One has to keep track.
This started as a list of actors I consider underappreciated and then grew.
Known for her small yet earthy Brit portrayals on film, Eleanor Summerfield was born in London on March 7, 1921, initially trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (1937). The hard-looking, blue-eyed blonde began in films in 1947 but created some waves first on stage opposite Cicely Courtneidge
in "Her Excellency" at the London Hippodrome in 1949...
The lean, rather emaciated-looking John Bennett studied acting at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London. After years in repertory theatre, he made his feature debut in 1960, and, thereafter, appeared regularly on British screens. He was prone to perform in diverse ethnic guises, often adopting heavy make-up and using his penchant for accents and dialects...
Comparing this sultry-eyed blonde to Greta Garbo
and Marlene Dietrich
may seem a bit overzealous, but Honor Blackman's stylish allure over the years cannot be denied. One of four children, Blackman was born in London's East End to a statistician father employed with the civil service and a homemaker mother...
Nicholas Amer was born Thomas Harold Amer in Birkenhead, Merseyside, England. At the age of 18, he enlisted in the Royal Navy and served as a wireless officer for four years during World War II. He saw plenty of action, serving mainly on Motor Torpedo Boats, at first in North Africa. He was wounded in action during the Allied Invasion of Sicily in 1943...
David Hattersley Warner was born July 29, 1941 in Manchester, England, to Ada Doreen (Hattersley) and Herbert Simon Warner. He has described his childhood as "messy". His father changed jobs often and moved from town to town. David attended eight schools and "failed his exams at all of them". His parents separated when he was a teenager and he only saw his mother again seven years later...
Ursula Howells was educated at St Paul's Girls' School in London, where her father Herbert Howells, a doyen of English church music taught music for 26 years. Following the death of her brother Michael from polio in 1935, her father composed his great choral masterpiece "Hymnus Paradisi". She was evacuated to Scotland during the Second World War and made her stage debut in 1940 with Dundee rep...
This alert and classy Britisher seemed poised for Hollywood stardom in the early 1970s. Although it wasn't meant to be, Janet Suzman has remained one of the more respected classical stage actresses of her time. Born in 1939, she was raised in a staunch, liberal family household in South Africa at a time when the country was confronted with the horrors of apartheid...
Prolific British character actor, adept at eccentric or whimsical impersonations, particularly of Dickensian characters. The son of law society president Sir Dingwall Bateson, he won a scholarship to Wadham College, where he trained for acting with the Oxford University Dramatic Society. Straight out of college...
A classical actor (and founding member in 1960 of the Royal Shakespeare Company), Richardson earned international fame as the villainous Francis Urquart in the BBC television trilogy, "House of Cards." Uttered in a cut-glass accent, the Machiavellian Prime Minister's sly "You might well think that ...
British thespian Alan Badel came to prominence after graduating from RADA a Gold Medal winner. He made an almost instant impact on the stage in both modern and classical roles. One of his first critically acclaimed performances was as Romeo, opposite Claire Bloom
's Juliet at the Old Vic. Despite his velvety...
This transatlantic talent was born John Vincent Hurt on January 22, 1940 in Shirebrook, a coal mining village near the busy market town of Chesterfield, in Derbyshire, England. He is the son of Phyllis (Massey), an engineer and one-time actress, and Arnould Herbert Hurt, an Anglican clergyman and mathematician...
Liverpool-born actress Alison Steadman was born in 1946, the daughter of George Percival Steadman and Marjorie Evans. Educated at Childwall Valley High School, she studied at the East-15 Acting School from 1966-1969, then toiled as a secretary at the Liverpool Probation Service before deciding on a full-time acting career...
Crosbie was born in Gorebridge, Midlothian, Scotland, to Presbyterian parents who disapproved of her becoming an actress. Nevertheless, she joined the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School while still in her teens. Her big break came in 1970 when she was cast as Catherine of Aragon in the BBC television series The Six Wives of Henry VIII...
Anthony Andrews made his West End theater debut at the Apollo Theatre as one of twenty young schoolboys in Alan Bennett
's "Forty Years On" with John Gielgud
. He began his career at the Chichester Festival Theatre in the UK. His theater credits include spells with the New Shakespeare Company - "Romeo and Juliet" and "A Midsummer Night's Dream"...
He was one of those delightful, typically British, actors with a penchant for playing eccentrics. Early in his career, Jeremy Brett
once quaintly introduced Aubrey Morris to Noël Coward
as "the finest small-part player in London". Born Aubrey Steinberg of Jewish-Ukrainian ancestry, he was one...
Beryl Reid was the daughter of Scottish parents and grew up in industrial Manchester, England. She left home at the age of 16 to go and work in a shop. She lasted 6 weeks. She applied for and was accepted in a revue in the Summer season in Bridlington. She had no formal training but joined the National Theater in London as a comedy actress...
Preeminent British classical actor of the first post-Olivier generation, Derek Jacobi was knighted in 1994 for his services to the theatre, and, in fact, is only the second to enjoy the honor of holding TWO knighthoods, Danish and English (Olivier was the other). Modest and unassuming in nature, Jacobi's...
Diana Rigg is an English actress. She has had an extensive career in film and theatre, including playing the title role in Medea, both in London and New York, for which she won the 1994 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play. Rigg made her professional stage debut in 1957 in The Caucasian Chalk Circle...
Balding, quietly-spoken, of slight build and possessed of piercing blue eyes -- often peering out from behind round, steel-rimmed glasses -- Donald Pleasence had the necessary physical attributes which make a great screen villain. In the course of his lengthy career, he relished playing the obsessed...
A highly respected Shakespearean for five decades until his death of colon cancer in 1995, classical actor Eric Porter's claim to international fame would, ironically, be outside of that realm, with one superb portrayal in one superb miniseries, The Forsyte Saga
, in which he won the BAFTA award. The son of Richard John Porter and Phoebe Elizabeth Spall...
To say that Terence Alexander, the distinguished British thespian, was hyperactive is a statement that borders on the understatement! Judge for yourself : born in 1923, following a short period when he considered becoming a priest, Alexander exercised the acting profession for sixty full decades and he might have beaten Queen Victoria's record...
The British character actor Freddie Jones came to the acting profession after 10 years of working as a laboratory assistant and acting in amateur theater on the side. To kick off his mid-life career change, Jones attended Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama in Kent, England, on a scholarship. He then worked in repertory theater...
Joan Hickson was born in 1906 at Kingsthorpe, Northampton. Her stage career began with provincial theater in 1927, going on to a long series of West End comedies, usually playing the part of a confused or eccentric middle-age woman. She performed at the Regent's Park Open Air Theater, at the time London was subject to World War II bombing...
Ian McDiarmid was born on August 11, 1944 in Carnoustie, Tayside, Scotland. He studied for a Master's degree in Clinical Psychology at the University of St. Andrews, but eventually found that his calling was in theatre. He went to the Royal Academy in Glasgow, where he received the prestigious gold medal for his work...
Sir Ian Holm is an Academy Award-nominated British film and stage actor who was a star of the Royal Shakespeare Company, and played more than 100 roles in films and on television. He was born Ian Holm Cuthbert on September 12, 1931, in Goodmayes, Essex, UK, to Scottish parents who worked at the Essex mental asylum...
Joss Ackland, the distinguished English actor who has appeared in over 100 movies, scores of plays and a plethora of television programs in his six-decade career, was born Sidney Edmond Jocelyn Ackland on February 29, 1928, in North Kensington, London. After attending London's Central School of Speech and Drama...
Mia Kirshner was born in Toronto, Ontario on January 25, 1975, to Etti, a teacher, and Sheldon Kirshner, a journalist. Her father is of Polish Jewish descent and her mother is a Bulgarian Jewish immigrant. Mia had a middle class upbringing and graduated from the prestigious McGill University with a degree in English Literature...
Although he sounded very British, Leo McKern was an Australian. By the time he was 15 years old, he had endured an accident that left him without his left eye. A glass eye replaced it - one might conjecture for the better, as far as making McKern a one-day actor of singular focus (no pun intended; his face had that extremely focused look)...
Martin Jarvis OBE is one of Britain's most versatile leading actors. His distinguished career continues to encompass just about every aspect of the entertainment industry: film, television, theatre, radio and audio recording. He is also the author of two bestselling books: a hilarious autobiography Acting Strangely and a compelling account of his award-winning time on Broadway in 2001: Broadway...
Some of Hordern's finest work was not in films or television but on radio: His performance as Gandalf in the BBC's radio adaptation of The Lord of the Rings was arguably the definitive portrayal of that character (contrast Hordern's Gandalf with that of Ian McKellen in the 3-part film adaptation of The Lord of the Rings directed by Peter Jackson).
British actor Patrick Macnee was born on February 6, 1922 in London, England into a wealthy and eccentric family. His father, Daniel Macnee, was a race horse trainer, who drank and gambled away the family fortune, leaving young Patrick to be raised by his gay mother, Dorothea Mary, and her lover. Shortly after graduating from Eton (from which he was almost expelled for running a gambling ring)...
Patrick Troughton was born on 25 March 1920 and grew up in North London, where he was educated at Mill Hill Public School. In his teens he attended the Embassy School of Acting at Swiss Cottage, under Eileen Thorndike. From there he won a scholarship to the Leighton Rallius Studios at the John Drew Memorial Theatre on Long Island in New York...
Peter Woodthorpe was educated at Archbishop Holgate's Grammar School in York and attended Magdalene College, Cambridge. He undertook National Service in the Royal Navy and made his debut as a professional actor in the theatre in 1955. His extensive and distinguished stage career included work with the Royal Shakespeare Company...
Acclaimed actress Rosalie Crutchley originally trained at the Royal Academy of Music. She made her acting debut in repertory in 1938 at the Liverpool Playhouse. She made her Broadway debut in 1950. The Guild of Television named her best actress of the year in 1956 for Black Limelight
. Her darkly Mediterranean complexion and gaunt...
Born of a Spanish father and French mother in Whitechapel. Although most often called upon to play the villain (due to his dark good looks and sinister beard), he also had a career as a voice actor on BBC Radio appearing on such programs as the "Morning Story". He was a notable 'The Master' in many series of Doctor Who
William Hartnell was born on 8 January 1908, just south of St. Pancras station in London. In press materials in the 1940s he claimed that his father was a farmer and later a stockbroker; it turns out that he had actually been born out of wedlock, as his biography "Who's There?" states. At age 16 he was adopted by Hugh Blaker...
Janet Henfrey took English prelims at St Anne's, Oxford, after which she read history followed by a graduate year at Smith, from where she went to the RADA as part of their US intake. Since then she has had a varied career in the theatre and on film and television. The latter has included 'The Singing Detective'...
Jon Pertwee was born John (after the apostle and disciple) Devon (after the county) Roland (after his father) Pertwee (an Anglicised version of the true family name, Perthuis de Laillevault) on 7 July 1919 in the Chelsea area of London. He was the second son of famous playwright, painter and actor Roland Pertwee
Studied law at Jesus College, Oxford, but became president of OUDS by his final year, when he played the lead in "Richard III" to wide critical acclaim. Subsequently joined the Old Vic, where among other roles he played "the Dauphin" to Richard Burton
's "Henry V". Left the Old Vic under less than happy circumstances and had even less luck with the Royal Court...
Sir Robert's career fell into two distinct parts. In the '60s, he was widely regarded as the heir of Laurence Olivier
. But, after his departure from Britain's National Theatre in 1970 and the breakup of his marriage with Maggie Smith
three years later, he suffered a slump made worse by heavy drinking...
Sir Michael Gambon was born in Cabra, Dublin, Ireland, to Mary (Hoare), a seamstress, and Edward Gambon, an engineer. After joining the National Theatre, under the Artistic Directorship of Sir Laurence Olivier
, Gambon went on to appear in a number of leading roles in plays written by Alan Ayckbourn
One of the world's most famous and distinguished actresses, Dame Maggie Smith was born Margaret Natalie Smith in Essex. Her Scottish mother, Margaret (Hutton), worked as a secretary, and her English father, Nathaniel Smith, was a teacher at Oxford University. Smith has been married twice: to actor Robert Stephens
and to playwright Beverley Cross
Miranda Richardson was born in Southport, Lancashire, England on March 3, 1958, to Marian Georgina (Townsend) and William Alan Richardson, a marketing executive. She has one sister, eight years her senior. Her parents and sister are not involved in the performing arts. At an early age she performed in school plays...
British actor Bob Peck was born in Leeds in north England on August 23, 1945. He attended Leeds Modern School and then graduated from Leeds College of Art before starting professional stage acting. Peck acted for the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre. He also starred in more than 20 television dramas...
Looking back at his filmography, it isn't difficult to imagine Vladek Sheybal in a scene, lobbing Molotov cocktails at advancing German troops, against a backdrop of war-torn Warsaw. However, this part of his life played out for real. A member of the Polish underground, he was twice captured and interred in concentration camps...
David Ross is a British actor from Blackburn, Lancashire. He is most known for his work in television series, where he has enjoyed a lengthy career. He has also appeared stage productions and films. David Ross' most famous role was that of Kryten during his first appearance on comedy series Red Dwarf
and he was also the one who provided the voice for the Talkie Toaster on the same show...
Bruno Ganz debuted at the theatre in 1961 and gained there a good reputation as a solid, young actor. In 1970 he founded with Peter Stein
the theatre company "Schaubuehne" of Berlin. His debut at the movies was early and unsuccessful during the decade of 1960. His talent as a reflexive actor with tendencies towards introspection was widely known after Summer Guests
British character actor Richard Griffiths came from radio and the classical stage where he built up an early reputation as a Shakespearean clown, with larger-than-life portrayals of Henry VIII, Falstaff in "The Merry Wives of Windsor" and Bottom in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" with the Royal Shakespeare Company just a few of his standout credits...
A true character actor in the best sense of the word, offbeat British thesp Peter Vaughan's hefty frame could appear intimidating or marshmallow benevolent; his beady, hollow eyes menacing or tender; his mere presence menacing or avuncular. Adept at playing both sides of the law, his characters usually possessed a strange...
Fionnula Flanagan was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland. From an early age she grew up speaking both English and Irish on a daily basis. Her parents weren't native Irish speakers but wanted Fionnula and her four siblings to learn the language. Her mother used to say, "A nation without a language is a nation without a soul"...
One of Hollywood's finest character / "Method" actors, Eli Wallach was in demand for over 60 years (first film/TV role was 1949) on stage and screen, and has worked alongside the world's biggest stars, including Clark Gable
, Clint Eastwood
, Steve McQueen
, Marilyn Monroe
, Yul Brynner
, Peter O'Toole
, and Al Pacino
, to name but a few...