Heroes of Hollywood - part 2

Old, famous & forgotten actors, who contributed
charming movies and won lots of peoples' hearts
by their unique acting style.
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Charles Chaplin
Writer, Modern Times
Charlie Chaplin, considered to be one of the most pivotal stars of the early days of Hollywood, 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 "Little Tramp" character; the man with the toothbrush mustache, bowler hat, bamboo cane, and a funny walk...
Buster Keaton
When at six months of age he tumbled down a flight of stairs unharmed, he was given the name "Buster" by Harry Houdini who, along with W.C. Fields, Bill Robinson ("Bojangles"), Eddie Cantor and Al Jolson shared headlines with "The Three Keatons": Buster, his father Joe Keaton and mother Myra Keaton...
Henry Fonda
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 troupe directed by Dorothy Brando...
Marlon Brando
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 1949...
Paul Newman
Screen legend, superstar, and the man with the most famous blue eyes in movie history, Paul Leonard Newman was born in January 1925, in Cleveland, Ohio, the second son of Theresa (Fetsko) and Arthur Sigmund Newman. Paul's father was Jewish, the son of immigrants from Poland and Hungary; he owned a successful sporting goods store...
Jack Lemmon
Jack Lemmon was born on February 8, 1925 in Newton, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston. He initially acted on TV before moving to Hollywood for the big screen, cultivating a career that would span decades. An eight time Academy Award nominee, with two wins, Lemmon starred in over 60 films including Some Like It Hot...
James Stewart
James Stewart was nominated for five Academy Awards, winning one in competition for The Philadelphia Story (1940) and receiving an Academy Lifetime Achievement award. Stewart was named the third greatest male screen legend of the Golden Age Hollywood by the American Film Institute. He was a major Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer contract star...
Orson Welles
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 seven) he traveled the world with his father. When his father died (he was fifteen) he became the ward of Chicago's Dr...
Joseph Cotten
Joseph Cheshire Cotten, Jr. was born in Petersburg, Virginia, into a well-to-do Southern family. He was the eldest of three sons born to Sally Whitworth (Willson) and Joseph Cheshire Cotten, Sr., an assistant postmaster. Jo (as he was known) and his brothers Whit and Sam spent their summers at their aunt and uncle's home at Virginia Beach...
Clark Gable
Clark Gable was an American film actor, often referred to as "The King of Hollywood" or just simply as "The King." The 1930s saw him at the peak of his acting ability and his popular appeal, as he often portrayed down-to-earth, bravado characters with a carefree attitude. He was known as the epitome of masculinity with his unmatched charm and knowing smile...
James Cagney
Actor, White Heat
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...
Gary Cooper
Actor, High Noon
"Dad was a true Westerner, and I take after him", Gary Cooper told people who wanted to know more about his life before Hollywood. Dad was Charles Henry Cooper, who left his native England at 19, became a lawyer and later a Montana State Supreme Court justice. In 1906, when Gary was 5, his dad bought the Seven-Bar-Nine...
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 in Andover...
Spencer Tracy
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...
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 Anglican priest. His surname came from a great-great-grandfather who was of French Huguenot origin...
Cary Grant
Cary Grant was an English actor who became an American citizen in 1942. Known for his transatlantic accent, debonair demeanor, and "dashing good looks", Grant is considered one of classic Hollywood's definitive leading men. In 1999, the American Film Institute named Grant the second greatest male star of Golden Age Hollywood cinema (after Humphrey Bogart)...
Kirk Douglas
Actor, Spartacus
Kirk Douglas is an American actor, producer, director, and author. After an impoverished childhood with immigrant parents and six sisters, he had his film debut in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946) with Barbara Stanwyck. Douglas soon developed into a leading box-office star throughout the 1950s and 1960s...
Peter Sellers
Often credited as the greatest comedian of all time, Peter Sellers was born to a well-off English acting family in 1925. His mother and father worked in an acting company run by his grandmother. As a child, Sellers was spoiled, as his parents' first child had died at birth. He enlisted in the Royal Air Force and served during World War II...
Fred Astaire
Actor, Top Hat
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. Signed to RKO...
Rex Harrison
Rex Harrison was born Reginald Carey Harrison in Huyton, Lancashire, England, to Edith Mary (Carey) and William Reginald Harrison, a cotton broker. He changed his name to Rex as a young boy, knowing it was the Latin word for "King". Starting out on his theater career at age 18, his first job at the Liverpool Rep Theatre was nearly his last - dashing across the stage to say his one line...
Steve McQueen
Steve McQueen was an American actor. Called "The King of Cool", his "anti-hero" persona, developed at the height of the counterculture of the 1960s, made him a top box-office draw of the 1960s and 1970s. McQueen received an Academy Award nomination for his role in The Sand Pebbles. His other popular films include The Cincinnati Kid...
Mel Brooks
Melvin James Kaminsky was born on June 28th, 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...
Arthur Kennedy
Arthur Kennedy, one of the premier character actors in American film from the late 1940s through the early 1960s, achieved fame in the role of Biff in Elia Kazan's historic production of Arthur Miller's Pultizer-Prize winning play "Death of a Salesman." Although he was not selected to recreate the role on screen...
Burt Lancaster
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 worked there until he was injured...
George C. Scott
George C. Scott was an immensely talented actor, a star of screen, stage and television. He was born in 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 US Marines and spent four years with them...
Maximilian Schell
Maximilian Schell was the most successful German-speaking actor in English-language films since Emil Jannings, the winner of the first Best Actor Academy Award. Like Jannings, Schell won the Oscar, but unlike him, he was a dedicated anti-Nazi. Indeed, with the exception of Maurice Chevalier and Marcello Mastroianni...
Robert Donat
Robert Donat's pleasant voice and somewhat neutral English accent were carefully honed as a boy because he had a stammer and took elocution lessons starting at age 11 to overcome the impediment. It was not too surprising that freedom from such a vocal embarrassment was encouragement to act. His other handicap...
Rod Steiger
Rodney Stephen Steiger was born in Westhampton, New York, to Augusta Amelia (Driver) and Frederick Jacob Steiger, both vaudevillians. He was of German and Austrian ancestry. After his parents' divorce, Steiger was raised by his mother in Newark, New Jersey. He dropped out of Westside High school at age 16 and joined the Navy...
Wallace Beery
In 1902, 16-year-old Wallace Beery joined the Ringling Brothers Circus as an assistant to the elephant trainer. He left two years later after a leopard clawed his arm. Beery next went to New York, where he found work in musical variety shows. He became a leading man in musicals and appeared on Broadway and in traveling stock companies...
George Arliss
Actor, Disraeli
One of the oldest actors on the screen in the 1920s and 1930s, George Arliss starred on the London stage from an early age. He came to the United States and starred in several films, but it was his role as British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli in Disraeli that brought him his greatest success.
George Bancroft
Actor, Stagecoach
George Bancroft was raised in Philadelphia and attended high school at Tomes Institute (Philadelphia). He won an impressive appointment to the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis and graduated as a commissioned officer. He served in the Navy for the prescribed period of required service but no more...
Richard Barthelmess
Richard Barthelmess was born into a theatrical family in which his mother was an actress. While attending Trinity College in Connecticut, he began appearing in stage productions. While on vacation in 1916, a friend of his mother, actress Alla Nazimova, offered him a part in War Brides, and Richard never returned to college...
Chester Morris
The Academy Award-nominated film actor Chester Morris, who will forever be associated with the character Boston Blackie, was born John Chester Brooks Morris in on February 16 1901 in New York City, the son of actor William Morris and comedienne Etta Hawkins. Chester Morris made his Broadway debut as a teenager in 1918 in the play "The Copperhead," in support of the great Lionel Barrymore...
Lewis Stone
By the time that he was 20, Lewis Stone had turned prematurely grey. He enlisted to fight in the Spanish American War and when he returned, he returned to be a writer. This turned to acting and he began to appear in films during the middle teens. His career was again interrupted by war as he served in the cavalry during World War I...
Ronald Colman
British leading man of primarily American films, one of the great stars of the Golden Age. Raised in Ealing, the son of a successful silk merchant, he attended boarding school in Sussex, where he first discovered amateur theatre. He intended to attend Cambridge and become an engineer, but his father's death cost him the financial support necessary...
Lawrence Tibbett
One of the great voices of the Metropolitan Opera, Lawrence Mervil Tibbet was born in Bakersfield, California, in 1896. Born at the end of the "wild west" era, he was only six when his father, who was a Kern County deputy sheriff, was killed by bandits. After training with, among others, Metropolitan Opera bass (and later film actor) Basil Ruysdael...
Maurice Chevalier
Actor, Gigi
Maurice Chevalier's first working job was as an acrobat, until a serious accident ended that career. He turned his talents to singing and acting, and made several short films in France. During World War I he enlisted in the French army. He was wounded in battle, captured and placed in a POW camp by the Germans...
Lionel Barrymore
The legendary Lionel Barrymore, one of the great cinema character actors, was the oldest of the three Barrymmore siblings. Along with Ethel Barrymore and John Barrymore, he shares a prominent place in American acting in the first half of the 20th Century. In addition to winning a Best Actor Academy Award (for A Free Soul)...
Richard Dix
Actor, Cimarron
Richard Dix was a major leading man at RKO Radio Pictures from 1929 through 1943. He was born Ernest Carlton Brimmer July 18, 1893, in St. Paul, Minnesota. There he was educated, and at the desires of his father, studied to be a surgeon. His obvious acting talent in his school dramatic club led him to leading roles in most of the school plays...
Adolphe Menjou
The words "suave" and "debonair" became synonymous with the name Adolphe Menjou in Hollywood, both on- and off-camera. The epitome of knavish, continental charm and sartorial opulence, Menjou, complete with trademark waxy black mustache, evolved into one of Hollywood's most distinguished of artists and fashion plates...
Charles Laughton
Actor, Spartacus
Charles Laughton was born in Scarborough, North Riding of Yorkshire, England, to Eliza (Conlon) and Robert Laughton, hotel keepers of Irish and English descent. He was educated at Stonyhurst, Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (received gold medal). His first appearance on stage was in 1926. Laughton formed own film company...
Leslie Howard
Leslie Howard Stainer was born in London, to Lilian (Blumberg) and Ferdinand "Frank" Steiner. His father was a Hungarian Jewish immigrant, and his English mother was of German Jewish, and mostly English, descent. Leslie went to Dulwich College. After school, he worked as a bank clerk until the outbreak of World War I...
Frank Morgan
Jovial, somewhat flamboyant Frank Morgan (born Francis Wuppermann) will forever be remembered as the title character in The Wizard of Oz, 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 11 children of a wealthy manufacturer...
William Powell
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 finally attract attention with The Last Command as Leo...
Oskar Werner
Remote, somewhat morose and, as a result, intriguing, Viennese talent Oskar Werner was born in 1922, not far from the birthplace of "Waltz King" Johann Strauss, and christened Oskar Josef Bschließmayer. His parents divorced when he was fairly young. While growing up, Oskar found performing in school plays helped draw out a deep yearning to act...
Victor McLaglen
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 Muh-clog-len...
Franchot Tone
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. With his theatrical background, Tone became one of the most talented movie actors in Hollywood.
Walter Huston
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.
Jackie Cooper
Actor, The Champ
Jackie Cooper was born John Cooper in Los Angeles, California, to Mabel Leonard, an Italian-American stage pianist, and John Cooper. Through his mother, he was the nephew of actress Julie Leonard, screenwriter Jack Leonard, and (by marriage) director Norman Taurog. Jackie served with the Navy in the South Pacific toward the end of World War II...
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 by Marcel L'Herbier) he used his chance in Hollywood after several filming stations all over Europe...
Walter Pidgeon
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 and Sumuru. When talkies arrived...
Monty Woolley
Large and hearty Monty Woolley was born to privilege on August 17, 1888, the son of a hotel proprietor who owned the Marie Antoinette Hotel on Broadway. A part of Manhattan's elite social circle at a young age, he studied at both Yale (Master's degree) and Harvard and returned to Yale as an English instructor and coach of graduate dramatics...
Mickey Rooney
Mickey Rooney was born Joe Yule Jr. on September 23, 1920 in Brooklyn, New York. He first took the stage as a toddler in his parents vaudeville act at 17 months old. He made his first film appearance in 1926. The following year, he played the lead character in the first Mickey McGuire short film. It was in this popular film series that he took the stage name Mickey Rooney...
Paul Lukas
Oscar-winning actor Paul Lukas was born in Hungary and graduated from the School for Dramatic Arts. In 1916 he went to Kosice (Kassa) to be an actor; in 1918 he became an actor specializing in comedy. For ten years he was the most popular character player and romantic lead of the company. In 1918 he began making in Budapest and in the 1920s he began appearing in films in Austria as well...
Barry Fitzgerald
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...
Alexander Knox
Actor, Wilson
A Presbyterian minister's son, softly-spoken, intellectual-looking Alexander Knox received his education from the University of Western Ontario, where he studied English literature. An excellent elocutionist, member of the university's Hesperian Club, he had his first fling with dramatic acting playing the lead in "Hamlet"...
Ray Milland
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 Jones...
Gene Kelly
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 Hollywood when Gene Kelly arrived in town in 1941...
Cornel Wilde
Dashing actor Cornel Wilde was born Kornel Lajos Weisz on October 13, 1912, in Prievidza, Hungary (now part of Slovakia), to a Jewish family. In 1920, he immigrated to New York City with his parents, Rayna (Vid) and Vojtech Béla Weisz, and elder sister, Edith. His family Americanized their names and Kornel took the name Cornelius Louis Wilde...
Larry Parks
When amiable Columbia Pictures actor Larry Parks was entrusted the role of entertainer Al Jolson in the biopic The Jolson Story, his career finally hit the big time. Within a few years, however, his bright new world crumbled courtesy of the House Un-American Activities Committee after the actor admitted under pressure that he was once affiliated with the Communist Party...
John Garfield
John Garfield was born Jacob Julius Garfinkle on the Lower East Side of New York City, to Hannah Basia (Margolis) and David Garfinkle, who were Jewish immigrants from Zhytomyr (now in Ukraine). Jules was raised by his father, a clothes presser and part-time cantor, after his mother's death in 1920, when he was 7...
Michael Redgrave
Sir Michael Redgrave was of the generation of English actors that gave the world the legendary John Gielgud, Ralph Richardson and Laurence Olivier, Britain three fabled "Theatrical Knights" back in the days when a knighthood for thespian was far more rare than it is today. A superb actor, Redgrave...
Richard Todd
British leading man who achieved some success in American films, as well. Born in Ireland as the son of a British officer, Todd grew up in Devon and attended Shrewsbury Public School. His interest in theatre led him to small roles in stock in England and Scotland, following which he helped found the Dundee Repertory Theatre in 1939...
Lew Ayres
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, but it was the role of Paul Baumer in All Quiet on the Western Front that was his big break...
Dan Dailey
A child performer, by the early 1950s Dan Dailey's life was under considerable strain. In 1951, he checked himself into the Menninger Clinic for five months and, after his return to Hollywood presented his experiences there frankly to Hedda Hopper and other reporters, pointing out that the necessity...
Clifton Webb
Actor, Laura
Already trained in dance and theater, he quit school at age 13 to study music and painting. By 19 he was a professional ballroom dancer in New York, and by his mid-twenties he was performing in musicals, dramas on Broadway and in London, and in silent movies. His first real success in film came in middle age as the classy villain Waldo Lydecker in Laura...
Broderick Crawford
Broderick Crawford is best remembered for two roles: his Oscar-winning turn as Willie Stark in All the King's Men, and as Chief Dan Matthews on the syndicated TV series Highway Patrol. He was also memorable as Judy Holliday's boisterous boyfriend in Born Yesterday. He was born William Broderick Crawford on December 9...
Louis Calhern
Actor, Notorious
Tall, distinguished, aristocratic Louis Calhern seemed to be the poster boy for old-money, upper-crust urban society, but he was actually born Carl Vogt, to middle-class parents in New York City. His family moved to St. Louis when he was a child, and it was while playing football in high school there that he was spotted by a representative of a touring acting troupe and hired as an actor...
Dan O'Herlihy
Actor, RoboCop
Irish-born Dan O'Herlihy decided not to follow in his father's footsteps, forsaking the life of an architect in favour of the acting profession. The tall, distinguished-looking university graduate boasted a rich, resonant voice, which enabled him to easily find work in radio plays, as well on the stage...
Yul Brynner
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 "Empire and Odyssey" by his son...
Ernest Borgnine
Ernest Borgnine was born Ermes Effron Borgnino on January 24, 1917 in Hamden, Connecticut. His parents were Anna (Boselli), who had emigrated from Carpi (MO), Italy, and Camillo Borgnino, who had emigrated from Ottiglio (AL), Italy. As an only child, Ernest enjoyed most sports, especially boxing, but took no real interest in acting...
Tony Curtis
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 person who ever had his back was himself...
Laurence Harvey
Laurence Harvey was a British movie star who helped usher in the 1960s with his indelible portrait of a ruthless social climber, and became one of the decade's cultural icons for his appearances in socially themed motion pictures. Harvey was born Zvi Mosheh Skikne on October 1, 1928 in Joniskis, Lithuania...
James Mason
James Mason was a great English actor of British and American films. He was born in Yorkshire, and attended Marlborough and Cambridge, where he discovered acting on a lark, and abandoned a planned career as an architect. Following work in stock companies, he joined the Old Vic under the guidance of Sir Tyrone Guthrie and of Alexander Korda...
Lee Marvin
Actor, M Squad
Prematurely white-haired character star who began as a supporting player of generally vicious demeanor, then metamorphosed into a star of both action and drama projects, Lee Marvin was born in New York City to Lamont Waltman Marvin, an advertising executive, and his wife Courtenay Washington Davidge...
Paul Scofield
Though his number of film roles amount to a bit over 30, Paul Scofield has cast a giant shadow in the world of stage and film acting. He grew up in West Sussex, the son of a schoolmaster. He attended the Varndean School for Boys in Brighton. The love of acting came early. While still high school age...
Alan Bates
Alan Bates decided to be an actor at age 11. After grammar school in Derbyshire, he earned a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. Following two years in the Royal Air Force, he joined the new English Stage Company at the Royal Court Theatre. His West End debut in 1956, at 22...
Ron Moody
Actor, Oliver!
Equipped with a crooked, leering smirk and devilish gleam in his eye, the homely, yet beautifully expressive mug of actor Ron Moody will be most assuredly remembered for one signature role, despite the fact that the talented comedian had much, much more to offer. Carol Channing may have had her Dolly Levi and Yul Brynner his King of Siam...
Stuart Whitman
Stuart Maxwell Whitman is an American leading man, known for his rugged roles. He was born in San Francisco, California, the elder of two sons of Cecilia (Gold) and Joseph Whitman, a realtor. His mother was a Russian Jewish immigrant, while his paternal grandparents were Polish Jews. His family moved often...
Marcello Mastroianni
Marcello Mastroianni was born in Fontana Liri, Italy in 1924, but soon his family moved to Turin and then Rome. During WW2 he was sent to a German prison camp, but he managed to escape and hide in Venice. He debuted in films as an extra in Marionette, then started working for the Italian department of "Eagle Lion Films" in Rome and joined a drama club...
Trevor Howard
Actor, Gandhi
The son of an insurance underwriter, who represented Lloyd's of London in Ceylon, Trevor Wallace Howard-Smith was born in Margate, Kent. He spent his early childhood globetrotting with his mother, frequently left in the care of strangers. After attending private school, he subsequently trained at RADA (due to his mother's insistence)...
Walter Brennan
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 performed in school plays...
Emil Jannings
His real name was Theodor Friedrich Emil Janenz, and in the early 1900s, he was already working in the theater under Max Reinhardt's company. Important movies where he defined himself as a convincing actor were Madame DuBarry and Quo Vadis?, followed by The Last Laugh(aka The Last Laugh) in 1924 and Variety (aka Variety) in 1925...
Richard Farnsworth
Actor, Misery
An American stuntman who, after more than 30 years in the business, moved into acting and became an acclaimed and respected character actor, Richard Farnsworth was a native of Los Angeles. He grew up around horses and as a teenager was offered an opportunity to ride in films. He appeared in horse-racing scenes and cavalry charges unbilled...
Bing Crosby
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...
Roy Rogers
Roy Rogers (born Leonard Slye) moved to California in 1930, aged 18. He played in such musical groups as The Hollywood Hillbillies, Rocky Mountaineers, Texas Outlaws, and his own group, the International Cowboys. In 1934 he formed a group with Bob Nolan called Sons of the Pioneers. While in that group he was known as Leonard Slye...
Richard Harris
A genuine star of cinema on screen and a fiery hell raiser off screen, Richard St John Harris was born on October 1, 1930 in Limerick, Ireland, to a farming family. He was the son of Mildred Josephine (Harty) and Ivan John Harris, and was an excellent rugby player, with a strong passion for literature...
Richard Attenborough
Lord Richard Attenborough was born in Cambridge, England, the son of Mary (née Clegg), a founding member of the Marriage Guidance Council, and Frederick Levi Attenborough, a scholar and academic administrator who was a don at Emmanuel College and wrote a standard text on Anglo-Saxon law. Attenborough...
James Whitmore
Born on October 1, 1921, in White Plains, New York, gruff veteran character actor James Whitmore earned early and widespread respect with his award-winning dramatic capabilities on Broadway and in films. He would later conquer TV with the same trophy-winning results. The son of James Allen Whitmore and Florence Crane...
Melvyn Douglas
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, but he was much, much more...
Roy Scheider
Actor, Jaws
Lean, angular-faced and authoritatively spoken lead / supporting actor Roy Scheider obviously never heard the old actor's axiom about "never appearing with kids or animals" lest they overshadow your performance. Breaking that rule did him no harm, though, as he achieved pop cult status by finding, fighting...
Dudley Moore
Actor, Arthur
Dudley Moore, the gifted comedian who had at least three distinct career phases that brought him great acclaim and success, actually started out as a musical prodigy as a child. He was born in Dagenham, Essex, England, in 1935, to working class parents, Ada Francis (Hughes), an English secretary, and John Havlin Moore...
Tom Conti
Preferring contemporary over classical theatre (with nary a Shakespeare stage credit in sight), one of West End theatre's most enduring and popular faces of the past four decades has been that of Tom Conti. He was born Thomas Antonio Conti on November 22, 1941, in Paisley, Scotland to a pair of hairdressers (Alfonso...
James Earl Jones
James Earl Jones was born on January 17, 1931 in Arkabutla, Mississippi, USA. At an early age, he started to take dramatic lessons to calm himself down. It appeared to work as he has since starred in many films over a 40-year period, beginning with the Stanley Kubrick classic Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. He is...
Paul Winfield
Signifying intelligence, eloquence, versatility and quiet intensity, one of the more important, critically acclaimed black actors to gain a Hollywood foothold in the 1970s was Paul Winfield. Born in 1939 in Los Angeles, he lived there in his early years before moving with his family to Los Angeles' Watts district...