Opinion | Hal Holbrook Inspired a Biography of Mark Twain

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To the Editor:

Re “Hal Holbrook, Actor Who Channeled Mark Twain, Is Dead at 95” (obituary, nytimes.com, Feb. 2):

Mr. Holbrook’s portrayal of Mark Twain was not impersonation; it was possession.

My late husband, Justin Kaplan, and I went to see Mr. Holbrook’s performance in 1956. Justin was so moved by what he saw and heard on that small stage in a hotel that he decided to write a biography of Twain.

That book, “Mr. Clemens and Mark Twain,” my husband’s first effort, won both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize in 1967.

To say that Mr. Holbrook’s performance was unforgettable is not doing it justice.

Anne Bernays
Cambridge, Mass.

‘Loony Lies’ From Marjorie Taylor Greene, and Trump

To the Editor:

Re “Mitch McConnell Says Marjorie Taylor Greene’s ‘Loony Lies’ Are a ‘Cancer’ on G.O.P.” (nytimes.com, Feb. 1):

The obvious question for Senator McConnell is, “Are the ‘loony lies and conspiracy theories’ of the former president not a cancer on the G.O.P.?”

William R. McHugh III
Bush, La.

Grieving on Zoom

To the Editor:

Re “How to Hold a Virtual Memorial Service” (Here to Help, Jan. 24):

While you certainly offered logistical and practical tips on how to conduct a virtual memorial service, perhaps the most positive aspect of mourning at a distance is that the bereaved can share close up in the funeral, graveside burial and condolence call.

When my mother died in July at 103, I was able to set up two “zhivas,” or condolence Zoom sessions, one for immediate family on the day she died and another a bit later for distant family and close friends.

In addition, the funeral home in Miami allowed us to Zoom the “viewneral,” sidestepping the limit of 12 attendees, and the cemetery in New York allowed us to virtually witness my mother’s last journey.

I still don’t have the emotional bandwidth to watch the recordings but am so glad they’ll be available for when I have the inner strength to do so.

Norma A. Orovitz
Bay Harbor Islands, Fla.

Is That You, Hedwig?

To the Editor:

Re “Snowy Owl Captivates Central Park” (news article, Jan. 29):

How exciting — no, how magical — that a snowy owl has arrived in Central Park in New York! I’m not surprised that so many people are eager to see her, as many of us are still awaiting our admissions letters to Hogwarts!

Leslie K. Gerhart
New York

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