Photo of William Holden William Holden

Born to a wealthy family in O'Fallon, Ill., on April 17, 1918, as William Franklin Beedle Jr., William Holden changed his name and became a dependable and handsome Hollywood lead, making his film debut alongside Barbara Stanwyck in Golden Boy (1939).

He hit his stride with a string of memorable roles in Born Yesterday (1950); Sunset Boulevard (1950); Stalag 17 (1953), which earned him an Oscar; Executive Suite (1954); Sabrina (1954); Picnic (1956); The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957); The Counterfeit Traitor (1962) and The Wild Bunch (1969).

Despite a general slump in the 1970s, Holden earned an Emmy for his television debut in "The Blue Knights" (1973) and marked another career high with an Oscar-nominated performance in Network (1976). He died on Nov. 16, 1981, from an accidental fall at the age of 63.

William Holden in The Bridge on the River Kwai

The Bridge on the River Kwai

1957 PG

Director David Lean's sweeping epic -- best known for a whistling work theme that became legendary -- is set in a World War II Japanese prison camp, where British prisoners are forced to build a railway bridge as a morale-building exercise.

  • William Holden in The Wild Bunch The Wild Bunch
  • William Holden in Network Network
  • William Holden in Sunset Boulevard Sunset Boulevard
  • William Holden in The Towering Inferno The Towering Inferno
  • William Holden in Paris When It Sizzles Paris When It Sizzles
  • William Holden in Sabrina Sabrina
  • William Holden in The Horse Soldiers The Horse Soldiers
  • William Holden in Texas Texas
  • William Holden in Union Station Union Station
  • William Holden in Escape from Fort Bravo Escape from Fort Bravo
  • William Holden in Casino Royale Casino Royale
  • William Holden in Fedora Fedora
  • William Holden in When Time Ran Out... When Time Ran Out...
  • William Holden in Born Yesterday Born Yesterday
  • William Holden in Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing
  • William Holden in Invisible Stripes Invisible Stripes
  • William Holden in Stalag 17 Stalag 17
  • William Holden in The Bridges at Toko-Ri The Bridges at Toko-Ri
  • William Holden in Picnic Picnic
  • William Holden in Damien: Omen II Damien: Omen II
  • William Holden in Breezy Breezy
  • William Holden in The Devil's Brigade The Devil's Brigade
  • William Holden in 21 Hours at Munich 21 Hours at Munich
  • William Holden in Golden Boy Golden Boy