Lanky and sneering, with a sarcastic voice, Rex Holman was one of TV Western’s last classic heavies. His scary, skeletal, scarecrow-like look enhanced nearly 100 TV W esterns from 1960-1985, 99% of the time as the nastiest, most contemptible member of the outlaw gang. Only once can I recall Holman in a sympathetic role, that of John Hoyt’s non-violent pacifist son in “No Chip”, a December 1960 episode of “Gunsmoke”. In Holman’s 16 episodes of “Gunsmoke” and dozens more he effectively portrayed twisted outlaw pond scum. Holman was a deviant we loved to hate.
Born in 1935 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, his real name may be Roy(e) Baker, a name he used in a couple of early screen credits including “Ma Barker’s Killer Brood” (‘60), but this is unconfirmed. His family came to California during the depression years seeking employment “ala ‘Grapes of Wrath’” as Holman once put it. He graduated from Canoga Park High School and attended Pierce Junior College in Woodland Hills, California.
His first thought of theatre work was to “rid myself of complexes.” Holman worked in little theatre, college theatre, community theatre and summer stock, all of which gave him a good background for his screen work which began with several TV episodes in 1959.
On a cast information questionnaire in 1959, Holman stated his ambition was “to use my talents to the fullest,” with his hobbies listed as flamenco guitar playing and dancing.
Besides Westerns, Holman worked on “Thriller”, “Twilight Zone”, “Ben Casey”, “Man From U.N.C.L.E.”, “Outer Limits”, “Star Trek”, “Mannix”…in other words all the top shows of the ‘60s and early ‘70s.
His last TV work seems to be on the short-lived “Wildside” Western in ‘85 and his last film was “Star Trek V: The Final Frontier” in ‘89.