The Greatest male Performances of all Timeby jeromesalinger | last updated - 29 Sep 2010 | Public
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 ...
A Streetcar named Desire, On The Waterfront, The Godfather, Apocalypse Now
Actor | Cape Fear
One of the greatest actors of all time, Robert De Niro was born on August 17, 1943 in Manhattan, New York City, to artists Virginia (Admiral) and Robert De Niro Sr. His paternal grandfather was of Italian descent, and his other ancestry is English, Dutch, German, French and Irish. He was trained at...
The Godfather: Part II, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Awakenings
3. Al Pacino
Actor | Serpico
One of the greatest actors in all of film history, Al Pacino established himself during one of film's greatest decades, the 1970s, and has become an enduring and iconic figure in the world of American movies.
Alfredo James Pacino was born on April 25, 1940, in the Bronx, New York, to an ...
Serpico, The Godfather: Part II, Dog Day Afternoon, Scent of a Woman
Actor | Chinatown
Jack Nicholson, an American actor, producer, director and screenwriter, is a three-time Academy Award winner and twelve-time nominee. Nicholson is also notable for being one of two actors - the other being Michael Caine - who have received Oscar nomination in every decade from the 1960s through the...
Chinatown, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, The Shining
Actor | Rain Man
Dustin Lee Hoffman was born in Los Angeles, California, to Lillian (Gold) and Harry Hoffman, who was a furniture salesman and prop supervisor for Columbia Pictures. He was raised in a Jewish family (from Ukraine, Russia-Poland, and Romania). Hoffman graduated from Los Angeles High School in 1955, ...
Midnight Cowboy, Tootsie, Rain Man
6. Sean Penn
Actor | Mystic River
Sean Penn is a powerhouse film performer capable of intensely moving work, who has gone from strength to strength during a colourful film career, and who has drawn much media attention for his stormy private life and political viewpoints.
Sean Justin Penn was born in Los Angeles, California, the ...
Dead Man Walking, I am Sam, Mystic River
Actor | There Will Be Blood
Born in London, England, Daniel Michael Blake Day-Lewis is the second child of Nicholas Blake, Poet Laureate of the U.K., and his second wife, actress Jill Balcon. His maternal grandfather was Sir Michael Balcon, an important figure in the history of British cinema and head of the famous Ealing ...
My Left Foot, In the Name of the Father, Gangs of New York, There Will Be Blood
8. 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 Theresa (Fetsko) and Arthur Sigmund Newman. Paul's father was Jewish, the son of emigrants from Poland and Hungary; he owned...
The Hustler, Cool Hand Luke, The Verdict
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 ...
Apocalypse Now, Tender Mercies, The Apostle
10. 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 ...
The Cider House Rules, The Quiet American
11. Anthony Hopkins
Actor | The Silence of the Lambs
Anthony Hopkins was born on December 31, 1937, in Margam, Wales, to Muriel Anne (Yeats) and Richard Arthur Hopkins, a baker. His parents were both of half Welsh and half English descent. Influenced by Richard Burton, he decided to study at College of Music and Drama and graduated in 1957. In 1965, ...
The Silence of The Lambs, The Remains of the Day
12. 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 ...
The Conversation, Unforgiven
13. 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 ...
East Of Eden, Rebel without a Cause, Giant
Actor | Fences
Denzel Hayes Washington, Jr. was born on December 28, 1954 in Mount Vernon, New York. He is the middle of three children of a beautician mother, Lennis, from Georgia, and a Pentecostal minister father, Denzel Washington, Sr., from Virginia. After graduating from high school, Denzel enrolled at ...
Glory, Malcom X, Training Day
15. Tom Hanks
Producer | Cast Away
Thomas Jeffrey Hanks was born in Concord, California, to Janet Marylyn (Frager), a hospital worker, and Amos Mefford Hanks, an itinerant cook. His mother's family, originally surnamed "Fraga", was entirely Portuguese, while his father was of mostly English ancestry. Tom grew up in what he has ...
Philadelphia, Forrest Gump, Cast Away
16. Russell Crowe
Actor | Les Misérables
Russell Ira Crowe was born in Wellington, New Zealand, to Jocelyn Yvonne (Wemyss) and John Alexander Crowe, both of whom catered movie sets. His maternal grandfather, Stanley Wemyss, was a cinematographer. Crowe's recent ancestry includes Welsh (where his paternal grandfather was born, in Wrexham),...
The Insider, Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind
17. Johnny Depp
Johnny Depp is perhaps one of the most versatile actors of his day and age in Hollywood.
He was born John Christopher Depp II in Owensboro, Kentucky, on June 9, 1963, to Betty Sue (Wells), who worked as a waitress, and John Christopher Depp, a civil engineer.
Depp was raised in Florida. He dropped ...
Edward Scissorhands, Finding Neverland
Actor | Inception
Few actors in the world have had a career quite as diverse as Leonardo DiCaprio's. DiCaprio has gone from relatively humble beginnings, as a supporting cast member of the sitcom Growing Pains (1985) and low budget horror movies, such as Critters 3 (1991), to a major teenage heartthrob in the 1990s,...
What's Eating Gilbert Grape, The Aviator
19. Edward Norton
Actor | American History X
American actor, filmmaker and activist Edward Harrison Norton was born on August 18, 1969, in Boston, Massachusetts, and was raised in Columbia, Maryland.
His mother, Lydia Robinson "Robin" (Rouse), was a foundation executive and teacher of English, and a daughter of famed real estate developer ...
Primal Fear, American History X
20. 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 ...
The Maltese Falcon, Casablanca, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
21. Cary Grant
Actor | North by Northwest
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...
Bringing Up Baby, Notorious, North by Northwest
22. James Stewart
Actor | Vertigo
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 ...
It's a Wonderful Life, Rear Window, Vertigo
23. Henry Fonda
Actor | 12 Angry Men
Henry Jaynes Fonda was born in Grand Island, Nebraska, to Elma Herberta (Jaynes) and William Brace Fonda, who worked in advertising and printing. His recent ancestry included Dutch, English, and Scottish.
Fonda started his acting debut with the Omaha Community Playhouse, a local amateur theater ...
The Grapes of Wrath
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 ...
It happened one Night, Gone With the Wind
25. James Cagney
Actor | Angels with Dirty Faces
One of Hollywood's preeminent male stars of all time (eclipsed, perhaps, only by "King" Clark Gable and arguably by Gary Cooper or Spencer Tracy), and the cinema's quintessential "tough guy", James Cagney was also an accomplished--if rather stiff--hoofer and easily played light comedy. James ...
Yankee Doodle Dandy
26. 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 ...
Captains Courageous, Boys Town, Inherit the Wind, Judgment at Nuremberg
27. 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 ...
City Lights, The Great Dictator
28. 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...
29. 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 ...
To Kill a Mockingbird
30. 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, ...
31. Laurence Olivier
Actor | Rebecca
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 ...
32. 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 ...
33. Sidney Poitier
Actor | In the Heat of the Night
A native of Cat Island, The Bahamas (though born in Miami during a mainland visit by his parents), Poitier grew up in poverty as the son of farmers Evelyn (Outten) and Reginald James Poitier, who also drove a cab. He had little formal education and at the age of 15 was sent to Miami to live with ...
In the Heat of the Night, Lilies of the Field
34. Peter O'Toole
Actor | Lawrence of Arabia
A leading man of prodigious talents, Peter O'Toole was 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 ...
Lawrence of Arabia
35. 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 and eighteen months after his brother Brooks Clift. He was the son of Ethel "Sunny" Anderson (Fogg) and William Brooks Clift. His father made a lot of ...
A Place in the Sun
36. Jack Lemmon
Actor | The Apartment
Jack Lemmon was born in Newton, Massachusetts, to Mildred Burgess LaRue (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 ...
Some Like It Hot, The Apartment
37. Alec Guinness
Actor | Star Wars
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 ...
The Bridge on the River Kwai
Actor | The Deer Hunter
Nervous-looking lead and supporting actor of the American stage and films, with sandy colored hair, pale complexion and a somewhat nervous disposition. He won an Oscar as Best Supporting Actor for his performance in The Deer Hunter (1978), and has been seen in mostly supporting roles, often ...
The Deer Hunter
39. Morgan Freeman
Actor | Se7en
With an authoritative voice and calm demeanor, this ever popular American actor has grown into one of the most respected figures in modern US cinema. Morgan was born on June 1, 1937 in Memphis, Tennessee, to Mayme Edna (Revere), a teacher, and Morgan Porterfield Freeman, a barber. The young Freeman...
The Shawshank Redemption
40. Kevin Spacey
Actor | The Usual Suspects
Kevin Spacey Fowler, better known by his stage name Kevin Spacey, is an American actor of screen and stage, film director, producer, screenwriter and singer. He began his career as a stage actor during the 1980s before obtaining supporting roles in film and television. He gained critical acclaim in...
The Usual Suspects, Seven
41. Jeff Bridges
Actor | The Big Lebowski
Jeffrey Leon Bridges was born on December 4, 1949 in Los Angeles, California, the son of well-known film and TV star Lloyd Bridges and his long-time wife Dorothy Dean Bridges (née Simpson). He grew up amid the happening Hollywood scene with big brother Beau Bridges. Both boys popped up, without ...
The Big Lebowski
42. Robin Williams
Actor | Mrs. Doubtfire
Robin McLaurin Williams was born on Saturday, July 21st, 1951, in Chicago, Illinois, a great-great-grandson of Mississippi Governor and Senator, Anselm J. McLaurin. His mother, Laurie McLaurin (née Janin), was a former model from Mississippi, and his father, Robert Fitzgerald Williams, was a Ford ...
Dead Poets Society, The Fisher King, Good Will Hunting
43. Bill Murray
Actor | Lost in Translation
Bill Murray is an American actor, comedian, and writer. The fifth of nine children, he was born William James Murray in Wilmette, Illinois, to Lucille (Collins), a mailroom clerk, and Edward Joseph Murray II, who sold lumber. He is of Irish descent. Among his siblings are actors Brian Doyle-Murray, ...
Groundhog Day, Lost in Translation
44. Clint Eastwood
Actor | Gran Torino
Clint Eastwood was born May 31, 1930 in San Francisco, the son of Clinton Eastwood Sr., a manufacturing executive for Georgia-Pacific Corporation, and Ruth Wood, a housewife turned IBM operator. He had a comfortable, middle-class upbringing in nearby Piedmont. At school Clint took interest in music...
A Fistful of Dollars, Dirty Harry, Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby
45. Nicolas Cage
Actor | Face/Off
Nicolas Cage was born Nicolas Kim Coppola in Long Beach, California, the son of comparative literature professor August Coppola (whose brother is director Francis Ford Coppola) and dancer/choreographer Joy Vogelsang. He is of Italian (father) and Polish, German, and English (mother) descent. Cage ...
Leaving Las Vegas
46. Tom Cruise
Actor | Top Gun
In 1976, if you had told fourteen year-old Franciscan seminary student Thomas Cruise Mapother IV that one day in the not too distant future he would be Tom Cruise, one of the top 100 movie stars of all time, he would have probably grinned and told you that his ambition was to join the priesthood. ...
Born on the Fourth of July, Magnolia
47. Sean Connery
Actor | The Rock
Sean Connery is best known for portraying the character James Bond, starring in seven Bond films between 1962 and 1983. In 1988, Connery won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in The Untouchables (1987). His film career also includes such films as Marnie (1964), The Name of ...
From Russia with Love, The Untouchables
48. Jon Voight
Actor | Anaconda
Jon Voight was born on December 29, 1938 in Yonkers, New York, USA as Jonathan Vincent Voight. He is an actor, known for Anaconda (1997), Midnight Cowboy (1969) and Transformers (2007). He was previously married to Marcheline Bertrand and Lauri Peters.
Deliverance, Coming Home
49. Michael Douglas
Actor | Wall Street
An actor with over forty years of experience in theatre, film, and television, Michael Douglas branched out into independent feature production in 1975 with the Academy Award-winning One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975). Since then, as a producer and as an actor-producer, he has shown an uncanny ...
50. Forest Whitaker
Actor | The Last King of Scotland
Forest Steven Whitaker has packaged a king-size talent into his hulking 6' 2", 220 lb. frame. He won an Academy Award for his performance as Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in the 2006 film The Last King of Scotland (2006), and has also won a Golden Globe and a BAFTA. He is the fourth African-American ...
The Last King of Scotland
51. Tim Robbins
Actor | Mystic River
Born in West Covina, California, but raised in New York City, Tim Robbins is the son of former The Highwaymen singer Gil Robbins and actress Mary Robbins (née Bledsoe). Robbins studied drama at UCLA, where he graduated with honors in 1981. That same year, he formed the Actors' Gang theater group, ...
The Shawshank Redemption, Mystic River
52. Harvey Keitel
Actor | Reservoir Dogs
American actor and producer Harvey Keitel was born on May 13, 1939 in Brooklyn, New York City. An Oscar and Golden Globe Award nominee, he has appeared in films such as Martin Scorsese's Mean Streets (1973) and Taxi Driver (1976), Ridley Scott's The Duellists (1977) and Thelma & Louise (1991), ...
Bugsy, Bad Lieutenant
53. John Travolta
Actor | Battlefield Earth
John Joseph Travolta was born in Englewood, New Jersey, one of six children of Helen Travolta (née Helen Cecilia Burke) and Salvatore/Samuel J. Travolta. His father was of Italian descent and his mother was of Irish ancestry. His father owned a tire repair shop called Travolta Tires in Hillsdale, ...
Saturday Night Fever, Pulp Fiction
54. Harrison Ford
Actor | Raiders of the Lost Ark
Harrison Ford was born on July 13, 1942 in Chicago, Illinois, to Dorothy (Nidelman), a radio actress, and Christopher Ford (born John William Ford), an actor turned advertising executive. His father was of Irish and German ancestry, while his maternal grandparents were Jewish immigrants from Minsk,...
Raiders of the Lost Ark, Witness
55. Ed Harris
Actor | The Truman Show
By transforming into his characters and pulling the audience in, Ed Harris has earned a reputation as one of the most talented actors of our time.
Ed Harris was born in Tenafly, New Jersey, to Margaret (Sholl), a travel agent, and Robert Lee Harris, a bookstore worker who also sang professionally. ...
56. Ralph Fiennes
Actor | The Grand Budapest Hotel
Actor Ralph Nathaniel Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes was born on December 22, 1962 in Suffolk, England, to Jennifer Anne Mary Alleyne (Lash), a novelist, and Mark Fiennes, a photographer. He is the eldest of six children. Four of his siblings are also in the arts: Martha Fiennes, a director; Magnus ...
57. Ben Kingsley
Actor | Gandhi
Ben Kingsley was born Krishna Bhanji on December 31, 1943 in Scarborough, Yorkshire, England. His father, Rahimtulla Harji Bhanji, was a Kenyan-born medical doctor, of Gujarati Indian descent, and his mother, Anna Lyna Mary (Goodman), was an English actress. Ben began to act in stage plays during ...
58. George C. Scott
Actor | Patton
George C. Scott was an immensely talented actor, a star of 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 joined the...