Holly began her career on stage appearing in the Broadway productions of Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright and A Hand Is on the Gate before embarking on a television and film career. She guest starred on Sam Benedict and The Nurses before landing the role of actress-turned-Judge Clara "Carla" Hall on the ABCsoap operaOne Life to Live, a role she played from 1968 to 1981, and again from 1983 to 1985. Holly came to the attention of Agnes Nixon, the creator of One Life to Live, after writing a letter to the editor of The New York Times about what it was like to be a light-skinned African American. Nixon created the role of Carla and offered Holly a role on her new show.
When Holly began on One Life to Live in October 1968, her
African-American heritage was not publicized as part of the storyline;
her character, named Carla Benari, was a touring actress of apparently Italian American heritage. Carla and a Caucasian physician, Dr. Jim Craig,
fell in love and became engaged. But sh…