Top 300 American Actors

by minalex | created - 02 May 2013 | updated - 3 weeks ago | Public

1. Douglas Fairbanks

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, ...

2. Edward F. Cline

Director | The Boat

Edward "Eddie" Cline began his career in the film business as one of the Keystone Kops. The former vaudevillian appeared sporadically in films as an actor until 1922, but became increasingly active behind the camera as a gagman and scenario writer for Mack Sennett. From 1916 he worked on a steady ...

3. Erich von Stroheim

Actor | Sunset Blvd.

Erich von Stroheim was born Erich Oswald Stroheim in 1885, in Vienna, Austria, to Johanna (Bondy), from Prague, and Benno Stroheim, a hatter from Gleiwitz, Germany (now Gliwice, Poland). His family was Jewish.

After spending some time working in his father's hat factory, he emigrated to America ...

An Austrian-American actor

4. Carl Miller

Actor | The Kid

Carl Miller was born on August 9, 1894 in Iowa Park, Texas, USA. He is known for his work on The Kid (1921), The Lover of Camille (1924) and A Woman of Paris: A Drama of Fate (1923). He died on January 20, 1979 in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA.

5. Norman Kerry

Actor | The Unknown

Popular leading man or villain in the silent era. He often wore fancy wax mustaches. Made a sucessful transtion to sound. Retired from films in 1941 concluding a thirty five year career.

6. Joe Keaton

Actor | Sherlock Jr.

Joe Keaton and wife Myra were grade-Z vaudeville performers in the early 1900s. Their son Buster joined the act when he was only a few months old. The act was a rough-and-tumble one, with Buster being thrown around on stage most of the time. As the years went by, Joe Keaton became an alcoholic, ...

7. Lon Chaney

Actor | He Who Gets Slapped

Although his parents were deaf-mutes, Leonidas Chaney became an actor and also owner of a theatre company (together with his brother John). He made his debut at the movies in 1912, and his filmography is vast. Lon Chaney was especially famous for his horror parts in movies like e.g. Quasimodo in ...

8. 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 ...

9. Lew Ayres

Actor | Holiday

Lew Ayres was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota and raised in San Diego, California. A college dropout, he was found by a talent scout in the Coconut Grove nightclub in Los Angeles and entered Hollywood as a bit player. He was leading man to Greta Garbo in The Kiss (1929), but it was the role of Paul ...

10. 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 ...

11. Charles Ruggles

Actor | Bringing Up Baby

Charles Ruggles had one of the longest careers in Hollywood, lasting more than 50 years and encompassing more than 100 films. He made his film debut in 1914 in The Patchwork Girl of Oz (1914) and worked steadily after that. He was memorably paired with Mary Boland in a series of comedies in the ...

12. Wallace Ford

Actor | Freaks

A stocky, friendly-faced character actor, Ford was born Samuel Jones in England and his childhood rivaled the brutality that Charles Dickens ever dreamed up. He lived for a while in an orphanage after being separated from his parents. While still young, he was sent to a Toronto branch of the ...

A British-American actor.

13. George Brent

Actor | The Rains Came

The favorite leading man of star actress Bette Davis, was born George Brendan Nolan, near Dublin, and became an orphan at the tender age of eleven. For a while, he stayed with an aunt in New York, but returned to Ireland to study at the University of Dublin. After leaving university in 1919, George...

An Irish-American actor

14. 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...

A British-American actor.

15. Bruce Cabot

Actor | King Kong

Hollywood stalwart Bruce Cabot's main claim to fame, other than rescuing Fay Wray from King Kong (1933), is that he tested for the lead role of The Ringo Kid in John Ford's Western masterpiece Stagecoach (1939). John Wayne got the role and became the most durable star in Hollywood history, while ...

16. Gene Raymond

Actor | Smartest Girl in Town

Gene Raymond was born on August 13, 1908, in New York City as Raymond Guion. He was a child performer and a Broadway veteran by the age of 12. Gene, a blond, husky, handsome actor, had his greatest popularity in the '30s and early '40s. His big break came in Personal Maid (1931). He was soon cast ...

17. 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. ...

18. Edward Everett Horton

Actor | Arsenic and Old Lace

It seemed like Edward Everett Horton appeared in just about every Hollywood comedy made in the 1930s. He was always the perfect counterpart to the great gentlemen and protagonists of the films. Horton was born in Brooklyn, New York City, to Isabella S. (Diack) and Edward Everett Horton, a ...

19. Franchot Tone

Actor | Mutiny on the Bounty

President of the Dramatic Club at Cornell University, Franchot Tone gave up the family business for acting, making his Broadway debut in "The Age of Innocence".

Tone then went into movies for MGM, making his film debut in The Wiser Sex (1932). With his theatrical background, Tone became one of the ...

20. 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 ...

21. Henry Bergman

Actor | Modern Times

Henry Bergman was born on February 23, 1868 in San Francisco, California, USA. He was an actor and assistant director, known for Modern Times (1936), City Lights (1931) and The Gold Rush (1925). He died on October 22, 1946 in Hollywood, California.

22. Melvyn Douglas

Actor | Being There

Two-time Oscar-winner Melvyn Douglas was one of America's finest actors. In addition to his two Oscars, he also won a Tony Award and an Emmy. Douglas would enjoy cinema immortality if for no other reason than his being the man who made Greta Garbo laugh in Ernst Lubitsch's classic comedy Ninotchka ...

23. Errol Flynn

Actor | The Adventures of Robin Hood

Errol Flynn was born to parents Theodore Flynn, a respected biologist, and Marrelle Young, an adventurous young woman. Young Flynn was a rambunctious child who could be counted on to find trouble. Errol managed to have himself thrown out of every school he was enrolled in. In his late teens he set ...

An Australian-American actor

24. 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 ...

25. 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). ...

A British-American actor.

26. Victor McLaglen

Actor | The Quiet Man

Rambunctious British leading man (contrary to popular belief, he was of Scottish ancestry, not Irish) and later character actor primarily in American films, Victor McLaglen was a vital presence in a number of great motion pictures, especially those of director John Ford. McLaglen (pronounced ...

A British-American actor.

27. Oliver Hardy

Actor | Sons of the Desert

Although his parents were never in show business, as a young boy Oliver Hardy was a gifted singer and, by age eight, was performing with minstrel shows. In 1910 he ran a movie theatre, which he preferred to studying law. In 1913 he became a comedy actor with the Lubin Company in Florida and began ...

28. Thomas Mitchell

Actor | Stagecoach

Thomas Mitchell was one of the great American character actors, whose credits read like a list of the greatest films of the 20th century: Lost Horizon (1937); Stagecoach (1939); The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939); Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939); Gone with the Wind (1939); It's a Wonderful Life...

29. Frank Morgan

Actor | The Wizard of Oz

Jovial, somewhat flamboyant Frank Morgan (born Francis Wuppermann) will forever be remembered as the title character in The Wizard of Oz (1939), but he was a veteran and respected actor long before he played that part, and turned in outstanding performances both before and after that film. One of ...

30. John Carradine

Actor | The Grapes of Wrath

John Carradine, the son of a reporter/artist and a surgeon, grew up in Poughkeepsie, New York. He attended Christ Church School and Graphic Art School, studying sculpture, and afterward roamed the South selling sketches. He made his acting debut in "Camille" in a New Orleans theatre in 1925. ...

31. 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 Alexander 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...

A British-American actor.

32. Raymond Massey

Actor | Arsenic and Old Lace

Educated at the University of Toronto & Balliol College, Oxford, he joined the Canadian Field Artillery in World War I, served in France & was wounded. His first appearance was in a stage production in Siberia, during its occupation by American Forces in 1918. Raymond returned to Canada & the farm ...

A Canadian-American actor.

33. Gene Lockhart

Actor | His Girl Friday

Gene Lockhart was born on July 18, 1891, in London, Ontario, Canada, the son of John Coates Lockhart and Ellen Mary (Delany) Lockhart. His father had studied singing and young Gene displayed an early interest in drama and music. Shortly after the 7-year-old danced a Highland fling in a concert ...

34. Orson Welles

Actor | Citizen Kane

His father was a well-to-do inventor, his mother a beautiful concert pianist; Orson Welles was gifted in many arts (magic, piano, painting) as a child. When his mother died (he was six) he traveled the world with his father. When his father died (he was fifteen) he became the ward of Chicago's Dr. ...

35. 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). ...

A Canadian-American actor.

36. Robert Montgomery

Actor | Night Must Fall

Born Henry Montgomery Jr., the elder son of New York businessman Henry Montgomery and his wife, Mary W. (nee Barney) Montgomery (a native of Brooklyn, Kings County, New York), Robert Montgomery had a younger brother, Donald. He was not related to Belinda Montgomery.

As a child, he enjoyed a ...

37. Peter Lorre

Actor | Casablanca

Peter Lorre was born Laszlo Lowenstein on Roszahegy, Hungary. He was educated in elementary and secondary schools in Vienna, Austria. As a youth, he 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 ...

An Austrian-American actor.

38. James Gleason

Actor | Arsenic and Old Lace

James Gleason was born in New York City to William Gleason and Mina Crolius, who were both in the theatre. He was married to Lucile Gleason (born Lucile Webster), and had a son, Russell Gleason. As a young man James fought in the Spanish-American War. After the war he joined the stock company at ...

39. Humphrey Bogart

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 ...

40. Tim Holt

Actor | The Magnificent Ambersons

As they say, like father, like son. Cowboy hero Tim Holt avidly followed in the boots of his famous character-actor dad, the granite-jawed Jack Holt (b. Charles John Holt), who appeared in hundreds of silents and talkies (many of them westerns) over the years. The two actually appeared together as ...

41. Brian Donlevy

Actor | Beau Geste

It seems that Brian Donlevy started out life as colorfully as any character he ever played on the stage or screen. He lied about his age (he was actually 14) in 1916 so he could join the army. When Gen. John J. Pershing sent American troops to invade Mexico in pursuit of Pancho Villa--Mexican ...

42. Robert Stack

Actor | Airplane!

"Straight Shooting" - whether skeet shooting, or portraying Eliot Ness, Robert Stack always tells it like it is, and shoots straight. Robert was the second child of Elizabeth Modini Wood (who named him Charles after his grandfather) and James Langford Stack (who changed his name to Robert, after no...

43. Fred MacMurray

Actor | Double Indemnity

Fred MacMurray was likely the most underrated actor of his generation. True, his earliest work is mostly dismissed as pedestrian, but no other actor working in the 1940s and 50s was able to score so supremely whenever cast against type.

Frederick Martin MacMurray was born in Kankakee, Illinois, to ...

44. 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 L'homme du large (1920) by Marcel L'Herbier) he used his chance in Hollywood after several filming stations ...

A French-American actor.

45. Edward G. Robinson

Actor | Key Largo

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 ...

46. Dan Duryea

Actor | Too Late for Tears

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 ...

47. Fredric March

Actor | The Best Years of Our Lives

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 ...

48. 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 ...

49. Victor Mature

Actor | Samson and Delilah

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 ...

50. Glenn Ford

Actor | Superman

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...

A Canadian-American actor.

51. 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 ...

52. Lionel Barrymore

Actor | Key Largo

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...

53. Dean Stockwell

Actor | Quantum Leap

Photogenic American child actor of the 1940s, popular due in no small measure to his air of innocence and his beautiful, cherubic face with its dimples and his sparkling eyes, topped with a crown of curls. Still an actor in demand while well into his middle years, he is one of the few juvenile ...

54. Walter Brennan

Actor | Red River

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 ...

55. Joseph Cotten

Actor | Citizen Kane

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...

56. Broderick Crawford

Actor | All the King's Men

Broderick Crawford is best remembered for two roles: his Oscar-winning turn as Willie Stark in All the King's Men (1949), and as Chief Dan Mathews on the syndicated TV series Highway Patrol (1955). He was also memorable as Judy Holliday's boisterous boyfriend in Born Yesterday (1950).

He was born ...

57. Robert Ryan

Actor | The Wild Bunch

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 ...

58. Joel McCrea

Actor | Foreign Correspondent

One of the great stars of American Westerns, and a very popular leading man in non-Westerns as well. He was born and raised in the surroundings of Hollywood and as a boy became interested in the movies that were being made all around. He studied acting at Pomona College and got some stage ...

59. John Ireland

Actor | Red River

Born in Canada, John Ireland was raised in New York. Performing as a swimmer in a water carnival, he moved into the legitimate theater, often appearing in minor roles in Broadway plays. His first big break in pictures came in 1945 when he appeared as Windy the introspective letter-writing G.I. in ...

A Canadian-American actor.

60. Edmond O'Brien

Actor | The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

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 Brooklyn, O'Brien learned the craft of performance as a magician, reportedly tutored by...

61. Richard Widmark

Actor | The Alamo

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 ...

62. Ben Johnson

Actor | The Last Picture Show

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 ...

63. Farley Granger

Actor | Strangers on a Train

Farley Earle Granger was born in 1925 in San Jose, California, to Eva (Hopkins) and Farley Earle Granger, who owned an automobile dealership. Right out of high school, he was brought to the attention of movie producer Samuel Goldwyn, who cast him in a small role in The North Star (1943). He followed...

64. Gary Cooper

Actor | High Noon

Born to Alice Cooper and Charles Cooper (not in film business). Gary attended school at Dunstable school England, Helena Montana and Iowa College, Grinnell, Iowa. His first stage experience was during high school and college. Afterwards, he worked as an extra for one year before getting a part in a...

65. Gene Kelly

Soundtrack | Singin' in the Rain

Eugene Curran Kelly was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the third son of Harriet Catherine (Curran) and James Patrick Joseph Kelly, a phonograph salesman. His father was of Irish descent and his mother was of Irish and German ancestry.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer was the largest and most powerful studio in...

66. Cornel Wilde

Director | No Blade of Grass

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 ...

67. José Ferrer

Actor | Dune

José Ferrer was born on January 8, 1912 in Santurce, Puerto Rico as José Vicente Ferrer de Otero y Cintrón. He was an actor, known for Dune (1984), Cyrano de Bergerac (1950) and Moulin Rouge (1952). He was married to Stella Daphne Magee, Rosemary Clooney, Phyllis Hill and Uta Hagen. He died on ...

68. 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 of his grandparents were immigrants from Northern Ireland. He was a tough street kid who took an early interest in gymnastics. He joined the circus as an acrobat and ...

69. 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-...

70. Gregory Peck

Actor | To Kill a Mockingbird

Eldred Gregory Peck was born on April 5, 1916 in La Jolla, California, to Bernice Mary (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 ...

71. Ray Milland

Actor | The Lost Weekend

Ray Milland became one of Paramount's most bankable and durable stars, under contract from 1934 to 1948, yet little in his early life suggested a career as a motion picture actor.

Milland was born Alfred Reginald Jones in the Welsh town of Neath, Glamorgan, to Elizabeth Annie (Truscott) and Alfred ...

A British-American actor.

72. Spencer Tracy

Actor | Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

Spencer Tracy was born four years after his brother Carroll to truck salesman John Edward and Caroline Brown Tracy. He attended Marquette Academy along with Pat O'Brien and the two left school to enlist in the Navy at the start of World War I. He was still at Norfolk Navy Yard in Virginia at the ...

73. 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 ...

74. Rock Hudson

Actor | Giant

Rock Hudson was born Roy Harold Scherer, Jr. in Winnetka, Illinois, to Katherine (Wood), a telephone operator, and Roy Harold Scherer, an auto mechanic. He was of German, Swiss-German, English, and Irish descent. His parents divorced when he was eight years old. He failed to obtain parts in school ...

75. Ralph Meeker

Actor | Kiss Me Deadly

Burly American character actor Ralph Meeker first acted on stage at his Alma mater, Northwestern University, alongside other budding performers Charlton Heston and Patricia Neal. He graduated as a music major, because his dean had discouraged him from pursuing a theatrical career. Ignoring that ...

76. Richard Conte

Actor | The Godfather

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 ...

77. John Forsythe

Actor | The Trouble with Harry

John Forysthe was born Jacob Lincoln Freund in Penns Grove, New Jersey, the son of Blanche Materson (Blohm) and Samuel Jeremiah Freund, a Wall Street businessman. He chose to pursue acting over the objections of his father. He did some work in radio soaps and on Broadway before signing a movie ...

78. John Wayne

Actor | True Grit

John Wayne was born Marion Robert Morrison in Iowa, to Mary Alberta (Brown) and Clyde Leonard Morrison, a pharmacist. He was of English, Ulster-Scots, and Irish ancestry.

Clyde developed a lung condition that required him to move his family from Iowa to the warmer climate of southern California, ...

79. Sterling Hayden

Actor | Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

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 ...

80. Jeffrey Hunter

Actor | The Searchers

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 ...

81. Leslie Nielsen

Actor | Airplane!

Leslie William Nielsen was born in Regina, Saskatchewan, and raised in Tulita (formerly Fort Norman), Northwest Territories. His mother, Mabel Elizabeth (Davies), was Welsh. His father, Ingvard Eversen Nielsen, was a Danish-born Mountie and a strict disciplinarian. Leslie studied at the Academy of ...

A Canadian-American actor.

82. 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. ...

83. William Holden

Actor | Stalag 17

William Holden was born William Franklin Beedle, Jr. in O'Fallon, Illinois, to Mary Blanche (Ball), a schoolteacher, and William Franklin Beedle, Sr., an industrial chemist. He came from a wealthy family (the Beedles) that moved to Pasadena, California, when he was three. In 1937, while studying ...

84. Andy Griffith

Actor | The Andy Griffith Show

Andy Griffith is best known for his starring roles in two very popular television series, The Andy Griffith Show (1960) and Matlock (1986). Griffith earned a degree in music from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In the 1950s, he became a regular on The Ed Sullivan Show (1948) and ...

85. James Stewart

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 ...

86. 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 ...

87. 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 ...

88. 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 ...

89. Dean Martin

Soundtrack | Rio Bravo

If there had to be an image for cool, the man to fit it would be Dean Martin.

Martin was born Dino Paul Crocetti in Steubenville, Ohio, to Angela (Barra) and Gaetano Alfonso Crocetti, a barber. His father was an Italian immigrant, and his mother was of Italian descent. He spoke only Italian until ...

90. John Gavin

Actor | Psycho

John Gavin, the American film and TV actor, businessman and diplomat who was Ronald Reagan's first Ambassador to Mexico, was born Juan Vincent Apablasa in Los Angeles, California.

The future "Jack" Gavin was a fifth-generation Angeleno, the son of Delia Diana Pablos and Juan Vincent Apablasa, and ...

91. Anthony Perkins

Actor | Psycho

Anthony Perkins was born April 4, 1932 in New York City to Janet Esselstyn (Rane) and Osgood Perkins, an actor of both stage and film. His paternal great-grandfather was noted engraver Andrew Varick Stout Anthony.

Perkins attended the Brooks School, the Browne & Nichols School, Columbia University ...

92. Yul Brynner

Actor | The Ten Commandments

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" ...

93. Jerry Lewis

Actor | The Nutty Professor

Jerry Lewis (born March 16, 1926) was an American comedian, actor, singer, film producer, screenwriter and film director. He is known for his slapstick humor in film, television, stage and radio. He was originally paired up with Dean Martin in 1946, forming the famed comedy team of Martin and Lewis...

94. Karl Malden

Actor | A Streetcar Named Desire

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...

95. James Cagney

Actor | The Roaring Twenties

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 ...

96. Frank Sinatra

Actor | The Manchurian Candidate

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. ...

97. Randolph Scott

Actor | The Tall T

Handsome American leading man who developed into one of Hollywood's greatest and most popular Western stars. Born to George and Lucy Crane Scott during a visit to Virginia, Scott was raised in Charlotte, North Carolina in a wealthy family. After service with the U.S. Army in France in World War I, ...

98. 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 25 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 ...

99. James Garner

Actor | The Notebook

Amiable and handsome James Garner had obtained success in both films and television, often playing variations of the charming anti-hero/con-man persona he first developed in Maverick, the offbeat western TV series that shot him to stardom in the late 1950s.

James Garner was born James Scott ...

100. Anthony Quinn

Actor | Alexis Zorbas

Anthony Quinn was born Antonio Rudolfo Oaxaca Quinn 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, and the rest of his family was Mexican. After starting life ...



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