Happy William Holden 100, everyone! Today in 1918, William Holden was born in O’Fallon, Illinois. Before he was a big Hollywood actor, Holden was William Franklin Beedle Jr., son of William Franklin Beedle and Mary Blanche Ball. The Beedle family had deep roots in O’Fallon but Holden’s nuclear family didn’t stay for long. The family moved to Pasadena, California when he was just three years old.
That doesn’t stop O’Fallon from being proud to be the birthplace of such a legendary star. I spoke to Brian Keller, a historian in O’Fallon about Holden’s legacy. April 17 is a special day for the city. A proclamation was made declaring it William Holden Day. Below is a copy of the official proclamation I obtained from Keller and the O’Fallon City Council.
Keller was so kind to speak to me over the phone about O’Fallon’s native son. The town will hosting a special birthday party for Holden complete with a cake. If you live in the area or nearby, you can visit the museum for an open house from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Holden didn’t visit O’Fallon often as he left when he was so young but the town was very proud of his accomplishments. According to Keller, Holden never forgot his birthplace. Holden and his wife, Brenda Marshall, visited O’Fallon in the 1950s and although no photo exists, the trip was documented in the local newspaper.
The newspaper article states the couple visited First National Bank and ate lunch at the bus station with the board’s president. The bank building is now the location of the O’Fallon Historical Society that has an area dedicated to Holden that includes rare photographs and even his baby bed. Keller says guests walking through it are walking in the same place Holden and Marshall once did.
When the town marked its own centennial, it was 1954 the same year Holden won the Oscar for Stalag 17. Holden was invited to visit O’Fallon for its centennial celebration but wasn’t able to attend. He sent this telegram to the mayor:
Listen to my full conversation with Keller below:
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