Former Hannibal resident to appear as Mark Twain on Missouri bicentennial special

Holmes Osborne will be appear as Mark Twain in the PBS special “Missouri! A Bicentennial Celebration” at 8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 12. He previously acted in the historic Ice House Theater in Hannibal in 1970 after graduating from college, and has been a longtime fan of Twain’s works.

HANNIBAL — After a memorable experience acting at the Ice House Theatre in Hannibal, Holmes Osborne will appear as Mark Twain on the upcoming PBS special “Missouri! A Bicentennial Celebration” on Thursday, Aug. 12.

Osborne recalled having a great time acting at the Ice House Theatre during his graduation year from college in 1970. Al Srnka, Ice House Theatre founding partner, brought his students from Northeast Missouri State University (now Truman State University) as interns for the equity actors.

We had a very good summer. I enjoyed the plays I did. I did Tom in Glass Menagerie and a character in Sunday in New York,” he said.

Osborne said he had been to Los Angeles before coming to Hannibal, but nothing came of it. His wife, Candace, supported the family during their first trip to L.A. And He recalled his time in Hannibal fondly, although he remembered with a chuckle how they didn’t have an air-conditioning unit at the time.

“It was so great. We had a wonderful experience,” Osborne said, mentioning he has read almost all of Twain’s works. “We loved Hannibal. I’ve been a huge Mark Twain fan forever.”

Osborne performed numerous theater roles afterward. He appeared in commercials and training films as well, which provided support for his family. He enjoyed theater, acting five seasons in the Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival in Cleveland, Ohio — where he met Tom Hanks — and two seasons in the former Missouri Repertory Theatre (now Kansas City Repertory Theatre).

Osborne’s career in L.A. began when he and Hanks exchanged letters in 1996. Hanks wrote a note asking Osborne to appear as Mr. Patterson in “That Thing You Do”, a film Hanks wrote and directed.

He went on to many other roles, including Eddie Darko in “Donnie Darko”, Senator Bobby Frost in “Southland Tales” and Judge Taylor in “Identity”.

The PBS special is a collaborative effort between Ozarks Public Television and KMOS Public Television in Warrensburg, Mo., celebrating the Show-Me State’s 200th birthday. “Missouri! A Bicentennial Celebration” airs on all Missouri PBS stations at 8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 12.

Osborne previously worked with Josh Tomlinson from KMOS Television, and he came up with idea of Osborne appearing as Mark Twain and introducing Missouri history experts during the special.

“I got to do Mark Twain, and I really enjoyed it. As a matter a fact, I’m working on some material right now,” Osborne said, mentioning how the PBS opportunity could lead to future endeavors. “I’m working on some speeches that he had done and the like. It’s fun. I don’t know if I’ll do anything with them or not, but it’s a lot of fun to work on them. I think he’s so fun.”

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