Clyde Fitch’s banned production of Sapho (1900) with Olga Nethersole, Hamlet (1900) with E.H. Sothern, Trilby (1915) with Wilton Lackaye and Burr MacIntosh, George K. Spoor’s A Pair of A Sixes (1918), and I’d Rather Be Right (1937), During that time he continued to work in vaudeville occasionally; he was on the bill at the Palace during it’s opening week in 1913 and also the inaugural bill at Radio City Music Hall, for example.

From 1917 until his death Holmes also enjoyed a flourishing movie career, with prominent turns in such films as Nightmare Alley(1947) Joan of Arc (1948), an early TV version of A Christmas Carol (1949) and Gentleman Prefer Blondes (1953). His final role is the voice of the KIng in Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty (1959).

Holmes was the father of the actors Phillips Holmes and Ralph Holmes (the latter of whom was married to Libby Holman). Sadly he was to outlive both. Phillips died in WWII, Ralph committed suicide after Holman and he separated.

To find out more about vaudeville past and present, and performers like Taylor Holmes, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous

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