And yet, I don't believe that either Holbrook or Gillette is likely to sound
much like Clemens performing "Mark Twain." Gillette's voice is too low and
too Yankee to correspond to the accounts we have of SLC, and Gillette and
Holbrook do not sound similar to me.
That said, I didn't listen to the recordings of Holbrook and Gillette
side-by-side, so my memory may mislead me, which leads me to another reason
I'm skeptical that we have a sound-alike in Holbrook. Given how long it had
been since Clara had heard her father before she heard Holbrook, isn't it
likely, too, that she would have forgotten? (When exactly did she hear
Holbrook? Not likely before 1956, is it?) And her memory of his
performances would have likely been skewed, too, by the fact that her last
conversations with her father would have been when he was old, dying of
congestive heart failure after a lifetime of smoking. Isn't it likely that
his voice would have grown raspy and higher as he aged? And isn't it also
likely that he changed his style--pacing, inflections, volume, etc., --over
time as he practiced and saw audiences respond? Do we even know whether he
used a range of voices for different characters?
As for Twain himself passing judgment on Gillette's performance, I doubt
Twain really knew what his own voice sounded like--even if he had heard it
on a recording. Our perceptions of our own voices are strangely off, as we
can tell when we hear recordings of our own voices.
I enjoy Holbrook's version of MT; indeed, I honor it all the more for the
creative energy and consistency that he has put into his rendition. But I
don't think I'm hearing MT when I hear HH.