Celeste Holm lawsuit husband Frank Basile vs. Holm's sons. (See previous article “Recent Celeste Holm Movies.”) Though best-remembered for her film, stage, and television work, in recent years Celeste Holm was in the news chiefly because of a protracted legal battle pitting her two sons (from two previous marriages) against her and husband Frank Basile (photo, with Holm), a former waiter and aspiring opera singer 46 years her junior.
Celeste Holm lawsuit: trust control
Not long after Holm's marriage to Basile in 2004, a lawsuit ensued. The issue revolved around a trust fund set up by Holm's youngest son, Dan Dunning. According to Dunning, the irrevocable trust of which he was the trustee was intended to protect his mother's investments.
The legal battle for control of the fund depleted Holm's reported $2 million in savings, and left her relying on Social Security and a pension: adding up to a not inconsiderable $12,000 a month. That monthly allowance notwithstanding, Holm was recently sued for overdue maintenance and legal fees on her Central Park apartment.
“Dan Dunning did the very thing to his mother that he claimed I was trying to do,” Basile told John Leland, author of the New York Times article “Love and Inheritance: A Family Feud.”
Basile added: “But [Dunning] said I was out for half her money. He took it all. This whole thing could have been prevented. Every time her son seemed to care more about the money than her wishes, Celeste, how did you feel about that?"
“Pretty rotten,” Holm answered.
“Did you hear that?” Basile asked. “She said, pretty rotten.”
As per statements found in Leland's report, the sons acted the way they did because they felt Basile was trying to take control of Holm's finances.
Celeste Holm and sons no longer speaking
Ultimately, Celeste Holm and her sons severed ties. According to Leland's piece, in his book of memoirs, Possiplex, Holm's older son and Internet pioneer Theodor Holm Nelson, 74, doesn't mention his mother by name. (His father was film director / producer Ralph Nelson.)
In the past decade, Holm had been in fragile health. She suffered from memory loss, and according to Basile, she had “two bouts of skin cancer, bleeding ulcers, a collapsed lung, hip replacements, pacemakers.” Additionally, she had to be fed through a tube in her stomach.
Celeste Holm Frank Basile photo: Getty Images.