The Greatest Male Stars of the 1930ies

The average IMDb vote of the best 5 films of each star gives the ranking. Maximum 100 Persons.
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Thomas Mitchell
Thomas Mitchell was one of the great American character actors, whose credits read like a list of the greatest films of the 20th century: Lost Horizon; Stagecoach; The Hunchback of Notre Dame; Mr. Smith Goes to Washington; Gone with the Wind; It's a Wonderful Life and High Noon. His portrayals are so diverse and convincing that most people don't even realize that one actor could have played them all...
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H.B. Warner
Henry Byron Warner was the definitive cinematic Jesus Christ in Cecil B. DeMille's The King of Kings. He was born into a prominent theatrical family on October 26, 1875 in London. His father was Charles Warner, and his grandfather was James Warner, both prominent English actors. He replaced J.B. Warner as Jesus in The King of Kings when J.B...
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Charles Ruggles
Charles Ruggles had one of the longest careers in Hollywood, lasting more than 50 years and encompassing more than 100 films. He made his film debut in 1914 in The Patchwork Girl of Oz and worked steadily after that. He was memorably paired with Mary Boland in a series of comedies in the early 1930s, and was one of the standouts in the all-star comedy If I Had a Million...
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Porter Hall
For over two decades, Porter Hall made a career out of playing villains and pompous, unpleasant people. His movie career was not a mirror of his real life, however. Mr. Hall was well known as a generous and outgoing person who was well-liked by almost everybody he knew. It is ironic that the role he is most often seen in today is that of an atheist in Going My Way...
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Jack Carson
When Jack Carson arrived in Hollywood in 1937, he found work at RKO as an extra. His first major acting role came alongside Humphrey Bogart in the romantic comedy Stand-In. After a few years, he developed into a popular character actor who would be seen in a large number of comedies, musicals and a few westerns...
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William Powell
William Powell was on the New York stage by 1912, but it would be ten years before his film career would begin. In 1924 he went to Paramount Pictures, where he was employed for the next seven years. During that time, he played in a number of interesting films, but stardom was elusive. He did finally attract attention with The Last Command as Leo...
“ Vote: 7,866 ” - dziwnytenswiat
Jean Gabin
Jean-Alexis Moncorge started his career with 15 years at the theatre and debuted at the "Moulin Rouge" in Paris in 1929. Despite of his rude aspect he knew to be the gentleman of the French cinema in the time between the two World Wars. One of his most popular personalities was inspector Maigret. But he was also able to play all other kind of people: aristocrats...
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Eugene Pallette
Gargantuan-bellied, frog-voiced character actor who was a staple in forties movies. After World War II his ultra-right-wing political views fuelled his 'bomb' paranoia and he bought a property in Oregon which he turned into a well-stocked compound in case the Russians attacked. Many of his old Hollywood friends...
“ Vote: 7,852 ” - dziwnytenswiat
Robert Warwick
A prominent matinée stage and silent-film star with handsome features offset only slightly by a prominent proboscis, Robert Warwick was born and raised in Sacramento, California, as Robert Taylor Bien. The gift of music was instilled at an early age (he sang in his church choir) and he initially prepared for an operatic career...
“ Vote: 7,850 ” - dziwnytenswiat
John Carradine
John Carradine, the son of a reporter/artist and a surgeon, grew up in Poughkeepsie, New York. He attended Christ Church School and Graphic Art School, studying sculpture, and afterward roamed the South selling sketches. He made his acting debut in "Camille" in a New Orleans theatre in 1925. Arriving in Los Angeles in 1927...
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Edward Arnold
Edward Arnold was born as Gunther Edward Arnold Schneider in 1890, on the Lower East Side of New York City, the son of German immigrants, Elizabeth (Ohse) and Carl Schneider. Arnold began his acting career on the New York stage and became a film actor in 1916. A burly man with a commanding style and superb baritone voice...
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Charley Grapewin
This old codger film favorite, born in 1869 (some reports say 1875), got into the entertainment field at an early age, first as a circus performer (aerialist and trapeze artist). Acting having then sparked his interest, he worked in a series of stock companies while writing stage plays on the side that he himself could star in...
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C. Aubrey Smith
Actor, Rebecca
Movie roles are sometimes based upon what the audience expects to see. If the role called for the tall stereotypical Englishmen with the stiff upper lip and stern determination, that man would be C. Aubrey Smith, graduate of Cambridge University, a leading Freemason and a test cricketer for England...
“ Vote: 7,844 ” - dziwnytenswiat
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...
“ Vote: 7,828 ” - dziwnytenswiat
Walter Connolly
The name may have been forgotten, especially today (seven decades later), but the portly, apoplectic, exasperated figure on the 1930s screen wasn't. While his film career, save a couple of silents, lasted a paltry seven years (1932-1939), character actor Walter Connolly certainly ran the distance. While some film historians complain that a number of his performances were annoying or overbaked...
“ Vote: 7,824 ” - dziwnytenswiat
Stan Laurel
Stan Laurel came from a theatrical family, his father was an actor and theatre manager, and he made his stage debut at the age of 16 at Pickard's Museum, Glasgow. He traveled with Fred Karno's vaudeville company to the United States in 1910 and again in 1913. While with that company he was Charles Chaplin's understudy...
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Oliver Hardy
Although his parents were never in show business, as a young boy Oliver Hardy was a gifted singer and, by age eight, was performing with minstrel shows. In 1910 he ran a movie theatre, which he preferred to studying law. In 1913 he became a comedy actor with the Lubin Company in Florida and began appearing in a long series of shorts; his debut film was Outwitting Dad...
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Cary Grant
Cary Grant was an English actor who became an American citizen in 1942. Known for his transatlantic accent, debonair demeanor, and "dashing good looks", Grant is considered one of classic Hollywood's definitive leading men. In 1999, the American Film Institute named Grant the second greatest male star of Golden Age Hollywood cinema (after Humphrey Bogart)...
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Charles Laughton
Actor, Spartacus
Charles Laughton was born on July 1, 1899 in Yorkshire, England. He was the son of Robert Laughton, a Yorkshire hotel keeper. His mother was a devout Roman Catholic of Irish ancestry. Laughton briefly attended Scarborough College, a local boys' school in his area before attending Stonyhurst College, an English Jesult school...
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David Torrence
David Torrence was the second child born out of eleven children to Henry Torrance Thomson and Janet Bryce. Davis given name was 'David Bryce Thomson." Born on Jan 17,1863 in Edinbough,Scotland. David's brother was character star 'Ernest Torrence' who was 15 years younger than David. Ernest was the first of the two to come to California and become actors...
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David Niven
David Niven was named after the Saint's Day on which he was born, St. David, patron Saint of Wales. He attended Stowe School and Sandhurst Military Academy and served for two years in Malta with the Highland Light Infantry. At the outbreak of World War II, although a top-line star, he re-joined the army (Rifle Brigade)...
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Groucho Marx
Actor, Duck Soup
The bushy-browed, cigar-smoking wise-cracker with the painted-on moustache and stooped walk was the leader of The Marx Brothers. With one-liners that were often double entendres, Groucho never cursed in any of his performances and said he never wanted to be known as a dirty comic. With a great love of music and singing (The Marx Brothers started as a singing group)...
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Clark Gable
William Clark Gable was born on February 1, 1901 in Cadiz, Ohio, to Adeline (Hershelman) and William Henry Gable, an oil-well driller. He was of German, Irish, and Swiss-German descent. When he was seven months old, his mother died, and his father sent him to live with his maternal aunt and uncle in Pennsylvania...
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Dick Powell
In the 1930s , Dick Powell was the juvenile lead in the Warner backstage musicals opposite such rising stars as Ruby Keeler and Joan Blondell. After his career in musicals, he was cast in private-eye roles and became a producer and director for both TV and movies.
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Leslie Howard
Leslie Howard Stainer was born in London, to Lilian (Blumberg) and Ferdinand "Frank" Steiner. His father was a Hungarian Jewish immigrant, and his English mother was of German Jewish, and mostly English, descent. Leslie went to Dulwich College. After school, he worked as a bank clerk until the outbreak of World War I...
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James Stewart
James Maitland Stewart was born on 20 May 1908 in Indiana, Pennsylvania, to Elizabeth Ruth (Johnson) and Alexander Maitland Stewart, who owned a hardware store. He was of Scottish, Ulster-Scots, and some English, descent. Stewart was educated at a local prep school, Mercersburg Academy, where he was a keen athlete (football and track)...
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Basil Rathbone
Basil Rathbone was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1892, but three years later his family was forced to flee the country because his father was accused by the Boers of being a British spy at a time when Dutch-British conflicts were leading to the Boer War. The Rathbones escaped to England, where Basil and his two younger siblings...
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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...
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Michel Simon
Actor, L'Atalante
The son of a sausage-maker, Michel Simon was conscripted into the Swiss Army at the start of World War I, but was thrown out through a combination of tuberculosis and general insubordination. He was variously a boxer, photographer, general handyman and right-wing anarchist, finally becoming a stage actor in Geneva in 1920...
“ Vote: 7,746 ” - dziwnytenswiat
Lionel Barrymore
The legendary Lionel Barrymore, one of the great cinema character actors, was the oldest of the three Barrymmore siblings. Along with Ethel Barrymore and John Barrymore, he shares a prominent place in American acting in the first half of the 20th Century. In addition to winning a Best Actor Academy Award (for A Free Soul)...
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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...
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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...
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Alan Hale
Alan Hale decided on a film career after his attempt at becoming an opera singer didn't pan out. He quickly became much in demand as a supporting actor, starred in several films for Cecil B. DeMille and directed others for him. With the advent of sound Hale played leads in a few films, but soon settled down into a career as one of the busiest character actors in the business...
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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)...
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Warren William
Warren William, the stalwart leading man of pre-Production Code talkies, was born Warren William Krech on December 2, 1894 in Aitkin, Minnesota, the son of a newspaper publisher. William originally planned to become a journalist, but he had a change of heart, and instead went to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and trained to become an actor...
“ Vote: 7,690 ” - dziwnytenswiat
Donald Crisp
Donald Crisp was born George William Crisp at the family home in Bow, London. Donald's parents were James Crisp and Elizabeth Crisp, his birth was registered by his mother on 4th September 1882. Donald's sisters were Elizabeth, Ann, Alice (known as Louisa) and Eliza and his brothers were James, John and Mark...
“ Vote: 7,682 ” - dziwnytenswiat
Humphrey Bogart
Actor, Casablanca
Humphrey DeForest Bogart was born in New York City, New York, to Maud Humphrey, a famed magazine illustrator and suffragette, and Belmont DeForest Bogart, a moderately wealthy surgeon (who was secretly addicted to opium). Bogart was educated at Trinity School, NYC, and was sent to Phillips Academy in Andover...
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Paul Muni
Actor, Scarface
Paul Muni was born Sept. 22, 1895, in Lemberg, Austro-Hungarian Empire, to Salli and Phillip Weisenfreund, who were both professionals. His family was Jewish, and spoke Yiddish. Paul was educated in New York and Cleveland public schools. He was described as 5 feet 10 inches, with black hair and eyes...
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James Cagney
Actor, White Heat
One of Hollywood's preeminent male stars of all time (eclipsed, perhaps, only by "King" Clark Gable and arguably by Gary Cooper or Spencer Tracy), and the cinema's quintessential "tough guy", James Cagney was also an accomplished--if rather stiff--hoofer and easily played light comedy. James Francis Cagney was born on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in New York City...
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Mischa Auer
Mischa Auer, the American screen's supreme exponent of the "Mad Russian" stereotype so dear to Yankee hearts before and after World War II, was born Mischa Ounskowsky on November 17, 1905, in St. Petersburg, Russia, the grandson of violinist Leopold Auer, whose surname he took when he became a professional actor in the U.S...
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Paul Lukas
Oscar-winning actor Paul Lukas was born in Hungary and graduated from the School for Dramatic Arts. In 1916 he went to Kosice (Kassa) to be an actor; in 1918 he became an actor specializing in comedy. For ten years he was the most popular character player and romantic lead of the company. In 1918 he began making in Budapest and in the 1920s he began appearing in films in Austria as well...
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Spencer Tracy
Spencer Tracy was born four years after his brother Carroll to truck salesman John Edward and Caroline Brown Tracy. He attended Marquette Academy along with Pat O'Brien and the two left school to enlist in the Navy at the start of World War I. He was still at Norfolk Navy Yard in Virginia at the end of the war...
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Chishû Ryû
What an amazing career! Few can boast a longer one (64 years of activity). Few have been able to have to relate to three generations. And it is pretty sure that no one can compare with him in terms of faithfulness to a director: Chishu Ryu indeed appeared in no fewer than fifty-two out of fifty-four of his master Yasujirô Ozu...
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Roscoe Karns
On stage since age 15, Roscoe Karns parlayed his machine-gun delivery and street-wise demeanor (although many thought of him as a New Yorker, he was actually from San Bernardino, California) into character roles in dozens of films from the 1920s to the 1960s. His peak period, though, was in the 1930s...
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Melvyn Douglas
Two-time Oscar-winner Melvyn Douglas was one of America's finest actors. In addition to his two Oscars, he also won a Tony Award and an Emmy. Douglas would enjoy cinema immortality if for no other reason than his being the man who made Greta Garbo laugh in Ernst Lubitsch's classic comedy Ninotchka, but he was much, much more...
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George Bancroft
Actor, Stagecoach
George Bancroft was raised in Philadelphia and attended high school at Tomes Institute (Philadelphia). He won an impressive appointment to the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis and graduated as a commissioned officer. He served in the Navy for the prescribed period of required service but no more...
“ Vote: 7,606 ” - dziwnytenswiat
Gary Cooper
Actor, High Noon
Born to Alice Cooper and Charles Cooper (not in film business). Gary attended school at Dunstable school England, Helena Montana and Iowa College, Grinnell, Iowa. His first stage experience was during high school and college. Afterwards, he worked as an extra for one year before getting a part in a two reeler by Hans Tissler (an independent producer)...
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Jack La Rue
Discovered on Broadway by director Howard Hawks, La Rue was originally brought to Hollywood to play a gangster in Scarface. He lost that role to George Raft, and similarly was replaced by Humphrey Bogart in the film version of The Petrified Forest. Eventually, he became well-known to movie-goers as a mean...
“ Vote: 7,588 ” - dziwnytenswiat
Fredric March
Fredric March began a career in banking but in 1920 found himself cast as an extra in films being produced in New York. He starred on the Broadway stage first in 1926 and would return there between screen appearances later on. He won plaudits (and an Academy Award nomination) for his send-up of John Barrymore in The Royal Family of Broadway...
“ Vote: 7,584 ” - dziwnytenswiat
Reginald Owen
Born August 5th, 1887 in England, Reginald Owen was probably Hollywood's busiest character actor - making more than 80 films. He was educated in England at Sir Herbert Tree's Academy of Dramatic Arts. Owen excelled and made his professional debut also in England at the age of 18. He came to New York in the early 1920s and started working on Broadway by 1924...
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Maurice Chevalier
Actor, Gigi
His heavy French accent, melodic voice and Gallic charm made Maurice Chevalier the prototype of the gallant French monsieur in the American cinema of the 1930s. Before he went to Hollywood he worked as a farmer, circus acrobat, cabaret singer and, starting in 1908, a comical actor in French films, a few times even with the celebrated Max Linder...
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Fred Astaire
Actor, Top Hat
Fred Astaire was born in Omaha, Nebraska, to Johanna (Geilus) and Fritz Austerlitz, a brewer. Fred entered show business at age 5. He was successful both in vaudeville and on Broadway in partnership with his sister, Adele Astaire. After Adele retired to marry in 1932, Astaire headed to Hollywood. Signed to RKO...
“ Vote: 7,548 ” - dziwnytenswiat
Robert Donat
Robert Donat's pleasant voice and somewhat neutral English accent were carefully honed as a boy because he had a stammer and took elocution lessons starting at age 11 to overcome the impediment. It was not too surprising that freedom from such a vocal embarrassment was encouragement to act. His other handicap...
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George Brent
The favorite leading man of star actress Bette Davis, was born George Brendan Nolan, near Dublin, and became an orphan at the tender age of eleven. For a while, he stayed with an aunt in New York, but returned to Ireland to study at the University of Dublin. After leaving university in 1919, George became a courier for Sinn Fein leader Michael Collins...
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Marcel Dalio
Actor, Sabrina
Sunday, November the 20th is the anniversary of Marcel Dalio's death in 1983. It was the end of a serendipitous life. You know him. He was a citizen of the world. Born Israel Moshe Blauschild, in Paris, in 1900, he became a much sought-after character actor. His lovely animated face with its great expressive eyes became familiar across Europe...
“ Vote: 7,526 ” - dziwnytenswiat
Akim Tamiroff
Though born in Russia and having a Russian-sounding name, Akim Tamiroff is actually of Armenian descent. At 19 he decided to pursue acting as a career and was chosen from among 500 applicants to the Moscow Art Theater School. There he studied under the great Konstantin Stanislavski, and launched a stage career...
“ Vote: 7,524 ” - dziwnytenswiat
Robert Armstrong
Actor, King Kong
Robert Armstrong is familiar to old-movie buffs for his case-hardened, rapid-fire delivery in such roles as fast-talking promoters, managers, FBI agents, street cops, detectives and other such characters in scores of films--over 160--many of them at Warner Brothers, where he was part of the so-called "Warner Brothers Stock Company" that consisted of such players as James Cagney...
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Preston Foster
Actor, Waterfront
Actor, composer, songwriter, guitarist and author. He moved from Broadway acting (1928-1932) into films, touring America with his wife and daughter, and did some recordings. He was the executive producer at the El Camino Playhouse in California. Joining ASCAP in 1953, his chief musical collaborator was Perry Botkin...
“ Vote: 7,514 ” - dziwnytenswiat
Errol Flynn
Errol Flynn (1909-1959) was an Australian-born film star who gained fame in Hollywood in the 1930s as the screen's premier swashbuckler. Tall, athletic and exceptionally handsome, Flynn personified the cavalier adventurer in a string of immensely popular films for Warner Brothers, most often co-starring...
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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...
“ Vote: 7,502 ” - dziwnytenswiat
Bela Lugosi
Actor, Dracula
It's ironic that Martin Landau won an Oscar for impersonating Bela Lugosi (in Ed Wood) when Lugosi himself never came within a mile of one, but that's just the latest of many sad ironies surrounding Lugosi's career. Bela Lugosi was born Béla Ferenc Dezsö Blaskó on October 20, 1882, Lugos...
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Douglas Fairbanks Jr.
Although he appeared in approximately 100 movies or TV shows, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. never really intended to take up acting as a career. However, the environment he was born into and the circumstances naturally led him to be a thespian. Noblesse oblige. He was born Douglas Elton Fairbanks, Jr. in New York City...
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William Demarest
Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, William Demarest was a prolific actor in movies and TV, making more than 140 films. Demarest started his acting career in vaudeville and made his way to Broadway. His most famous role was in My Three Sons, replacing a very sick William Frawley. Demarest was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting role in the real-life biography...
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J. Carrol Naish
J. Carroll was born in New York City to Catherine Moran and Patrick Sarsfield Naish (not in the business). He was educated at St. Cecilia's Academy, New York City. He had seven years stage experience in Paris and New York. Later in stock company. First screen appearance in 1930. Fox brought him to Hollywood.
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Roland Young
Best remembered for the many meek characters he played -- think Cosmo Topper, of the screwball classic ­­Topper -- this balding, short, yet distinguished actor was born in London, England, to an architect and his wife. Young was educated at Sherborne College and London University and trained as an actor at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art...
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Leo G. Carroll
One of the most indispensable of character actors, Leo G. Carroll was already involved in the business of acting as a schoolboy in Gilbert & Sullivan productions. Aged 16, he portrayed an old man in 'Liberty Hall'. In spite of the fact, that he came from a military family, and , perhaps, because of his experience during World War I...
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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...
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Wallace Ford
Actor, Freaks
Wallace Ford's career as a character actor in over 200 films from 1932 to 1965 can be divided into two parts. In his early movies his freckled and friendly face and wavy hair lent itself to light, wise-cracking leads in a string of B pictures. By 1950 he had morphed into a stocky, grizzled old-timer in an impressive group of Westerns...
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Herbert Marshall
Herbert Marshall had trained to become a certified accountant, but his interest turned to the stage. He lost a leg while serving in World War I, he was rehabilitated with a wooden leg. This did not stop him from making good his decision to make the stage as his vocation. He used a very deliberate square-shouldered and guided walk - largely unnoticeable - to cover up his disability...
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Pat O'Brien
Although he came to be called "Hollywood's Irishman in Residence"--and, along with good friends James Cagney, Allen Jenkins, Frank McHugh and a few others were called "The Irish Mafia"--and he often played Irish immigrants, Pat O'Brien was US-born and -bred. As a young boy the devoutly Roman Catholic O'Brien considered entering the seminary to study for the priesthood...
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Henry Travers
British-born Henry Travers was a veteran of the English stage before emigrating to the U.S. in 1917. He gained more stage experience there on Broadway working with the Theatre Guild, and began his long film career with Reunion in Vienna. Travers' kindly, grandfatherly demeanor became familiar to filmgoers over the next 25 years...
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Lionel Atwill
Lionel Atwill was born into a wealthy family and was educated at London's prestigious Mercer School to become an architect, but his interest turned to the stage. He worked his way progressively into the craft and debuted at age 20 at the Garrick Theatre in London. He acted and improved regularly thereafter...
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Franchot Tone
Franchot Tone was born into a well-to-do upstate New York family. Tone traveled the world with his parents and attended various schools, including The Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, from which he was dismissed "for being a subtle influence for disorder throughout the fall term." He entered Cornell University...
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Cedric Hardwicke
Actor, Rope
Sir Cedric Hardwicke, one of the great character actors in the first decades of the talking picture, was born in Lye, England on February 19, 1893. Hardwicke attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and made his stage debut in 1912. His career was interrupted by military service in World War I, but he returned to the stage in 1922 with the Birmingham Repertory Theatre...
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Nigel Bruce
Actor, Rebecca
Nigel was, from the beginning, typecast as bumbling English aristocrats, military types or drawing room society snobs and, within the narrow parameters of his range, he was very, very good at playing these parts. Nigel Bruce was born in Mexico, where his father, Sir William W. Bruce, worked as an engineer...
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Jackie Cooper
Actor, The Champ
Jackie Cooper was born John Cooper in Los Angeles, California, to Mabel Leonard, an Italian-American stage pianist, and John Cooper. Through his mother, he was the nephew of actress Julie Leonard, screenwriter Jack Leonard, and (by marriage) director Norman Taurog. Jackie served with the Navy in the South Pacific toward the end of World War II...
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Neil Hamilton
Actor, Batman
Neil Hamilton's show business career began when he secured a job as a shirt model in magazine ads. He became interested in acting and joined several stock companies. He got his first film role in 1918, but received his big break from D.W. Griffith in The White Rose. After performing in several more Griffith films...
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Peter Lorre
Actor, Casablanca
As a youth Peter Lorre ran away from home, worked as a bank clerk and, after stage training in Vienna, made his acting debut in Zurich. He remained unknown, traveling for several years and acting in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, until Fritz Lang cast him as the psychopathic child killer in M...
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Harry Carey
Harry Carey, the silent film star and later B-movie cowboy and A-list character actor, was--like Clint Eastwood's "Bronco Billy"--a self-made Westerner. Born on January 16, 1878, in Bronx, NY, Henry DeWitt Carey II was the son of a prominent lawyer who was the president of a sewing machine company...
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Louis Calhern
Actor, Notorious
Tall, distinguished, aristocratic Louis Calhern seemed to be the poster boy for old-money, upper-crust urban society, but he was actually born Carl Vogt, to middle-class parents in New York City. His family moved to St. Louis when he was a child, and it was while playing football in high school there that he was spotted by a representative of a touring acting troupe and hired as an actor...
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John Ridgely
John Ridgely was a versatile character actor who made over 100 films at Warner Brothers during the 1930s and 1940s. Starting out in bit roles in such films as Dark Victory, They Died with Their Boots On and The Man Who Came to Dinner, Ridgely eventually graduated to larger roles in such classics as Howard Hawks' Air Force...
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Joel McCrea
One of the great stars of American Westerns, and a very popular leading man in non-Westerns as well. He was born and raised in the surroundings of Hollywood and as a boy became interested in the movies that were being made all around. He studied acting at Pomona College and got some stage experience at the Pasadena Community Playhouse...
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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...
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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...
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Ray Milland
Ray Milland became one of Paramount's most bankable and durable stars, under contract from 1934 to 1948, yet little in his early life suggested a career as a motion picture actor. Milland was born Alfred Reginald Jones in the Welsh town of Neath, Glamorgan, to Elizabeth Annie (Truscott) and Alfred Jones...
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Henry Fonda
Henry Jaynes Fonda was born in Grand Island, Nebraska, to Elma Herberta (Jaynes) and William Brace Fonda, who worked in advertising and printing. His recent ancestry included Dutch, English, and Scottish. Fonda started his acting debut with the Omaha Community Playhouse, a local amateur theater troupe directed by Dorothy Brando...
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Wallace Beery
In 1902, 16-year-old Wallace Beery joined the Ringling Brothers Circus as an assistant to the elephant trainer. He left two years later after a leopard clawed his arm. Beery next went to New York, where he found work in musical variety shows. He became a leading man in musicals and appeared on Broadway and in traveling stock companies...
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Brian Donlevy
It seems that Brian Donlevy started out life as colorfully as any character he ever played on the stage or screen. He lied about his age (he was actually 14) in 1916 so he could join the army. When Gen. John J. Pershing sent American troops to invade Mexico in pursuit of Pancho Villa--Mexican rebels under Villa's command raided Columbus...
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Freddie Bartholomew
One of the most popular child actors in film history, Freddie Bartholomew was born Frederick Cecil Bartholomew in London, England, in 1924. He was raised by his aunt, Millicent Bartholomew. Freddie had appeared on stage and in four minor British films when he was offered the title role in David Copperfield by MGM...
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Jean Hersholt
Actor, Heidi
If ever there was a Great Dane in Hollywood it was Jean Hersholt - and one of its great hearts as well. He was from a well-known Danish stage and entertainment family that had toured throughout Europe performing with young Jean as an essential cast member. He graduated from the Copenhagen Art School...
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Bruce Cabot
Actor, King Kong
Hollywood stalwart Bruce Cabot's main claim to fame, other than rescuing Fay Wray from King Kong, is that he tested for the lead role of The Ringo Kid in John Ford's Western masterpiece Stagecoach. John Wayne got the role and became the most durable star in Hollywood history...
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Victor Jory
Actor, Papillon
Victor Jory was the boxing and wrestling champion of the Coast Guard during his military hitch, and never lost his big, burly physique. His sinister looks and distinctive voice typed him as a heavy, at which he excelled, but he did occasionally play sympathetic leads, one of which was, oddly enough, the sci-fi cult classic Cat-Women of the Moon.
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David Manners
Actor, Dracula
Distantly related to Princess Diana on his mother's side, Nova Scotia-born actor David Manners, nee Rauff de Ryther Daun Acklom, came from well-to-do stock. His father ran the prestigious Tower Road boys' school Harrow House and later became a literary advisor for E.P. Dutton Publishing Co. in New York...
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Raymond Massey
Educated at the University of Toronto & Balliol College, Oxford, he joined the Canadian Field Artillery in World War I, served in France & was wounded. His first appearance was in a stage production in Siberia, during its occupation by American Forces in 1918. Raymond returned to Canada & the farm implement business after the war...
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Ian Hunter
Ian Hunter was born in the Kenilworth area of Cape Town, South Africa where he spent his childhood. In his teen years he and his parents returned to the family origins in England to live. Sometime between that arrival and the early years of World War I, Hunter began exploring acting. But in 1917 - and being only 17 - he joined the army to serve in France for the year of war still remaining...
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