Remembering Tony Holden
Here’s my remembrance and tribute to the late Anthony Holden, the British author of more than 40 books, and a dear friend.
Tony Holden was just as fascinating as the many people he wrote about, and sometimes even more so. Sir Lawrence Olivier, Prince Charles, Tchaikovsky, and Shakespeare — those were but a few of his biographical subjects in the 40+ books he wrote, including many best-sellers. Tony was larger than life, completely immersing himself into whatever he fancied writing about. Tony wasn’t just a writer, but a do-er. He was that rare combustible combination of Gore Vidal and Hunter S. Thompson, his creative spirit insatiably fueled by cartons of Pall Malls and bottles of Merlot. He even reportedly got the late Christopher Hitchens one of his first book deals. He could be charming, and wickedly funny all in the same moment. He was sued. Called vulgar names. He was a regular on the BBC. Tony was such a master of language, he could insult you and you’d still think of it as a compliment.
I first became aware of Tony through his classic poker book, Big Deal which chronicled his full-year spent traveling the world as a professional poker player during the late 1980s. When I worked at Main State right after it was published, someone in the office had the radio turned on, and I heard was the sound of Tony’s voice while being interviewed on local Washington radio. Instantly, I was mesmerized, later ran out and bought his book, and read it cover to cover in two days. Little did I know then, I’d later meet Tony, and we’d become friends.
Tony was one of the Four Horsemen of the wildly idiosyncratic British poker scene loaded with characters, a motley quartet that included Al Alvarez, David Spanier, Des Wilson, and the man often described as the “royal biographer.” How fitting that he focused so much time on a different set of kings and queens. READ MY PROFILE ON TONY HERE
Over the years, I drank and dined with Tony at least 25 times here in Las Vegas, and in London. Trust me, you haven’t lived until you’ve spent a day with Tony in London’s Chinatown. Just listening to him provide commentary walking down the street was a performance. He’s one of the few people I’ve met where ANYTHING and EVERYTHING he said was interesting. And the best stories he told, let’s just say they couldn’t be retold. Tony had his own phrasing, pacing, and humor. Oh, that wicked sense of humor.
I will miss Tony. I shall miss his writing. I miss his laughter. Most of all, I’ll miss his honesty.
READ MORE HERE (OBIT IN THE TELEGRAPH)