Earl Holliman went from small town boy to Hollywood stardom – here’s how he looks now, aged 95

About 80 years ago, Earl Holliman was escorting movie goers to their seats through the dark aisles of a theatre in Shreveport, Louisiana.

But he really wanted to be on the screen.

Struggling through auditions, the ambitious young actor was repeatedly told “you just don’t look the part,” so he went to the Paramount Studio barber shop and changed his look.

Keep reading to learn more about the Golden Globe winning actor and the haircut that helped launch his career!

Born in 1928, Louisiana’s Earl Holliman always dreamed of being on the big screen.

When he was about 14, he had a job, where he earned 25 cents per hour, guiding movie patrons through the aisles to their seats at Shreveport’s Strand Theater.

Saving his money, the future star “saved a few bucks,” and when he was 15, he “hitchhiked to Hollywood.”

“I brought along a pair of dark sunglasses, which I associated with Hollywood, and, on my first day in Hollywood I went to Grauman’s Chinese Theater and I remember walking up and down the forecourt of Grauman’s [where movie stars put their handprints and footprints] in my dark glasses hoping everyone would wonder who I was,” Holliman, 95, said in a earlier interview. “I didn’t last long. I thought I’d be able to get a job, but I couldn’t get one.”

Feeling like he failed, the young man returned home and completed high school. After graduation he served in the navy, that set him up at a radio communications school in Los Angeles.

American actor Earl Holliman, circa 1955. (Photo by Bud Fraker/Archive Photos/Getty Images)

“Whenever I’d get liberty [shore leave], I’d hightail it over to the Hollywood Canteen and I met people I’d later work with like Roddy McDowall. Later, I applied for and was accepted at the Pasadena Playhouse,” said Holliman, who had a small role in the 1953 film Scared Stiff with Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin.

But Hollywood was cruel to the ambitious man, who during auditions kept hearing: “you just don’t look the part.”

“I was told that, even though I was a good actor, I wasn’t handsome enough to be a leading man and I wasn’t offbeat enough to be a character actor. I was just kind of in between,” he recalled.

Determined to find a path to stardom, and to land a role in the 1953 film The Girls of Pleasure Island, Holliman decided to get a makeover.

‘Funny-looking haircut’

Describing his big break that came with his new look, the star of Forbidden Planet says, “Well, when I sat in the barber’s chair…they cut my hair about a quarter of an inch long and in the front it laid down like bangs…and, with my big ears, my broken nose, my two front teeth, my little eyes and my funny-looking haircut, I was suddenly a character actor. Just like that.”

After landing the role in The Girls of Pleasure Island, Holliman had a Golden Globe-winning performance in 1956’s The Rainmaker, where he starred alongside Katharine Hepburn and Burt Lancaster.

“That’s still my favorite film,” he says in a 1991 interview with the Calgary Herald. “It was the one that made all the difference in lifting my career to a whole new plateau.”

Over the next several years, Holliman – who also had a successful career in music – appeared on screen next to Hollywood legends like John Wayne, Dean Martin, Kirk Douglas and Rock Hudson.

From 1974 to 1978, the star of the TV series Wide Country next became the face of Sergeant Bill Crowley in Police Woman, a TV show that also starred Angie Dickinson.

Speaking of the chemistry he shared with his co-star, who’s now 92 years old, the Giant star says, “She was very sexy yet at the same time there was something about her you wanted to protect, a little girl quality, that made you want to put your arm around her and say it was going to be [okay].” Holliman continues, “We were together 12 or 14 hours a day and Angie’s very opinionated, when she thinks she’s right that’s the way it is, and we had our share of disagreements, but you could tell we had a warmth. It looked like two people who adored each other. It was there.”

After small appearances in TV series like the Twilight Zone and the short-lived Delta, with Delta Burke, and films including Bad City Blues (1999) and The Perfect Tenant (2000), The Thorn Birds actor, who earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1977, retired from acting.

Animal advocacy

Since leaving the screen, he’s now focused on his role as an animal rights advocate.

The former star, who’s nursed a blind possum, injured doves and mauled cats, doesn’t discriminate.

He also loves pigeons.

“I feed at least 500 of them a day. In fact, it’s like a pigeon McDonald’s at my property,” he says.

For 25 years, Holliman served as the president for Actors and Other Animals, an organization supported by multiple celebrities like the late Betty White, Lily Tomlin, Valerie Bertinelli and Wendie Malick.

What are your films or TV series with Earl Holliman? Please share your thoughts with us and then share this story so we can hear from others!


Thank you for subscribing!
Something went wrong. Please try again later.

Sign up for our newsletter