Ms. Holm came to wide attention in 1943 as the lusty Ado Annie Carnes in the original 1943 Broadway staging of “Oklahoma!” She sang the show-stopping number “I Cain't Say No,” which led critic Burton Rascoe to write at the time that she “simply tucks the show under her arm and lets the others touch it.”
She almost did not get the part, having auditioned for composer Richard Rodgers by singing Franz Schubert’s “Who Is Sylvia?” Rodgers said he wanted a little less polish, so she did a hog call — “Soooieeeeeeeeeeesoooie” — and won the role.
Ms. Holm was summoned to Hollywood in 1946 as a musical comedy performer and landed roles in “Carnival in Costa Rica” and “Three Little Girls in Blue,” films that did not sustain her interest.
She had a hard time persuading Darryl F. Zanuck, head of Twentieth Century Fox, to let her play in “Gentleman’s Agreement” until screenwriter Moss Hart came to her defense.
Within a four-year period, she received three supporting Oscar nominations, including her win, for “Gentleman’s Agreement,” “Come to the Stable” (1949) and “All About Eve” (1950).
In “Gentleman’s Agreement,” she was the glamorous but long-suffering fashion editor with a yen for the investigative reporter played by Gregory Peck. The film was one of the first major pictures to expose anti-Semitism in everyday society and won Oscars for best picture and best director.
“Come to the Stable” featured Ms. Holm and Loretta Young as French nuns visiting America to raise funds for a children’s hospital.
“All About Eve,” a highly literate drama about ambition, featured Ms. Holm as the sincere best friend of an aging actress played by Bette Davis. The film won best picture and director Oscars.
The director, Joseph L. Mankiewicz, previously worked with Ms. Holm on “A Letter to Three Wives” (1949), in which she did a silky voice-over narration as an adulteress.
She also was an insane asylum inmate in “The Snake Pit” (1948) and a seductress named Flame O’Neill in the comedy “Champagne for Caesar” (1950) with Ronald Colman.
Ms. Holm often described a tense relationship with Zanuck, who was displeased with her choosiness in film roles. “When I won the Academy Award, he was furious,” she told the Associated Press in 1997. “He felt threatened. He thought I was going to get difficult. Not at all. It never occurred to me.”
Her rows with Zanuck earned her unflattering comparisons in Hollywood to the independent-minded Davis. MGM, fearing similar troubles with Ms. Holm, almost didn’t cast her in such mid-1950s musicals as “The Tender Trap” and “High Society” until co-star Frank Sinatra intervened.