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A Favorite Celebrity Can Save Your Life

Updated on April 24, 2018
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

In many ways, music saved my life, and I have the most famous director of the USMC bands to thank for it!

Therapeutic Power in the Media

All sorts of media have served to inspire people for thousands of years, beginning with the first cave paintings and the discovery of music. It is little wonder today that celebrities of all of the arts and letters inspire humanity today.

Reading and even writing literature have been used in depression therapy for some time. Songs of all eras have been inspiring and even therapeutic to someone.

Some people go shopping when they feel down, but others go to the local art museum or a concert and feel much better.

Long ago, I found that performances by a particular actor as a historic American figure were lifesaving.

Mark Twain
Mark Twain | Source

Hal Holbrook and Mark Twain Saved My Life

When I was a teenager, I was taking too heavy a course load in high school of advanced college prep classes and performing in the marching and concert bands as first chair cornet/trumpet. I was the first female to hold that position in the history of the school and my parents insisted I earn a 4.0 GPA (perfect) overall "or else."

Under the load of extra school subjects and a strict and isolated upbrining, which included not being permitted to have any friends, the pressures of up to 20 hours per week of musical practice, and the constant verbal attacks from students in the classrooms and hallways because I was not allowed to talk to them, I became ill.

One night as I went to bed, I said to myself, "I wish I were dead." The next morning I woke up with a fever, both eyes plastered shut by infection, an infected throat and infected ears so bad that I could not hear well. At the doctor's office, I earned that both of my lungs were filling up with fluid. I was sent home with antibiotics.

After three days of being kept in a dark room, alone, my condition was unchanged. That night, I did hear a TV show coming on in the next room and got my pillow and blanket and went out to the couch.

The show was a rebroadcast of a filmed version of the Broadway one-man play called "Mark Twain Tonight!" starring Hal Holbrook.

I had always loved Mark Twain. Watching Hal Holbrook as Twain made me laugh and feel connected to humanity and the common man. I enjoyed hearing all the stories of daily life 100 years before, and how they applied to the current times as well -- even though I was connected to no one in my own daily life.

I went to bed feeling better, and the next morning I was cured! I thought it must be a miracle.

Hal Holbrook Saved My Life

I have gathered books written by Mark Twain and Hal Holbrook and now reread them often. I learned how Mr. Holbrook perfected his show on stage over the course of several decades since 1954. I re-watched a tape of the TV show a year ago and could not remember a word of it, but during one sketch, I had the same feeling as I had had when I was 16. It was like traveling back through time via some sort of portal, I was in two places at once.

I have recently been happy to learn that Hal Holbrook is bringing back the Mark Twain play "Is he Dead?" along with his one-man show "Mark Twain Tonight!" very soon, perhaps with a different actor in the lead roles.

I have posted my thanks to him on his website and hope that I will see him in person one day. At age 92 in 2017, he finally retired from performing the act he began in 1954.

The Reasoning Animal

Performance in 2012

Quotes That Gave Me Perspective


A Thomas Edison Film of Mark Twain in 1909.

Mark Twain in 1907
Mark Twain in 1907


  • Murray, B. Writing to heal. American Psychological Association. June 2002, Vol 33, No. 6 Retrieved April 22, 2018.
  • What is Drama Therapy? Retrieved April 22, 2018.
  • What is Music Therapy? Retrieved April 22, 2018.
  • Writing Therapy: Using A Pen and Paper to Enhance Personal Growth Retrieved April 22, 2018.

© 2007 Patty Inglish MS


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