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...
Although Irish character actor Ray McAnally would become one of his country's most revered stage actors, he will be forever remembered by audiences both here and abroad for a couple of films he made during the last years of his life. Born in the seaside town of Buncrana and the son of a bank manager...
Stocky, genial-looking supporting actor Ned Beatty was once hailed by Daily Variety as the "busiest actor in Hollywood". Ned Thomas Beatty was born in Louisville, Kentucky, to Margaret (Fortney) and Charles William Beatty. He grew up fishing and working on farms. His hometown of St. Matthews, Kentucky...
Faye Dunaway was born on a farm in Bascom, Florida in 1941, the daughter of Grace April (Smith), a housewife, and John MacDowell Dunaway, Jr., an army officer. After high school she majored in education at the University of Florida, but switched to theatre arts and transferred to Boston University, earning her degree in 1962...
An eccentric rebel of epic proportions, this Hollywood titan reigned supreme as director, screenwriter and character actor in a career that endured over five decades. The ten-time Oscar-nominated legend was born John Marcellus Huston in Nevada, Missouri, on August 5, 1906. His ancestry included English...
For many years Walter Huston had two passions: his career as an engineer and his vocation for the stage. In 1909 he dedicated himself to the theatre, and made his debut on Broadway in 1924. In 1929 he journeyed to Hollywood, where his talent and ability made him one of the most respected actors in the industry. He won a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
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 Francis Cagney was born on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in New York City...
Although he came to be called "Hollywood's Irishman in Residence"--and, along with good friends James Cagney
, Allen Jenkins
, Frank McHugh
and a few others were called "The Irish Mafia"--and he often played Irish immigrants, Pat O'Brien was US-born and -bred. As a young boy the devoutly Roman Catholic O'Brien considered entering the seminary to study for the priesthood...
Edward Everett Horton
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 compositor for the NY Times...
Born in Campgaw, New Jersey, Jane Waddington Wyatt came from a New York family of social distinction (her father was a Wall Street investment banker and her mother was a drama critic). Jane was raised from the age of three months in New York City and attended the fashionable Chapin School and later Barnard College...
Jackson DeForest Kelley was born on January 20, 1920 in Toccoa, Georgia, to Clora (Casey) and Ernest David Kelley. He graduated from high school at age 16 and went on to sing at the Baptist church where his father was a minister. At age 17, he made his first trip outside the state to visit an uncle in Long Beach...
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 in Amsterdam, New York, in 1916. His parents, Bryna (Sanglel) and Herschel Danielovitch...
Blonde, blue-eyed, tall and handsome Dutch actor Rutger Hauer has an international reputation for playing everything from romantic leads to action heroes to sinister villains. Hauer was born in Breukelen, a town in the province of Utrecht, the Netherlands. He is the son of Teunke (Mellema) and Arend Hauer
British actor Clive Owen is one of a handful of stars who, though he is best known for his art house films, can handle more mainstream films with equal measures of grace and skill. Owen is typically cast as characters whose primary traits are a balance of physical strength, intellect, conflicting soul but forceful will...
Kristin Scott Thomas
Kristin Scott Thomas was born in Redruth, Cornwall, England, to Deborah (Hurlbatt) and Lieutenant Commander Simon Scott Thomas. Her ancestry includes Welsh, English, and Dutch. Her father was a pilot for the British Royal Navy and died in a flying accident in 1964. Her stepfather was also a pilot and died six years later under similar circumstances...
In 1976, if you had told 14 year old Franciscan seminary student Thomas Cruise Mapother IV that one day in the not too distant future he would be considered one of the top 100 movie stars of all time, he would have probably grinned and told you that his ambition was to become a priest. Nonetheless, this sensitive...
Kenneth Charles Branagh was born on December 10, 1960, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK, to parents William Branagh, a plumber and carpenter born in 1930, and Frances (Harper) Branagh, also born in 1930. His brother, William Branagh Jr., was born in 1955 and sister, Joyce Branagh
, was born in 1970...
Preeminent British classical actor of the first post-Olivier generation, Derek Jacobi was knighted in 1994 for his services to the theatre, and, in fact, is only the second to enjoy the honor of holding TWO knighthoods, Danish and English (Olivier was the other). Modest and unassuming in nature, Jacobi's...
Joaquin Phoenix is an American actor, producer, music video director, musician and activist. He started his career by appearing in episodes of television shows with his brother River Phoenix and sister Summer Phoenix. His first major film release was in the comedy-drama film Parenthood (1989). During his period as a child actor he was credited as Leaf Phoenix...
Mel Columcille Gerard Gibson was born January 3, 1956 in Peekskill, New York, USA, as the sixth of eleven children of Hutton Gibson
, a railroad brakeman, and Anne Patricia (Reilly) Gibson (who died in December of 1990). His mother was Irish, from County Longford, while his American-born father is of mostly Irish descent...
Actor, producer and humanitarian Danny Glover has been a commanding presence on screen, stage and television for more than 25 years. Glover was born in San Francisco, California, to Carrie (Hunley) and James Glover, postal workers who were also active in civil rights. Glover trained at the Black Actors' Workshop of the American Conservatory Theater...
Alfre Woodard was born on November 8, 1952 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the youngest of three children of Constance, a homemaker, and Marion H. Woodard, an interior designer. She was named by her godmother, who claimed she saw a vision of Alfre's name written out in gold letters. A former high school cheerleader and track star...
Sylvester Stallone is an American actor, screenwriter, producer, and director. He is well known for his Hollywood action roles, particularly boxer Rocky Balboa, the title character of the Rocky series' seven films from 1976 to 2015; soldier John Rambo from the four Rambo films, which ran from 1982 to 2008; and Barney Ross in the three The Expendables films from 2010 to 2014...
One of the truly great and gifted performers of the century who often suffered lesser roles, Burgess Meredith was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1907 and educated in Amherst College in Massachusetts before joining Eva Le Gallienne's stage company in New York City in 1933. He became a favorite of dramatist Maxwell Anderson
Lon Chaney Jr.
American character actor whose career was influenced (and often overshadowed) by that of his father, silent film star Lon Chaney
. The younger Chaney was born while his parents were on a theatrical tour, and he joined them onstage for the first time at the age of six months. However, as a young man...
It's ironic that Martin Landau
won an Oscar for impersonating Bela Lugosi (in Ed Wood
) when Lugosi himself never came within a mile of one, but that's just the latest of many sad ironies surrounding Lugosi's career. Bela Lugosi was born Béla Ferenc Dezsö Blaskó on October 20, 1882, Lugos...
An extremely versatile character actor and originator of several memorable characterizations in the horror film genre, Dwight Frye had a notable theatrical career in the 1920s, moving from juvenile parts to leads before entering film. A favorite actor of Broadway theatrical producer-director Brock Pemberton
Along with fellow actors Lon Chaney
, Bela Lugosi
and Vincent Price
, Boris Karloff is recognized as one of the true icons of horror cinema, and the actor most closely identified with the general public's perception of the "monster" from the classic Mary Shelley
book, "Frankenstein". William Henry Pratt was born on November 23...
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 eyes...
Charles Middleton was born on October 3, 1874 in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. He was the son of a millionaire and did not have to work, but apparently went into acting because he needed to find a way to express himself. He worked in a traveling circus, in vaudeville, and acted in live theatre before he turned to motion pictures in 1920...
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 in Pennsylvania...
David Niven was named after the Saint's Day on which he was born, St. David, patron Saint of Wales. He attended Stowe School and Sandhurst Military Academy and served for two years in Malta with the Highland Light Infantry. At the outbreak of World War II, although a top-line star, he re-joined the army (Rifle Brigade)...
Peter Michael Falk was born on September 16, 1927, in New York City, New York. At the age of 3, his right eye was surgically removed due to cancer. He graduated from Ossining High School, where he was president of his class. His early career choices involved becoming a certified public accountant, and...
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" and...
Rita Moreno has had a thriving acting career for the better part of six decades. One of the very few (and very first) performers to win an Oscar, an Emmy, a Tony and a Grammy, she was born Rosita Dolores Alverío in Humacao, Puerto Rico, on December 11, 1931, to seamstress Rosa María (Marcano) and farmer Francisco José "Paco" Alverío...
Russ Tamblyn might as well face it...he will be a Jet "till his last dying day." Indelibly linked to the "womb to tomb" role of Riff, the knife-wielding, rocket-tempered, Edward Villella-styled gang leader of the streetwise Jets in the musical film masterpiece West Side Story
, it's not a bad way to be remembered...
Anne Baxter was born in Michigan City, Indiana, on May 7, 1923. She was the daughter of a salesman and his wife, Catherine, who herself was the daughter of Frank Lloyd Wright
, the world-renowned architect. Anne was a young girl of 11 when her parents moved to New York City, which at that time was still the hub of the entertainment industry even though the film colony was moving west...
Dame Judith Anderson was born Frances Margaret Anderson on February 10, 1897 in Adelaide, South Australia. She began her acting career in Australia before moving to New York in 1918. There she established herself as one of the greatest theatrical actresses and was a major star on Broadway throughout the 1930s...
One of Hollywood's finest character actors and most accomplished scene stealers, Barry Fitzgerald was born William Joseph Shields in 1888 in Dublin, Ireland. Educated to enter the banking business, the diminutive Irishman with the irresistible brogue was bitten by the acting bug in the 1920s and joined Dublin's world-famous Abbey Players...
Bing Crosby was born Harry Lillis Crosby, Jr. in Tacoma, Washington, the fourth of seven children of Catherine Helen "Kate" (Harrigan) and Harry Lowe Crosby, a brewery bookkeeper. He was of English and Irish descent. Crosby studied law at Gonzaga University in Spokane but was more interested in playing the drums and singing with a local band...
Danny Kaye left school at the age of 13 to work in the so-called Borscht Belt of Jewish resorts in the Catskill Mountains. It was there he learned the basics of show biz. From there he went through a series of jobs in and out of the business. In 1939, he made his Broadway debut in "Straw Hat Revue,"...
Virginia Clara Jones was born on November 30, 1920 in St. Louis, Missouri, the daughter of a newspaper reporter and his wife. The family had a rich heritage in the St. Louis area: her great-great-great-grandfather served in the American Revolution and later founded the city of East Saint Louis, Illinois...
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 John Barrymore
in The Royal Family of Broadway
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 end of the war...
Joan Geraldine Bennett was born on February 27, 1910, in Palisades, New Jersey. Her parents were both successful stage actors, especially her father, Richard Bennett
, and often toured the country for weeks at a time. In fact, Joan came from a long line of actors, dating back to the 18th century. Often...
Udo Kier was born October 14, 1944 in Cologne, Germany, during World War II. His entrance was just as dramatic as some of his roles. On the evening of his birth Udo's mother requested extra time with her new baby. The nurses had gathered all of the other babies and returned them to the nursery when the hospital was bombed...
Jason Isaacs was born in Liverpool, the third of four children of Sheila (née Nathan) and Eric Isaacs. His parents were both from Jewish families (from Eastern Europe). He studied law at Bristol University and graduated in 1985 with a degree in law but decided to study acting. While at Bristol University...
Quentin Jerome Tarantino was born in Knoxville, Tennessee. His father, Tony Tarantino
, is an Italian-American actor and musician from New York, and his mother, Connie (McHugh), is a nurse from Tennessee. Quentin moved with his mother to Torrance, California, when he was four years old. In January of 1992...
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...
Anna Kendrick was born in Portland, Maine, to Janice (Cooke), an accountant, and William Kendrick, a teacher. She has an older brother, Michael Cooke Kendrick
, who has also acted. She is of English, Irish, and Scottish descent. For her role as "Dinah" in "High Society" on Broadway, Anna Kendrick was nominated for a Tony Award (second youngest ever)...
Alison is a Canadian born TV, film and theater actress. She was born in Toronto, Ontario. Her father, who is Estonian, is a financier. She attended Vaughan Road Academy, and decided she wanted to be an actor when she was age 10. She was a member of the Toronto Children's Chorus and was chosen to narrate one of their performances. From there, she gained a job narrating children's audio books...
Diego Luna Alexander was born in Mexico City, Mexico on December 29, 1979, to a Mexican father, Alejandro Luna
, and an English mother, Fiona Alexander, who worked as a costume designer. His mother died when Diego was only two, in a car accident. He soon became immersed in his father's passion, entertainment - he is the most acclaimed living theatre, cinema and opera set designer in Mexico...
Actor Stanley Tucci was born on November 11, 1960, in Peekskill, New York. He is the son of Joan (Tropiano), a writer, and Stanley Tucci, an art teacher. His family is Italian-American, with origins in Calabria. Tucci took an interest in acting while in high school, and went on to attend the State University of New York's Conservatory of Theater Arts in Purchase...
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...
Angular in features, reserved in demeanor and more-or-less plaintive in appearance, actress Jane Alexander's has played down the glamor card for the most part. Her true brilliance has come from the remarkable range and depth of her talent. Heralded as one of the finest 70s actresses to arrive in films following a towering Broadway success...
Charles Robert Redford, Jr. was born on August 18, 1936, in Santa Monica, California, to Martha (Hart), from Texas, and Charles Robert Redford, an accountant for Standard Oil, who was originally from Connecticut. He is of English, Irish, and Scottish ancestry. Robert's mother died in 1955, the year after he graduated from high school...
David Russell Strathairn was born on January 26, 1949 in San Francisco, California. He is the son of Mary Frances (Frazier), a nurse, and Thomas Scott Strathairn, Jr., a physician. He has two siblings, Tom and Anne. His ancestry includes English, Scottish, Irish, Portuguese, Native Hawaiian, and one sixteenth Chinese (the latter three from his paternal grandmother)...
Liliane Rudabet Gloria Elsveta Sobieski was born June 10, 1983 in New York City, New York. She is the daughter of Elizabeth Sobieski
(née Salomon), a writer, and Jean Sobieski
, a painter who has also acted. She has a younger brother, Robert. Her father, born in France, is of Polish and Swiss descent, while her mother is of three quarters Ashkenazi Jewish and one quarter Dutch, ancestry...
Kris Kristofferson was born in Brownsville, Texas, to Mary Ann (Ashbrook) and Lars Henry Kristofferson. His paternal grandparents were Swedish, and his father was a United States Air Force general who pushed his son to a military career. Kris was a Golden Gloves boxer and went to Pomona College in California...
One of modern TV and moviedom's most sturdy and reliable character actors, David Paymer dreamed of being an actor from early childhood. Although he came from a traditional middle-class Jewish family that urged him to become a doctor or lawyer, Paymer felt more at home in the world of the thespian. At 14...
William Shatner has notched up an impressive 50-plus years in front of the camera, most recently displaying comedic talent, and being instantly recognizable to several generations of cult television fans as the square-jawed Captain James T. Kirk, commander of the starship U.S.S. Enterprise. Shatner was born in Côte Saint-Luc...
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
, Joel Murray
Candy was one of Canada's greatest and funniest character actors. His well-known role as the big hearted buffoon earned him classics in Uncle Buck
and Planes, Trains & Automobiles
. His career has handed him some dry spells but Candy always rebounded. Born in Newmarket, Ontario, in the year 1950, Candy was the son of Evangeline (Aker) and Sidney James Candy...
Daniel Stern was born in Bethesda, Maryland, to a social worker father and a day care manager mother. He has been acting professionally since the age of seventeen. Following his high school graduation, he auditioned for the Washington Shakespeare Festival seeking a job as a lighting engineer but ended...
Whoopi Goldberg was born Caryn Elaine Johnson in the Chelsea section of Manhattan on November 13, 1955. Her mother, Emma (Harris), was a teacher and a nurse, and her father, Robert James Johnson, Jr., was a clergyman. Whoopi's recent ancestors were from Georgia, Florida, and Virginia. She worked in a funeral parlor and as a bricklayer while taking small parts on Broadway...
From the grand old school of wisecracking, loud and lanky Mary Wickes had few peers while forging a career as a salty scene-stealer. Her abrupt, tell-it-like-it-is demeanor made her a consistent audience favorite on every medium for over six decades. She was particularly adroit in film parts that chided the super rich or exceptionally pious...
New Yorker Claire Danes was born in Manhattan, the daughter of Carla (Hall), a day-care provider and artist, and Christopher Danes, a computer consultant and photographer. She has an older brother, Asa. Her paternal grandfather, Gibson Andrew Danes, was a Dean of the Yale School of Art and Architecture, and Claire has English, German, Scottish, Irish, and Austrian ancestry...
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...
Mary Tyler Moore
Mary Tyler Moore was born on December 29, 1936 in Flatbush, Brooklyn, to Marjorie (Hackett) and George Tyler Moore, a clerk. Her maternal grandparents were English immigrants, and her father was of English, Irish, and German descent. Moore's family relocated to California when she was eight. Her childhood was troubled...
M. Emmet Walsh
Wonderfully talented, heavyset character actor (from New York, but regularly playing Southerners) M. Emmet Walsh has made a solid career of playing corrupt cops, deadly crooks, and zany comedic roles since the early 1970s. Michael Emmet Walsh was born in Ogdensburg, to Agnes Katharine (Sullivan) and Harry Maurice Walsh...
Tall, dark and imposing American actor Paul Sorvino has made a solid career of portraying authority figures. He was born in Brooklyn, New York City. His mother, Angela (Renzi), was a piano teacher, of Italian descent. His father, Ford Sorvino, was an Italian immigrant who worked in a robe factory as a foreman...
Alexa Ellesse PenaVega née Vega; born August 27, 1988 is an American actress and singer. She is known for her role as Carmen Cortez in the Spy Kids film series and Shilo Wallace in the film Repo! The Genetic Opera (2008). In 2009, she starred as the title character Ruby Gallagher in the ABC Family series Ruby & The Rockits.
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.
Eric Cameron Stoltz is a theater-trained actor and producer who has starred in both independent and studio films. He was born on September 30, 1961 in Whittier, California, to Evelyn Vawter, a violinist and schoolteacher, and Jack Stoltz, an elementary school teacher. He has German, English, and Scottish ancestry...
Ethan Hawke is an American actor, writer and director. He has been nominated for four Academy Awards, both as an actor and a writer, and a Tony Award. Hawke has directed two feature films, three Off-Broadway plays, and a documentary, and wrote the novels The Hottest State (1996) and Ash Wednesday (2002)...
Laura Dern was born on February 10, 1967 in Los Angeles, the daughter of actors Bruce Dern
and Diane Ladd
. Dern was exposed to movie sets and the movie industry from infancy, and obtained several bit parts as a child. Her parents divorced when Dern was two and Dern lost contact with her father for several years as a result...
Robert Downey Jr.
Robert Downey Jr. has evolved into one of the most respected actors in Hollywood. With an amazing list of credits to his name, he has managed to stay new and fresh even after over four decades in the business. Downey was born April 4, 1965 in Manhattan, New York, the son of writer, director and filmographer Robert Downey Sr.
and actress Elsie Downey
(née Elsie Ann Ford)...
Jane Adams has performed theatre at the Seattle Repertory Theatre. The plays include "Love Diatribe", "The Nice and the Nasty", and "Greetings From Elsewhere Cabaret". She also performed in "Careless Love" at the Empty Space Theatre, "Candide/Len Jenkin" at the Pioneer Square Theatre", "Talking With" at the Group Theatre and "Camino Real" at the Juilliard School...
Billy Connolly was born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland. He left school to work in the shipyards becoming a welder and joined the Territorial Army (in the parachute regiment) at around the same time. He developed an interest in folk music, eventually becoming an accomplished banjo player and a member of the band Humblebums with Gerry Rafferty
(later of Baker Street fame)...
Timothy James Curry was born on April 19, 1946 in Grappenhall, Cheshire, England. His mother, Maura Patricia (Langmead), was a school secretary, and his father, James Curry, was a Methodist Royal Navy chaplain. Curry studied Drama and English at Birmingham University, from which he graduated with Combined Honors...
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...
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...
Her father, Donald Cole, was a consulting engineer, and died in 1926 when Kim was only 3 years old. Her mother, Grace Lind, once performed as a concert pianist. She had one brother who was eight years older than she, and she was educated at Miami Beach High. According to an in-depth article on Kim Hunter by Joseph Collura
in the October 2009 issue of "Classic Images"...
Karl Malden resumed his film acting career in the 1950s, starting with The Gunfighter (1950) and Halls of Montezuma (1950). The following year, he was in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), playing Mitch, Stanley Kowalski's best friend who starts a romance with Blanche DuBois (Vivien Leigh). For this role...