January 18, 1931 ~ March 12, 2022
Born in: Kingston, NY
Resided in: Asheville, NC
Welter “Budd” Holden died after a brief illness on March 12, 2022.
He was born on January 18, 1931, on a farm in Kingston, NY, moved as a child to Saugerties, then took off for New York and was the youngest student studying architecture at the Pratt Institute. He served in the U.S. Army at the end of World War II in Germany, and then returned to the states to make his way to the West Coast to find fame and fortune in Hollywood. His artistic talents led him first to be a set designer on many shows during the golden age of live television, and he eventually found international success as the decorator, interior designer, architect and friend to the major stars of Hollywood and everyone who was anyone in the top corporate and social circles of Los Angeles.
He married Gloria Wolff Holden and adopted her two daughters. His peripatetic lifestyle took him to live and work in Italy for several years, back to Los Angeles, to various cities on the East Coast, eventually settling back in the Big Apple to finally fulfill his dream, in his 70s, of becoming an actor. He attended the Lee Strasberg Actors Studio and even got rave reviews, above the fold, in the Arts section of the New York Times in an article titled “Age and the Stage” (text pasted below).
His last international home was Dublin, Ireland until he returned to the U.S. Budd died peacefully at his home in Asheville, NC, surrounded by his loved ones, and is survived by his two daughters, Susan and Sandra, his half-brother Dennis, and his beloved partner and companion, Sebastiano.
Groce Funeral Home on Patton Ave. is assisting the family.
Age and the Stage
By Jennifer Bleyer July 23, 2006
THE rehearsal room was full of pert young men and women, aspiring actors hoping to hone their skills for careers on the screen or on the stage. Then there was Budd Holden. His hair was chalk white. His movements were slow and deliberate. He had the dignified manner of a maître d’ in a four-star restaurant.
Mr. Holden describes his situation this way: “I feel like I’ve died and gone to grandpa heaven. All these kids. I get nothing but hugs and kisses from them.”
At 75, Mr. Holden is the oldest of the 700 students at the renowned Lee Strasberg Theater and Film Institute near Union Square. Maureen McNeil, the institute’s administrative director, could not recall if it had ever had an older student. The vast majority of students, who come from around the United States and beyond, are in their 20’s and 30’s.
For Mr. Holden, embarking on an acting career as a septuagenarian was a matter less of late-blooming ambition than of simple coping. He turned to acting after his partner of 12 years, Brian Sullivan, died of a lung infection two years ago. Consumed by grief, Mr. Holden thought that acting might help ease his pain. It was a dream of his when he was younger but one he had never pursued because, as he recalls, “I was so skinny then, and much too shy for the camera.”
When Mr. Holden applied to the Strasberg last December, Ms. McNeil asked him a question posed to all prospective students: Was there anything he would not want to do as an actor? He wouldn’t mind acting nude, Mr. Holden replied; he didn’t want to play only old men or invalids. He plans to study at the institute for two years.
Since classes began earlier this year, Mr. Holden has enthusiastically embraced Method acting, the technique for which the school is famed and in which students draw on personal experiences to help embody a character.
Students are discouraged from relying on anything that happened in the past seven years, which for Mr. Holden is easy. “If you’re 20 and take 7 years off,” he said, “you probably can’t find a mother who’s died, or a lover who left you.”
A circuitous route led him to the school. The other day, sitting in his Chelsea loft, elaborately appointed with Queen Anne chairs and 18th-century portraits, Mr. Holden recalled growing up tending chickens and pigs on his family’s farm near Woodstock, N.Y.; studying architecture at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn; serving in Germany during the Korean War; and working as an art director for “The Dinah Shore Show.” In 1995, after a career as an architect and designer, he and a friend started a pharmaceutical company.
Students at the Strasberg Institute say they are grateful to have an older man available to play older-man parts in scenes from works like “All About Eve,” “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” and “Prelude to a Kiss.” “Before Budd came,’’ said Charmaine Strange, a student from Australia, “I felt pretty old because I’m 29 and everyone else was, like, 19. Budd’s the man.”
Teachers have also taken note of him, as much for his talent as for his age. On a recent afternoon, in a fourth-floor rehearsal room, Mr. Holden found himself on stage playing the role of middle-aged, middle-class Peter in Edward Albee’s “Zoo Story” opposite Ryan Mooney, a 22-year-old from Staten Island who portrayed Jerry, a lonely, disheveled young man wandering through Central Park.
A pipe clenched between his teeth, Mr. Holden fumbled for his glasses in a jacket pocket, and sat on a bench reading a book until his solitude was interrupted. By the scene’s end, the teacher, Chad Burton, applauded heartily and commended Mr. Holden for performing the part “just the way it should be played.”
Ms. McNeil, too, sees promise in him. “He’s hard-working, he’s mature and he’s an artist,” she said. “There are lots of parts for older men. Budd could certainly break into that market.”
Funeral Home Assisting The Family:
Groce Funeral Home - Patton Ave.
1401 Patton Ave.
Asheville, NC 28806
Distressing to hear of your father’s death. He was well known and appreciated in Los
Angeles during the 70’s,80’s and 90’s while I lived there. Sadness and loss gradually
are replaced by fond recalls.We.’re thinking of you. Ray and Thom
So sorry to hear of the sad news. I did not know Budd very long, but long enough to know how kind and funny he was and long enough to be fond of him. He will be missed yet remembered and always loved!!! Budd’s neighbor Jennifer 💜
Budd became very found of our litter of kittens. I loved his stories. He will be greatly missed. His neighbor
From the Fahy Clan Dublin Ireland
Ode to Budd:)
by Nollaig Fahy
He was some man for one man, it must be said from the start. The way he lived his life must surely have been a work of art.
He did it all, from a pawn to a king, throughout a long life he tasted everything.
From the Catskill Mountains, New York City, to Hollywood and Rome, to Dublin, Ireland and Asheville, North Carolina these were all places he proudly called home.
Careers were many, Catwalk Model, Military Officer, Architect and Stage Actor. A true fashionista to his core, all his audiences applauded for more, more, more.
Sebastiano, Sandra, & Susan, his extended Family, and Friends were always at the top of his list, everyone who knew him, loved him dearly, his sense of fun and humour will be truly missed.
And now, that all is said and done, there’s no doubt about it, at the game of life Budd Holden absolutely won! ❤️☘️
Rest In Peace brother. I will miss our talks about our father. Thank you for all the brotherly advice and support.
Sandra and Susan. I am so sorry for your loss. Your father was such a huge part of our lives. Going through Lita’s photos and it is so awesome to see Budd Sending love- Vicki
Thank you for the memories and the gardenias
Great memories of our many meetings in Dublin. A wonderful genuine character
To Budd’s family & companion I send my greatest sympathy & condolences. I knew him as a dear friend & fantastic interior & architectural designer 1985-1995. I feel bad I lost contact with him but I’m glad he continued to have an exciting & rewarding life. I know he must have been a positive & wonderful influence in many lives as he was in mine. It was a great pleasure knowing & working with him. Rest In Peace Budd
Sorry for the families loss, Budd had many talents he could picture and design projects from foundation to interior finish in his mind by just looking at the lot to be built on. He was a great sketcher / artist. We all learned lot from Budd and will miss him dearly.