Holbrook's first solo appearance as Mark Twain was at the Lock Haven State Teachers College in PA in 1954. At this time in his career, Holbrook was pounding the pavements in New York searching for work as an actor and the Twain show was his desperate alternative to selling hats or running elevators to keep his family alive. But that same year, fortune struck by way of a job on a daytime radio and television soap opera, The Brighter Day. At night Holbrook pursued the Twain character in a Greenwich Village night club while doing the soap daytimes. He developed his original two hours of material in the curve of a baby grand piano and learned timing. Finally, Ed Sullivan saw him at the club and gave his Twain national television exposure.