My current favorites, in no particular order...
With 12 Academy Award nominations (eight for Best Actor and four for Best Supporting Actor), Jack Nicholson
is the most nominated male actor in Academy Awards history. Only Nicholson (1960s-2000s), Michael Caine
(1960s-2000s), Paul Newman
(1950s-1960s, 1980s-2000s), and Laurence Olivier
(1930s-1970s) have been nominated for an acting (lead or supporting) Academy Award in five decades...
Julia Fiona Roberts never dreamed she would become the most popular actress in America. She was born in Smyrna, Georgia, to Betty Lou (Bredemus) and Walter Grady Roberts, one-time actors and playwrights, and is of English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, German, and Swedish descent. As a child, due to her love of animals...
Robert De Niro
De Niro's longtime collaboration with Scorsese later earned him an Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull
. He also earned nominations for the psychological thrillers Taxi Driver
and Cape Fear
, both directed by Scorsese. De Niro received additional Academy Award nominations for Michael Cimino
's Vietnam war drama The Deer Hunter
Compact Italian-American actor Joe Pesci was born February 9, 1943, in Newark, NJ, to Mary (Mesce), a part-time barber, and Angelo Pesci, a bartender and forklift driver. Pesci first broke into entertainment as a child actor and by the mid-50s was starring on the series "Star Time Kids". In the mid-'60s he released a record under the stage name of "Joe Ritchie" titled "Little Joe Sure Can Sing"...
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. Pacino was born on April 25, 1940, in the Bronx, New York, to an Italian-American family. His parents...
She won a beauty contest at age fourteen. In 1920 her mother, Edith Shearer
, took Norma and her sister Athole Shearer
(Mrs. Howard Hawks
) to New York. Ziegfeld rejected her for his "Follies," but she got work as an extra in several movies. She spent much money on eye doctor's services trying to correct her cross-eyed stare caused by a muscle weakness...
Considered by many critics to be the greatest living actress, Meryl Streep has been nominated for the Academy Award an astonishing 19 times, and has won it three times. Meryl was born Mary Louise Streep in 1949 in Summit, New Jersey, to Mary Wolf (Wilkinson), a commercial artist, and Harry William Streep...
Hanks climbed back to the top again with his portrayal of a washed-up baseball legend turned manager in A League of Their Own
. Hanks has stated that his acting in earlier roles was not great, but that he subsequently improved. In an interview with Vanity Fair, Hanks noted his "modern era of movie making ...
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), English...
Perhaps the icon of macho movie stars, and a living legend, Clint Eastwood has become a standard in international cinema. Born May 31, 1930 in San Francisco, the elder of two children in a middle-class family, Eastwood stayed in high school until the comparatively late age of nineteen and worked menial jobs over a period of several years before enrolling at Los Angeles City College...
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 in Horfield, Bristol, England, to Elsie Maria (Kingdon) and Elias James Leach, who worked in a factory. His early years in Bristol would have been an ordinary lower-middle-class childhood...
Kevin Michael Costner was born on January 18, 1955 in Lynwood, California, the third child of Bill Costner
, a ditch digger and ultimately an electric line servicer for Southern California Edison, and Sharon Costner
(née Tedrick), a welfare worker. His older brother, Dan, was born in 1950. A middle brother died at birth in 1953...
George Timothy Clooney was born on May 6, 1961, in Lexington, Kentucky, to Nina Bruce (née Warren), a former beauty pageant queen, and Nick Clooney
, a former anchorman and game show host (who was also the brother of singer Rosemary Clooney
). He has Irish, English, and German ancestry. Clooney spent most of this youth in Ohio and Kentucky...
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 two-year hitch in the army after graduating in 1953...
Judi Dench was born in York, England, to Eleanora Olive (Jones), who was from Dublin, Ireland, and Reginald Arthur Dench, a doctor from Dorset, England. She attended Mount School in York, and studied at the Central School of Speech and Drama. She has performed with Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre...
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
, and has been seen in mostly supporting roles, often portraying psychologically unstable characters...
Liam Neeson was born on June 7, 1952 in Ballymena, Northern Ireland, UK, to Katherine (Brown), a cook, and Bernard Neeson, a school caretaker. Liam worked as a forklift operator for Guinness, truck driver, assistant architect and an amateur boxer. He had originally sought a career as a teacher by attending St...
Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon was born on March 22, 1976 at Southern Baptist Hospital (now Memorial Medical Center) in New Orleans, Louisiana. She is the second child of Mary Elizabeth "Betty" (Reese) and Dr. John Draper Witherspoon, Sr. Her father was a military surgeon specializing in ear, nose and throat...
Kurt Russell was born Kurt Vogel Russell in Springfield, Massachusetts, to Louise Julia (Crone), a dancer, and actor Bing Russell
(Neil Oliver Russell). He is of English, German, Scottish, and Irish descent. His first roles were as a child in television series, including a lead role in the Western series The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters
Val Kilmer was born in Los Angeles, California, to Gladys Swanette (Ekstadt) and Eugene Dorris Kilmer, who was a real estate developer and aerospace equipment distributor. His mother, born in Indiana, was from a Swedish family, and his father was from Texas. Val studied at Hollywood's Professional's School and...
Tall, thin, wiry Sam Elliott is the classic picture of the American cowboy. Elliott began his acting career on the stage and his film debut was in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
. Although his future wife, Katharine Ross
co-starred in the film, the two did not meet until they filmed The Legacy
Together. Over the years there would be few opportunities to act in feature westerns...
Steve Buscemi was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Dorothy (Wilson), a restaurant hostess, and John Buscemi, a sanitation worker. He is of Italian (father) and English, Dutch, and Irish (mother) descent. He became interested in acting during his last year of high school. After graduating, he moved to Manhattan to study acting with John Strasberg...
Renée Kathleen Zellweger was born on April 25, 1969, in Katy, Texas, USA. Her mother, Kjellfrid Irene (Andreassen), is a Norwegian-born former nurse and midwife, of Norwegian, Kven (Finnish), and Swedish descent. Her father, Emil Erich Zellweger, is a Swiss-born engineer. The two married in 1963. Renée has a brother named Drew Zellweger...
Often considered hip-hop's first lady (though some would attribute that to Roxanne Shanté
), the woman behind the moniker Queen Latifah was born Dana Owens on March 18th, 1970, in East Orange, New Jersey. She is the daughter of Rita (Bray), a teacher, and Lancelot Owens, Sr. She came from a police family--both her father and older brother were cops...
Sandra Annette Bullock was born in Arlington, a Virginia suburb of Washington, D.C. Her mother, Helga Bullock
(née Helga Mathilde Meyer), was a German opera singer. Her father, John W. Bullock, was an American voice teacher, who was born in Alabama, of Irish, English, French, and German descent. Sandra grew up on the road with her parents and younger sister...
Cate Blanchett was born on May 14, 1969 in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, to June (Gamble), an Australian teacher and property developer, and Robert DeWitt Blanchett, Jr., an American advertising executive, originally from Texas. She has an older brother and a younger sister. When she was ten years old...
Dennis Quaid was born in Houston, Texas, to Juanita Bonniedale (Jordan), a real estate agent, and William Rudy Quaid, an electrician. He grew up in the Houston suburban city of Bellaire. He was raised a Baptist, and studied drama, Mandarin Chinese, and dance while a student at Bellaire High School. He continued study at the University of Houston...
Raven-haired, suavely handsome and prolific actor Alec Baldwin was born on April 3, 1958 in Massapequa, New York, and is the oldest, and easily the best-known, of the four Baldwin brothers in the acting business (the others are Stephen Baldwin
, William Baldwin
and Daniel Baldwin
). Baldwin is the son of Carol Newcomb (Martineau) and Alexander Rae Baldwin...
Emily Olivia Leah Blunt is a British actress known for her roles in The Young Victoria
and The Devil Wears Prada
. Blunt was born on February 23, 1983, in Roehampton, South West London, England, the second of four children in the family of Joanna Mackie
, a former actress and teacher, and Oliver Simon Peter Blunt...
Came to prominence in the early films of Martin Scorsese
after working in theatre for around a decade, particularly Mean Streets
and Taxi Driver
. Faded into anonymity in the 1980s even though he turned in some impressive performances in films by some of America's leading directors. He reemergered into star status with his role as Mr...
Uma Karuna Thurman was born in Boston, Massachusetts, into a highly unorthodox and Eurocentric family. She is the daughter of Nena Thurman
(née Birgitte Caroline von Schlebrügge), a fashion model and socialite who now runs a mountain retreat, and of Robert Thurman
(Robert Alexander Farrar Thurman)...
Michelle Pfeiffer was born in Santa Ana, California, to Donna Jean (Taverna) and Richard Pfeiffer, a heating and air-conditioning contractor. She has an older brother and two younger sisters - Dedee Pfeiffer
and Lori Pfeiffer
, who both dabbled in acting and modeling but decided against making it their life's work...
Jennifer Aniston was born in Sherman Oaks, California, to actors John Aniston
and Nancy Dow
. Her father is Greek, and her mother was of English, Irish, Scottish, and Italian descent. Jennifer spent a year of her childhood living in Greece with her family. Her family then relocated to New York City where her parents divorced when she was nine...
Anne Jacqueline Hathaway was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Kate McCauley Hathaway
, an actress, and Gerald T. Hathaway
, a lawyer, both originally from Philadelphia. She is of mostly Irish descent, along with English, German, and French. Her first major role came in the short-lived television series Get Real
Natalie Portman was born Natalie Hershlag on June 9, 1981, in Jerusalem, Israel, to a Jewish family. She is the only child of Avner Hershlag, an Israeli-born doctor, and Shelley Stevens, an American-born artist (from Cincinnati, Ohio), who also acts as Natalie's agent. She left Israel for Washington...
Scarlett Johansson was born in New York City. Her mother, Melanie Sloan
, is from an Ashkenazi Jewish family, and her father, Karsten Johansson
, is Danish. She has a sister, Vanessa Johansson
, who is also an actress, a brother, Adrian, a twin brother, Hunter Johansson
, born three minutes after her, and a paternal half-brother, Christian. Her grandfather was writer Ejner Johansson
Eric Bana was born Eric Banadinovic on August 9, 1968, in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. He is the younger of two brothers. His father, named Ivan Banadinovic, came from Zagreb, Croatia, and worked as a manager for Caterpillar Inc. His mother, named Eleanor Banadinovic, came from a German family and was a hairdresser...
John Gavin Malkovich was born in Christopher, Illinois, to Joe Anne (Choisser), who owned a local newspaper, and Daniel Leon Malkovich, a state conservation director. His paternal grandparents were Croatian. In 1976, Malkovich joined Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre, newly founded by his friend Gary Sinise
Six time Academy Award-nominated actress Glenn Close was born and raised in Greenwich, Connecticut. She is the daughter of Elizabeth Mary Hester "Bettine" (Moore) and William Taliaferro Close (William Close
), a prominent doctor. Both of her parents were from upper-class northeastern families. Glenn...
Multi-talented Kathleen Doyle Bates was born on June 28, 1948, and raised in Memphis, Tennessee. She is the youngest of three girls born to Bertye Kathleen (Talbot), a homemaker, and Langdon Doyle Bates, a mechanical engineer. Her grandfather was author Finis L. Bates. Kathy has English, as well as Irish...
Pierce Brendan Brosnan was born in Drogheda, County Louth, Ireland, to May (Smith), a nurse, and Thomas Brosnan, a carpenter. He lived in Navan, County Meath, until he moved to England, UK, at an early age (thus explaining his ability to play men from both backgrounds convincingly). His father left the household when Pierce was a child and although reunited later in life...
Danny DeVito has amassed a formidable and versatile body of work as an actor, producer and director that spans the stage, television and film. Daniel Michael DeVito Jr. was born on November 17, 1944, in Neptune, New Jersey, to Italian-American parents. His mother, Julia (Moccello), was a homemaker...
Born in Los Angeles but raised in Manhattan and educated at Middlebury College and Carnegie-Mellon University, James Cromwell, the son of famous film director John Cromwell
, studied acting at Carnegie-Mellon. He went into the theater (like both his parents) doing everything from Shakespeare to experimental plays...
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...
Willem Dafoe was born in Appleton, Wisconsin, to Muriel Isabel (Sprissler), a nurse, and Dr. William Alfred Dafoe, a surgeon. He is of German, French, English, Irish, and Scottish descent. In 1979, Dafoe was given a small role in Michael Cimino
's Heaven's Gate
from which he was fired. His first feature role came shortly after in Kathryn Bigelow
's The Loveless
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, where they tried ranching in the Mojave Desert...
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 billing...
Billy Crystal was born on March 14, 1948 in Long Beach, Long Island, New York. He is the youngest of three sons born to Helen (Gabler) and Jack Crystal. His father was a well-known concert promoter who co-founded Commodore Records and his mother was a homemaker. His family were Jewish immigrants from Russia...
Alan Rickman was born on a council estate in Acton, West London, to Margaret Doreen Rose (Bartlett) and Bernard Rickman, who worked at a factory. He had English, Irish, and Welsh ancestry. Alan had an older brother David, a younger brother Michael and a younger sister Sheila. When Alan was 8 years old...
Diedrich Bader was born in Alexandria, Virginia, but moved to Paris, France, with his family at age two. While in the "City of Light" he developed an appreciation for movie legends like Fred Astaire
and Charles Chaplin
. So, when a fragile "Chaplin" movie reel burned in the theater's projector, four-year-old...
Emma Thompson was born in London on April 15, 1959, into a family of actors - her father was Eric Thompson
, who has passed away, and her mother, Phyllida Law
, has co-starred with Thompson in several films (her sister, Sophie Thompson
, is an actor as well). Her father was English-born and her mother is Scottish-born...
One of England's most versatile character actors, Jim Broadbent was born on May 24, 1949, in Lincolnshire, the youngest son of furniture maker Roy Laverick Broadbent and sculptress Doreen "Dee" (Findlay) Broadbent. Jim attended a Quaker boarding school in Reading before successfully applying for a place at an art school...
One of Hollywood's most talented and versatile performers and the recipient of a truckload of NAACP Image awards, Laurence John Fishburne III was born in Augusta, Georgia on July 30, 1961, to Hattie Bell (Crawford), a teacher, and Laurence John Fishburne, Jr., a juvenile corrections officer. His mother transplanted her family to Brooklyn after his parents divorced...
Emilio Estevez was born on May 12, 1962, in New York City. He is the eldest son of actor Martin Sheen
, who at the time was just breaking into the business. His mother, Janet Sheen
(née Templeton), was a former New York art student who had met Emilio's father right after he had moved to Manhattan...
Captivating, gifted, and sensational, Angela Bassett's presence has been felt in theaters, stages, and television screens throughout the world. Angela Evelyn Bassett was born on August 16, 1958 in New York City, to Betty Jane (Gilbert), a social worker, and Daniel Benjamin Bassett, a preacher's son...
Demi Moore was born on November 11, 1962, in Roswell, New Mexico. Her father, Charles Foster Harmon, Sr., left her mother, Virginia Beverly (King), before Demi was born. Her stepfather, Danny Guynes, did not add much stability to her life, either. He frequently changed jobs and made the family move a total of 40 times...
Bernard Jeffrey McCollough was born in Chicago in 1957. He grew up in Chicago, in a rougher neighborhood than most others, with a large family living under one roof. This situation provided him with a great insight into his comedy, as his family, and the situations surrounding them would be what dominated his comedy...
Helen Hunt began studying acting at the age of eight with her father, respected director and acting coach Gordon Hunt
. A year later she made her professional debut and afterwards worked steadily in films, theatre and television.
Susan Sarandon was born Susan Abigail Tomalin in New York City, New York, to Lenora Marie (Criscione) and Phillip Leslie Tomalin, a television producer and advertising executive. She is of Italian (mother) and English, Irish, Welsh, and German (father) descent. Soon after the 1968 Democratic convention...
Jean Stapleton was born Jeanne Murray in Manhattan, New York City, to Marie A. (Stapleton), an opera singer, and Joseph Edward Murray, a billboard advertising salesman. Her paternal grandparents were Irish. She was a cousin of actress Betty Jane Watson
. Other relatives in show business were her uncle...
Ginnifer Goodwin was born Jennifer Michelle Goodwin on May 22, 1978, in Memphis, Tennessee, to Linda (Kantor), who worked at FedEx, and Tim Goodwin, who had a recording studio. Bright and talented, Ginnifer carried her love for theater and acting through her high school years. She graduated from Lausanne...
Sally Margaret Field was born in 1946 in Pasadena, California, to actress Margaret Field
(née Morlan) and salesman Richard Dryden Field. Her parents divorced in 1950 and her mother then married stuntman Jock Mahoney
, and they had a daughter, Princess O'Mahoney
. She also has a brother, Richard Field. Sally attended Birmingham High School in Van Nuys, California...
Gary Alan Sinise was born in Blue Island, Illinois, to Mylles S. (Alsip) and Robert L. Sinise
, A.C.E., a film editor. He is of Italian (from his paternal grandfather), English, Scottish, Irish, French, German, and Swedish ancestry. His family moved to Highland Park, where he attended high school. He was something of a rebel, playing in bands but paying little attention to school...
Madeline Kahn was born Madeline Gail Wolfson on September 29, 1942 in Boston, Massachusetts, to Freda (Goldberg) and Bernard B. Wolfson, a garment manufacturer. She was of Russian Jewish descent. Madeline began her acting career in high school and went on to university where she trained as an opera singer and starred in several campus productions...
Harvey Korman was a lanky, popular TV comedy veteran with a flair for broad comic characterizations, who shone for a decade as leading man and second banana par excellence on The Carol Burnett Show
but failed to find much success in his own projects. Harvey Herschel Korman was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Ellen (Blecher) and Cyril Raymond Korman...
Gene Wilder was born Jerome Silberman in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to Jeanne (Baer) and William J. Silberman, who manufactured miniature whiskey and beer bottles. His father was a Russian Jewish immigrant, while his Illinois-born mother was of Russian Jewish descent. Wilder caught his first big break playing...
Mel Brooks was born Melvin Kaminsky on June 28, 1926 in Brooklyn, New York. He served in WWII, and afterwards got a job playing the drums at nightclubs in the Catskills. Brooks eventually started a comedy act and also worked in radio and as Master Entertainer at Grossinger's Resort before going to television...
The entertainment world has enjoyed a five-decade love affair with comedienne/singer Carol Burnett. A peerless sketch performer and delightful, self-effacing personality who rightfully succeeded Lucille Ball
as the carrot-topped "Queen of Television Comedy," it was Burnett's traumatic childhood that set the stage for her comedy...
Funny man Tim Conway was born on December 15th, 1933 in Willoughby, Ohio. He was a fraternity man at Bowling Green State University, served in the army, and started his career working for a radio station. Conway got into comedy when he started writing and performing comedy skits between morning movies on CBS...
Kiefer Sutherland was born in London, England, UK, to Canadian actors Shirley Douglas
and Donald Sutherland
, who moved to California shortly after his birth. His maternal grandfather, Tommy Douglas
, was a Scottish-born Canadian politician who was a Premier of Saskatchewan for over 17 years and led the national NDP party for almost 10...
As a kid, Sissy Spacek climbed trees, rode horses, swam, and played in the woods. She was born Mary Elizabeth Spacek on December 25, 1949, in Quitman, Texas, to Virginia Frances (Spilman) and Edwin Arnold Spacek, Sr., a county agricultural agent. Her father's family was of Czech and German origin. Sissy attended Quitman High School and was homecoming queen...
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 John...
Tommy Lee Jones
Tommy Lee Jones was born in San Saba, Texas, the son of Lucille Marie (Scott), a police officer and beauty shop owner, and Clyde C. Jones, who worked on oil fields. Tommy himself worked in underwater construction and on an oil rig. He attended St. Mark's School of Texas, a prestigious prep school for boys in Dallas...
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 Bumgarner in Norman...
Virginia Cathryn "Gena" Rowlands is an American film, stage, and television actress, whose career in the entertainment industry has spanned over six decades. A four-time Emmy and two-time Golden Globe winner, she is known for her collaborations with her late actor-director husband John Cassavetes in 10 films...
Colin Andrew Firth was born into an academic family in Grayshott, Hampshire, England. His mother, Shirley Jean (Rolles), was a comparative religion lecturer at the Open University, and his father, David Norman Lewis Firth, lectured on history at Winchester University College (formerly King Alfred's College) in Winchester...
Hugh was born in Oxford, England on June 11, 1959, to Patricia (Laidlaw) and William George Ranald Mundell "Ran" Laurie, a doctor, both of Scottish descent. He was educated at Eton and Cambridge. Son of an Olympic gold medalist in the sport, he rowed for the England youth team (1977) and for Cambridge (1980)...