GOLDWYN, SAMUEL Congratulations telegram to Celeste Holm on winning her Oscar.
Los Angeles: 22 March 1948. One page Western Union telegram with a "Congratulations" banner across the top, 6 x 8 inches, with seven lines of affixed text and a printed signatures, the date stamped at upper right. Faint fold lines, else fine.
"I was so happy Saturday night to see you receive the honor so well deserved. You have my best wishes, and my respect as a fine actress. Sincerely, Samuel Goldwyn."
A complimentary note from Hollywood studio luminary Samuel Goldwyn to Celeste Holm, rising star at Darryl Zanuck's Twentieth Century Fox, congratulating her on winning the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Gentleman's Agreement. The 20th Academy Awards were held on March 20th 1948 and Samuel Goldwyn Productions studio garnered nominations for Best Picture and Best Director for The Bishop's Wife starring Cary Grant and Loretta Young but both fell short to Gentleman's Agreement which won Best Director for Elia Kazan, Best Picture and Best Supporting Actress for Ms. Holm. But Goldwyn's opinions about Gentleman's Agreement go deeper than the expected rivalry between studio chiefs, as the controversial film took on anti-Semitism in America, especially the casual anti-Semitism of the suburbs and private clubs. Twentieth Century Fox head Darryl Zanuck was frequently presumed Jewish; he was not, and took up the anti-Semitism cause as a the result of being denied access to the Los Angeles Country Club due to the mistaken prejudice. As many of the other major studio heads at the time such as Goldwyn were Jewish, Gentleman's Agreement was an unwelcome expose and "the indirect way in which Gentleman's Agreement defined anti-Semitism was also a nod to the fears of Hollywood's Jewish moguls, who begged both Zanuck and Hart to drop the film. Zanuck wouldn't do that." Zanuck was obviously undeterred: he hired Moss Hart to adapt Laura Z. Hobson's complicated recent novel, a young Elia Kazan to direct, and Gregory Peck to star. At the suggestion of Hart, Celeste Holm was given a screen test with Peck for the role of Anne Dettrey: the test was so strong that it was included in the final film and contributed to the accolades Ms. Holm received for the role. The history of the film as it divided the major studio heads considered, it is important and encouraging that Samuel Goldwyn here congratulates Celeste Holm for her performance and expresses his "respect" for her as a "fine actress" as Goldwyn certainly would have carefully scrutinized Gentleman's Agreement.
For the quote see: The New York Times, Film View: Over 50 Years Gentleman's Agreement, 16 November 1997.
C The Celeste Holm Collection
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