December Bride: Shocking Guests, Celeste Holm Marries Beau at 85th Birthday Party

By Kenneth Jones
30 Apr 2004

Broadway and film star Celeste Holm proved April 29 that after all these years she's still a girl who cain't say no. The Oklahoma! actress surprised guests at her 85th birthday party at Sardi's by summoning a Supreme Court judge and marrying her opera-singer beau, Frank Basile.



The gathering was part of an evening that also included a benefit screening of the film classic, "Gentleman's Agreement," which starred Holm. The benefit was for Arts Horizons. Guests at the Sardi's after-party wished Holm a happy birthday, and she announced this would also be the occasion of her marriage.

A Supreme Court judge, Barbara R. Kapnick, performed the ceremony. Holm's longest friend of 75 years, Betty Boetticher and Donald Alfano were called on as witnesses. The 150 birthday guests, including Kitty Carlisle Hart, at Sardis all circled around to watch.

Holm and Basile, who is some 40 years Holm's junior, "are very confident in the decision that they have made," according to a spokesperson for the couple.

"Frank has become much too important to me to be temporary," said Holm in a statement. "I wanted a lovely present for my birthday and he was it!"

Basile stated "that after so many years together Celeste asked me for a very special gift for her birthday and when you love somebody the answer is yes. Besides she makes me laugh."

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Here is Holm's official biography: "Celeste Holm was an only child, born into a home where her mother was a painter and her father worked in insurance. She would study acting at the University of Chicago and make her stage debut in 1936. Her Broadway debut came when she was 19. She appeared in many successful plays including The Women, Oklahoma! and Bloomer Girl. It was in the production of Oklahoma! that Celeste would sing the show stopper "I Cain't Say No." She was signed by 20th Century Fox in 1946 and appeared in her first film, "Three Little Girls in Blue." With her third film, "Gentlemen's Agreement" (1947), she would win the Supporting Actress Oscar and a Golden Globe. Celeste would be nominated twice more for Academy Awards in the "Come to the Stable" (1949) and "All About Eve" (1950). But Celeste was a star who loved the stage so she left Hollywood, only to return for two MGM musicals in the fifties. They were "The Tender Trap" (1955) and "High Society" (1956). In addition to her stage career, Celeste appeared on television in her own series "Honestly Celeste" (1954) and as a panelist on "Who Pays?" (1959). In 1970, Celeste returned to series television as the chaperone to the president's daughter on "Nancy." For the next two decades, she would appear on television in regular series, mini series and movies."

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Arts Horizons, under the board leadership of Celeste Holm, "is an arts education non-profit that reaches more than 300,000 tri-state children, teachers and parents annually with its creative and instructional programs that feature music, dance, theatre, creative writing and the visual arts. Over the past 25 years, artists from Broadway, Lincoln Center and all over the world have reached over seven million students, teachers and parents through school assembly performances, artist-in-residence programs and workshops. Special projects include Creative Alternatives for Youth at Risk (CAYR), a safe haven after-school program for underserved children, and the Artist Teacher Institute (ATI), a summer immersion program for teachers and artists.