Hal Holbrook’s ‘Mark Twain Tonight’ Keeps The Legacy Alive

DENVER (CBS4) – Over the past 60 years, while many have tried, only one actor has brought the “Lincoln” of our literature alive, and CBS4 Critic at Large Greg Moody got a one-on-one interview with Hal Holbrook.

Actor Holbrook devised the one man show “Mark Twain Tonight” in 1954. The man, the makeup, and the show have carried him around the world and kept Twain’s literary legacy alive.

One-hundred-three years after Samuel Clemens died there is still an audience for the wit, the humor and pen warmed up in Hell that is Mark Twain.

“The reason he resonates is because he’s telling the truth,” Holbrook said. “We are not accustomed to hearing the truth anymore, if we ever did.”

Holbrook has been playing the part of Mark Twain longer than Sam Clemens did, and it has been an important part of his life since the 1950s. It’s an act that started by accident and grew by desperation.

“I’m in New York, I couldn’t get a job. We went to New York with a baby and $200 in the bank,” Holbrook said. “Somebody says, ‘Why don’t you do a solo?’ I said, ‘You mean go out alone on the stage?’ I said, ‘My God, I’d be frightened to death.’ “

It’s a very simple show — one man, one stage, one audience — and yet it changes with each performance. Over the past 60 years it’s never been quite the same twice.

“I’ll have a new piece of material, it’s about us being a world power and compares it to a prairie dog village.”

The show is an introduction to the funniest, angriest, most insightful writer on the American character.

Hal holbrook presents “Mark Twain Tonight” one night only on Saturday in the Buell Theatre. Tickets start at only $25.

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