Top 10 Leading Men of the 1920s

"Leading man" is an informal term for the actor who plays a love interest to the leading actress in a film or play.
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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)...
John Gilbert
John Gilbert was born into a show-business family - his father was a comic with the Pringle Stock Company. By 1915 John was an extra with Thomas H. Ince's company and a lead player by 1917. In those days he was assistant director, actor or screenwriter. He also tried his hand at directing. By 1919 he was being noticed in films and getting better roles...
Rudolph Valentino
Actor, The Eagle
Hollywood's original Latin Lover, a term that was invented for Rudolph Valentino by Hollywood moguls. Alla Nazimova's friend,Natacha Rambova (nee Winifred Hudnut) became romantically involved with Rudy and they lived together in her bungalow, from 1921 (during the filming of Camille) until they eloped to Mexico 13 May...
Douglas Fairbanks
Douglas Fairbanks was born Douglas Elton Thomas Ullman in Denver, Colorado, to Ella Adelaide (Marsh) and Hezekiah Charles Ullman, an attorney. His paternal grandparents were German Jewish immigrants, while his mother was from an Anglo family from the South. He was raised by his mother, who had separated from his father when he was five...
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...
Ramon Novarro
Ramon Novarro was born José Ramón Gil Samaniego on February 6, 1899 in Durango, Mexico, to Leonor (Gavilan) and Dr. Mariano N. Samaniego Siqueiros, a prosperous dentist. Ramon and his family moved to Los Angeles in 1913, as refugees from the Mexican Revolution. After stints as a ballet dancer, piano teacher and singing waiter...
William Haines
Born in Staunton, Virginia, William Haines ran off to live life on his own terms while still in his teens, moving to New York City and becoming friends with such later Hollywood luminaries as designer Orry-Kelly and Cary Grant. His film career started slowly, but by the end of the silent era he was regularly named as the #1 male box-office draw...
Charles Farrell
Popular Hollywood leading man of late silents and early talkies. He is best remembered for his teaming with Janet Gaynor in 12 screen romances between 1927 and 1934. He retired from films in the early 1940's, but TV audiences of the 1950's would see him as Gale Storm's widower dad in the popular television series My Little Margie.
Richard Arlen
Actor, Wings
During World War I, Richard Arlen served in the Royal Canadian Flying Corps as a pilot, but he never saw combat. After the war he drifted round and eventually wound up in Los Angeles, where he got a job as a motorcycle messenger at a film laboratory. When he crashed into the gates of Paramount Pictures and suffered a broken leg...
Joseph Schildkraut
An imposing Austrian import-turned-matinée idol on the silent screen, Hollywood actor Joseph Schildkraut went on to conquer talking films as well -- with Oscar-winning results. Inclined towards smooth, cunning villainy, his Oscar came instead for his sympathetic portrayal of Captain Alfred Dreyfus in The Life of Emile Zola...