It Seems Like Yesterday

HE won the Oscar for Stalag 17 in 1953, but my favorite William Holden film is a toss-up between Sunset Boulevard and The Bridge on the River Kwai. My wife Gigi’s favorites are a bit more on the romantic side: Sabrina and Picnic. Of course, there is Network, which is as contemporary today as when it was first released in 1976. All in all, to say the beloved actor had a magnificent career is quite an understatement.

When I photographed Holden with his partner, actress Stephanie Powers, at home near Los Angeles, they were very much in love. They were more interested in talking about their work in Africa for the conservation of endangered wildlife than in talking about the movies. 

Their home was filled with African artifacts and several exotic animals, bringing out their favorite boa constrictor for a photograph while Stephanie coaxed a lovely parrot into another photograph once the boa was safely out of the way. 

Together they founded the Mount Kenya Game Ranch and Wildlife Conservancy and worked tirelessly to protect endangered wildlife. After Holden’s death in 1981, Stephanie continued their work and founded the William Holden Wildlife Foundation at his Mount Kenya Game Ranch which she oversees today.

William Holden with his partner, actress Stephanie Powers, at home near Los Angeles. (Harry Benson)