CELESTE Holm, who soared to Broadway fame in Oklahoma! and won an Oscar in Gentleman’s Agreement but whose last years were filled with financial difficulty and estrangement from her sons, died yesterday at the age of 95.
Holm had been in hospital for about two weeks after being admitted with dehydration after a fire in actor Robert De Niro’s apartment in the same Manhattan building in Park West.
She had asked her husband on Friday to bring her home, and she spent her final days with her husband, Frank Basile, and other relatives and close friends by her side, said Amy Phillips, a great-niece of Holm.
In a career that spanned more than half a century, Holm played everyone from Ado Annie - the girl who just can’t say no in Oklahoma!- to a worldly theatrical agent in the 1991 comedy I Hate Hamlet to Bette Davis’ best friend in All About Eve.
She won the Academy Award in 1947 for best supporting actress for her performance in Gentleman’s Agreement and received Oscar nominations for Come to the Stable (1949) and All About Eve (1950).
Holm was also known for her untiring charity work - at one time she served on nine boards.
But late in her life she was caught up in a bitter, multi-year legal family battle that pitted her two sons against her and her fifth husband - former waiter 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. The actress and her sons no longer spoke, and she was sued for overdue maintenance and legal fees on her Manhattan apartment.