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

Around 80 years ago, Earl Holliman was guiding moviegoers to their seats in a dark theater in Shreveport, Louisiana. However, his dream was to be on the screen himself.

Despite his efforts, the young aspiring actor faced numerous rejections with the comment, “you just don’t look the part.” Determined to change his fortunes, he visited the Paramount Studio barber shop for a makeover.

Keep reading to learn more about the Golden Globe-winning actor and the transformative haircut that launched his career!

Born in 1928 in Louisiana, Earl Holliman always aspired to be a movie star. At 14, he worked for 25 cents an hour at Shreveport’s Strand Theater, helping patrons find their seats.

Saving up his earnings, Holliman hitchhiked to Hollywood at 15. “I brought along a pair of dark sunglasses, which I associated with Hollywood, and on my first day, I went to Grauman’s Chinese Theater. I remember walking up and down the forecourt in my dark glasses, hoping everyone would wonder who I was,” Holliman, now 95, recalled in an earlier interview. “But I couldn’t find a job and soon returned home.”

Back home, Holliman completed high school and later joined the navy, which led him to a radio communications school in Los Angeles. “Whenever I had shore leave, I’d head to the Hollywood Canteen and meet people like Roddy McDowall, whom I’d later work with. I then applied to and was accepted at the Pasadena Playhouse,” said Holliman, who had a minor role in the 1953 film Scared Stiff with Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin.

Despite his persistence, Holliman repeatedly heard, “you just don’t look the part,” during auditions. “I was told I was a good actor but not handsome enough to be a leading man and not unique enough to be a character actor. I was just kind of in between,” he said.

Determined to break into the industry, Holliman decided to change his appearance for a role in the 1953 film The Girls of Pleasure Island.

A Distinctive Haircut

Describing his breakthrough, Holliman said, “When I sat in the barber’s chair, they cut my hair very short, with bangs in the front. With my big ears, broken nose, front teeth, small eyes, and this funny-looking haircut, I was suddenly a character actor.”

This new look landed him the role in The Girls of Pleasure Island, and soon after, he won a Golden Globe for his performance in The Rainmaker (1956), where he starred alongside Katharine Hepburn and Burt Lancaster. “That’s still my favorite film,” he said in a 1991 interview with the Calgary Herald. “It was the one that elevated my career to a whole new level.”

Over the next several years, Holliman appeared alongside Hollywood legends like John Wayne, Dean Martin, Kirk Douglas, and Rock Hudson. From 1974 to 1978, he starred as Sergeant Bill Crowley in the TV series Police Woman with Angie Dickinson.

Reflecting on his chemistry with Dickinson, Holliman said, “She was very sexy, yet had a little girl quality that made you want to protect her. We spent 12 to 14 hours a day together and had our disagreements, but there was a warmth between us. It looked like two people who adored each other.”

After roles in TV series like The Twilight Zone and Delta, and films such as Bad City Blues (1999) and The Perfect Tenant (2000), Holliman retired from acting. He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1977.

Animal Advocacy

Since retiring, Holliman has focused on animal rights advocacy. He has cared for various animals, including a blind possum, injured doves, and mauled cats, and he particularly loves pigeons. “I feed at least 500 of them a day. It’s like a pigeon McDonald’s at my property,” he said.

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