Holling Vincoeur
Shelly and Holling.jpg
Played by John Cullum
Gender Male
Occupation Bartender
Partner Shelly Tambo
Children Jackie Vincoeur
Miranda Bliss Vincoeur
Nationality French-Canadian-American
First appearance "Pilot"
Last appearance "Tranquillity Base"

Holling Gustav Vincoeur was born January 1, 1929[1] in the Yukon, but also sometimes speaks of childhood trips to visit relatives in Quebec, Canada. He is a naturalized citizen of the United States. He owns and manages The Brick, a bar and restaurant which is a center of social life in Cicely.

Family[edit | edit source]

Holling is descended from Louis XIV of France, and despises his ancestors as "aristocratic scum of the worst kind"; he left Canada to escape the shame of their memory and shortened his surname from de Vincœur. Later, he mentions that his ancestors include Huguenots.[2]

Holling describes his father, grandfather, and other male relatives as "despicable human beings" (one of his ancestors was so hated the anniversary of his death is still celebrated as a holiday in France) and this is referred to often throughout the series.[3] A century-old diary reveals that Holling's grandfather, when stranded in a blizzard, ate Ruth-Anne Miller's grandfather. [4] In another episode, Holling dreams that he was compelled to chauffeur his abusive father from early childhood.[5]

Also referenced are the Vincoeur males' extreme lifespans. Holling's father and grandfather were centenarians, who never remarried after their wives died young. With this history, Holling hesitates to marry because, despite being more than 40 years older than Shelly, it is possible for him to outlive her by decades with a broken heart.

Personality[edit | edit source]

Holling has a calm and forthright manner and is arguably the most rational of the town's quirky denizens. He doesn't like sports.[6]

Occupation[edit | edit source]

Before owning The Brick, Holling was an expert hunter, trapper, and tracker. In the summer of 1938, Holling and a guy named Lon Guysberg left school in the 11th grade to lay railroad timbers outside Dawson.[2]

A few years before the series starts he was nearly killed by "Jesse" the bear.[7] In a dream, Jesse confronts Holling with all the animals he has shot, and he swears off hunting because of the uneven nature of the confrontation. Thereafter, he continues to go into the wilderness and stalk animals, but he now "shoots" (photographs) them only with Fujifilm[8] and a Nikon camera.[9][10][2] His photography gets him into trouble with Maurice once.[11] He also likes to take pictures of birds with Ruth-Anne.[12]

Holling holds the office of mayor during the first half of the series, though in a town so small his duties are so light that it is rarely mentioned. Re-elected without opposition for many years, he narrowly loses the office to Edna Hancock, who holds a grudge against him over a stop sign.[13]

Love life[edit | edit source]

Despite looking younger in the pilot episode, he is actually aged 62 years as the series opens. Holling is romantically involved with Shelly Tambo, a woman young enough to be his granddaughter. Shelly was brought to Cicely by Maurice Minnifield (until then Holling's best friend since around 1970 when they first met), who hoped to marry her; but she soon fell in love with Holling. Later, Holling reveals to Maggie, he had a relationship with a woman named Eleanor 40 years before, who he bought a star for.[14]

In the first seasons, Holling believes that he is incapable of fathering children due to a low sperm count, but this assumption is corrected when he learns of the existence of a middle-aged daughter, Jackie Vincoeur. Accodring to Jackie, she has two children, Holling's grandchildren. Unfortunately, Jackie has the dishonorable character of her Vincoeur ancestors, [15] which concerns Holling when Shelly becomes pregnant.[16] Shelly convinces him that because he is not a bad person and she is a good person their child will be okay. Their child is a daughter, Miranda Bliss ("Randi"), and in a surreal episode during Shelly's last days of pregnancy it is implied she and Holling will later have a son, Jared, though he is not yet conceived by the end of the series be cause of Northern Exposure's early cancellation.

Holling almost marries Shelly early in the series after a possible pregnancy.[17] Shelly pressures him to get circumcized, but changes her mind at the last minute. [18] Shelly asks Holling to marry her finally after a bout of dancer hallucinations.[19]

Holling secretly supported a boy his entire life, due to a tragic fight to the death against the boy's father. [20]

Quotes[edit | edit source]

"A-Hunting We Will Go" (3-8)

Holling: I'd rather get my brains blown out in the wild than wait in terror at the slaughterhouse.

"The Three Amigos" (3-16)

Holling (to Shelly): What a time we had: splashed through bogs, ate like hogs, slept like logs.

"Sleeping with the Enemy" (4-24)

Holling: Well I'd like to talk to you, if I may.
Shelly: Oh, H, I almost forgot. Did you remember to call Tiny Toddlers and line up the little guy's beetle-grass mat and desk?
Holling: Well, I'll phone tomorrow. Right now I have a more pressing concern.
Shelly: Well, shoot, big guy.
Holling: Well you remember that time I told you about when I was stranded out on that island in Lake Whidbey?
Shelly: Mmm-hmm.
Holling: My kayak had loosed from its mooring and drifted out and far away.
Shelly: And you almost froze your tush off, but the matches dried out and you strangled a moose and made jerky.
Holling: My only way back to shore was ice floe to ice floe, the threat of hypothermia a mere misstep away.
Shelly: But you made it back.
Holling: Yes. And do you know why?
Shelly: 'Cause you are one rugged L.L. Beanstalk.
Holling: True. But, see, Shelly, I didn't want to leave that island. Not right then. I was forced to.
Shelly: Forced? By who? Grizzlies?
Holling: It was my needs.
Shelly: Your what?
Holling: My needs.
Shelly: Your knees?
Holling: My needs. My wants, my desires.
Shelly: Oh.
Holling: My needs welled up within me and once they got started there was no way of stopping them. They were like a thirst that needed to be quenched...a hunger that needed to be fed. My needs needed to find a proper refuge. And they wouldn't quit until they did.
Shelly: Your needs?
Holling: Yes, my needs! Shelly, my God, I'm talking about my needs. I'm talking about Johnny.
Shelly: Johnny?
Holling: It was Johnny that forced me off of that island. It was Johnny that needed a woman, bad. And he didn't care if I died or not. I mean because if he didn't find her I was just gonna bust.
Shelly: Wow! So you swam in frozen water and walked through snow all for Johnny?
Holling: Yeah.
Shelly: That is a great story, hon.
Holling: Yeah.
Shelly: I think I'll go take an Epsom soak. My ankles are killing me, and my 'roids are acting up on me, too.

"Mister Sandman" (5-12)

Holling (reacting to his dreams): I'm my mother. I'm my father. I'm chipped beef on toast?!

"The Mommy's Curse" (6-14)

Holling: A man's hat is his pride, Maurice!

Holling: A new hat... fun for a while.. a little variety, change you know, something different. For a good fit, and a comfortable feeling there is nothing like an old hat. You know what I mean?
Maurice: I know that you mean.
Holling: Well then?
Maurice: Well.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Things Become Extinct" (3-13)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Sons of the Tundra" (6-9)
  3. "The Body in Question" (3-6)
  4. "Cup of Joe" (5-9)
  5. "Mr. Sandman" (5-12)
  6. "Birds of a Feather" (5-6)
  7. "A Kodiak Moment" (1-7)
  8. "What I Did for Love" (2-4)
  9. "War and Peace" (2-6)
  10. "A-Hunting We Will Go" (3-8)
  11. "Only You" (3-2)
  12. "Love's Labour Mislaid" (4-17)
  13. "Democracy in America" (3-15)
  14. "Our Tribe" (3-12)
  15. "The Bad Seed" (4-7)
  16. "Mud and Blood" (4-23)
  17. "Dreams, Schemes and Putting Greens" (1-4)
  18. "All is Vanity" (2-3)
  19. "Family Feud" (4-19)
  20. based on memory ... I will confirm it later.
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