Robert Rodriguez fineartprintsca

The art and interests of Robert Rodriguez

Tag: Our Gang Comedies

Most of All, I Remember Mr. Holland

hollandcecilWhen I made it back to Los Angeles after high school, I rented a small studio apartment in the Holland’s back yard for the last two years of college.  By that time Mr. Holland had suffered a stroke.  I wish I had spent more time with him then, but I was too involved with art school and girlfriends.  It wasn’t very sensitive on my part and I will always regret that.

Norma and Cecil Holland had two children.  Richard and Margaret.  I remember Richard had an animal sanctuary in Castaic.  I once drove Norma out there to visit and he taught me the safe way to pet a porcupine.  You pet with the grain, and as long as they aren’t nervous, everything will be fine.

Mr. Holland used to talk about his daughter who was a really great artist.  He always said she was the real artist in the family, and she did in fact turn out to be a well-known portrait painter.  Famous for painting Presidents and naval officers, among other things.  So when I found a website for Meg Holland Sargent, I remembered our conversations and knew I’d found her.

Her website shows her work, which is really beautiful, and it also has a video that she narrates about her father.  Her portrait of him at the top of the page shows him just slightly older than the way he looked when I knew him.  Check out:
http://www.sargentportraits.com/   Then go to TRIBUTES and click on Cecil Claude Holland to watch the video at the bottom.  I love the thought that they once had a swimming party at their Coldwater Canyon house for the Our Gang kids.

Usually it is those special teachers who have the biggest influence in your life. Teachers that connected and probably never knew how important such little things became in our lives.  A friend became a novelist because of our English teacher in high school, and I will always remember him for his encouragement to me, even though I never went the literary route.  There were history teachers, and English teachers, and art teachers, but most of all, I remember Mr. Holland.

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The Man of a Thousand Faces

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Cecil Holland started as an actor in films.  I still have a photograph of him as Jesus, though I never found out what movie it was from.  Since this was still the very early days, a lot of the actors did their own makeup.  Mr. Holland was an artist, and he became so adept at makeup, that he was known as the Man of a Thousand Faces.

But as time went on, he was doing more makeup and less acting until he headed up and organized the first studio makeup department in Hollywood at MGM.  I know, among other films, he did Luise Rainer in The Good Earth and was in charge of all the makeup artists working on the original version of Ben Hur .  He even was responsible for doing the ring around the eye of Petey the dog in the Our Gang Comedies.  He worked with all the biggest names in Hollywood for years.

When his friend Lon Chaney was starting to get known, Mr. Holland gave him the use of his “Man of a Thousand Faces” nickname, having no longer any use for it, since he’d given up acting by that time.

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Here is a photo of Clark Gable autographing a ten-gallon hat for Cecil Holland.  Snazzy sweater, eh?