FAVORITE ACTORS

View:
Log in to copy items to your own lists.
1.
Van Heflin
Actor, Shane
Craggy-faced, dependable star character actor Van Heflin never quite made the Hollywood "A" list, but made up for what he lacked in appearance with hard work, charisma and solid acting performances. He was born Emmett Evan Heflin in Oklahoma in December 1908, the son of Fanny Bleecker (Shippey) and Emmett Evan Heflin...
 
2.
Joseph Cotten
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 aunt and uncle's home at Virginia Beach...
 
3.
John Hodiak
Pittsburgh-born John Hodiak was one of several up-and-coming male talents who managed to take advantage of the dearth of WWII-era superstars (MGM's Clark Gable, Van Johnson, Robert Taylor and James Stewart, among others) who were off serving their country. John's early death at age 41, however, robbed Hollywood of a strong player and promising character star...
 
4.
Van Johnson
Van Johnson was the well-mannered nice guy on screen you wanted your daughter to marry. This fair, freckled and invariably friendly-looking MGM song-and-dance star of the 40s emerged a box office favorite (1944-1946) and second only to heartthrob Frank Sinatra during what gossipmonger Hedda Hopper dubbed the "Bobby-Soxer Blitz" era...
 
5.
Frank Lovejoy
Square-jawed, intense, no-nonsense Frank Lovejoy played a succession of detectives, street cops, reporters, soldiers and such over his career. Born in the Bronx, New York, in 1912, he worked on Wall Street as a teenager, but the Great Stock Market Crash of 1929 cost him his job, and to make ends meet he got into acting...
 
6.
Dana Andrews
Actor, Laura
American leading man of the 1940s and 1950s, Dana Andrews, was born Carver Dana Andrews on a farm by Collins, Covington County, Mississippi. He was the son of Annis (Speed) and Charles Forrest Andrews, a Baptist minister. He was one of thirteen children, including actor Steve Forrest. Andrews studied business administration at Sam Houston State Teachers College in Texas...
 
7.
Sterling Hayden
Born to George & Frances Simonson Walter, and named Sterling Relyea Walter. Father died in 1925. Adopted by stepfather 'James Hayden' renamed Sterling Walter Hayden. Grew up in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., and Maine. Though very poor, attended prep school at Wassookeag School in Dexter...
 
8.
John Agar
John Agar was born in Chicago, the eldest of four children. In World War II, Sgt. John Agar was a United States Army Air Force physical instructor. His 1945 marriage at the Wilshire Memorial Church to "America's Sweetheart" Shirley Temple put him in the public eye for the first time, and a movie contract with independent producer David O. Selznick quickly ensued...
 
9.
Lloyd Nolan
Actor, Julia
It would no doubt be a real shock to most people to discover that the rich baritone Bronx-like accent of great veteran character actor Lloyd Nolan was a product of the San Francisco streets--not the urban jungle of New York City. Nolan was born in the City by the Bay, and his father, James Nolan, was a successful shoe manufacturer of hard-working Irish stock...
 
10.
David Janssen
David Janssen reached the pinnacle of show biz stardom in the late 1960s on the strength of his remarkable, layered portrayal of the heroic, wrongfully convicted Dr. Richard Kimble, a man who had been cast aside by society yet retained his humanity and remained filled with integrity and compassion for others...
 
11.
Charles McGraw
Actor, The Birds
Gravel voiced, stoney faced & grizzled looking actor Charles McGraw notched up dozens of TV and film appearances often portraying law enforcement figures or military officers, plus the odd shifty gangster. Noted appearances include as dogged cop Det. Sgt. Walter Brown protecting a mob witness in the 1952 noir classic The Narrow Margin ...
 
12.
John Payne
Perhaps not so surprisingly, John Payne maintained that his favorite movie of all time was one of his own -- Miracle on 34th Street -- simply because it reflected his own strong and spiritual belief system. Today, of course, the film, which co-stars beautiful Maureen O'Hara, Oscar-winning Edmund Gwenn as Kris Kringle and little non-believing scene-stealer Natalie Wood...
 
13.
Sam Levene
Sam Levene was the actor who originated "craps-shooter extraordinaire" Nathan Detroit in the seminal American musical "Guys and Dolls" on the Great White Way in the original 1950 production. Levene was not a good singer and had trouble staying in key, so his solo number "Sue Me" had to be written in one octave to compensate for his lack of pipes...
 
14.
Michael Rennie
The British actor Michael Rennie worked as a car salesman and factory manager before he turned to acting. A meeting with a Gaumont-British Studios casting director led to Rennie's first acting job - that of stand-in for Robert Young in Secret Agent directed by Alfred Hitchcock. He put his film career on hold for a few years to get some acting experience on the stage...
 
15.
Ida Lupino
Ida was born in London to a show business family. In 1933, her mother brought Ida with her to an audition and Ida got the part her mother wanted. The picture was Her First Affaire. Ida, a bleached blonde, came to Hollywood in 1934 and played small and insignificant parts. Peter Ibbetson was one of her...
 
16.
Lee Marvin
Actor, M Squad
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 advertising executive...
 
17.
Lee J. Cobb
Lee J. Cobb, one of the premier character actors in American film for three decades in the post-World War II period, was born Leo Jacoby in New York City's Lower East Side on December 8, 1911. The son of a Jewish newspaper editor, young Leo was a child prodigy in music, mastering the violin and the harmonica...
 
18.
Richard Jaeckel
Stocky tough-guy character actor Richard Jaeckel was one of Hollywood's most prolific supporting stars. Born in Long Island, New York, on October 10, 1926, Jaeckel's family moved to Los Angeles when he was still in his teens. After graduation from Hollywood High School, Jaeckel was discovered by a casting director while working as a mailboy for 20th Century-Fox...
 
19.
Robert Ryan
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 Irish descent...
 
20.
Howard Duff
Tough, virile, wavy-haired and ruggedly handsome with trademark forlorn-looking brows that added an intriguing touch of vulnerability to his hard outer core, actor Howard Duff and his wife-at-the-time, actress Ida Lupino, were one of Hollywood's premiere film couples during the 1950s "Golden Age"...
 
21.
Dan Duryea
Dan Duryea was educated at Cornell University and worked in the advertising business before pursuing his career as an actor. Duryea made his Broadway debut in the play "Dead End." The critical acclaim he won for his performance as Leo Hubbard in the Broadway production of "The Little Foxes" led to his appearance in the film version, in the same role.
 
22.
Jeffrey Hunter
Jeffrey Hunter was born Henry Herman McKinnies Jr. on November 25, 1926 in New Orleans, Louisiana, an only child. His parents met at the University of Arkansas, and when he was almost four his family moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In his teens, he acted in productions of the North Shore Children's Theater...
 
23.
Edmond O'Brien
Oscar-winner Edmond O'Brien was one of the most-respected character actors in American cinema, from his heyday of the mid-1940s through the late 1960s. Born on September 10, 1915, in the New York City borough of The Bronx, O'Brien learned the craft of performance as a magician, reportedly tutored by neighbor Harry Houdini...
 
24.
Barry Sullivan
Barry Sullivan was born Patrick Barry Sullivan on August 29, 1912 in New York City. He was the seventh son of a seventh son, a birth order with mystical significance in Celtic families. While never a major movie star, he established himself as a well-known and highly regarded character lead and second lead in motion pictures and television in a career that lasted 50 years...
 
25.
Richard Conte
Richard Conte was born Nicholas Richard Conte on March 24, 1910, in Jersey City, New Jersey, the son of an Italian-American barber. The young Conte held a variety of jobs before becoming a professional actor, including truck driver, Wall Street clerk and singing waiter at a Connecticut resort. The gig as a singing waiter led to theatrical work in New York...
 
26.
Gloria Grahame
Gloria Hallward, an acting pupil of her mother (stage actress and teacher Jean Grahame), acted professionally while still in high school. In 1944 Louis B. Mayer saw her on Broadway and gave her an MGM contract under the name Gloria Grahame. Her debut in the title role of Blonde Fever was auspicious...
 
27.
Dane Clark
Dane Clark was born Bernard Elliot Zanville in Brooklyn, New York City, to Rose (Korostoff) and Samuel Zanville, who were Russian Jewish immigrants. He graduated from Cornell University and St. John's Law School (Brooklyn). When he had trouble finding work in the mid-1930s he tried boxing, baseball...
 
28.
Cornel Wilde
Dashing actor Cornel Wilde was born Kornel Lajos Weisz on October 13, 1912, in Prievidza, Hungary (now part of Slovakia), to a Jewish family. In 1920, he immigrated to New York City with his parents, Rayna (Vid) and Vojtech Béla Weisz, and elder sister, Edith. His family Americanized their names and Kornel took the name Cornelius Louis Wilde...
 
29.
Neville Brand
Actor, Laredo
Neville Brand joined the US Army in 1939, bent on a career in the military. It was while he was in the army that he made his acting debut, in Army training films, and this experience apparently changed the direction of his life. Once a civilian again, he used his GI Bill education assistance to study drama with the American Theater Wing and then appeared in several Broadway plays...
 
30.
Robert Walker
He possessed the same special brand of rebel/misfit sensitivity and charm that made superstars out of John Garfield and (later) James Dean and Montgomery Clift. In the war-torn 1940s, Robert Walker represented MGM's fresh, instinctive breed of up-and-coming talent. His boyish good looks combined with an attractive vulnerability came across the screen with such beauty...
 
31.
Lizabeth Scott
Lizabeth Scott was born Emma Matzo on September 29, 1922 in Scranton, Pennsylvania, the oldest of six children of Mary (Pennock) and John Matzo, who were Slovak immigrants. Scott attended Marywood Seminary and the Alvienne School of the Theatre in New York City, where she adopted the stage name of "Elizabeth Scott." After doing a national tour of Hellzapoppin...
 
32.
Paul Stewart
Esteemed character actor Paul Stewart had a pair of the coldest orbs in town and made his living for decades playing dark, callous, shiftless villains, including a vast number of mobsters. Not a well-known name per se, he was nevertheless a reliable actor who seemed to have been born for the film noir and gangland crime drama genre with his premature silvery hair...
 
33.
Ben Johnson
Born in Oklahoma, Ben Johnson was a ranch hand and rodeo performer when, in 1940, Howard Hughes hired him to take a load of horses to California. He decided to stick around (the pay was good), and for some years was a stunt man, horse wrangler, and double for such stars as John Wayne, Gary Cooper and James Stewart...
 
34.
Teresa Wright
A natural and lovely talent who was discovered for films by Samuel Goldwyn, the always likable Teresa Wright distinguished herself early on in high-caliber, Oscar-worthy form -- the only performer ever to be nominated for Oscars for her first three films. Always true to herself, she was able to earn Hollywood stardom on her own unglamorized terms...
 
35.
Cathy O'Donnell
Actress, Ben-Hur
She was in Alabama until age 12, Ann Steely attended high school and college in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, then worked as a stenographer to finance a trip to Hollywood, where fortune favored her with a contract at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer under Samuel Goldwyn. Recognizing her talent and appeal through a thick Southern accent...
 
36.
Bruce Bennett
Herman Brix was a star shot-putter in the 1928 Olympics. After losing the lead in MGM's Tarzan the Ape Man due to a shoulder injury, he was contracted by Ashton Dearholt for his independent production of The New Adventures of Tarzan, a serial and the only Tarzan film between the silents and the 1960s to present the character accurately...
 
37.
Kenneth Tobey
Born in Oakland, California, Kenneth Tobey was headed for a law career when he first dabbled in acting at the University of California Little Theater. That experience led to a year and a half of study at New York's Neighborhood Playhouse, where his classmates included Gregory Peck, Eli Wallach and Tony Randall...
 
38.
Kevin McCarthy
Handsome, chisel-jawed character actor Kevin McCarthy appeared in nearly 100 movies in a career that spanned seven decades. He also had some starring roles, most notably the horror cult classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers. He played the disillusioned son Biff Loman in the 1951 screen adaptation of Arthur Miller's classic Death of a Salesman...
 
39.
 
40.
Arthur Kennedy
Arthur Kennedy, one of the premier character actors in American film from the late 1940s through the early 1960s, achieved fame in the role of Biff in Elia Kazan's historic production of Arthur Miller's Pultizer-Prize winning play "Death of a Salesman." Although he was not selected to recreate the role on screen...
 
41.
Sydney Greenstreet
Actor, Casablanca
Sydney Greenstreet's father was a leather merchant with eight children. Sydney left home at age 18 to make his fortune as a Ceylon tea planter, but drought forced him out of business and back to England. He managed a brewery and, to escape boredom, took acting lessons. His stage debut was as a murderer in a 1902 production of "Sherlock Holmes"...
 
42.
Ward Bond
Gruff, burly American character actor. Born in 1903 in Benkelman, Nebraska (confirmed by Social Security records; sources stating 1905 or Denver, Colorado are in error.) Bond grew up in Denver, the son of a lumberyard worker. He attended the University of Southern California, where he got work as an...
 
43.
Steve Cochran
Actor, White Heat
Born Robert Alexander Cochran, son of a California lumberman, he worked mostly in the theatre before landing a contract with Samuel Goldwyn in 1945. His debut was Wonder Man with Virginia Mayo and Danny Kaye. From 1949 to 1952, he was signed to Warner Brothers, then started up his own production company...
 
44.
Jack Palance
Actor, Batman
Jack Palance exemplified evil incarnate on film -- portraying some of the most intensely despised villains witnessed in 50s westerns and melodrama. He received two Best Supporting Actor nominations early in his career, but it would take a grizzled, eccentric comic performance 40 years later for him to finally grab the coveted statuette...
 
45.
Marc Lawrence
American character actor who specialized in underworld types, despite a far greater range. A native of the Bronx, Lawrence participated in plays in school, then attended the City College of New York. In 1930, he was accepted into Eva Le Gallienne's company, where he became friendly with another young actor...
 
46.
James Whitmore
Born on October 1, 1921, in White Plains, New York, gruff veteran character actor James Whitmore earned early and widespread respect with his award-winning dramatic capabilities on Broadway and in films. He would later conquer TV with the same trophy-winning results. The son of James Allen Whitmore and Florence Crane...
 
47.
Peter Lorre
Actor, Casablanca
As a youth Peter Lorre ran away from home, worked as a bank clerk and, after stage training in Vienna, made his acting debut in Zurich. He remained unknown, traveling for several years and acting in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, until Fritz Lang cast him as the psychopathic child killer in M...
 
48.
Lauren Bacall
Actress, The Big Sleep
Lauren Bacall was born Betty Joan Perske on September 16, 1924, in New York City. She is the daughter of Natalie Weinstein-Bacal, a Romanian Jewish immigrant, and William Perske, who was born in New Jersey, to Polish Jewish parents. Her family was middle-class, with her father working as a salesman and her mother as a secretary...
 
49.
Bob Steele
Started working with his father on stage when he was two. Later he toured in a comedy act for Fanchon and Marco. His first screen experience was at age 14, in a Pathe production of "Adventures of Bill and Bob".