Great character actors, in no particular order. You may not know the name, but you know the face and perhaps the voice.

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1.
Jack Elam
Colorful American character actor equally adept at vicious killers or grizzled sidekicks. As a child he worked in the cotton fields. He attended Santa Monica Junior College in California and subsequently became an accountant and, at one time, manager of the Bel Air Hotel. Elam got his first movie job by trading his accounting services for a role...
 
2.
Will Wright
Actor, Adam's Rib
One of those familiar character actors who seems to have been born old, Will Wright specialized in playing crusty old codgers, rich skinflints, crooked small-town politicians and the like. A former newspaper reporter in San Francisco, he switched careers and entered vaudeville, then took to the stage...
 
3.
Geoffrey Lewis
Talented and highly capable character actor Geoffrey Lewis, with rustic (sometimes sour-faced) looks, grew up in Rhode Island but was moved out to California at the age of ten. Lewis was very keen on the dramatic arts at high school, but often preferred to put on his own one-man shows rather than participate in larger school productions...
 
4.
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...
 
5.
Eric Blore
Actor, Top Hat
Born in London, Eric Blore came out of college and started his working life as an insurance agent. But while touring in Australia he took an interest in the stage and theater. He gave up his insurance job and turned to acting after returning to England. With his elfish long, straight nose, squint-eyed demeanor and a crisp voice...
 
6.
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...
 
7.
Jeffrey Jones
Jeffrey Duncan Jones was born in Buffalo, New York. He is a very tall, fair-haired character actor who is recognized all over for his excellent work. He is a veteran stage actor having such plays as "The Elephant Man" and Neil Simon's "London Suite" under his belt. His first film role was in The Revolutionary.
 
8.
Vincent Schiavelli
Vincent Schiavelli, selected in 1997 by Vanity Fair as one of the best character actors in America, had made over 120 film and television appearances. He studied acting at NYU's Theatre Program. Aside from his acting career, Vincent was the author of three cookbooks, and has written numerous articles on food for magazines and newspapers. In 2001, he received the James Beard Journalism Award.
 
9.
Dan Hedaya
Dan Hedaya is a familiar face from his work in films and on TV, where he often plays a villain (although he had a good comic turn as the charmingly sleazy Nick Tortelli, Carla's ex-husband, in Cheers and its short-lived spin-off The Tortellis). He has also done much stage work, appearing...
 
10.
Henry Jones
Actor, Vertigo
Henry Burk Jones was born in New Jersey and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was the son of Helen (Burk) and John Francis Xavier Jones, and the grandson of Pennsylvania Representative Henry Burk, a Prussian immigrant. He graduated from St. Joseph's College. His Broadway debut was in 1938 in Maurice Evans' "Hamlet" (Reynaldo and the second gravedigger)...
 
11.
Burt Mustin
Actor, Cat Ballou
Burt Mustin was a salesman most of his life, but got his first taste of show business as the host of a weekly radio variety show on KDKA Pittsburgh in 1921. He appeared onstage in "Detective Story" at Sombrero Playhouse in Phoenix Arizona, and played the janitor in the movie version, (Detective Story)...
 
12.
Walter Burke
Highly recognizable Irish-American character actor whose small stature and wizened features made him resemble a leprechaun (a role which he played on more than one occasion). Probably best known as Willie Stark's bodyguard in All the King's Men.
 
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14.
Andy Devine
Rotund comic character actor of American films. Born Andrew Vabre Devine in Flagstaff, Arizona, the later-to-be Rotund comic character actor was raised in nearby Kingman, Arizona, the son of Irish-American hotel operator Thomas Devine and his wife Amy. Devine was an able athlete as a student and actually played semi-pro football under a phony name (Jeremiah Schwartz...
 
15.
Chill Wills
Actor, Giant
Colorful character actor of American Westerns. Named "Chill" as an ironic comment on his birth date being the hottest day of 1903. A musician from his youth, he performed from the age of 12 with tent shows, in vaudeville, and with stock companies. While performing in vaudeville in Kansas City, he married ballet dancer Betty Chappelle...
 
16.
Charles Lane
Mean, miserly and miserable-looking, they didn't come packaged with a more annoying and irksome bow than Charles Lane. Glimpsing even a bent smile from this unending sourpuss was extremely rare, unless one perhaps caught him in a moment of insidious glee after carrying out one of his many nefarious schemes...
 
17.
Strother Martin
American character actor who achieved considerable fame in the last decade of his life. A native of Kokomo, Indiana, Strother Martin Jr. was the youngest of three children of Strother Douglas Martin, a machinist, and Ethel Dunlap Martin. His family moved soon after his birth to San Antonio, Texas, but quickly returned to Indiana...
 
18.
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...
 
19.
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...
 
20.
James Hong
James Hong was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. He studied civil engineering at the University of Minnesota, but at some point along the way became interested in acting. He graduated from the University of Southern California and practiced for 1½ years as a road engineer with the County of Los Angeles...
 
21.
Tim Curry
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...
 
22.
Clint Howard
Clint Howard also had a recurring role in The Andy Griffith Show, as a little boy always dressed in a cowboy outfit and always eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. He never said a word, but was always offering someone a bite. He also had a co-starring role along with a black bear as the owner and friend of Gentle Ben, in that series.
 
23.
Ed Lauter
Actor, The Artist
Edward Matthew Lauter II was born on October 30, 1938 in Long Beach, New York. In a film career that extended for over four decades, Lauter starred in a plethora of film and television productions since making his big screen debut in the western Dirty Little Billy. He portrayed an eclectic array of characters over the years...
 
24.
Arthur Hunnicutt
Actor, El Dorado
Lean, tall American character actor Arthur Hunnicutt was known for playing humorously wise rural roles. He attended Arkansas State Teachers College in his native state, but was forced to drop out in his third year due to lack of funds. He joined a theatre company in Massachusetts, then migrated to New York...
 
25.
Jesse White
Actor, Harvey
Lovable, laid-back Jesse White made acting seem fun and easy. He was born Jesse Marc Weidenfeld in Buffalo, New York, and was raised in Akron, Ohio. He made his first amateur appearance on the local stage at age 15. Before breaking into professional theater in the 1940s, he held many different jobs...
 
26.
Warren Oates
Warren Oates was an American character actor of the 1960s and 1970s and early 1980s whose distinctive style and intensity brought him to offbeat leading roles. Oates was born in Depoy, a very small Kentucky town. He was the son of Sarah Alice (Mercer) and Bayless Earle Oates, a general store owner...
 
27.
Ned Beatty
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...
 
28.
Pat Hingle
Actor, Batman
Pat Hingle (real name: Martin Patterson Hingle) was born in Miami, Florida, the son of a building contractor. His parents divorced when Hingle was still in his infancy (he never knew his father) and his mother supported the family by teaching school in Denver. She then began to travel (with her son in tow) in search of more lucrative work; by age 13 Hingle had lived in a dozen cities...
 
32.
Wallace Shawn
Actor, Toy Story
American character actor and writer Wallace Shawn has one of those fun, mischievously homely faces just made to entertain. Though he got out of the starting gate rather slowly, he has since excelled on stage, television and film while managing to turn himself into a winner with his loser-type looks...
 
33.
Harold Gould
Actor, The Sting
Harold Gould earned a Ph.D. in theatre and taught speech and drama at Cornell University. Pursuing some off-Broadway work in the 1950s, he decided to practice what he preached, and became a full-time professional actor in the 1960s. He has appeared in hundreds of TV shows since, usually playing a father, grandfather or other authority figure.
 
34.
Roscoe Lee Browne
He was a master class in cerebral eloquence and audience command...and although his dominant playing card in the realm of acting was quite serious and stately, nobody cut a more delightfully dry edge in sitcoms than this gentleman, whose calm yet blistering put-downs often eluded his lesser victims...
 
35.
Slim Pickens
Slim Pickens spent the early part of his career as a real cowboy and the latter part playing cowboys, and he is best remembered for a single "cowboy" image: that of bomber pilot Maj. "King" Kong waving his cowboy hat rodeo-style as he rides a nuclear bomb onto its target in the great black comedy Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb...
 
36.
Ronny Cox
Ronny Cox is a superbly talented actor, singer-songwriter and musician who has been consistently active in Hollywood for over 40 years portraying a diverse range of characters. Born in Cloudcroft, New Mexico, Cox received positive reviews in his first film role for his portrayal of ill-fated businessman...
 
37.
Murray Hamilton
Actor, Jaws
Murray Hamilton was one of those character actors whose face would be familiar to most movie buffs at an instant, yet his name may not. That's a shame, because Hamilton was one of the most versatile and prolific of performers who was never anything less than completely convincing in any role he took on...
 
39.
Jack Gilford
Actor, Cocoon
Jack Gilford was born in Brooklyn, New York, as Yankel Gellman. He began his career in the Amateur Nights of the 1930s moving on to nightclubs as an innovative comedian doing satire and pantomime. He was a regular at the Greenwich Village nightspot, Cafe Society and hosted shows featuring Zero Mostel...
 
40.
Paul Dooley
Actor, Insomnia
Dooley was a keen cartoonist as a youth and drew a strip for a local paper in Parkersburg, West Virginia. He joined the Navy before discovering acting while at college. Moving to New York, he soon found success as a regular on the stage. Also having an interest in comedy, Dooley was a stand-up comedian for five years...
 
41.
John Fiedler
Typical of busy character actors, Fiedler made his face (and voice) recognizable to millions. Many know the bald-pated Fiedler as therapy patient "Mr. Peterson" on The Bob Newhart Show; others might first recognize him for the 1968 movie, The Odd Couple, and spin-off TV show, The Odd Couple, or perhaps even from the Broadway play that preceded them...
 
42.
Brock Peters
Born of African and West Indian ancestry on July 2, 1927 in New York City, Brock Peters set his sights on a show business career early on, at age ten. A product of NYC's famed Music and Arts High School, Peters initially fielded more odd jobs than acting jobs as he worked his way up from Harlem poverty...
 
43.
Neville Brand
Actor, Laredo
Neville Brand joined the US Army in 1939, bent on a career in the military. It was while he was in the army that he made his acting debut, in Army training films, and this experience apparently changed the direction of his life. Once a civilian again, he used his GI Bill education assistance to study drama with the American Theater Wing and then appeared in several Broadway plays...
 
44.
Olan Soule
Olan Soule was born in La Harpe, Illinois and began his acting career in 1926 on radio, performing for 11 years in the daytime soap opera "Bachelor's Children". A versatile actor with a "chameleon-like" voice, Soule played the male lead characters in plays presented on the evening radio show "First Nighter" for 9 years beginning in 1943...
 
45.
Fred Clark
This popular, baggy-eyed, bald-domed, big lug of a character actor had few peers when called upon to display that special "slow burn" style of comedy few others perfected. But perfect he did -- on stage, film and TV. In fact, he pretty much cornered the market during the 50s and 60s as the dour, ill-tempered guy you loved to hate...
 
47.
Ivor Francis
Ivor Francis, besides his many roles on television and at the movies, acted on radio as well in shows like "Fibber McGee and Molly"; on Broadway in shows such as "J.B." with Christopher Plummer, and came west to California when New York plays turned mostly to musicals. He worked in films, television and in day-time soaps as well...
 
48.
Parley Baer
Actor, Dave
 
49.
Roger C. Carmel
Roger C. Carmel, who was born September 27, 1932, was named after his grandfather, Roger Charles, who carved the horses for the carousel in New York's Central Park. He became an actor and won television immortality by appearing as Harry Mudd in two classic "Star Trek" episodes, "I, Mudd" and "Mudd's Women." Carmel was one of the few actors...
 
50.
George 'Gabby' Hayes
Actor, Blue Steel
American character actor, the most famous of Western-movie sidekicks of the 1930s and 1940s. He was born May 7, 1885, the third of seven children, in the Hayes Hotel (owned by his father) in the tiny hamlet of Stannards, New York, on the outskirts of Wellsville, New York. Hayes was the son of hotelier and oil-production manager Clark Hayes...
 
51.
Anthony Zerbe
Hailing from Long Beach, California, talented character actor Anthony Zerbe has kept busy in Hollywood and on stage since the late 1960s, often playing villainous or untrustworthy characters, with his narrow gaze and unsettling smirk. Zerbe was born May 20, 1936 in Long Beach, and served a stint in...