50 Unfairly forgotten great actors

You always see some face and think: `I know this guy. He´s great!´, but hardly you can say who he is or where you saw him before. This list is about to fix that. Great actors and actresses from around the world rescued from oblivion, just for the sake of justice. They are not placed in any particular order.
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Keith David
Actor, Platoon
Keith David was born Keith David Williams in New York City's Harlem district, and was raised in East Elmhurst, in the Queens section of the city. He is the son of Dolores (Dickenson), a New York Telephone manager, and Lester Williams, a payroll operations director. As a child, he realized he wanted...
Stacy Keach
When Stacy Keach burst into the public consciousness in John Huston's Fat City in 1972, it appeared that a great actor had been discovered. He was not unknown: Keach had earlier appeared on-screen in The The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, End of the Road and the revisionist Western 'Doc' and had established a reputation off-Broadway as one of America's best stage actors...
Barbara Hershey
Actress, Black Swan
Barbara Hershey was born Barbara Lynn Herzstein in Hollywood, California, to Melrose (Moore) and Arnold Nathan Herzstein, a horse racing columnist. Her father, born in Manhattan, was from a Jewish family (from Hungary and Russia), and her mother, originally from Arkansas, had English and Scots-Irish ancestry...
Dean Stockwell
Photogenic American child actor of the 1940s, popular due in no small measure to his air of innocence and his beautiful, cherubic face with its dimples and his sparkling eyes, topped with a crown of curls. Still an actor in demand while well into his middle years, he is one of the few juvenile performers to succeed lifelong in films...
Bruce Dern
Actor, Nebraska
Bruce Dern was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Jean (MacLeish) and John Dern, an attorney and utility chief. His paternal grandfather, George Henry Dern, served as Governor of Utah (1925-1933) and then U.S. Secretary of War (1933-1936). His ancestry includes German, English, Scottish, and Dutch. Bruce Dern had established himself as the movies' premier heavy...
Linda Hunt
Veteran character actress Linda Hunt was Born April 2, 1945 in Morristown, New Jersey to Raymond Davy Hunter and Elsie Doying Hunter. She attended the Interlochen Arts Academy, and the Goodman School of Drama in Chicago (now part of DePaul University). Her film debut was in Robert Altman's Popeye...
Wilford Brimley
Actor, The Thing
He was a farmer and rodeo rider who, after gaining weight, became a blacksmith and then a film actor.
Beatrice Straight
Actress, Poltergeist
In her long career, Beatrice Straight actually did very little work in the movies, plying her trade mostly onstage. But when she did grace the silver screen, she did it with great skill. Her first love was theater, having debuted on Broadway in the 1935 "Bitter Oleander". Her work garnered her much acclaim...
Judith Anderson
Actress, Rebecca
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...
William Devane
William Devane, the movie and television actor, was born in Albany, New York, the son of Joseph Devane, who served as Franklin D. Roosevelt's chauffeur when he was Governor of New York. After graduating from New York City's American Academy of Dramatic Arts, he appeared on-stage. He finally made his Broadway debut in "The Watering Place" with Shirley Knight...
Tommy Rettig
Actor, Lassie
For the last several years of his life Tom was a successful software developer. His products in Dbase and FoxPro were used by hundreds of other developers.
David Patrick Kelly
Actor, Twin Peaks
Compact, feisty and fierce character actor David Patrick Kelly was born in Detroit, Michigan, to Margaret Elizabeth (Murphy) and Robert Corby Kelly, Sr., an accountant. He burst onto the acting scene in 1979, playing the devious leader of the leather-clad gang "The Rogues" in Walter Hill's controversial New York City gang film The Warriors...
Rick Jason
Actor, Combat!
The only child of a stockbroker and well-to-do mother, Richard Jason described himself as "second-generation nouveau riche" and a born romantic. Friends say he was affable, charming, driven and a real Renaissance man. A good student, popular with classmates and teachers, Jason's hellish behavior got him expelled from eight prep schools before he managed to graduate from Rhodes School...
Powers Boothe
Actor, Sin City
American actor born 1948, in Snyder, Texas. Leading man of the American stage, TV, and films. He made a strong presence in some films in the 80s, but he was most successful on TV. He won an Emmy award as Best Actor for his performance in the TV movie Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones.
Robert Prosky
Member of Washington D.C.'s Arena Stage repertory company in 60's and 70s, where he worked with Jane Alexander James Earl Jones Robert Foxworth and others.
Zelda Rubinstein
Actress, Poltergeist
A marvelously quirky and distinctive 4' 3" character actress, with a larger-than-life presence on film and TV, Zelda Rubinstein gave up a long and stable career in the medical field as a lab technician in order to strive for something more self-fulfilling as middle age settled in. At the age of 45, the feisty lady gave up the comfort of a stable paycheck and attempt an acting career...
Alan Young
Actor, Mister Ed
Alan Young was born in Northern England in 1919, but his Scots father moved the family to Edinburgh, Scotland, when Young was a toddler and then to Canada when Young was about 6 years old. As a boy, he suffered from severe asthma, which kept him bedridden for long periods of time but encouraged his love of radio...
Adrienne Barbeau
Actress, The Fog
Adrienne Jo Barbeau is an American actress and author best known for her roles on the TV series Maude and in horror films, especially those directed by John Carpenter, with whom she was once married. She was born on June 11, 1945 in Sacramento, California, the daughter of an executive for Mobil Oil...
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...
Pernell Roberts
Actor, Bonanza
Best recalled as the eldest son and first member of the "Bonanza" Cartwright clan to permanently leave the Ponderosa in the hopes of greener acting pastures, dark, deep-voiced and durably handsome Pernell Roberts' native roots lay in Georgia. Born Pernell Elvin Roberts, Jr. on May 18, 1928, in North Carolina and moved to Waycross as an infant...
Robert Morley
Bushy-browed, triple-chinned and plummy-voiced English actor and raconteur of wide girth and larger-than-life personality. The son of a career army officer, Morley was expected to join the diplomatic corps. As a 'compromise', he tried his hand as a beer salesman. However, bitten by the acting bug since first performing in a kindergarten play...
Colin Clive
Who could forget Colin Clive's "It's Alive! It's Alive!" as he melted to the floor mumbling the same over and over in ecstasy after his success at animating the Monster in the first sound version of Frankenstein. Film history - horror film history - but part of a short history for actor Colin Clive - he died at 37 years of age...
Michael Paré
Michael Kevin Paré was born on October 9, 1958 in Brooklyn, New York City, to Joan (Moroney) and Francis Paré, who owned print shops. His father died of leukemia when Paré was five, leaving his mother to raise their large family of children. Paré was working as a chef in New York City when an agent...
Victor Wong
Eccentric looking Chinese-American actor with a slightly drooping face (the result of a bout of Bell's palsy) who studied political science, art & journalism before becoming a news reporter for a San Francisco public TV station in the late 1960s. Apart from a brief stint in the mid-1970s on the TV soap opera Search for Tomorrow...
Wil Wheaton
Wil Wheaton was born Richard William Wheaton III on July 29, 1972 in Burbank, California. He first gained international attention by starring in the Rob Reiner comedy-drama film Stand by Me. He then played Wesley Crusher on the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation for three and one-quarter seasons...
Tom Skerritt
Actor, Alien
Lean, ruggedly handsome leading man and supporting actor whose "outdoor" looks have improved with age, Tom Skerritt attended Wayne State University and UCLA, and was first noticed in a UCLA production of "The Rainmaker" before making his movie debut in War Hunt. However, he spent most of the next decade in television...
Fred Gwynne
Fred Gwynne was an enormously talented character actor most famous for starring in the television situation comedies Car 54, Where Are You? (as Officer Francis Muldoon) and The Munsters (as the Frankenstein clone Herman Munster). He was very tall and had a resonant, baritone voice that he put to good use in Broadway musicals...
Karen Black
Karen Black was born Karen Blanche Ziegler in Park Ridge, Illinois, to Elsie Mary (Reif), who wrote children's books, and Norman Arthur Ziegler, an engineer and businessman. She was of Norwegian (from her paternal grandmother), German, and Bohemian (Czech) descent. Karen entered Northwestern University at 15 and left two years later...
Brian Keith
Son of character actor Robert Keith and stage actress Helena Shipman. He grew up on the road with his parents while they toured in plays. First appeared at age 3 in film Pied Piper Malone with his father. Began acting in radio programs and on stage before World War II. Joined the Marines and served as a machine gunner...
Clancy Brown
A tall, wavy-haired US actor with a deep, resonant voice, Clancy Brown has proved himself a versatile performer with first-class contributions to theater, feature films, television series and even animation. Clarence J. Brown III was born in 1959 in Urbana, Ohio, to Joyce Helen (Eldridge), a concert pianist...
David Morse
David Morse, a 6' 4" tall blue-eyed blond who performed on stage for 10 years before breaking into film, became established as a respected supporting, character actor and second lead. He was born the first of four children of Charles, a sales manager, and Jacquelyn Morse, a schoolteacher, on October 11...
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...
Brion James
Brion James was born February 20, 1945, in Redlands, California, to Ida Mae (Buckelew) and Jimmy James. The family soon moved to Beaumont, California (between Los Angeles and Palm Springs), where his parents built and operated a movie theater, where stars such as Gene Autry would occasionally stop by...
Haing S. Ngor
Dr. Ngor's best known role was that of Dith Pran, the Cambodian assistant to New York Times correspondent Sydney Schanberg in the 'Killing Fields'. A gynecologist and surgeon, Ngor was ordered out of Phnom Penh along with the rest of the city's 2 million inhabitants after the Khmer Rouge takeover in 1975...
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...
Pam Grier
Actress, Jackie Brown
Pam Grier was born in Winston-Salem, NC, one of four children of Gwendolyn Sylvia (Samuels), a nurse, and Clarence Ransom Grier Jr., an Air Force mechanic. Pam has been a major African-American star from the early 1970s. Her career started in 1971, when Roger Corman of New World Pictures launched her with The Big Doll House...
Doug Hutchison
Doug grew up in Detroit and Minneapolis, eventually moved to N.Y.C., and attended the Juilliard School for a brief stint. After studying two years with Sanford Meisner and working a plethora of odd-ball jobs (including dressed as a giant Citibank card handing out fliers in Times Square), the actor worked...
JoBeth Williams
Actress, Poltergeist
The product of a musical family, Margaret JoBeth Williams was born in Houston, Texas, to Frances Faye (Adams), a dietitian, and Fredric Roger Williams, a wire/cable company manager and opera singer. Her father encouraged her early interest in theater during high school. She made her professional debut at age 18 in a Houston-based musical production...
Michael Wilding
Born in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, England on July 23, 1912, Wilding became a commercial artist after leaving school. He gained employment in the art department of a film studio in London in 1933, and he was soon approached by producers to become a movie star-in-training due to his dashing good looks. After debuting at age 21 in Bitter Sweet...
Elsa Lanchester
Elsa Sullivan Lanchester was born into an unconventional a family at the turn of the 20th century. Her parents, James "Shamus" Sullivan and Edith "Biddy" Lanchester, were socialists - very active members of the Social Democratic Federation (SDF) in a rather broad sense and did not believe in the institution of marriage and being tied to any conventions of legality for that matter...
Brian Blessed
Actor, Tarzan
Boisterous British actor Brian Blessed is known for his hearty, king-sized portrayals on film and television. A giant of a man accompanied by an eloquent wit and booming, operatic voice, Brian was born in 1936 and grew up in the mining village of Goldthorpe in South Yorkshire. His father was a miner who wanted a better life for his son; Brian lost three uncles in the pit...