Happy Birth­day to Ster­ling Hol­loway

Film leg­end born 114 years ago on Mon­day

The Standard Journal - - ENTERTAINMENT -

Edi­tor’s Note: The fol­low­ing in­for­ma­tion was sub­mit­ted by Cedar­town res­i­dent Don­nie Jar­rell. Jar­rell, a long­time friend of the late Ster­ling Hol­loway, is the owner of many his­tor­i­cal records and doc­u­ments that chron­i­cle Hol­loway’s life and act­ing ca­reer.

A star of tele­vi­sion and film’s legacy lives on 114 years on as the voice of a beloved char­ac­ter, Ster­ling Hol­loway was born.

This ar­ti­cle chron­i­cles many of the ex­cit­ing roles he played on the Hol­ly­wood scene — most no­tably as the voice of Win­nie the Pooh. Hol­loway passed away in 1992.

Ster­ling Hol­loway—known to mil­lions from his work in mo­tion pic­tures, tele­vi­sion and as the an­i­mated voice of Walt Dis­ney’s Win­nie the Pooh— was born in Cedar­town on Jan. 14, 1905.

Like his fa­ther, a prom­i­nent Polk County busi­ness­man, Ster­ling was the name­sake of Con­fed­er­ate Gen. Ster­ling “Pap” Price Ster­ling Hol­loway at­tended pub­lic school in Cedar­town be­fore be­ing en­rolled at Ge­or­gia Mil­i­tary Academy in Col­lege Park, which is now known as Wood­ward Academy. (Oliver Hardy — of Lau­rel and Hardy fame — also at­tended GMA.)

Ea­ger to pur­sue his life­long am­bi­tion of be­com­ing an ac­tor, young Ster­ling dropped out of GMA and con­vinced his par­ents to let him en­roll at the pres­ti­gious Amer­i­can Academy of Dra­matic Arts in New York City.

At age 16, Hol­loway was the youngest stu­dent ever ac­cepted for en­roll­ment.

His class­mates in­cluded Spencer Tracey, Pat O’Brien and Ge­or­gia Neece — who was later ap­pointed by Pres­i­dent Tru­man as the first woman Sec­re­tary of the U.S. Trea­sury.

Fol­low­ing his 1923 grad­u­a­tion from the AADA, Ster­ling was ac­cepted into New York’s Theatre Guild, and the most pres­ti­gious the­atri­cal or­ga­ni­za­tion in Amer­ica at that time.

He played sev­eral mi­nor roles in Guild pro­duc­tions be­fore be­com­ing an overnight sen­sa­tion in a 1925 comic re­vue called “The Gar­rick Gai­eties.”

To­gether with June Cochrane, Ster­ling Hol­loway sang the song, which launched Rogers and Hart as a hit song­writ­ing team: “Man­hat­tan.”

Ster­ling ap­peared in three im­mensely pop­u­lar edi­tions of the Gai­eties, 1925, 1926 and 1930, be­fore leav­ing for Hol­ly­wood to find a ca­reer in mo­tion pic­tures.

By the mid-1930s, Hol­loway was one of the busiest char­ac­ter ac­tors in Hol­ly­wood, ap­pear­ing with Clark Gable, Joan Craw­ford, Mar­lene Di­et­rich, Bing Crosby, Bar­bara Stan­wyck, Jimmy Cag­ney, Fred As­taire and Gary Cooper in dozens of films.

He also worked un­der Hol­ly­wood’s bright­est direc­tors and pro­duc­ers in­clud­ing: Frank Capra, John Hus­ton, Lewis Mile­stone, Alexan­der Korda, Ernst Lu­bitsch and famed chore­og­ra­pher Busby Berke­ley.

Dur­ing this time, Ster­ling was also a reg­u­lar on many net­work ra­dio broad­casts orig­i­nat­ing from Hol­ly­wood, in­clud­ing “Chase and San­born Hour,” starring Don Ameche, and Rudy Vallee’s va­ri­ety show.

His ra­dio work stretched into the early 1950s.

In 1941, Ster­ling Hol­loway’s voice fea­tured for the first time in Dis­ney car­toon “Dumbo.” (In 1934, Walt Dis­ney had con­sid­ered us­ing Ster­ling as the voice of Sleepy in “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.)

Dur­ing Walt Dis­ney’s life­time, Ster­ling Hol­loway ap­peared in more Dis­ney an­i­mated films than any other ac­tor in Hol­ly­wood in­clud­ing: “Bambi,” “Peter and the Wolf,” “Alice in Won­der­land,” “Jun­gle Book,” the “Win­nie the Pooh” se­ries and over a dozen oth­ers.

His voice is now syn­ony­mous with Dis­ney an­i­ma­tion.

When Amy Carter heard that Pooh’s al­ter ego suf­fered a heart at­tack in the late 1970s, she asked her daddy — U.S. Pres­i­dent Jimmy Carter — to call and wish his fel­low Ge­or­gian well.

Ster­ling was the first Hol­ly­wood ac­tor drafted into World War II. His num­ber came up in a draw­ing held by Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Mor­gan­thau in Oc­to­ber of 1940.

Hol­loway co-wrote a va­ri­ety show for the Army — “Hey Rookie!” — which paid for a recre­ation fa­cil­ity for G.I.s.

His show played in Los An­ge­les the­aters for nine months be­fore mov­ing to the al­lied front lines in North Africa, Si­cily and Italy.

Hol­loway and his troupe trav­eled 60,000 miles while ex­posed to bomb­ing raids, ma­chine gun fire, snipers and mor­tar rounds. Hol­loway was for­mally mus­tered out of the Army with a reg­i­men­tal re­treat re­view, “an honor un­par­al­leled in mil­i­tary his­tory for an un­wounded, un­dec­o­rated sol­dier.”

Fol­low­ing the war, Hol­loway moved into tele­vi­sion work, ap­pear­ing reg­u­larly as Waldo in episodes of “The Life of Ri­ley.” He also ap­peared as a guest star on “The Un­touch­ables,” “Su­per­man,” “Hazel,” “Andy Grif­fith,” “The Twi­light zone,” “Gil­li­gan’s Is­land” and dozens of other shows.

As fail­ing health slowed down Hol­loway’s work sched­ule in the late 1970s and early 1980s, he fo­cused on live stage per­for­mance, com­mer­cial voice-over work (in­clud­ing the Ge­or­gia Pa­cific “An­gel Soft” tis­sue cam­paign), sell­ing off his re­mark­able col­lec­tion of con­tem­po­rary art and re­vis­it­ing friends in Cedar­town.

The street run­ning along­side his birth­place in Cedar­town was re­named in his honor shortly be­fore his death of heart fail­ure on Nov. 23, 1992. The street is lo­cated off Col­lege Street, near the county gov­ern­ment of­fice build­ing.

At Hol­loway’s re­quest, there was no fu­neral ser­vice fol­low­ing his death. His re­mains were cre­mated by the Nep­tune So­ci­ety and spread over the Pa­cific.

In 2017, ad­di­tional hon­ors were given to Hol­loway af­ter the City of Cedar­town Com­mis­sion voted to ap­prove nam­ing the pocket park in front of Polk County Court­house No. 2 in his honor. The past year also saw the ad­di­tion of a new room in the re­cently moved Polk County His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety mu­seum — now lo­cated on West Av­enue across from West Cinema — that pays trib­ute to Hol­loway.

The room, which in­cludes mem­o­ra­bilia and pho­to­graphs from the col­lec­tion of Don­nie Jar­rell, is open to the pub­lic dur­ing mu­seum hours.

/ Kevin Myrick

A room at the Polk County His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety Mu­seum’s new lo­ca­tion on West Av­enue was set aside specif­i­cally to show off the life and ca­reer of Cedar­town’s own Ster­ling Hol­loway.

/ Contributed by Don­nie Jar­rell

The Cedar­town na­tive chose famed ar­chi­tect Paul Ster­ling Hoag to de­sign his home over­look­ing La­guna Beach. Hol­loway’s pri­or­ity was to dis­play his art col­lec­tion.

/ Contributed by Don­nie Jar­rell

Ster­ling Hol­loway played Otto the book­keeper in “New Wine,” a 1941 film about com­poser Franz Schu­bert.

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