My friend Henry Kujawa is doing digital restorations of the covers of Tim Holt comic books of the early 1950s. Here's an example.
Henry's restorations remind me that in 2007 I wrote this post about Holt, an actor I thought was sadly overlooked in his time. With some editing I am re-posting it here.
Holt was born in 1919 as Charles John Holt III. He served in World War II as a lieutenant in the Air Force. He died of cancer in 1973 at the young age of 54.
Tim Holt acted in one of my personal top ten movies of all time, Treasure Of The Sierra Madre, co-starring with Humphrey Bogart and director John Huston's father, Walter.
It wasn't the first A-movie Holt had made; he'd been in Orson Welles’ Magnificent Ambersons, for instance, but Sierra Madre should have cemented his reputation as an A-list movie star. So what happened? I’ve read the Tim Holt biographies on the Internet and they don't really tell me. I wonder if it was personal problems or enemies in the studios? Maybe contract problems? They don't say.
What I know is what I saw on the screen. In a movie like Sierra Madre it would have been easy for Holt to get lost between two scenery-chewers like Bogart and Huston. Neither of those guys was ever accused of being subtle as far as acting technique. But Holt, as Curtin, is the man in the middle. He’s the glue that holds the team of three together. It is understated as far as acting goes, but his character is as important as the other two, and in examining the themes of the movie, maybe even more so.
Bogart’s character, Fred C. Dobbs is paranoid in spades, and Bogart plays his part perfectly. While Director Huston allowed his father to emote without restraint, adding to the din caused by Bogart's character, Holt stands quietly by. He is the solid force on which the three of them depend as they dig for gold in some of the most remote and treacherous country on earth.
Then as now, maybe in 1948 the accolades went to the actors who got the most attention on the screen. There was no doubt that Bogart was the star. Why Holt’s own star didn't go on the ascendancy after this movie is one of those Hollywood mysteries. I’m sure there were reasons unknown to those of us who wonder. Tim Holt was a fine movie cowboy in the Saturday matinee tradition of Western movies...
...but he was also a fine actor with a great presence on screen who should've been a major movie star.