Performers Who Should Have Won An Oscar But Didn't

The dishonor role of actors who are glaringly missing from the list of acting Oscar winners. Many won Special Awards and some won statuettes in non-acting categories, but none won the award for acting. A few are still in there trying.
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Charles Chaplin
Writer, Modern Times
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 toothbrush mustache, bowler hat, bamboo cane, and a funny walk...
“ Chaplin was nominated for Best Actor for "The Circus" (although the nomination was later removed from the official record because the Academy gave him a Special Award that took him out of the final voting) and "The Great Dictator". He won the composing Oscar for "Limelight" twenty years after it was made because it had never been shown in Los Angeles prior to that, but never for his performances. He wasn't nominated for his masterpieces "City Lights" and "Modern Times". ” - madbeast
Greta Garbo
Actress, Ninotchka
Greta Garbo was born Greta Lovisa Gustafsson on September 18, 1905, in Stockholm, Sweden, to Anna Lovisa (Johansdotter), who worked at a jam factory, and Karl Alfred Gustafsson, a laborer. She was fourteen when her father died, which left the family destitute. Greta was forced to leave school and go to work in a department store...
“ Garbo was considered by many as the greatest actress of her generation and won two New York Film Critics Awards, but never the Oscar. She was considered the favorite for her 1937 version of "Camille" but lost in a surprise vote to Luise Rainer, who won her second consecutive Oscar. ” - madbeast
Peter O'Toole
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 journalist...
“ O'Toole holds the record for most Best Actor nominations without winning. He has won four Golden Globes. ” - madbeast
John Barrymore
American stage and screen actor whose rise to superstardom and subsequent decline is one of the legendary tragedies of Hollywood. A member of the most famous generation of the most famous theatrical family in America, he was also its most acclaimed star. His father was Maurice Blyth (or Blythe; family spellings vary)...
“ Barrymore is arguably the most distinguished actor to never receive a nomination, with his stage performances of Hamlet and Richard III winning him a reputation as the greatest actor of his generation. When he was passed over for a nomination for "Twentieth Century" he was quoted as saying "They think I'll show up drunk if I win - and I just might." ” - madbeast
Richard Burton
Probably more frequently remembered for his turbulent personal life and multiple marriages, Richard Burton was nonetheless regarded as one of the great British actors of the post-WWII period. Burton was born Richard Walter Jenkins in Pontrhydyfen, Wales, to Edith Maude (Thomas) and Richard Walter Jenkins...
“ Burton was nominated for seven Oscars but never won. He was considered a heavy favorite for his first nomination (and only one for Best Supporting Actor) for "My Cousin Rachel" but lost in a surprise selection to Anthony Quinn. He was considered a sentimental favorite for his final nomination for "Equus" (winning the Golden Globe) but lost to Richard Dreyfuss in "The Goodbye Girl". ” - madbeast
Cary Grant
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 in Bristol would have been an ordinary lower-middle-class childhood...
“ Grant was considered the finest light comedian in Hollywood but was only nominated for dramatic performances in "Penny Serenade" and "None But the Lonely Heart". When he starred in "The Awful Truth" in 1937, he was put in the disagreeable position of seeing the film nominated for Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Leo McCarey winning for Best Director, but his own performance was snubbed. ” - madbeast
Lillian Gish
Lillian Gish was born into a broken family where her restless father James Lee Gish was frequently absent. Mary Robinson McConnell a.k.a. Mary Gish, her mother, had entered into acting to make money to support the family. As soon as Lillian and her sister Dorothy were old enough, they became part of the act...
“ Gish has strong claims to being considered the greatest actress in film history, but had the bad timing to do her greatest work in the pre-Oscar era. She gave a magnificent performance in 1928's "The Wind" but the film's poor showing at the box office killed her Oscar chances. She received her only nomination for "Duel in the Sun" in 1946. ” - madbeast
Edward G. Robinson
Edward G. Robinson arrived in the United States at age ten, and his family moved into New York's Lower East Side. He took up acting while attending City College, abandoning plans to become a rabbi or lawyer. The American Academy of Dramatic Arts awarded him a scholarship, and he began work in stock...
“ Robinson was a Hollywood icon whose omission for his signature performance in "Little Caesar" seem inexplicable today. He was never nominated for an Oscar. ” - madbeast
W.C. Fields
William Claude Dukenfield was the eldest of five children born to Cockney immigrant James Dukenfield and Philadelphia native Kate Felton. He went to school for four years, then quit to work with his father selling vegetables from a horse cart. At eleven, after many fights with his alcoholic father (who hit him on the head with a shovel)...
“ While Fields had a reputation for always playing the same character in his films, he likely would have been nominated for "Alice in Wonderland", "Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch" or "David Copperfield" if the supporting acting awards had been introduced prior to 1936. He was never nominated for the award. ” - madbeast
Glenn Close
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...
“ Close has been frequently honored for her stage and television work but always came just short in the Oscar race, receiving five nominations but never the Oscar itself. ” - madbeast
Boris Karloff
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...
“ Karloff's work was inevitably looked down on by the film industry because of the genre in which he was best known for, but he won acclaim for his stage roles in "Arsenic and Old Lace," "Peter Pan," and "The Lark" (which won him a Tony nomination). He deserved Oscar recognition for his unforgettable horror roles in "Frankenstein," "Bride of Frankenstein," and "The Body Snatcher" and also gave a memorable turn in a "straight" part in John Ford's "The Lost Patrol." ” - madbeast
Leonardo DiCaprio
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 and low budget horror movies, such as Critters 3, to a major teenage heartthrob in the 1990s, as the hunky lead actor in movies such as Romeo + Juliet and Titanic...
“ DiCaprio is one of those members of the Hollywood elite who seems destined to win an Oscar, although the award has eluded him to date. His three nominations are for "What's Eating Gilbert Grape," "The Aviator" and "Blood Diamond," although he was snubbed for the box office bonanza "Titanic." ” - madbeast
Jean Arthur
This marvelous screen comedienne's best asset was only muffled during her seven years' stint in silent films. That asset? It was, of course, her squeaky, frog-like voice, which silent-era cinema audiences had simply no way of perceiving, much less appreciating. Jean Arthur, born Gladys Georgianna Greene in upstate New York...
“ Arthur was one of the most overlooked actresses in Oscar history, turning in unforgettable work in "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town," Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" and "Shane" among others, but winning only one nomination for "The More, The Merrier." ” - madbeast
Kirk Douglas
Actor, Spartacus
Cleft-chinned, steely-eyed and virile star of international cinema who rose from being "the ragman's son" (the name of his best-selling 1988 autobiography) to become a bona fide superstar, Kirk Douglas, also known as Issur Danielovitch Demsky, was born on December 9, 1916 in Amsterdam, New York. His parents...
“ Douglas was a Hollywood icon was was nominated for "Champion," "The Bad and the Beautiful" and "Lust for Life" but might have been honored for countless other roles. He was considered the favorite on Oscar Night for "Lust for Life" (for which he won the New York Film Critics Award), but lost to Yul Brynner for "The King and I." ” - madbeast
Carole Lombard
Born in Indiana, she was eight years old when her parents divorced, and her mother took her and her two older brothers to L.A. to start a new life. At age twelve she was spotted playing baseball in the street by director Allan Dwan who cast her as a tom-boy in "A Perfect Crime". Bitten by the movie bug...
“ Lombard was a brilliant comic actress whose life and career were cut tragically short when she was killed in a plane crash in 1942. She only received one nomination for "My Man Godfrey" (a performance for which posterity would doubtless give her the Oscar), but was overlooked for the classics "Twentieth Century" and "To Be or Not to Be." ” - madbeast
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 out of school when he was 15...
“ Depp won the Screen Actors Guild for "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl" and Oscar nominations for that film, "Neverland" and "Sweeney Todd." Like Leonardo DiCaprio, it seems almost inevitable that he'll eventually have an Oscar on his mantle. ” - madbeast
Rosalind Russell
The middle of seven children, she was named after the S.S. Rosalind at the suggestion of her father, a successful lawyer. After receiving a Catholic school education, she went to the American Academy of Dramatic Art in New York, having convinced her mother that she intended to teach acting. In 1934...
“ Russell's press agents had the industry convinced she had a lock on the award for her heavy-handed performance in "Mourning Becomes Electra" so it was considered a shock when Loretta Young won instead for "The Country Girl." Russell's best work was in lighter fare and she won nominations for "Auntie Mame," "Sister Kenny" and "My Sister Eileen," but not for her brilliant work in the superb gender-swapping adaptation of "The Front Page," "His Girl Friday." ” - madbeast
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...
“ Webb would have been a lock for the Oscar for his performance in "Laura" if he didn't have the bad timing of going against Barry Fitzgerald's crowd-pleasing work in "Going My Way." Webb was nominated again for "The Razor's Edge" and his unforgettable turn as Mr. Belvedere in "Sitting Pretty," but not for his marvelous work as an overworked father in "Cheaper By the Dozen." ” - madbeast
Claude Rains
Actor, Casablanca
William Claude Rains, born in the Camberwell area of London, was the son of the British stage actor Frederick Rains. The younger Rains followed, making his stage debut at the age of eleven in "Nell of Old Drury." Growing up in the world of theater, he saw not only acting up close but the down-to-earth business end as well...
“ Rains holds the record for the most nominations for Best Supporting Actor without winning the award, and posterity would have been pleased if he had been honored for his signature role in "Casablanca." ” - madbeast
Myrna Loy
Myrna Williams, later to become Myrna Loy, was born on August 2, 1905 in Radersburg, Montana. Her father was the youngest person ever elected to the Montana State legislature. Later on her family moved to Helena where she spent her youth. At the age of 13, Myrna's father died of influenza and the rest of the family moved to Los Angeles...
“ Loy was never nominated for the Oscar despite being named "The Queen of Hollywood" in an audience poll that anointed Clark Gable "The King." She should have been honored for her work in "The Thin Man" and "The Best Years of Our Lives." ” - madbeast
Thelma Ritter
Actress, Rear Window
Thelma Ritter appeared in high school plays and was trained at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. In the 1940s she worked in radio. Her movie career was started with a bit part in the 1946 Miracle on 34th Street. In the movie she played a weary Xmas shopper. Her performance in the short scene was noticed by Darryl F. Zanuck who insisted her role be expanded...
“ The wisecracking Ritter was nominated for six Best Supporting Actress awards and might have been further honored for her non-nominated work in "Rear Window" or "The Misfits." ” - madbeast
Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe was born Norma Jeane Mortenson at the Los Angeles County Hospital on June 1, 1926. Her mother Gladys Pearl Baker was a film-cutter at Consolidated Film Industries. Marilyn's father's identity was never known. Because Gladys was mentally and financially unable to care for young Marilyn...
“ Monroe never received a nomination, probably for her reputation as a prima donna on the set. She was a miraculous performer who should have won the Oscar for "Some Like It Hot." ” - madbeast
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...
“ Mason was nominated for "A Star is Born," "Georgy Girl" and "The Verdict" but for not "Odd Man Out," "The Desert Rats," "Julius Caesar" or "The Shooting Party." ” - madbeast
Ian McKellen
Widely regarded as one of greatest stage and screen actors, both in his native Great Britain and internationally, twice nominated for the Oscar and recipient of every major theatrical award in UK and US, Ian Murray McKellen was born on May 25, 1939 in Burnley, Lancashire, England, to Margery Lois (Sutcliffe) and Denis Murray McKellen...
“ McKellen became a movie star late in life after devoting his career to the Shakespearean stage. He won the Screen Actors Guild Award for his performance in "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings" but lost the Oscar, and seemed robbed of the honor for his magnificent nominated performance as James Whale in "Gods and Monsters." ” - madbeast
Barbara Stanwyck
Today Barbara Stanwyck is remembered primarily as the matriarch of the family known as the Barkleys on the TV western The Big Valley, wherein she played Victoria, and from the hit drama The Colbys. But she was known to millions of other fans for her movie career, which spanned the period from 1927 until 1964...
“ Barbara Stanwyck was nominated four times and never won, despite arguably deserving the prize for "Ball of Fire" or "Double Indemnity." ” - madbeast