Top 200 Greatest Actors of Oldby rcmeyerjr | created - 24 Nov 2010 | updated - 06 Feb 2016 | Public
Born No Later Than 1935
Actor | Anatomy of a Murder
James Maitland Stewart was born on May 20, 1908, in Indiana, Pennsylvania, to Elizabeth Ruth (Johnson) and Alexander Maitland Stewart, who owned a hardware store. He was of Scottish, Ulster-Scots, and some English descent. Stewart was educated at a local prep school, Mercersburg Academy, where he ...
James Maitland "Jimmy" Stewart (May 20, 1908 – July 2, 1997) was an American film and stage actor. Over the course of his career, he starred in many films widely considered classics and was nominated for five Academy Awards, winning one in competition and receiving one Lifetime Achievement award. He was a major MGM contract star. He also had a noted military career and was a World War II and Vietnam War veteran, who rose to the rank of Brigadier General in the United States Air Force Reserve.
Throughout his seven decades in Hollywood, Stewart cultivated a versatile career and recognized screen image in such classics as Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, The Philadelphia Story, Harvey, It's a Wonderful Life, Rear Window, Rope, The Man Who Knew Too Much, and Vertigo. He is the most represented leading actor on the AFI's 100 Years…100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) and AFI's 10 Top 10 lists. He is also the most represented leading actor on the 100 Greatest Movies of All Time list presented by Entertainment Weekly. As of 2007, ten of his films have been inducted into the United States National Film Registry.
Stewart left his mark on a wide range of film genres, including westerns, suspense thrillers, family films, biographies and screwball comedies. He worked for a number of renowned directors later in his career, most notably Alfred Hitchcock, John Ford, Billy Wilder, Frank Capra, George Cukor, and Anthony Mann. He won many of the industry's highest honors and earned Lifetime Achievement awards from every major film organization. He died at age 89, leaving behind a legacy of classic performances, and is considered one of the finest actors of the "Golden Age of Hollywood". He was named the third Greatest Male Star of All Time by the American Film Institute.
Actor | Judgment at Nuremberg
Spencer Tracy was the second son born on April 5, 1900, to truck salesman John Edward and Caroline Brown Tracy in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. While attending Marquette Academy, he and classmate Pat O'Brien quit school to enlist in the Navy at the start of World War I. Tracy was still at Norfolk Navy Yard...
Spencer Bonaventure Tracy (April 5, 1900 – June 10, 1967) was an American theatrical and film actor, who appeared in 74 films from 1930 to 1967. In 1999, the American Film Institute ranked Tracy ninth among the Greatest Male Stars of All Time. He was nominated for nine Academy Awards for Best Actor in all, winning two.
While in college, Tracy decided on acting as a career. He studied acting in New York and appeared in a number of Broadway plays, finally achieving success in the 1930 hit The Last Mile. Director John Ford was impressed by his performance and cast him in Up the River with Humphrey Bogart. Fox Film Corporation signed him to a long term contract, but after five years of mostly undistinguished films, he joined the most prestigious movie studio of the time, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, where his career flourished. He won back-to-back Academy Awards for Captains Courageous (1937) and Boys Town (1938).
In 1942, he co-starred with Katharine Hepburn in Woman of the Year. The teaming lasted for decades, both on-screen and off. They fell in love and maintained an affair that lasted for decades. (Tracy was already married and, as a Catholic, would not consider divorce.) One of the greatest of cinematic couples, they made eight more films together, ending in 1967's Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, which was completed shortly before his death.
Actor | Apocalypse Now
Marlon Brando is widely considered the greatest movie actor of all time, rivaled only by the more theatrically oriented Laurence Olivier in terms of esteem. Unlike Olivier, who preferred the stage to the screen, Brando concentrated his talents on movies after bidding the Broadway stage adieu in ...
Marlon Brando, Jr. (April 3, 1924 – July 1, 2004) was an American actor who performed for over half a century.
He was perhaps best known for his roles as Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), his Academy Award-nominated performance as Emiliano Zapata in Viva Zapata! (1952), and his Academy Award-winning performance as Terry Malloy in On the Waterfront (1954), all three directed by Elia Kazan, and his role as Mark Antony in the MGM film adaptation of the Shakespeare play Julius Caesar (1953) for which he was nominated for an Academy Award. During the 1970s, he was most famous for his Academy Award-winning performance as Vito Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather (1972), and he also played Colonel Walter Kurtz in Apocalypse Now (1979), also directed by Coppola. He delivered an Academy Award-nominated performance as Paul in Last Tango in Paris (1972). Also, he directed and starred in the western film One-Eyed Jacks (1961).
Brando had a significant impact on film acting. He was the foremost example of the "method" acting style, and became notorious for his "mumbling" diction but his mercurial performances were highly regarded and he is now considered one of the greatest American film actors of the twentieth century. Director Martin Scorsese said of him, "He is the marker. There's 'before Brando' and 'after Brando'.'" Actor Jack Nicholson once said, "When Marlon dies, everybody moves up one."
Brando was also an activist, supporting many issues, notably the African-American Civil Rights Movement and various American Indian Movements.
Actor | Sleuth
Laurence Olivier could speak William Shakespeare's lines as naturally as if he were "actually thinking them", said English playwright Charles Bennett, who met Olivier in 1927. Laurence Kerr Olivier was born in Dorking, Surrey, England, to Agnes Louise (Crookenden) and Gerard Kerr Olivier, a High ...
Laurence Kerr Olivier, Baron Olivier, OM (pronounced /ˈlɒrəns ɵˈlɪvi.eɪ/; 22 May 1907 – 11 July 1989) was an English actor, director, and producer. He was one of the most famous and revered actors of the 20th century. He married three times, to fellow actors Jill Esmond, Vivien Leigh and Joan Plowright.
Olivier played a wide variety of roles on stage and screen from Greek tragedy, Shakespeare and Restoration comedy to modern American and British drama. He was the first artistic director of the National Theatre of Great Britain and its main stage is named in his honour. He is regarded by some to be the greatest actor of the 20th century, in the same category as David Garrick, Richard Burbage, Edmund Kean and Henry Irving in their own centuries. Olivier's AMPAS acknowledgments are considerable—fourteen Oscar nominations, with two wins (for Best Actor and Best Picture for the 1948 film Hamlet), and two honorary awards including a statuette and certificate. He was also awarded five Emmy awards from the nine nominations he received. Additionally, he was a three-time Golden Globe and BAFTA winner.
Olivier's career as a stage and film actor spanned more than six decades and included a wide variety of roles, from the title role in Shakespeare's Othello and Sir Toby Belch in Twelfth Night to the sadistic Nazi dentist Christian Szell in Marathon Man and the kindly but determined Nazi-hunter in The Boys from Brazil. A High church clergyman's son who found fame on the West End stage, Olivier became determined early on to master Shakespeare, and eventually came to be regarded as one of the foremost Shakespeare interpreters of the 20th century. He continued to act until the year before his death in 1989. Olivier played more than 120 stage roles: Richard III, Macbeth, Romeo, Hamlet, Othello, Uncle Vanya, and Archie Rice in The Entertainer. He appeared in nearly sixty films, including William Wyler's Wuthering Heights, Alfred Hitchcock's Rebecca, Stanley Kubrick's Spartacus, Otto Preminger's Bunny Lake Is Missing, Richard Attenborough's Oh! What a Lovely War, and A Bridge Too Far, Joseph L. Mankiewicz's Sleuth, John Schlesinger's Marathon Man, Daniel Petrie's The Betsy, Desmond Davis' Clash of the Titans, and his own Henry V, Hamlet, and Richard III. He also preserved his Othello on film, with its stage cast virtually intact. For television, he starred in The Moon and Sixpence, John Gabriel Borkman, Long Day's Journey into Night, Brideshead Revisited, The Merchant of Venice, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and King Lear, among others.
In 1999, the American Film Institute named Olivier among the Greatest Male Stars of All Time, at number 14 on the list.
5. Paul Newman
Actor | The Hustler
Screen legend, superstar, and the man with the most famous blue eyes in movie history, Paul Leonard Newman was born on January 26, 1925, in Cleveland, Ohio, the second son of Arthur Sigmund Newman (died 1950) and Theresa Fetsko (died 1982). His elder brother was Arthur S. Newman Jr., named for ...
Paul Leonard Newman (January 26, 1925 – September 26, 2008) was an American actor, film director, entrepreneur, humanitarian, and auto racing enthusiast. He won numerous awards, including an Academy Award for best actor for his performance in the 1986 Martin Scorsese film The Color of Money and eight other nominations, three Golden Globe Awards, a BAFTA Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, a Cannes Film Festival Award, an Emmy award, and many honorary awards. He also won several national championships as a driver in Sports Car Club of America road racing, and his race teams won several championships in open wheel IndyCar racing.
Newman was a co-founder of Newman's Own, a food company from which Newman donated all post-tax profits and royalties to charity. As of August 2010, these donations had exceeded $300 million.
6. Henry Fonda
Actor | 12 Angry Men
This remarkable, soft-spoken American began in films as a diffident juvenile. With passing years, he matured into a star character actor who exemplified not only integrity and strength, but an ideal of the common man fighting against social injustice and oppression. He was born in Grand Island, ...
Henry Jaynes Fonda (May 16, 1905 – August 12, 1982) was an American film and stage actor.
Fonda made his mark early as a Broadway actor. He also appeared in 1938 in plays performed in White Plains, New York, with Joan Tompkins. He made his Hollywood debut in 1935, and his career gained momentum after his Academy Award-nominated performance as Tom Joad in The Grapes of Wrath, a 1940 adaptation of John Steinbeck's novel about an Oklahoma family who moved west during the Dust Bowl. Throughout six decades in Hollywood, Fonda cultivated a strong, appealing screen image in such classics as The Ox-Bow Incident, Mister Roberts and 12 Angry Men. Later, Fonda moved toward both more challenging, darker epics as Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West (portraying a villain who kills, among others, a child) and lighter roles in family comedies like Yours, Mine and Ours with Lucille Ball.
Fonda was the patriarch of a family of famous actors, including daughter Jane Fonda, son Peter Fonda, granddaughter Bridget Fonda, and grandson Troy Garity; his family and close friends called him "Hank". In 1999, he was named the sixth Greatest Male Star of All Time by the American Film Institute.
Actor | Casablanca
Humphrey DeForest Bogart was born in New York City, New York, to Maud Humphrey, a famed magazine illustrator and suffragette, and Belmont DeForest Bogart, a moderately wealthy surgeon (who was secretly addicted to opium). Bogart was educated at Trinity School, NYC, and was sent to Phillips Academy ...
Humphrey DeForest Bogart (December 25, 1899 – January 14, 1957) was an American actor. He is widely regarded as a cultural icon. The American Film Institute ranked Bogart as the greatest male star in the history of American cinema.
After trying various jobs, Bogart began acting in 1921 and became a regular in Broadway productions in the 1920s and 1930s. When the stock market crash of 1929 reduced the demand for plays, Bogart turned to film. His first great success was as Duke Mantee in The Petrified Forest (1936), and this led to a period of typecasting as a gangster with films such as Angels with Dirty Faces (1938) and B-movies like The Return of Doctor X (1939).
His breakthrough as a leading man came in 1941, with High Sierra and The Maltese Falcon. The next year, his performance in Casablanca raised him to the peak of his profession and, at the same time, cemented his trademark film persona, that of the hard-boiled cynic who ultimately shows his noble side. Other successes followed, including To Have and Have Not (1944), The Big Sleep (1946), Dark Passage (1947) and Key Largo (1948), with his wife Lauren Bacall; The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948); The African Queen (1951), for which he won his only Academy Award; Sabrina (1954) and The Caine Mutiny (1954). His last movie was The Harder They Fall (1956). During a film career of almost thirty years, he appeared in 75 feature films.
8. James Cagney
Actor | Angels with Dirty Faces
One of Hollywood's preeminent male stars of all time, James Cagney was also an accomplished dancer and easily played light comedy. James Francis Cagney was born on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in New York City, to Carolyn (Nelson) and James Francis Cagney, Sr., who was a bartender and amateur ...
James Francis Cagney, Jr. (July 17, 1899 – March 30, 1986) was an American film actor. Although he won acclaim and major awards for a wide variety of roles, he is best remembered for playing "tough guys." In 1999, the American Film Institute ranked him eighth among the Greatest Male Stars of All Time.
In his first performing role, he danced dressed as a woman in the chorus line of the 1919 revue Every Sailor. He spent several years in vaudeville as a hoofer and comedian until his first major acting role in 1925. He secured several other roles, receiving good reviews before landing the lead in the 1929 play Penny Arcade. After rave reviews for his acting, Warners signed him for an initial $500 a week, three-week contract to reprise his role; this was quickly extended to a seven year contract.
Cagney's seventh film, The Public Enemy, became one of the most influential gangster movies of the period. Notable for its famous grapefruit scene, the film thrust Cagney into the spotlight, making him one of Warners' and Hollywood's biggest stars. In 1938, he received his first Academy Award for Best Actor nomination for Angels with Dirty Faces, before winning in 1942 for his portrayal of George M. Cohan in Yankee Doodle Dandy. He was nominated a third time in 1955 for Love Me or Leave Me. Cagney retired for 20 years in 1961, spending time on his farm before returning for a part in Ragtime mainly to aid his recovery from a stroke.
Cagney walked out on Warners several times over his career, each time coming back on improved personal and artistic terms. In 1935, he sued Warners for breach of contract and won; this marked one of the first times an actor had beaten a studio over a contract issue. He worked for an independent film company for a year while the suit was settled, and also established his own production company, Cagney Productions, in 1942 before returning to Warners again four years later. Jack Warner called him "The Professional Againster", in reference to Cagney’s refusal to be pushed around. Cagney also made numerous morale-boosting troop tours before and during World War II, and was President of the Screen Actors Guild for two years.
Actor | Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Probably best-remembered for his turbulent personal life with Elizabeth Taylor (whom he married twice), Richard Burton was nonetheless also regarded as an often brilliant British actor of the post-WWII period.
Burton was born Richard Walter Jenkins in 1925 into a Welsh (Cymraeg)-speaking family in ...
Richard Burton, (10 November 1925 – 5 August 1984) was a Welsh actor. He was nominated seven times for an Academy Award, six of which were for Best Actor in a Leading Role (without ever winning), and was a recipient of BAFTA, Golden Globe and Tony Awards for Best Actor. Burton was at one time the highest-paid actor in Hollywood. He remains closely associated in the public consciousness with his second wife, actress Elizabeth Taylor; the couple's turbulent relationship was rarely out of the news.
He was nominated six times for an Academy Award for Best Actor and once for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor – but he never won. From 1982, he and Becket co-star Peter O'Toole shared the record for the male actor with the most nominations for a competitive acting Oscar without ever winning. In 2007, O'Toole was unsuccessfully nominated for an eighth time, for Venus (however, O'Toole also received an "honorary" Academy Award in 2003). Both Burton and O'Toole were nominated for the film Becket.
10. Charles Chaplin
Writer | The Great Dictator
Considered to be one of the most pivotal stars of the early days of Hollywood, Charlie Chaplin lived an interesting life both in his films and behind the camera. He is most recognized as an icon of the silent film era, often associated with his popular character, the Little Tramp; the man with the ...
Sir Charles Spencer "Charlie" Chaplin, KBE (16 April 1889 – 25 December 1977) was an English comic actor and film director of the silent film era. He became one of the best-known film stars in the world before the end of the First World War. Chaplin used mime, slapstick and other visual comedy routines, and continued well into the era of the talkies, though his films decreased in frequency from the end of the 1920s. His most famous role was that of The Tramp, which he first played in the Keystone comedy Kid Auto Races at Venice in 1914. From the April 1914 one-reeler Twenty Minutes of Love onwards he was writing and directing most of his films, by 1916 he was also producing, and from 1918 composing the music. With Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and D. W. Griffith, he co-founded United Artists in 1919.
Chaplin was one of the most creative and influential personalities of the silent-film era. He was influenced by his predecessor, the French silent movie comedian Max Linder, to whom he dedicated one of his films. His working life in entertainment spanned over 75 years, from the Victorian stage and the Music Hall in the United Kingdom as a child performer, until close to his death at the age of 88. His high-profile public and private life encompassed both adulation and controversy. Chaplin's identification with the left ultimately forced him to resettle in Europe during the McCarthy era in the early 1950s.
In 1999, the American Film Institute ranked Chaplin the 10th greatest male screen legend of all time. In 2008, Martin Sieff, in a review of the book Chaplin: A Life, wrote: "Chaplin was not just 'big', he was gigantic. In 1915, he burst onto a war-torn world bringing it the gift of comedy, laughter and relief while it was tearing itself apart through World War I. Over the next 25 years, through the Great Depression and the rise of Adolf Hitler, he stayed on the job. ... It is doubtful any individual has ever given more entertainment, pleasure and relief to so many human beings when they needed it the most". George Bernard Shaw called Chaplin "the only genius to come out of the movie industry".
11. Clark Gable
Actor | It Happened One Night
William Clark Gable was born on February 1, 1901 in Cadiz, Ohio, to Adeline (Hershelman) and William Henry Gable, an oil-well driller. He was of German, Irish, and Swiss-German descent. When he was seven months old, his mother died, and his father sent him to live with his maternal aunt and uncle ...
William Clark Gable (February 1, 1901 – November 16, 1960) was an American film actor, nicknamed "The King of Hollywood" in his heyday. In 1999, the American Film Institute named Gable seventh among the greatest male stars of all time.
Gable's most famous role was Rhett Butler in the 1939 Civil War epic film Gone with the Wind, in which he starred with Vivien Leigh. His performance earned him his third nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor; he won for It Happened One Night (1934) and was also nominated for Mutiny on the Bounty (1935). Later performances were in Run Silent, Run Deep, a submarine war film, and his final film, The Misfits (1961), which paired Gable with Marilyn Monroe, also in her last screen appearance.
During his long film career, Gable appeared opposite some of the most popular actresses of the time. Joan Crawford, who was his favorite actress to work with, was partnered with Gable in eight films, Myrna Loy was with him seven times, and he was paired with Jean Harlow in six productions. He also starred with Lana Turner in four features, and with Norma Shearer in three. Gable was often named the top male star in the mid-30s, and was second only to the top box-office draw of all, Shirley Temple.
12. Ronald Colman
Actor | Random Harvest
British leading man of primarily American films, one of the great stars of the Golden Age. Raised in Ealing, the son of a successful silk merchant, he attended boarding school in Sussex, where he discovered amateur theatre. He intended to attend Cambridge and become an engineer, but his father's ...
Ronald Charles Colman (9 February 1891 – 19 May 1958) was an English actor.
Ronald Colman had first appeared in films in England in 1917 and 1919 for Cecil Hepworth, and subsequently with the old Broadwest Film Company in The Snow of the Desert. While appearing on stage in New York in La Tendress, Director Henry King saw him, and engaged him as the leading man in the 1923 film, The White Sister, opposite Lillian Gish, and was an immediate success. Thereafter Colman virtually abandoned the stage for film. He became a very popular silent film star in both romantic and adventure films, among them The Dark Angel (1925), Stella Dallas (1926), Beau Geste (1927), and The Winning of Barbara Worth (1926). His dark hair and eyes and his athletic and riding ability (he did most of his own stunts until late in his career) led reviewers to describe him as a "Valentino type". He was often cast in similar, exotic roles. Towards the end of the silents era, Colman was teamed with Hungarian actress Vilma Bánky under Samuel Goldwyn and the two were a popular movie team rivalling Greta Garbo and John Gilbert.
Although he was a huge success in silent films, he was unable to capitalize on one of his chief assets until the advent of the talking picture, "his beautifully modulated and cultured voice", also described as "a bewitching, finely-modulated, resonant voice". His first major talkie success was in 1930, when he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for two roles — Condemned and Bulldog Drummond. He thereafter appeared in a number of notable films including Raffles, The Masquerader, Clive of India, A Tale of Two Cities in 1935, Under Two Flags, The Prisoner of Zenda and Lost Horizon in 1937, If I Were King in 1938, and The Talk of the Town in 1941. He won the Best Actor Oscar in 1948 for A Double Life. At the time of his death, Colman was contracted by MGM for the lead role in Village of the Damned. However, Colman died and the film became a British production starring George Sanders, who had married Colman's widow, Benita Hume.
13. Kirk Douglas
Actor | Spartacus
Cleft-chinned, steely-eyed and virile star of international cinema who rose from being "the ragman's son" (the name of his best-selling 1988 autobiography) to become a bona fide superstar, Kirk Douglas, also known as Issur Danielovitch Demsky, was born on December 9, 1916 in Amsterdam, New York. ...
Kirk Douglas (born Issur Danielovitch) (December 9, 1916) is an American stage and film actor, film producer and author. His popular films include Champion (1949), Ace in the Hole (1951), The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), Lust for Life (1956), Paths of Glory (1957), Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957) Spartacus (1960), and Lonely Are the Brave (1962).
He is #17 on the American Film Institute's list of the greatest male American screen legends of all time. In 1996, he received the Academy Honorary Award "for 50 years as a creative and moral force in the motion picture community".
14. Gregory Peck
Actor | To Kill a Mockingbird
Eldred Gregory Peck was born on April 5, 1916 in La Jolla, California, to Bernice Mae (Ayres) and Gregory Pearl Peck, a chemist and druggist in San Diego. He had Irish (from his paternal grandmother), English, and some German, ancestry. His parents divorced when he was five years old. An only child...
Gregory Peck (April 5, 1916 – June 12, 2003) was an American actor.
One of 20th Century Fox's most popular film stars from the 1940s to the 1960s, Peck continued to play important roles well into the 1980s. His notable performances include that of Atticus Finch in the 1962 film To Kill a Mockingbird, for which he won his Academy Award.
President Lyndon Johnson honored Peck with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1969 for his lifetime humanitarian efforts. In 1999, the American Film Institute named Peck among the Greatest Male Stars of All Time, ranking at #12.
15. Richard Harris
Actor | Gladiator
Richard St John Harris was born on October 1, 1930 in Limerick, Ireland, to a farming family, one of nine children born to Mildred Josephine (nee Harty) and Ivan John Harris. He attended Crescent College, a Jesuit school, and was an excellent rugby player, with a strong passion for literature. ...
Richard St. John Harris (1 October 1930 – 25 October 2002) was an Irish actor, singer-songwriter, theatrical producer, film director and writer.
He appeared on stage and in many films, and is perhaps best known for his roles as King Arthur in Camelot (1967), as Oliver Cromwell in Cromwell (1970) and as Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (2001) and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002), his final film. He also played a British aristocrat and prisoner in A Man Called Horse (1970), Emperor Marcus Aurelius in Gladiator (2000) and the gunfighter English Bob in Clint Eastwood's Western film Unforgiven (1992).
Harris had a top ten hit in Britain and the US with his 1968 recording of Jimmy Webb's song "MacArthur Park".
16. Cary Grant
Actor | Charade
Once told by an interviewer, "Everybody would like to be Cary Grant", Grant is said to have replied, "So would I."
Cary Grant was born Archibald Alec Leach on January 18, 1904 in Horfield, Bristol, England, to Elsie Maria (Kingdon) and Elias James Leach, who worked in a factory. His early years in ...
Archibald Alexander Leach (January 18, 1904 – November 29, 1986), better known by his stage name Cary Grant, was an English-American actor. With his distinctive yet not quite placeable Mid-Atlantic accent, he was noted as perhaps the foremost exemplar of the debonair leading man: handsome, virile, charismatic, and charming.
He was named the second Greatest Male Star of All Time by the American Film Institute. His popular classic films include She Done Him Wrong (1933), Topper (1937), The Awful Truth (1937), Bringing Up Baby (1938), Gunga Din (1939), Only Angels Have Wings (1939), His Girl Friday (1940), The Philadelphia Story (1940), Suspicion (1941), The Talk of the Town (1942), Arsenic and Old Lace (1944), Notorious (1946), Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948), To Catch A Thief (1955), An Affair to Remember (1957), North by Northwest (1959), and Charade (1963).
Nominated twice for the Academy Award for Best Actor and five times for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor, he missed out every time until he was finally honored with an Honorary Award at the 42nd Academy Awards "for his unique mastery of the art of screen acting with the respect and affection of his colleagues".
17. Richard Widmark
Actor | Kiss of Death
Richard Widmark established himself as an icon of American cinema with his debut in the 1947 film noir Kiss of Death (1947), in which he won a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award nomination as the killer Tommy Udo. Kiss of Death (1947) and other noir thrillers established Widmark as part of a new ...
Richard Widmark (December 26, 1914 – March 24, 2008) was an American actor of films, stage, radio and television.
He was nominated for an Academy Award for his role as the villainous Tommy Udo in his debut film, Kiss of Death. Early in his career Widmark specialized in similar villainous or anti-hero roles in films noir, but he later branched out into more heroic leading and support roles in westerns, mainstream dramas and horror films, among others.
At his death, Widmark was the earliest surviving Oscar nominee in the Supporting Actor category, and one of only two left from the 1940s (the other having been James Whitmore). For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Widmark has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6800 Hollywood Boulevard. In 2002, he was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
18. Peter O'Toole
Actor | Lawrence of Arabia
A leading man of prodigious talents, Peter O'Toole was born and raised in Leeds, Yorkshire, England, the son of Constance Jane Eliot (Ferguson), a Scottish nurse, and Patrick Joseph O'Toole, an Irish metal plater, football player and racecourse bookmaker. Upon leaving school, he decided to become a...
Peter Seamus Lorcan O'Toole (born 2 August 1932) is an Irish actor of stage and screen who achieved stardom in 1962 playing T. E. Lawrence in Lawrence of Arabia. He went on to become a highly-honoured film and stage actor. He has been nominated for eight Academy Awards, and holds the record for most competitive Academy Award acting nominations without a win. He has won four Golden Globes, a BAFTA, an Emmy and was the recipient of an Honorary Academy Award in 2003 for his body of work.
19. Gary Cooper
Actor | High Noon
Born to Alice Cooper and Charles Cooper. Gary attended school at Dunstable school England, Helena Montana and Grinnell College, Grinnell, Iowa (then called Iowa College). His first stage experience was during high school and college. Afterwards, he worked as an extra for one year before getting a ...
Frank James “Gary” Cooper (May 7, 1901 – May 13, 1961) was an American film actor. He was renowned for his quiet, understated acting style and his stoic, individualistic, emotionally restrained, but at times intense screen persona, which was particularly well suited to the many Westerns he made. His career spanned from 1925 until shortly before his death, and comprised more than one hundred films.
Cooper received five Academy Award nominations for Best Actor, winning twice for Sergeant York and High Noon. He also received an Honorary Award in 1961 from the Academy.
Decades later, the American Film Institute named Cooper among the AFI's 100 Years... 100 Stars, ranking 11th among males from the Classical Hollywood cinema period. In 2003, his performances as Will Kane in High Noon, Lou Gehrig in The Pride of the Yankees, and Alvin York in Sergeant York made the AFI's 100 Years... 100 Heroes and Villains list, all of them as heroes.
20. Alec Guinness
Actor | The Bridge on the River Kwai
Alec Guinness was an English actor. He is known for his six collaborations with David Lean: Herbert Pocket in Great Expectations (1946), Fagin in Oliver Twist (1948), Col. Nicholson in The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor), Prince Faisal in Lawrence...
Sir Alec Guinness, CH, CBE (2 April 1914 – 5 August 2000) was an English actor. He was featured in several of the Ealing Comedies, including Kind Hearts and Coronets in which he played eight different characters. He later won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as Colonel Nicholson in The Bridge on the River Kwai. His most prominent role in his later career was as Obi-Wan Kenobi in the original Star Wars trilogy.
21. Charlton Heston
Actor | Ben-Hur
With features chiseled in stone, and renowned for playing a long list of historical figures, particularly in Biblical epics, the tall, well-built and ruggedly handsome Charlton Heston was one of Hollywood's greatest leading men and remained active in front of movie cameras for over sixty years. As ...
Charlton Heston (October 4, 1923 – April 5, 2008) was an American actor of film, theatre and television.
Heston is known for having played heroic roles, such as Moses in The Ten Commandments, Taylor in Planet of the Apes, twice as Andrew Jackson in The President's Lady and The Buccaneer; the eponymous characters of El Cid and Judah Ben Hur in Ben-Hur, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor.
Heston was also known for his political activism. In the 1950s and 1960s he was one of a handful of Hollywood actors to speak openly against racism and was an active supporter of the Civil Rights Movement. Initially a moderate Democrat, he later supported conservative Republican policies and was president of the National Rifle Association from 1998 to 2003.
22. David Niven
Actor | Murder by Death
James David Graham Niven was born on the feast day of St David. Following Niven senior's death at Turkey's infamous Suvla Bay, Niven's mother went on to marry his biological father, the Conservative politician Sir Thomas Comyn-Platt, but it was years before the true father/son relationship was ...
James David Graham Niven (1 March 1910 – 29 July 1983), known as David Niven, was a British actor and novelist, best known for his roles as Phileas Fogg in Around the World in 80 Days and Sir Charles Lytton, a.k.a. "the Phantom," in The Pink Panther. He was awarded the 1958 Academy Award for Best Actor in Separate Tables.
Actor | Double Indemnity
Emanuel Goldenberg arrived in the United States from Romania at age ten, and his family moved into New York's Lower East Side. He took up acting while attending City College, abandoning plans to become a rabbi or lawyer. The American Academy of Dramatic Arts awarded him a scholarship, and he began ...
Edward G. Robinson (born Emanuel Goldenberg; December 12, 1893 – January 26, 1973) was a Romanian-born American actor. Although he played a wide range of characters, he is best remembered for his roles as a gangster, most notably in his star-making film Little Caesar.
24. Steve McQueen
Actor | The Great Escape
He was the ultra-cool male film star of the 1960s, and rose from a troubled youth spent in reform schools to being the world's most popular actor. Over 40 years after his untimely death from mesothelioma in 1980, Steve McQueen is still considered hip and cool, and he endures as an icon of popular ...
Terrence Steven "Steve" McQueen (March 24, 1930 – November 7, 1980) was a popular American movie actor. He was nicknamed "The King of Cool." His "anti-hero" persona, which he developed at the height of the Vietnam counterculture, made him one of the top box-office draws of the 1960s and 1970s. McQueen received an Academy Award nomination for his role in The Sand Pebbles. His other popular films include The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape, The Thomas Crown Affair, Bullitt, The Getaway, Papillon, and The Towering Inferno. In 1974, he became the highest-paid movie star in the world. Although McQueen was combative with directors and producers, his popularity put him in high demand and enabled him to command large salaries.
He was an avid racer of both motorcycles and cars. While he studied acting, he supported himself partly by competing in weekend motorcycle races and bought his first motorcycle with his winnings. He is recognized for performing many of his own stunts, especially the majority of the stunt driving during the high-speed chase scene in Bullitt. McQueen also designed and patented a bucket seat and transbrake for race cars.
25. Sidney Poitier
Actor | Lilies of the Field
Sidney Poitier was a native of Cat Island, Bahamas, although born, two months prematurely, in Miami during a visit by his parents, Evelyn (Outten) and Reginald James Poitier. He grew up in poverty as the son of farmers, with his father also driving a cab in Nassau. Sidney had little formal ...
Sidney Poitier, (born February 20, 1927) is a Bahamian American actor, film director, author, and diplomat.
In 1963, Poitier became the first black person to win an Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in Lilies of the Field. The significance of this achievement was later bolstered in 1967 when he starred in three well-received films—To Sir, with Love; In the Heat of the Night; and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner—making him the top box office star of that year. In 1999, the American Film Institute named Poitier among the Greatest Male Stars of All Time, ranking 22nd on the list of 25.
Poitier has directed a number of popular movies such as A Piece of the Action; Uptown Saturday Night, and Let's Do It Again (with friend Bill Cosby), and Stir Crazy (starring Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder). In 2002, 38 years after receiving the Best Actor Award, Poitier was chosen by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to receive an Honorary Award, designated "To Sidney Poitier in recognition of his remarkable accomplishments as an artist and as a human being." Since 1997 he has been the Bahamian ambassador to Japan. On August 12, 2009, Sidney Poitier was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States of America's highest civilian honor, by President Barack Obama.
26. Paul Muni
Actor | Scarface
Paul Muni was born Sept. 22, 1895, in Lemberg, Austro-Hungarian Empire, to Salli and Phillip Weisenfreund, who were both professionals. His family was Jewish, and spoke Yiddish. Paul was educated in New York and Cleveland public schools. He was described as 5 feet 10 inches, with black hair and ...
Paul Muni (September 22, 1895 – August 25, 1967) was an Austrian-Hungarian-born American stage and film actor. During the 1930s, he was considered the most prestigious actor at Warner Brothers studios, and one of the rare actors who was given the privilege of choosing which parts he wanted.
His acting quality, usually playing a powerful character, such as Scarface, was partly a result of his intense preparation for his parts, often immersing himself in study of the real character's traits and mannerisms. He was also highly skilled in using makeup techniques, a talent he learned from his parents, who were also actors, and from his early years on stage with the Yiddish Theater, in New York. At the age of 12, he played the stage role of an 80-year-old man; in one of his films, Seven Faces, he played seven different characters.
He was nominated six times for an Oscar, winning once as Best Actor in The Story of Louis Pasteur.
27. Jack Lemmon
Actor | The Apartment
Jack Lemmon was born in Newton, Massachusetts, to Mildred Lankford Noel and John Uhler Lemmon, Jr., the president of a doughnut company. His ancestry included Irish (from his paternal grandmother) and English. Jack attended Ward Elementary near his Newton, MA home. At age 9 he was sent to Rivers ...
John Uhler "Jack" Lemmon III (February 8, 1925 – June 27, 2001) was an American actor. He starred in more than 60 films including Some Like It Hot, The Apartment, Mister Roberts (for which he won the 1955 Best Supporting Actor Academy Award), Days of Wine and Roses, The Great Race, Irma la Douce, The Odd Couple, Save the Tiger (for which he won the 1973 Best Actor Academy Award), The Out-of-Towners, The China Syndrome, Missing (for which he won 'Best Actor' at the 1982 Cannes Film Festival), Glengarry Glen Ross, Grumpy Old Men and Grumpier Old Men.
28. Burt Lancaster
Actor | From Here to Eternity
Burt Lancaster, one of five children, was born in Manhattan, to Elizabeth (Roberts) and James Henry Lancaster, a postal worker. All his grandparents were immigrants from the north of Ireland. He was a tough street kid who took an early interest in gymnastics. He joined the circus as an acrobat and ...
Burton Stephen "Burt" Lancaster (November 2, 1913 – October 20, 1994) was an American film actor noted for his athletic physique and distinctive smile (which he called "The Grin"). In fact, he was initially dismissed as "Mr Muscles and Teeth". Later he took roles that went against his initial "tough guy" image. In the late 1950's Lancaster abandoned his "all-American" image and came to be regarded as one of the best actors of his generation.
Lancaster was nominated four times for Academy Awards and won once — for his work in Elmer Gantry in 1960. He also won a Golden Globe for that performance and BAFTA Awards for The Birdman of Alcatraz (1962) and Atlantic City (1980). His production company, Hecht-Hill-Lancaster, was the most successful and innovative star-driven independent production company in 1950's Hollywood, making movies such as Marty (1955), Trapeze (1956), and Sweet Smell of Success (1957).
Lancaster also directed two films: The Kentuckian (1955) and The Midnight Man (1974).
In 1999, the American Film Institute named Lancaster nineteenth among the greatest male stars of all time.
29. James Dean
Actor | East of Eden
James Byron Dean was born February 8, 1931 in Marion, Indiana, to Mildred Marie (Wilson) and Winton A. Dean, a farmer turned dental technician. His mother died when Dean was nine, and he was subsequently raised on a farm by his aunt and uncle in Fairmount, Indiana. After grade school, he moved to ...
James Byron Dean (February 8, 1931 – September 30, 1955) was an American film actor. He is a cultural icon, best embodied by the title of his most celebrated film, Rebel Without a Cause (1955), in which he starred as a troubled Los Angeles teenager, Jim Stark. The other two roles that defined his stardom were as loner Cal Trask in East of Eden (1955), and as the surly farmer, Jett Rink, in Giant (1956). Dean's enduring fame and popularity rests on performances in only these three films, all leading roles. His premature death in a car crash cemented his legendary status.
James Dean was the first actor to receive a posthumous Academy Award nomination for Best Actor and remains the only actor to have had two posthumous acting nominations. In 1999, the American Film Institute ranked Dean the 18th best male movie star on their AFI's 100 Years...100 Stars list.
30. Orson Welles
Actor | Citizen Kane
His father, Richard Head Welles, was a well-to-do inventor, his mother, Beatrice (Ives) Welles, a beautiful concert pianist; Orson Welles was gifted in many arts (magic, piano, painting) as a child. When his mother died in 1924 (when he was nine) he traveled the world with his father. He was ...
George Orson Welles (May 6, 1915 – October 10, 1985), best known as Orson Welles, was an American filmmaker, actor, theatre director, screenwriter, and producer, who worked extensively in film, theatre, television and radio. Noted for his innovative dramatic productions as well as his distinctive voice and personality, Welles is widely acknowledged as one of the most accomplished dramatic artists of the twentieth century, especially for his significant and influential early work—despite his notoriously contentious relationship with Hollywood. His distinctive directorial style featured layered, nonlinear narrative forms, innovative uses of lighting such as chiaroscuro, unique camera angles, sound techniques borrowed from radio, deep focus shots, and long takes. Welles's long career in film is noted for his struggle for artistic control in the face of pressure from studios. Many of his films were heavily edited and others left unreleased. He has been praised as a major creative force and as "the ultimate auteur."
After directing a number of high-profile theatrical productions in his early twenties, including an innovative adaptation of Macbeth and The Cradle Will Rock, Welles found national and international fame as the director and narrator of a 1938 radio adaptation of H. G. Wells's novel The War of the Worlds performed for the radio drama anthology series Mercury Theatre on the Air. It was reported to have caused widespread panic when listeners thought that an invasion by extraterrestrial beings was occurring. Although these reports of panic were mostly false and overstated, they rocketed Welles to instant notoriety.
Citizen Kane (1941), his first film with RKO, in which he starred in the role of Charles Foster Kane, is often considered the greatest film ever made. Several of his other films, including The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), Touch of Evil (1958), Chimes at Midnight (1965), and F for Fake (1974), are also widely considered to be masterpieces.
In 2002, he was voted the greatest film director of all time in two separate British Film Institute polls among directors and critics, and a wide survey of critical consensus, best-of lists, and historical retrospectives calls him the most acclaimed director of all time. Well known for his baritone voice, Welles was also an extremely well regarded actor and was voted number 16 in AFI's 100 Years... 100 Stars list of the greatest American film actors of all time. He was also a celebrated Shakespearean stage actor and an accomplished magician, starring in troop variety shows in the war years.
31. William Holden
Actor | Stalag 17
Billy Wilder proclaimed William Holden to be "the ideal motion picture actor". For almost four decades, the handsome, affable 'Golden Holden' was among Hollywood's most durable and engaging stars. He was born William Franklin Beedle Jr., one of three sons to a high school English teacher, Mary ...
William Holden (April 17, 1918 – November 12, 1981) was an American actor. Holden won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1954 and the Emmy Award for Best Actor in 1974. One of the biggest box office draws of the 1950s, he was named one of the "Top 10 Stars of the Year" six times (1954–1958, 1961) and appeared on the American Film Institute's AFI's 100 Years…100 Stars list as #25.
32. Robert Duvall
Actor | The Apostle
Veteran actor and director Robert Selden Duvall was born on January 5, 1931, in San Diego, CA, to Mildred Virginia (Hart), an amateur actress, and William Howard Duvall, a career military officer who later became an admiral. Duvall majored in drama at Principia College (Elsah, IL), then served a ...
Robert Selden Duvall (born January 5, 1931) is an American actor and director. He has won an Academy Award, two Emmy Awards, and four Golden Globe Awards over the course of his career.
He began appearing in theatre during the late 1950s, moving into small, supporting television and film roles during the early 1960s in such works as To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) and Captain Newman, M.D. (1963). He started to land much larger roles during the early 1970s with movies like MASH (1970) and THX 1138 (1971). This was followed by a series of critical successes: The Godfather (1972), The Godfather Part II (1974), Network (1976), The Great Santini (1979), Apocalypse Now (1979), and True Confessions (1981).
Since then Duvall has continued to act in both film and television with such productions as Tender Mercies (1983), The Natural (1984), Colors (1988), Lonesome Dove (1989), Stalin (1992), The Man Who Captured Eichmann (1996), A Family Thing (1996), The Apostle (1997), A Civil Action (1998), Gods and Generals (2003) and Broken Trail (2006).
33. Gene Hackman
Actor | The French Connection
Eugene Allen Hackman was born in San Bernardino, California, the son of Anna Lyda Elizabeth (Gray) and Eugene Ezra Hackman, who operated a newspaper printing press. He is of Pennsylvania Dutch (German), English, and Scottish ancestry, partly by way of Canada, where his mother was born. After ...
Eugene Allen "Gene" Hackman (born January 30, 1930) is a retired American actor and novelist.
Nominated for five Academy Awards, winning two, Hackman has also won three Golden Globes and two BAFTAs in a career that spanned four decades. He first came to fame in 1967 with his performance as Buck Barrow in Bonnie and Clyde. His major subsequent films include I Never Sang for My Father (1970); his role as Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle in The French Connection (1970) and French Connection II (1975); The Poseidon Adventure (1972); The Conversation (1974); A Bridge Too Far (1977); his role as arch-villain Lex Luthor in Superman (1978) and Superman II (1980); Under Fire (1983); Twice in a Lifetime (1985); Hoosiers (1986); No Way Out (1987); Mississippi Burning (1987); Unforgiven (1992); Wyatt Earp (1994); The Quick and the Dead and Crimson Tide (both 1995); Enemy of the State (1998); The Royal Tenenbaums (2001); and his final film role before retirement, in Welcome to Mooseport (2004).
34. Robert Mitchum
Actor | Out of the Past
Robert Mitchum was an underrated American leading man of enormous ability, who sublimated his talents beneath an air of disinterest. He was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, to Ann Harriet (Gunderson), a Norwegian immigrant, and James Thomas Mitchum, a shipyard/railroad worker. His father died in a ...
Robert Charles Durman Mitchum (August 6, 1917 – July 1, 1997) was an American film actor, author, composer and singer and is #23 on the American Film Institute's list of the greatest male American screen legends of all time. Mitchum is largely remembered for his starring roles in several major works of the film noir style, and is considered a forerunner of the anti-heroes prevalent in film during the 1950s and 1960s.
Mitchum is regarded by critics as one of the finest actors of the Golden Age of Hollywood. Roger Ebert called him 'the soul of film noir'.
35. Michael Caine
Actor | The Dark Knight
Michael Caine was born Maurice Joseph Micklewhite in London, to Ellen Frances Marie (Burchell), a charlady, and Maurice Joseph Micklewhite, a fish-market porter. He left school at age 15 and took a series of working-class jobs before joining the British army and serving in Korea during the Korean ...
Sir Michael Caine, (born Maurice Joseph Micklewhite; 14 March 1933) is an English film actor and author. Caine has appeared in over one hundred films and is one of Britain's most recognisable and respected actors.
He became well known for a number of popular and notable critically acclaimed performances, particularly in films such as Zulu (1964); The Ipcress File (1965); Alfie (1966); The Italian Job (1969); The Battle Of Britain (1969); Get Carter (1971); The Man Who Would Be King (1975); Educating Rita (1983); Without a Clue (1988); Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988); The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992); Secondhand Lions (2003); Academy Award–winning performances for best supporting actor in both Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), and The Cider House Rules (1999); as Nigel Powers in the parody Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002); and more recently as Alfred Pennyworth, the butler from Batman Begins (2005), and The Dark Knight (2008), and the protagonist in Harry Brown (2009). Most recently, he appeared as Miles, a supporting character in the film Inception (2010). He has provided his voice for two upcoming animated films in 2011, which include Gnomeo and Juliet and Cars 2.
Caine is one of only two actors nominated for an Academy Award for acting (either lead or supporting) in every decade from the 1960s to 2000s (the other one being Jack Nicholson). In 2000, Caine was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II, in recognition of his contribution to cinema.
36. Max von Sydow
Actor | Flash Gordon
Max von Sydow was born Carl Adolf von Sydow on April 10, 1929 in Lund, Skåne, Sweden, to a middle-class family. He was the son of Baroness Maria Margareta (Rappe), a teacher, and Carl Wilhelm von Sydow, an ethnologist and folklore professor. His surname traces back to his partial German ancestry.
Max von Sydow (born Carl Adolf von Sydow) (born 10 April 1929; is a Swedish actor. He has also held French citizenship since 2002. He has starred in many movies and had supporting roles in dozens more. He has performed in movies filmed in many languages, including Swedish, Norwegian, English, Italian, German, Danish, French and Spanish.
Some of his most memorable film roles include knight Antonius Block in Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal, Jesus in The Greatest Story Ever Told, Father Merrin in The Exorcist, Joubert in Three Days of the Condor, and Ming the Merciless in the 1980 version of Flash Gordon.
37. Karl Malden
Actor | On the Waterfront
Born to a Czech mother and a Serbian father in Chicago as Mladen Sekulovich, on March 22, 1912, Karl Malden did not speak English until he was in kindergarten. After graduating from high school in the nearby steel town of Gary, Indiana, Malden worked in the industry for three years until 1934, when...
Karl Malden (born Mladen George Sekulovich, Serbian Cyrillic: March 22, 1912 – July 1, 2009) was an American actor. In a career that spanned more than seven decades, he featured in classic Marlon Brando films such as A Streetcar Named Desire, On the Waterfront and One-Eyed Jacks. Among other notable film roles were Archie Lee Meighan in Baby Doll, Zebulon Prescott in How the West Was Won and General Omar Bradley in Patton. His best-known role was on television as Lt. Mike Stone on the 1970s crime drama, The Streets of San Francisco. During the 1970s and 1980s, he was spokesman for American Express, reminding cardholders "Don't leave home without it".
38. Alan Bates
Actor | Gosford Park
Alan Bates decided to be an actor at age 11. After grammar school in Derbyshire, he earned a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. Following two years in the Royal Air Force, he joined the new English Stage Company at the Royal Court Theatre. His West End debut in 1956, at 22...
Sir Alan Arthur Bates (17 February 1934 – 27 December 2003) was an English actor.
* 2002 Best Actor Tony and Drama Desk, for Fortune's Fool * 2000 Drama Desk and Lucille Lortel Award for Unexpected Man * 1983 Variety Club Award for A Patriot for Me * 1975 Variety Club Award for Otherwise Engaged * 1971 Evening Standard Best Actor Award for Butley * 1972 Best Actor Tony for Butley (a performance he recreated in the film version of the same name, Butley in 1974) * 1959 Clarence Derwent Award for A Long Day's Journey Into Night
39. Fredric March
Actor | Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Fredric March began a career in banking but in 1920 found himself cast as an extra in films being produced in New York. He starred on the Broadway stage first in 1926 and would return there between screen appearances later on. He won plaudits (and an Academy Award nomination) for his send-up of ...
Fredric March (August 31, 1897 – April 14, 1975) was an American stage and film actor. He won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1932 for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and in 1946 for The Best Years of Our Lives.
March received an Oscar nomination in 1930 for The Royal Family of Broadway, in which he played a role based upon John Barrymore (which he had first played on stage in Los Angeles). He won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1932 for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (tied with Wallace Beery for The Champ), leading to a series of classic films based on stage hits and classic novels like Design for Living (1933), Death Takes a Holiday (1934), Les Misérables (1935), Anthony Adverse (1936), and as the original Norman Maine in A Star is Born (1937), for which he received his third Oscar nomination.
40. John Gielgud
Actor | Arthur
Born in London, England, John Gielgud trained at Lady Benson's Acting School and RADA, London. Best known for his Shakespearean roles in the theater, he first played Hamlet at the age of 26. He worked under the tutelage of Lilian Bayliss with friend and fellow performer Laurence Olivier and other ...
Sir Arthur John Gielgud, OM, CH (14 April 1904 – 21 May 2000) was an English actor, director, and producer. A descendant of the renowned Terry acting family, he achieved early international acclaim for his youthful, emotionally expressive Hamlet which broke box office records on Broadway in 1937. He was known for his beautiful speaking of verse and particularly for his warm and expressive voice, which his colleague Sir Alec Guinness likened to "a silver trumpet muffled in silk". Gielgud is one of the few entertainers who have won an Oscar, Emmy, Grammy, and Tony Award.
41. Paul Scofield
Actor | A Man for All Seasons
Though his number of film roles amount to a bit over 30, Paul Scofield has cast a giant shadow in the world of stage and film acting. He grew up in West Sussex, the son of a schoolmaster. He attended the Varndean School for Boys in Brighton. The love of acting came early. While still high school ...
David Paul Scofield, (21 January 1922 – 19 March 2008), better known as Paul Scofield, was an English actor of stage and screen. Noted for his distinctive voice and delivery, Scofield received an Academy Award and a BAFTA Award for his performance as Sir Thomas More in the 1966 film A Man for All Seasons, a reprise of the role he played in the stage version at the West End and on Broadway for which he received a Tony Award.
An actor of extraordinary intelligence, Scofield was noteworthy for his striking presence and distinctive voice, and for the clarity and unmannered intensity of his delivery. His versatility at the height of his career is exemplified by his starring roles in theatrical productions as diverse as the musical Expresso Bongo (1958) and Peter Brook's celebrated production of King Lear (1962).
Scofield was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 1956 New Year Honours. He won the Academy Award for Best Actor for A Man for All Seasons and was nominated as Best Supporting Actor for Quiz Show. Theatrical accolades include a 1962 Tony Award for A Man for All Seasons.
In 1969, Scofield became the sixth performer to win the Triple Crown of Acting, winning an Emmy Award for Outstanding Single Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role for Male of the Species.
He was also one of only eight actors to win both the Tony and the Oscar for the same role on stage and film. He was appointed a Companion of Honour (CH) in the 2001 New Year Honours. In 2002 he was awarded the honorary degree of D. Litt by the University of Oxford.
In 2004, a poll of actors of the Royal Shakespeare Company, including Ian McKellen, Donald Sinden, Janet Suzman, Ian Richardson, Antony Sher and Corin Redgrave, acclaimed his Lear as the greatest Shakespearean performance ever. Scofield appeared in many radio dramas for BBC Radio 4, including in later years plays by Peter Tinniswood: On the Train to Chemnitz (2001) and Anton in Eastbourne (2002). The latter was Tinniswood's last work and was written especially for Scofield, an admirer of Anton Chekhov. He was awarded the 2002 Sam Wanamaker Prize.
42. Charles Laughton
Actor | Witness for the Prosecution
Charles Laughton was born in Scarborough, Yorkshire, England, to Eliza (Conlon) and Robert Laughton, hotel keepers of Irish and English descent, respectively. He was educated at Stonyhurst (a highly esteemed Jesuit college in England) and at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (received gold medal). ...
Charles Laughton (July 1, 1899 – December 15, 1962) was an English-American stage and film actor, screenwriter, producer and one-time director.
Laughton won the New York Film Critics Circle Awards for Mutiny on the Bounty and Ruggles of Red Gap in 1935.
* 1933 Won Best Actor in a Leading Role, The Private Life of Henry VIII * 1936 Nominated Best Actor in a Leading Role, Mutiny on the Bounty * 1958 Nominated Best Actor in a Leading Role, Witness for the Prosecution
43. Sean Connery
Actor | The Untouchables
The tall, handsome and muscular Scottish actor Sean Connery is best known as the original actor to portray James Bond in the hugely successful movie franchise, starring in seven films between 1962 and 1983. Some believed that such a career-defining role might leave him unable to escape it, but he ...
Sir Thomas Sean Connery (born 25 August 1930), more commonly known as Sean Connery, is a Scottish actor and producer who has won an Academy Award, two BAFTA Awards (one of them being a BAFTA Academy Fellowship Award) and three Golden Globes.
He is best known for portraying the character James Bond, starring in seven Bond films between 1962 and 1983 (six "official" EON productions films and the non-official Kevin McClory-helmed Thunderball remake, Never Say Never Again.) In 1988, Connery won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in The Untouchables. His film career also includes such films as Marnie, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, The Hunt for Red October, Highlander, Murder on the Orient Express, Dragonheart, and The Rock.
Connery has been polled as "The Greatest Living Scot," and was knighted in July 2000. In 1989, he was proclaimed "Sexiest Man Alive" by People magazine, and in 1999, at age 69, he was voted "Sexiest Man of the Century". In tribute a bronze bust sculpture of Connery was placed in the capital city of Estonia.
44. William Powell
Actor | The Thin Man
William Powell was on the New York stage by 1912, but it would be ten years before his film career would begin. In 1924 he went to Paramount Pictures, where he was employed for the next seven years. During that time, he played in a number of interesting films, but stardom was elusive. He did ...
William Horatio Powell (July 29, 1892 – March 5, 1984) was an American actor, noted for his sophisticated, cynical portrayals.
A major star at MGM, he was paired with Myrna Loy in fourteen films, including the popular Thin Man series in which Powell and Loy played Nick and Nora Charles. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor three times, for The Thin Man (1934), My Man Godfrey (1936) and Life with Father (1947). Despite the same last name he was not related to Dick Powell, Eleanor Powell or Jane Powell.
Powell's most famous role was that of Nick Charles in six Thin Man films, beginning with The Thin Man in 1934. The role provided a perfect opportunity for Powell to showcase his sophisticated charm and his witty sense of humor, and he received his first Academy Award nomination for The Thin Man. Myrna Loy played his wife, Nora, in each of the Thin Man films. Their partnership was one of Hollywood's most prolific on-screen pairings, with the couple appearing in 14 films together.
He and Loy also starred in the Best Picture of 1936, The Great Ziegfeld, with Powell in the title role and Loy as Ziegfeld's wife Billie Burke. That same year, he also received his second Academy Award nomination, for the comedy My Man Godfrey.
45. Walter Brennan
Actor | The Westerner
In many ways the most successful and familiar character actor of American sound films and the only actor to date to win three Oscars for Best Supporting Actor, Walter Brennan attended college in Cambridge, Massachusetts, studying engineering. While in school he became interested in acting and ...
Walter Brennan (July 25, 1894 – September 21, 1974) was an American actor. Brennan won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor three times and is tied with Jack Nicholson for the most Academy Award wins for a male actor.
Film historians and critics have long regarded Brennan as one of the finest character actors in motion picture history. While the roles he was adept at playing were extremely diverse, he is probably best remembered for his portrayals in movie Westerns, such as trail hand Nadine Groot in Red River and Deputy Stumpy in Rio Bravo both directed by Howard Hawks. He was the first actor to win three Academy Awards. He remains the only person to have won three Best Supporting Actor awards. However, even he remained somewhat embarrassed as to how he won the awards. In the early years of the Academy Awards, extras were given the right to vote. Brennan was extremely popular with the Union of Film Extras and since their numbers were overwhelming, each time he was nominated, he won. Though never described as undeserving of the awards he won, his third win was one of the catalysts leading to the disenfranchisement of the Extras Union from Oscar voting.
Unlike many actors, Brennan's career never really went into decline. As the years went on, he was able to find work in dozens of high quality films, and later television appearances throughout the 1950s and 60s. As he grew older, he simply became a more familiar, almost comforting film figure whose performances continued to endear him to new generations of fans. In all, he would appear in more than 230 film and television roles in a career spanning nearly five decades.
46. Jason Robards
Actor | All the President's Men
Powerful and highly respected American actor Jason Nelson Robards, Jr. was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Hope Maxine (Glanville) and stage and film star Jason Robards Sr. He had Swedish, English, Welsh, German, and Irish ancestry. Robards was raised mostly in Los Angeles. A star athlete at ...
Jason Nelson Robards, Jr. (July 26, 1922 – December 26, 2000) was an American actor on stage and in film and television and a winner of the Tony Award (theatre), two Academy Awards (film) and the Emmy Award (television). He was also a United States Navy combat veteran of World War II.
He became famous playing works of Eugene O'Neill, an American playwright, and regularly performed in O'Neill's works throughout his career. Robards was cast in both common-man roles and as well-known historical figures.
Robards received eight Tony Award nominations, — more than any other male actor as of October 2009[update]. He won the Tony for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play for his work in The Disenchanted, (1959); this was also his only stage appearance with his father.
He received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in consecutive years for All the President's Men (1976) for portraying Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee and Julia (1977) for portraying writer Dashiell Hammett (1977). He was also nominated for another Academy Award for his role as Howard Hughes in Melvin and Howard (1980).
Robards received the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor – Miniseries or a Movie for Inherit the Wind (1988).
In 1997, Robards received the U.S. National Medal of Arts, the highest honor conferred to an individual artist on behalf of the people. Recipients are selected by the U.S. National Endowment for the Arts and the medal is awarded by the President of the United States.
In 1999, he was among the recipients at the Kennedy Center Honors, an annual honor given to those in the performing arts for their lifetime of contributions to American culture.
Jason Robards narrated the public radio documentary, "Schizophrenia: Voices of an Illness," produced by Lichtenstein Creative Media, which was awarded a 1994 George Foster Peabody Award for Excellence in Broadcasting. According to Time Magazine, Robards offered to narrate the schizophrenia program, volunteering that his first wife had been institutionalized for that illness."
47. Rex Harrison
Actor | My Fair Lady
Rex Harrison was born Reginald Carey Harrison in Huyton, Lancashire, England, to Edith Mary (Carey) and William Reginald Harrison, a cotton broker. He changed his name to Rex as a young boy, knowing it was the Latin word for "King". Starting out on his theater career at age 18, his first job at the ...
Sir Reginald “Rex” Carey Harrison (5 March 1908 – 2 June 1990) was an English actor of stage and screen. Harrison won both an Academy Award and a Tony Award.
Harrison's film debut was in The Great Game (1930), and other notable early films include The Citadel (1938), Night Train to Munich (1940), Major Barbara (1941), Blithe Spirit (1945), Anna and the King of Siam (1946), The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947), and The Foxes of Harrow (1947). He was best known for his portrayal of Professor Henry Higgins with Audrey Hepburn in the 1964 film version of My Fair Lady, based on the Broadway production of the same name (which itself was based on George Bernard Shaw's play Pygmalion), for which Harrison won a Best Actor Oscar. He also starred in 1967's Doctor Dolittle. Harrison was not by general terms a singer; thus, the music was generally written to allow for long periods of recitative, generally identified as "speaking to the music."
48. Charles Boyer
Actor | Gaslight
Charles Boyer studied philosophy before he went to the theater where he gave his debut in 1920. Although he had at first no intentions to pursue a career at the movies (his first movie was Man of the Sea (1920) by Marcel L'Herbier) he used his chance in Hollywood after several filming stations all ...
Charles Boyer (28 August 1899 – 26 August 1978) was a French actor who appeared in more than 80 films between 1920 and 1976. After receiving an education in drama, Boyer started on the stage, but he found success in movies during the 1930s. His memorable performances were among the era's most highly praised romantic dramas, Algiers (1938) and Love Affair (1939). Another famous role was in the 1944 mystery-thriller Gaslight. He received four Academy Award nominations for Best Actor.
In 1943, he was awarded an Honorary Oscar Certificate for "progressive cultural achievement" in establishing the French Research Foundation in Los Angeles as a source of reference (certificate). Boyer never won an Oscar, though he was nominated for Best Actor four times in Conquest (1937), Algiers (1938), Gaslight (1944) and Fanny (1961), the latter also winning him a nomination for the Laurel Awards for Top Male Dramatic Performance.
49. Joseph Cotten
Actor | The Third Man
Joseph Cheshire Cotten, Jr. was born in Petersburg, Virginia, into a well-to-do Southern family. He was the eldest of three sons born to Sally Whitworth (Willson) and Joseph Cheshire Cotten, Sr., an assistant postmaster.
Jo (as he was known) and his brothers Whit and Sam spent their summers at their...
Joseph Cheshire Cotten (May 15, 1905 – February 6, 1994) was an American actor of stage and film. Cotten achieved prominence on Broadway, starring in the original productions of The Philadelphia Story and Sabrina Fair. He is associated with Orson Welles, leading to appearances in Citizen Kane (1941), The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), Journey into Fear (1943), for which Cotten was also credited with the screenplay, and The Third Man (1949). He was a star in his own right with films such as Shadow of a Doubt (1943), Love Letters (1945), Portrait of Jennie (1948), and The Third Man (1949).
The only notable acting award Cotten received throughout his career was a Venice Film Festival Award for Best Actor for his work in Portrait of Jennie.
50. Peter Lorre
Peter Lorre was born László Löwenstein in Rózsahegy in the Slovak area of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the son of Hungarian Jewish parents. He learned both Hungarian and German languages from birth, and was educated in elementary and secondary schools in the Austria-Hungary capitol Vienna, but did ...
Peter Lorre (26 June 1904 – 23 March 1964) was an Austrian-American actor frequently typecast as a sinister foreigner.
He caused an international sensation in 1931 with his portrayal of a serial killer who preys on little girls in the German film M. Later he became a popular featured player in Hollywood crime films and mysteries, notably alongside Humphrey Bogart and Sydney Greenstreet, and as the star of the successful Mr. Moto detective series.
Lorre's distinctive accent and large-eyed face became a favorite target of comedians and cartoonists. For example, several Warner Bros. cartoons used a caricature of Lorre's face with an impression by Mel Blanc, including Hair-Raising Hare and Racketeer Rabbit.
51. Frank Sinatra
Actor | From Here to Eternity
Frank Sinatra was born in Hoboken, New Jersey, to Italian immigrants Natalina Della (Garaventa), from Northern Italy, and Saverio Antonino Martino Sinatra, a Sicilian boxer, fireman, and bar owner. Growing up on the gritty streets of Hoboken made Sinatra determined to work hard to get ahead. ...
Francis Albert "Frank" Sinatra (December 12, 1915 – May 14, 1998) was an American singer and actor.
Beginning his musical career in the swing era with Harry James and Tommy Dorsey, Sinatra became a successful solo artist in the early to mid-1940s, being the idol of the "bobby soxers". His professional career had stalled by the 1950s, but it was reborn in 1954 after he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor (for his performance in From Here to Eternity).
He signed with Capitol Records and released several critically lauded albums (such as In the Wee Small Hours, Songs for Swingin' Lovers, Come Fly with Me, Only the Lonely and Nice 'n' Easy). Sinatra left Capitol to found his own record label, Reprise Records (finding success with albums such as Ring-A-Ding-Ding, Sinatra at the Sands and Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim), toured internationally, was a founding member of the Rat Pack and fraternized with celebrities and statesmen, including John F. Kennedy. Sinatra turned 50 in 1965, recorded the retrospective September of My Years, starred in the Emmy-winning television special Frank Sinatra: A Man and His Music, and scored hits with "Strangers in the Night" and "My Way".
With sales of his music dwindling and after appearing in several poorly received films, Sinatra retired for the first time in 1971. Two years later, however, he came out of retirement and in 1973 recorded several albums, scoring a Top 40 hit with "(Theme From) New York, New York" in 1980. Using his Las Vegas shows as a home base, he toured both within the United States and internationally, until a short time before his death in 1998.
Sinatra also forged a successful career as a film actor, winning the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in From Here to Eternity, a nomination for Best Actor for The Man with the Golden Arm, and critical acclaim for his performance in The Manchurian Candidate. He also starred in such musicals as High Society, Pal Joey, Guys and Dolls and On the Town. Sinatra was honored at the Kennedy Center Honors in 1983 and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Ronald Reagan in 1985 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 1997. Sinatra was also the recipient of eleven Grammy Awards, including the Grammy Trustees Award, Grammy Legend Award and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
52. Yul Brynner
Actor | The King and I
Exotic leading man of American films, famed as much for his completely bald head as for his performances, Yul Brynner masked much of his life in mystery and outright lies designed to tease people he considered gullible. It was not until the publication of the books "Yul: The Man Who Would Be King" ...
Yul Brynner (Julij Borisovič Briner; July 11, 1920 – October 10, 1985) was a Russian-born Swiss actor of stage and film. He was best known for his portrayal of Mongkut, king of Siam, in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The King and I, for which he won an Academy Award for Best Actor for the film version; he also played the role over 4,500 times on stage. He is also remembered as Rameses II in the 1956 Cecil B. DeMille film The Ten Commandments, General Bounine in Anastasia and Chris Adams in The Magnificent Seven. Brynner was noted for his distinctive voice and for his shaven head, which he maintained as a personal trademark long after adopting it for his initial role in The King and I. He was also a photographer and the author of two books.
He won the 1956 Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of the King of Siam in The King and I and made the "Top 10 Stars of the Year" list in both 1957 and 1958.
In 1985, he received a Special Tony Award honoring his 4,525 performances in The King and I.
53. Peter Finch
Actor | Network
Despite being one of the finest actors of his generation, Peter Finch will be remembered as much for his reputation as a hard-drinking, hell-raising womanizer as for his performances on the screen. He was born in London in 1916 and went to live in Sydney, Australia, at the age of ten. There, he ...
Peter Finch (28 September 1916 – 14 January 1977) was a British-born Australian actor. He is best remembered for his role as 'crazed' television anchorman Howard Beale in the film Network, which earned him a posthumous Academy Award for Best Actor, his fifth Best Actor award from the BAFTA, and a Best Actor award from the Golden Globes. He was the first of two people to win a posthumous Academy Award in an acting category; the other was fellow Australian Heath Ledger.
54. Peter Sellers
Actor | Being There
Often credited as the greatest comedian of all time, Peter Sellers was born Richard Henry Sellers to a well-off acting family in 1925 in Southsea, a suburb of Portsmouth. He was the son of Agnes Doreen "Peg" (Marks) and William "Bill" Sellers. His parents worked in an acting company run by his ...
Richard Henry Sellers, (8 September 1925 – 24 July 1980), known as Peter Sellers, was a British comedian and actor best known as Chief Inspector Clouseau in The Pink Panther film series, for playing three different characters in Dr. Strangelove, as Clare Quilty in Lolita, and as the man-child and TV-addicted Chance the gardener in his penultimate film, Being There. Leading actress Bette Davis once remarked of him, "He isn't an actor -- he's a chameleon."
Sellers rose to fame on the BBC Radio comedy series The Goon Show. His ability to speak in different accents (e.g., French, Indian, American, German, as well as British regional accents), along with his talent to portray a range of characters to comic effect, contributed to his success as a radio personality and screen actor and earned him national and international nominations and awards. Many of his characters became ingrained in public perception of his work. Sellers's private life was characterized by turmoil and crises, and included emotional problems and substance abuse. Sellers was married four times, with three children from two of the marriages.
An enigmatic figure, he often claimed to have no identity outside the roles that he played, but he left his own portrait since, "he obsessively filmed his homes, his family, people he knew, anything that took his fancy right to the end of his life—intimate film that remained undiscovered until long after his death in 1980." The director Peter Hall has said: "Peter had the ability to identify completely with another person, and think his way physically, mentally and emotionally into their skin. Where does that come from? I have no idea. Is it a curse? Often. I think it's not enough though in this business to have talent. You have to have talent to handle the talent. And that I think Peter did not have."
55. Adolphe Menjou
Actor | Paths of Glory
The words "suave" and "debonair" became synonymous with the name Adolphe Menjou in Hollywood, both on- and off-camera. The epitome of knavish, continental charm and sartorial opulence, Menjou, complete with trademark waxy black mustache, evolved into one of Hollywood's most distinguished of artists...
Adolphe Jean Menjou (February 18, 1890 – October 29, 1963) was an American actor. His career spanned both silent films and talkies, appearing in such films as The Sheik, A Woman of Paris, Morocco, and A Star is Born. He was nominated for an Academy Award for The Front Page in 1931.
56. Glenn Ford
Actor | Gilda
Legendary actor Glenn Ford was born Gwyllyn Samuel Newton Ford in Sainte-Christine-d'Auvergne, Quebec, Canada, to Hannah Wood (Mitchell) and Newton Ford, a railroad executive. His family moved to Santa Monica, California when he was eight years old. His acting career began with plays at high school...
Born as Gwyllyn Samuel Newton Ford at Jeffrey Hale Hospital in Quebec City, Ford was the son of Anglo-Quebecers Hannah Wood Mitchell and Newton Ford, a railway conductor. Through his father, Glenn Ford was a great-nephew of Canada's first Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald. Ford moved to Santa Monica, California with his family at the age of eight, and became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1939.
After Ford graduated from Santa Monica High School, he began working in small theatre groups. Ford later commented that his railroad executive father had no objection to his growing interest in acting, but told him, "It's all right for you to try to act, if you learn something else first. Be able to take a car apart and put it together. Be able to build a house, every bit of it. Then you'll always have something." Ford heeded the advice and during the 1950s, when he was one of Hollywood's most popular actors, he regularly worked on plumbing, wiring and air conditioning at home. At times, he worked as a roofer and installer of plate-glass windows.
He acted in West Coast stage companies, before joining Columbia Pictures in 1939. His stage name came from his father's hometown of Glenford, Canada. His first major movie part was in the 1939 film, Heaven with a Barbed Wire Fence.
After being nominated in 1957 and 1958, in 1962 Glenn Ford won a Golden Globe Award as Best Actor for his performance in Frank Capra's Pocketful of Miracles. He was listed in Quigley's Annual List of Top Ten Boxoffice Champions in 1956, 1958 and 1959, topping the list at number one in 1958.
For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Glenn Ford has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6933 Hollywood Blvd. In 1978, he was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. In 1987 he received the Donostia Award in the San Sebastian International Film Festival, and in 1992 he was awarded the Légion d'honneur medal for his actions in the Second World War.
57. John Mills
Actor | Great Expectations
Sir John Mills, one of the most popular and beloved English actors, was born Lewis Ernest Watts Mills on February 22, 1908, at the Watts Naval Training College in North Elmham, Norfolk, England. The young Mills grew up in Felixstowe, Suffolk, where his father was a mathematics teacher and his ...
Sir John Mills (22 February 1908 – 23 April 2005), born Lewis Ernest Watts Mills, was an English actor who made more than 120 films in a career spanning seven decades.
Mills was born at the Watts Naval School in North Elmham, Norfolk, England, and grew up in Belton, where his father was the headmaster of the village school and in Felixstowe, Suffolk. He was educated at Norwich High School for Boys (which since its move after World War II to Langley Park, Loddon, is now known as Langley School), where it is said that his initials can still be seen carved into the brickwork on the side of the building in Upper St. Giles Street. He made his acting debut on the stage of the Sir John Leman School in Beccles in a performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream when he played the part of Puck. Upon leaving school he worked as a clerk at a corn merchants in Ipswich.
He was appointed a Commander of Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1960. In 1976 he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.
In 2002, he received a Fellowship of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), the highest award given by the Academy, and was named a Disney Legend by The Walt Disney Company.
58. Rod Steiger
Actor | In the Heat of the Night
Rodney Stephen Steiger was born in Westhampton, New York, to Augusta Amelia (Driver) and Frederick Jacob Steiger, both vaudevillians. He was of German and Austrian ancestry. After his parents' divorce, Steiger was raised by his mother in Newark, New Jersey. He dropped out of Westside High school at...
Rodney Stephen "Rod" Steiger (April 14, 1925 – July 9, 2002) was an American actor known for his performances in such films as In the Heat of the Night, Waterloo, The Pawnbroker, On the Waterfront, The Harder They Fall, Doctor Zhivago, and Jesus of Nazareth.
Steiger appeared in over 100 motion pictures. He won the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his portrayal of Chief of Police Bill Gillespie in In the Heat of the Night (1967) opposite Sidney Poitier. He was nominated for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for On the Waterfront (1954), in which he played Marlon Brando's character's brother. He was nominated again, this time for Best Actor, for the gritty The Pawnbroker (1965), a Sidney Lumet film in which Steiger portrays an emotionally withdrawn Holocaust survivor living in New York City.
59. Anthony Quinn
Actor | Alexis Zorbas
Anthony Quinn was born Antonio Rodolfo Quinn Oaxaca (some sources indicate Manuel Antonio Rodolfo Quinn Oaxaca) on April 21, 1915, in Chihuahua, Mexico, to Manuela (Oaxaca) and Francisco Quinn, who became an assistant cameraman at a Los Angeles (CA) film studio. His paternal grandfather was Irish, ...
Anthony Quinn (April 21, 1915 – June 3, 2001) was a Mexican-American actor, as well as a painter and writer. He starred in numerous critically acclaimed and commercially successful films, including Zorba the Greek, Lawrence of Arabia, The Guns of Navarone, The Message and Federico Fellini's La strada. He won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor twice; for Viva Zapata! in 1952 and Lust for Life in 1956.
Quinn was born Antonio Rodolfo Quinn Oaxaca in Chihuahua, Chihuahua, Mexico, during the Mexican Revolution. His mother, Manuela "Nellie" Oaxaca, was of Aztec ancestry. His father, Francisco Quinn, an Irish Mexican, was also born in Mexico. Frank Quinn rode with Pancho Villa, then later moved to Los Angeles and became an assistant cameraman at a movie studio. In Quinn's autobiography The Original Sin: A Self-Portrait by Anthony Quinn he denied being the son of an "Irish adventurer" and attributed that tale to Hollywood publicists.
60. James Mason
Actor | Lolita
James Mason was born in Huddersfield and had a film career spanning over 50 years during which he appeared in over 100 films in England and America but never won an Oscar. Whatever role he played, from the wounded Belfast gunman in Odd Man Out to Rommel in The Desert Fox, his creamy velvet voice ...
James Neville Mason (15 May 1909 – 27 July 1984) was an English actor who attained stardom in both British and American films. Mason remained a powerful figure in the industry throughout his career and was nominated for three Academy Awards as well as three Golden Globes (winning once).
61. Trevor Howard
Actor | The Third Man
The son of an insurance underwriter who represented Lloyd's of London in Ceylon, Trevor Wallace Howard-Smith was born in Margate, Kent. He spent his early childhood globetrotting with his mother, frequently left in the care of strangers. After attending private school he went on to study drama at ...
62. Oliver Reed
Actor | Gladiator
Robert Oliver Reed was an English actor known for his well-to-do, macho image and "hellraiser" lifestyle. His notable films include The Trap (1966), playing Bill Sikes in the Best Picture Oscar winner Oliver! (1968), Women in Love (1969), Hannibal Brooks (1969), The Devils (1971), Revolver (1973), ...
63. Walter Matthau
Actor | The Odd Couple
Walter Matthau was best known for starring in many films which included Charade (1963), The Odd Couple (1968), Grumpy Old Men (1993), and Dennis the Menace (1993). He often worked with Jack Lemmon and the two were Hollywood's craziest stars.
He was born Walter Jake Matthow in New York City, New York...
64. Toshirô Mifune
Actor | Yôjinbô
Toshiro Mifune achieved more worldwide fame than any other Japanese actor of his century. He was born in Tsingtao, China, to Japanese parents and grew up in Dalian. He did not set foot in Japan until he was 21. His father was an importer and a commercial photographer, and young Toshiro worked in ...
Actor | La dolce vita
Marcello Mastroianni was born in Fontana Liri, Italy in 1924, but soon his family moved to Turin and then Rome. During WW2 he was sent to a German prison camp, but he managed to escape and hide in Venice. He debuted in films as an extra in Marionette (1939), then started working for the Italian ...
66. Victor Mature
Actor | Kiss of Death
American leading man Victor John Mature was born in Louisville, Kentucky, to Clara P. (Ackley) and Marcellus George Mature, a cutler and knife sharpener. His father, born Marcello Gelindo Maturi in Pinzolo, Trentino, was Italian, and his mother was of Swiss-German and German descent. Mature worked ...
67. George C. Scott
Actor | Patton
George C. Scott was an immensely talented actor, a star of the big screen, stage and television. He was born on October 18, 1927 in Wise, Virginia, to Helena Agnes (Slemp) and George Dewey Scott. At the age of eight, his mother died, and his father, an executive at Buick, raised him. In 1945, he ...
68. Claude Rains
Actor | Casablanca
William Claude Rains, born in the Clapham area of London, was the son of the British stage actor Frederick Rains. The younger Rains followed, making his stage debut at the age of eleven in "Nell of Old Drury." Growing up in the world of theater, he saw not only acting up close but the down-to-earth...
69. Buster Keaton
Actor | The General
Joseph Frank Keaton was born on October 4, 1895 in Piqua, Kansas, to Joe Keaton and Myra Keaton. Joe and Myra were Vaudevillian comedians with a popular, ever-changing variety act, giving Keaton an eclectic and interesting upbringing. In the earliest days on stage, they traveled with a medicine ...
70. Robert Stack
Actor | To Be or Not to Be
"Straight Shooting" -- whether skeet shooting, or portraying Eliot Ness -- Robert Stack always told it like it was, and shot straight. Born in Los Angeles, California, the younger son of James Langford Stack (1860-1928), the owner of an advertising agency, and Mary Elizabeth Modini Wood (1891-1975)...
71. Robert Donat
Actor | The 39 Steps
Robert Donat's pleasant voice and somewhat neutral English accent were carefully honed as a boy because he had a stammer and took elocution lessons starting at age 11 to overcome the impediment. It was not too surprising that freedom from such a vocal embarrassment was encouragement to act. His ...
72. Lee Marvin
Actor | The Dirty Dozen
Prematurely white-haired character star who began as a supporting player of generally vicious demeanor, then metamorphosed into a star of both action and drama projects, Lee Marvin was born in New York City, the son of Courtenay Washington (Davidge), a fashion writer, and Lamont Waltman Marvin, an ...
73. Montgomery Clift
Actor | From Here to Eternity
Edward Montgomery Clift (nicknamed 'Monty' his entire life) was born on October 17, 1920 in Omaha, Nebraska, just after his twin sister Roberta (1920-2014) and eighteen months after his brother Brooks Clift. He was the son of Ethel "Sunny" Anderson (Fogg; 1888-1988) and William Brooks Clift (1886-...
74. Michael Redgrave
Actor | The Lady Vanishes
Sir Michael Redgrave was of the generation of English actors that gave the world the legendary John Gielgud, Ralph Richardson and Laurence Olivier, Britain three fabled "Theatrical Knights" back in the days when a knighthood for thespian was far more rare than it is today. A superb actor, Redgrave ...
75. Alain Delon
Actor | Le Samouraï
Alain Fabien Maurice Marcel Delon was born in Sceaux, Hauts-de-Seine, France, to Édith (Arnold) and Fabien Delon. His father was of French and Corsican Italian descent, and his mother was of French and German ancestry. His parents divorced early on, and Delon had a stormy childhood, being ...
76. Lionel Barrymore
Actor | You Can't Take It with You
Famed actor, composer, artist, author and director. His talents extended to the authoring of the novel "Mr. Cartonwine: A Moral Tale" as well as his autobiography. In 1944, he joined ASCAP, and composed "Russian Dances", "Partita", "Ballet Viennois", "The Woodman and the Elves", "Behind the Horizon...
77. Walter Pidgeon
Actor | Forbidden Planet
Walter Pidgeon, a handsome, tall and dark-haired man, began his career studying voice at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. He then did theater, mainly stage musicals. He went to Hollywood in the early 1920s, where he made silent films, including Mannequin (1926) and Sumuru (1927). ...
78. Klaus Kinski
Actor | Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht
Klaus Kinski was born as Klaus Günter Karl Nakszynski in Zoppot, Free City of Danzig (now Sopot, Poland), to Susanne (Lutze), a nurse, and Bruno Nakszynski, a pharmacist. He grew up in Berlin, was drafted into the German army in 1944 and captured by British forces in Holland. After the war he began...
79. Peter Ustinov
Actor | Death on the Nile
Peter Ustinov was a two-time Academy Award-winning film actor, director, writer, journalist and raconteur. He wrote and directed many acclaimed stage plays and led numerous international theatrical productions.
He was born Peter Alexander Freiherr von Ustinow on April 16, 1921 in Swiss Cottage, ...
80. Tony Curtis
Actor | Some Like It Hot
Tony Curtis was born Bernard Schwartz, the eldest of three children of Helen (Klein) and Emanuel Schwartz, Jewish immigrants from Hungary. Curtis himself admits that while he had almost no formal education, he was a student of the "school of hard knocks" and learned from a young age that the only ...
81. John Garfield
Actor | Four Daughters
John Garfield was born Jacob Julius Garfinkle on the Lower East Side of New York City, to Hannah Basia (Margolis) and David Garfinkle, who were Jewish immigrants from Zhytomyr (now in Ukraine). Jules was raised by his father, a clothes presser and part-time cantor, after his mother's death in 1920,...
82. Chester Morris
Actor | Tomorrow at Seven
The Academy Award-nominated film actor Chester Morris, who will forever be associated with the character Boston Blackie, was born John Chester Brooks Morris on February 16 1901 in New York City, the son of actor William Morris and comedienne Etta Hawkins.
Chester Morris made his Broadway debut as a ...
83. John Cassavetes
Actor | Love Streams
John Cassavetes was a Greek-American actor, film director, and screenwriter. He is considered a pioneer of American independent film, as he often financed his own films.
Cassavetes was born in New York City in 1929 to Nicholas John Cassavetes (1893-1979) and his wife, Katherine Demetre (1906-1983). ...
84. Leslie Howard
Actor | Pygmalion
Leslie Howard Steiner was born in London, to Lilian (Blumberg) and Ferdinand "Frank" Steiner. His father was a Hungarian Jewish immigrant, and his English mother was of German Jewish, and mostly English, descent. Leslie went to Dulwich College. After school, he worked as a bank clerk until the ...
85. Charles Coburn
Actor | The More the Merrier
A cigar-smoking, monocled, swag-bellied character actor known for his Old South manners and charm. In 1918 he and his first wife formed the Coburn Players and appeared on Broadway in many plays. With her death in 1937, he accepted a Hollywood contract and began making films at the age of sixty.
86. Fred Astaire
Actor | The Towering Inferno
Fred Astaire was born in Omaha, Nebraska, to Johanna (Geilus) and Fritz Austerlitz, a brewer. Fred entered show business at age 5. He was successful both in vaudeville and on Broadway in partnership with his sister, Adele Astaire. After Adele retired to marry in 1932, Astaire headed to Hollywood. ...
87. John Barrymore
Actor | Twentieth Century
John Barrymore was born John Sidney Blyth on February 15, 1882 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. An American stage and screen actor whose rise to superstardom and subsequent decline is one of the legendary tragedies of Hollywood. A member of the most famous generation of the most famous theatrical ...
88. Robert Ryan
Actor | The Dirty Dozen
Distinguished U.S. actor and longtime civil rights campaigner Robert Bushnell Ryan was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Mable Arbutus (Bushnell), a secretary, and Timothy Aloysius Ryan, whose wealthy family owned a real estate firm. His father was of Irish ancestry, and his mother was of English and ...
89. Laurence Harvey
Actor | The Manchurian Candidate
Laurence Harvey was a British movie star who helped usher in the 1960s with his indelible portrait of a ruthless social climber, and became one of the decade's cultural icons for his appearances in socially themed motion pictures.
Harvey was born Zvi Mosheh Skikne on October 1, 1928 in Joniskis, ...
90. Burgess Meredith
Actor | Clash of the Titans
One of the truly great and gifted performers of the century, who often suffered lesser roles, Burgess Meredith was born in 1907 in Cleveland, Ohio. He was educated in Amherst College in Massachusetts, before joining Eva Le Gallienne's Student Repertory stage company in 1929. By 1934 he was a star ...
Actor | The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
The towering presence of Canadian actor Donald Sutherland is often noticed, as are his legendary contributions to cinema. He has appeared in almost 200 different shows and films. He is also the father of renowned actor Kiefer Sutherland, among others.
Donald McNichol Sutherland was born in Saint ...
92. Dana Andrews
Actor | Laura
American leading man of the 1940s and 1950s, Dana Andrews was born Carver Dana Andrews on New Years Day 1909 on a farmstead outside Collins, Covington County, Mississippi. One of thirteen children, including fellow actor Steve Forrest, he was a son of Annis (Speed) and Charles Forrest Andrews, a ...
93. Charles Bickford
Actor | A Star Is Born
American character actor of gruff voice and appearance who was a fixture in Hollywood pictures from the earliest days of the talkies. The fifth of seven children, he was born in the first minute of 1891. He was a boisterous child, and at nine was tried and acquitted for attempted murder in the ...
Actor | Gigi
Maurice Chevalier's first working job was as an acrobat, until a serious accident ended that career. He turned his talents to singing and acting, and made several short films in France. During World War I he enlisted in the French army. He was wounded in battle, captured and placed in a POW camp by...
Actor | Judgment at Nuremberg
Maximilian Schell was the most successful German-speaking actor in English-language films since Emil Jannings, the winner of the first Best Actor Academy Award. Like Jannings, Schell won the Oscar, but unlike him, he was a dedicated anti-Nazi. Indeed, with the exception of Maurice Chevalier and ...
96. Ernest Borgnine
Actor | Marty
Ernest Borgnine was born Ermes Effron Borgnino on January 24, 1917 in Hamden, Connecticut. His parents were Anna (Boselli), who had emigrated from Carpi (MO), Italy, and Camillo Borgnino, who had emigrated from Ottiglio (AL), Italy. As an only child, Ernest enjoyed most sports, especially boxing, ...
Actor | Pierrot le fou
The son of the renowned French sculptor Paul Belmondo, he studied at Conservatoire National Superieur d'Art Dramatique (CNSAD); after the minor stage performances he made his screen debut in À pied, à cheval et en voiture (1957) but the episodes with his participation were cut before ...
Actor | Beginners
Legendary actor Christopher Plummer, perhaps Canada's greatest thespian, delivered outstanding performances as Sherlock Holmes in Murder by Decree (1979), the chilling villain in The Silent Partner (1978), the iconoclastic Mike Wallace in The Insider (1999), the empathetic psychiatrist in A ...
Actor | Robin Hood
Douglas Fairbanks was born Douglas Elton Thomas Ullman in Denver, Colorado, to Ella Adelaide (nee Marsh) and Hezekiah Charles Ullman, an attorney and native of Pennsylvania, who was a captain for the Union forces during the Civil War. Fairbanks' paternal grandparents were German Jewish immigrants, ...
100. Louis Calhern
Actor | Duck Soup
Tall, distinguished, aristocratic Louis Calhern seemed to be the poster boy for old-money, upper-crust urban society, but he was actually born Carl Vogt, to middle-class parents in New York City. His family moved to St. Louis when he was a child, and it was while playing football in high school ...