Philip Baker Hall

HBO's "Clear History" Los Angeles Premiere - Arrivals

Hall in 2013, photo by PrPhotos

Date of Birth: September 10, 1931

Place of Birth: Toledo, Ohio, U.S.

Date of Death: June 12, 2022

Place of Death: Glendale, California, U.S.

Ethnicity: English, some German and Scots-Irish/Northern Irish, likely some African-American

Philip Baker Hall was an American actor. His films include Secret Honor, Hard Eight, Buddy, Air Force One, The Truman Show, Psycho (1998), The Insider, Cradle Will Rock, Magnolia, Rules of Engagement, The Contender, Lost Souls, The Sum of All Fears, Die, Mommie, Die!, The Amityville Horror (2005), Zodiac, 50/50, Argo, Bad Words, and Duck, among many others. He was also billed as Phillip Hall.

He was the son of Alice Birdene (McDonald) and William Alexander Hall, a factory worker, who was originally from Alabama. Philip was married to Holly Wolfle, until his death. He had two children with his former wife Mary-Ella Holst; and two children with Holly.

Philip’s paternal grandfather was James Madison Hall (the son of William Baker Hall and Sarah Saniscah Johnson). James was born in Alabama. William was the son of Matthew Hall and Priscilla Jones. Sarah was the daughter of Elhanan Winchester Johnson and Frances Augusta Palmer.

Philip’s paternal grandmother was Hattie Lillis “Dimples” Dix (the daughter of Alexander/Albert Franklin Dix and Helen Lillis “Nellie” Beach). Hattie was born in Alabama, to New York-born parents. Alexander was a Baptist minister, and was the son of Daniel L. Dix and Dyanthia Butterfield. Helen was the daughter of William Beach and Susanna Roop.

Philip’s maternal grandfather was named Louis A. McDonald. Louis was born in Ashland, Mississippi, to a Tennessee-born father and a North Carolina-born mother. It appears that Louis was listed as “Black” on the 1880 U.S. Census, and possibly other records as well.

Philip’s maternal grandmother was Martha Ann “Mattie” Williamson (the daughter of Noah Williamson and Sarah/Sallie Saunders/Sanders). Martha was born in Indiana, to a father from Indiana and a mother from Kentucky.

Sources: Philip’s father on the 1910 U.S. Census –

Marriage records of Philip’s paternal great-grandparents, William Baker Hall and Sarah Saniscah Johnson –

Philp’s paternal grandmother, Hattie Lillis “Dimples” Dix, on the 1880 U.S. Census –

Philip’s mother on the 1910 U.S. Census –

Death record of Philip’s maternal grandfather, Louis A. McDonald –

10 Responses

  1. jonasbttencourt says:

    If his maternal grandfather was really black, i believe he would Philip would problably look darker, i can’t see any non-white trait in him at all, he looks pretty standard northwestern european, i would say especially irish. I have see full white people with broader noses than that, and also his lips are thin, also his hair texture is as european as it gets. My dad is problably 1/8th(probably since we don’t know for sure if the dark skinned great-grandmother we have a picture of was full sub-saa african) and even him, being in theory “whiter” than Philip, has curly hair(wich was pass on to me), and broad lips, so i don’t know based on my experience seeing mixed-race people around where i live and also the mix in my own family, if it’s possible that this man has such a recent black ancestry, it’s hard to believe his even 1/8th.

  2. bablah says:

    >(the daughter of Noah Williamson and Sarah/Sallie Saunders).

  3. andrew says:

    his patrilineal line traces back to Northern Ireland:

  4. follers says:

    I didn’t include it in his entry because I just wasn’t sure enough, but I believe Philip Baker Hall’s maternal grandfather, Louis A. McDonald, who was listed as “White” on the 1910, 1920, and 1930 censuses, was the same man who was listed as “Black” in 1880.

    • andrew says:

      Considering his facial features, it could be even be possible. About Tom Sizemore…what makes you think that?

    • madman says:

      Seems likely. The birthplace of Philip’s maternal grandfather an his parents are the same as those of the Louis on the 1880 census. Philip’s grandfather left his family in the 1910’s and went to Detroit, where he lived as a lodger on the 1920 and 1930 censuses. Assuming this is his death record, he died in december 1930 and was born in Ashland, Mississippi, which isn’t far from Hudsonville, Mississippi, where the black Louis McDonald lived.

      The divorce of Philip’s maternal grandparents might explain why little information is available about them.

    • andrew says:

      Didn’t he look a bit like Douglas Wilder?

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