Do you know this Jew? An actress known for her scandalous personal life and revolutionary activism – St. Louis Jewish Light

Posted By on April 20, 2022

Although she returned briefly to Broadway in 1934, inRevenge with Music,singing Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietzs You and the Night and the Music, Holman was becoming vehemently antiTin Pan Alley. Cole PortersYou Never Knowin 1938 was the last musical in which she appeared. Unfortunately, Reynoldss death was only the first in a series of tragic events. In 1939, Holman married a second time, to Ralph de Rimer Holmes, an actor who spent most of the marriage at war and committed suicide soon after his return. On her own, Holman adopted two sons at birth: Tim (b. 1945) and Tony (b. 1947). Soon after, in August 1950, her first son, Topper, died climbing a mountain.

In 1941, Holman met Leadbelly and Josh White at a Greenwich Village nightclub. For the next four years, as Holmans guitar accompanist, White interested her in adapting songs previously sung only by black performers. Building on her earlier cross-over career, Holman researched American folk and blues songs at the Library of Congress, making use of the Lomax field recordings.

In 1947, Gerald Cook became her primary mentor and co-artist in this enterprise, composing and rearranging songs she referred to as Earth Songs. Their highly theatrical collaborative performance,Blues, Ballads and Sin Songs,included lyrics by Tennessee Williams and Paul Bowles, and made three continental tours. Mainbocher designed her trademark floor-length skirt, which served as a prop. She also used a small chair dramatically to suggest prison bars at one moment and an executioners block the next. Among their last appearances were a UNICEF Concert (1965), a Georgetown University benefit concert for civil rights (1966), and a World Federation of United Nations Association Benefit (1968). Embracing a Jewishness she had at times denied, Holman also made a point of accepting the invitation of the mayor of Jerusalem to perform at the first anniversary of the citys new museum.

Libby Holman adopted and practiced Zen at the end of her life, and when, on June 18, 1971, she apparently committed suicide at her Connecticut estate Treetops, a Quaker service was held in her memory. She was survived by her third husband, New York sculptor Louis Schanker, as well as her two adopted sons. The latter half of her life had been devoted to social and philanthropic activities. In Toppers memory, Holman founded in 1952 the Christopher Reynolds Foundation, which financed her friend Martin Luther King, Jr.s visit to India to meet with followers of Mahatma Gandhi, and is still devoted to civil rights, peace, and disarmament programs. In 1962, Holman established the Libby Holman Foundation, which funds arts and cultural programs for the disadvantaged.

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Do you know this Jew? An actress known for her scandalous personal life and revolutionary activism - St. Louis Jewish Light

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