The 300 Best Character Movie Actors - Always in the Cast but never the Star

You have seen at least one these actors in most any picture made since the 1930's. Some like John Goodman and Karl Malden have had top billing, but most of these Stars are known as the "Co-Star", "Second Banana" "With" or "Also Staring" roles. The vital people that make the story.

Update 6/8/13 - After many comments and some bad omissions on my part, I have updated this list. Thank you all for your comments and please continue.

Update 10/2/13 Again updated to list to 200, after many great comments. Thanks again and keep them coming.

Update 2/14/14 - More comments and more additions. I am now at 250, so any additions from here on out, will be with removing some of the lesser known for ones that people have I have omitted and are worthy of this list.

Update 7/22/14 - Since I said I would stop at 250, but I have gotten several comments about additions and found some of my own. I enjoy the comments and the research, so I will continue onto 300. Thank to you all.

Update 2/6/15 - I haven't been able to get back to this in awhile, but did read all of your comments and concur with most of them. To that end, I have removed many on this list who were known more for their TV work, than in the Movies and added several glaring omissions. Again thanks for all your interest in this.
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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...
Ward Bond
Gruff, burly American character actor. Born in 1903 in Benkelman, Nebraska (confirmed by Social Security records; sources stating 1905 or Denver, Colorado are in error.) Bond grew up in Denver, the son of a lumberyard worker. He attended the University of Southern California, where he got work as an...
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...
Karl Malden
Karl Malden resumed his film acting career in the 1950s, starting with The Gunfighter (1950) and Halls of Montezuma (1950). The following year, he was in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), playing Mitch, Stanley Kowalski's best friend who starts a romance with Blanche DuBois (Vivien Leigh). For this role...
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...
Mary Wickes
Actress, Sister Act
From the grand old school of wisecracking, loud and lanky Mary Wickes had few peers while forging a career as a salty scene-stealer. Her abrupt, tell-it-like-it-is demeanor made her a consistent audience favorite on every medium for over six decades. She was particularly adroit in film parts that chided the super rich or exceptionally pious...
Barry Fitzgerald
One of Hollywood's finest character actors and most accomplished scene stealers, Barry Fitzgerald was born William Joseph Shields in 1888 in Dublin, Ireland. Educated to enter the banking business, the diminutive Irishman with the irresistible brogue was bitten by the acting bug in the 1920s and joined Dublin's world-famous Abbey Players...
Martin Balsam
Martin Henry Balsam was born on November 4, 1919 in the Bronx, New York City, to Lillian (Weinstein) and Albert Balsam, a manufacturer of women's sportswear. He was the first-born child. His father was a Russian Jewish immigrant, and his mother was born in New York, to Russian Jewish parents. Martin caught the acting bug in high school where he participated in the drama club...
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...
Harry Morgan
Actor, M*A*S*H
Harry Morgan was a prolific character actor who starred in over 100 films and was a stage performer. Known to a younger generation of fans as "Col. Sherman T. Potter" on M*A*S*H. Also known for his commanding personality throughout his career, he tackled movies and television in a way no other actor would do it...
Norman Fell
Norman Fell was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1924. He graduated from Temple University with a bachelor's degree in drama. During World War II, he was an Air Force tail gunner in the Pacific. After the war, he studied acting and obtained small parts in television and on stage. His first regular TV appearance was in the comedy series Joe & Mabel...
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...
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...
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...
Ben Johnson
Born in Oklahoma, Ben Johnson was a ranch hand and rodeo performer when, in 1940, Howard Hughes hired him to take a load of horses to California. He decided to stick around (the pay was good), and for some years was a stunt man, horse wrangler, and double for such stars as John Wayne, Gary Cooper and James Stewart...
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...
Eli Wallach
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...
Roddy McDowall
Roderick McDowall was born in London, the son of a Merchant Mariner father and a mother who had always wanted to be in movies. He was enrolled in elocution courses at age five and by ten had appeared in his first film, Murder in the Family, playing Peter Osborne, the younger brother of sisters played by Jessica Tandy and Glynis Johns...
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...
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)...
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...
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...
Paul Fix
Paul Fix, the well-known movie and TV character actor who played "Marshal Micah Torrance" on the TV series The Rifleman, was born Peter Paul Fix on March 13, 1901 in Dobbs Ferry, New York to brew-master Wilhelm Fix and his wife, the former Louise C. Walz. His mother and father were German immigrants who had left their Black Forest home and arrived in New York City in the 1870s...
Harry Carey Jr.
Harry Carey, Jr., had been reliable character actor for decades, mostly in Westerns, before he retired. He is the son of the actor Harry Carey and the actress Olive Carey. He was born on his parents' 1000-acre ranch near Saugus, in the northwestern part of Los Angeles County, which is now next door to Santa Clarita...
John Dehner
Unlike many actors, John Dehner's career didn't begin on the stage or on radio. He started out as an animator for Walt Disney Studios, then worked as a disc jockey and a professional pianist. He made his film debut in the 1940s, and has appeared in dozens of films. A tall and distinguished looking man with a rich voice and somewhat flamboyant demeanor...
Kathleen Freeman
Actress, Shrek
Kathleen Freeman's introduction to show business came very early in life. Her parents were vaudevillians, and she made her debut at age 2 in their act. Later she attended UCLA with intentions of becoming a pianist, but was bitten by the acting bug and never looked back. She gained experience on stage in various stock and repertory companies...
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...
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...
John McGiver
John Irwin McGiver came to acting relatively late in life. He held a B.A. and Masters degrees in English from Fordham, Columbia and Catholic Universities and spent his early years teaching drama and speech at Christopher Columbus High School in the Bronx. He had an early flirt with the acting profession...
Elisha Cook Jr.
He debuted on stage at age 14 and worked in vaudeville, stock companies and Broadway. His only film appearance prior to 1936 was re-playing his stage role, the romantic juvenile lead, in Her Unborn Child. After more work on Broadway, he settled in Hollywood in 1936. From then on, he played type-cast small-time gangsters...
Mike Mazurki
With an intimidating face like craggy granite and a towering 6'5" solid frame, Mike Mazurki (born Mikhail Mazuruski or Mikhail Mazurkiewicz) was one of cinema's first serial thugs and specialized in playing strongarm men, gangsters and bullies for over 50 years on screen. Nearly always portrayed as a lowbrow muscle...
Red Buttons
Composer, actor, comedian and author, he joined ASCAP in 1963 and wrote several popular songs (which he often personally performed), including "Strange Things Are Happening" and "The Ho-Ho Song".
Hans Conried
Actor, Peter Pan
Hans Conried was born in Baltimore and raised both there and in New York City. He studied acting at Columbia University, and played many major classical roles onstage. After having been a member of Orson Welles' Mercury Theatre Company, he was heard as Prof. Kropotkin on the radio show "My Friend Irma" and had various roles on the "Edgar Bergen - Charlie McCarthy Show"...
John Doucette
Actor, Lock Up
Stocky, balding American character actor with a rich, deep voice, equally adept at Western bad guys and Shakespeare. He began his career in films in minor roles, primarily as gangland henchmen, and progressed to become widely familiar as a figure in a variety of dramas and occasional comedies. Although a stalwart and reliable supporting player...
Noah Beery Jr.
Familiar and well-liked character actor of very different persona than either his father, Noah Beery, or his uncle, Wallace Beery. He attended Harvard Military Academy but managed to make a number of appearances on film and on stage with his father before adulthood. At age 19, he began playing amiable second leads and occasional leading roles...
Jay C. Flippen
Jay C. Flippen could probably be characterized these days as one of those distinctive faces you know but whose name escapes you while viewing old 50s and 60s movies and TV. His distinctive bulldog mug, beetle brows, bulky features, and silver-white hair were ideally suited for roles as criminals and rugged adventurers...
Eve Arden
Eve was born just north of San Francisco in Mill Valley and was interested in show business from an early age. At 16, she made her stage debut after quitting school to joined a stock company. After appearing in minor roles in two films under her real name, Eunice Quedens, she found that the stage offered her the same minor roles...
Paul Ford
If any man ever had a character face absolutely made for TV and film, it was Paul Ford. Small-eyed, lugubrious, pot-bellied, balding and with a plum nose to rival Karl Malden, Ford was a rather wanderlust family man who decided to give acting a try in his early 40. He excelled at puppetry and found work staging such shows at the World's Fair...
Dean Jagger
Dean Jagger was born in Lima, Ohio, on November 7, 1903. He dropped out of high school twice before finally graduating from Wabash College. Working first as a school teacher, he soon became interested in acting and enrolled at Chicago's "Lyceum Art Conservatory". Mr. Jagger made his first movie and only silent film...
James Gleason
James Gleason was born in New York City to William Gleason and Mina Crolius, who were both in the theatre. He was married to Lucile Gleason (born Lucile Webster), and had a son, Russell Gleason. As a young man James fought in the Spanish-American War. After the war he joined the stock company at the Liberty Theater in Oakland...
Royal Dano
Royal Dano was undoubtedly one of the best, most quirky and striking character actors to ever grace the big and small screen alike in a lengthy and impressive career which spanned 42 years. Royal Edward Dano was born on November 16, 1922 in New York City, to Mary Josephine (O'Connor) and Caleb Edward Dano...
Edward Andrews
Actor, Gremlins
Edward Andrews' familiar face has been seen in guest-starring appearances on numerous television shows and as a character actor in many movies. His image as a boss, father-in-law or other authority figure only grew as he aged, his stark white hair and glasses adding to the effect. He was frequently on Love, American Style and also turned in strong work as Admiral Harold Stark in Tora! Tora! Tora!...
J. Pat O'Malley
J. Pat had a warm smile, twinkling eyes, and an Irish name. He was born in Burnley, England, and began his acting career in British musical halls. J. Pat came to the USA at the outbreak of World War II, and his film debut was Lassie Come Home. He also worked on the Broadway stage during the 1940s and 1950s...
Arthur O'Connell
Though veteran character actor Arthur O'Connell was born in New York City in 1908, he looked as countrified as apple pie, looking ever more comfy in overalls than he ever did in a suit. He made his stage debut in the mid 1930s and came into contact with Orson Welles' Mercury Theatre. As a result, he earned the bit role of a reporter in the final scenes of Citizen Kane (1941)...
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...
Trevor Howard
Actor, Gandhi
The son of an insurance underwriter, who represented Lloyd's of London in Ceylon, Trevor Wallace Howard-Smith was born in Margate, Kent. He spent his early childhood globetrotting with his mother, frequently left in the care of strangers. After attending private school, he subsequently trained at RADA (due to his mother's insistence)...
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...
Dabney Coleman
Actor, WarGames
For twenty years Dabney Coleman has appeared mostly in one type of role: a smarmy selfish, nervous person mostly with money that is out for himself, mostly. He did such a good job in this type of part that he's made a career of it in film Dabney Wharton Coleman was born in Austin, Texas, to Mary Wharton (Johns) and Melvin Randolph Coleman...
S.Z. Sakall
Actor, Casablanca
Hungarian-born S.Z. Sakall was a veteran of German, Hungarian and British films when he left Europe because of the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi movement. In Hollywood from shortly after the outbreak of World War II, Sakall began appearing in comedies and musicals, often playing a lovable if somewhat excitable and/or befuddled uncle...
Edna May Oliver
She was born Edna May Nutter, a child of solid New England stock, on 9th November 1883 in Malden, Massachusetts. The daughter of Ida May and Charles Edward Nutter, Edna was a descendant of the 6th American president John Quincy Adams. Miss Oliver took an early interest in the stage, and she would quit school at the age of 14 to pursue her ambitions in the theater...
Jack Albertson
A former song-and-dance man and veteran of vaudeville, burlesque and Broadway, Jack Albertson is best known to audiences as "The Man" in the TV series Chico and the Man, for which he won an Emmy. In 1968 Albertson, the brother of actress Mabel Albertson, won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in The Subject Was Roses, a part which also won him the Tony award during its Broadway run.
Andrew Duggan
Actor, Lancer
Actor. Born in Franklin, Indiana on December 28, 1923, he was raised in Texas and went to college at Indiana University. There, on a speech and drama scholarship, he began to act and perform however this was interrupted by being called into the service. In World War II where he saw action overseas, he was befriended by actor Melvyn Douglas who led his division...
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...
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...
Millard Mitchell
Millard Mitchell was born of American parents in Havana, Cuba. He was a popular stage and radio actor in the 1930s in New York. His first cinema appearances were in industrial short features, filmed in New York. His first Hollywood role was in Mr. and Mrs. North. After World War II, Mitchell acted in a goodly number of movies...
Richard Conte
Richard Conte was born Nicholas Richard Conte on March 24, 1910, in Jersey City, New Jersey, the son of an Italian-American barber. The young Conte held a variety of jobs before becoming a professional actor, including truck driver, Wall Street clerk and singing waiter at a Connecticut resort. The gig as a singing waiter led to theatrical work in New York...
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...
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...
George Macready
George Macready--the name probably doesn't ring any bells for most but the voice would be unmistakable. He attended and graduated from Brown University and had a short stint as a New York newspaperman, but became interested in acting on the advice of colorful Polish émigré classical stage director Richard Boleslawski...
Jim Backus
Jim Backus was born James Gilmore Backus on February 25, 1913 in Cleveland, Ohio. He was one of the few actors to do it all: radio, Broadway, movies, television and cartoons. After attending preparatory school in his hometown Cleveland, Backus enrolled at the American Academy of Dramatic Art, to ply his trade...
Willis Bouchey
American character actor primarily of pompous or officious types, long a favorite supporting player for John Ford. Bouchey was born in or near Vernon, Michigan but raised by his mother and stepfather in the state of Washington. He entered films in 1951 at the age of 44 and quickly became a familiar (if unnameable) fixture in movies and television. He died in 1977.
Hugh Griffith
Actor, Ben-Hur
Enjoyably larger-than-life character actor Hugh Emrys Griffith was born in Marianglas, Anglesey, North Wales, to Mary (Williams) and William Griffith. Griffith left the world of banking (having been employed as a teller) after winning a scholarship to study acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art...
Percy Herbert
The massive brooding face and nose of British actor Percy Herbert is familiar to movie goers and TV audiences alike. A seemingly unlikely stage discovery by no one less than the great Dame Sybil Thorndike of British theater, Herbert moved into movie roles by the early 1950s. Initially fitting in as a featured cockney character...
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...
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...
George Tobias
Actor, Bewitched
American character actor who specialized in none-too-bright pals of the lead, though his range included villains and ethnic types. A native of New York City, he began acting at 15. He studied at the Neighborhood Playhouse and played on Broadway with the Theatre Guild, and with the Provincetown Players...
Robert Newton
Robert Newton was one of the great character actors -- and great characters -- of the British cinema, best remembered today for playing Long John Silver in Treasure Island and its sequel for Walt Disney in the 1950s. His portrayal of Long John Silver and of Blackbeard, the Pirate created a persona that...
Don 'Red' Barry
Donald Barry went from the stage to the screen. After four years of playing villains and henchmen at various studios, Barry got the role that changed his image: Red Ryder in the Republic Pictures serial Adventures of Red Ryder. Although he had appeared in westerns for two years or so, this was the one that kept him there...
Ed Wynn
An old-fashioned comedian, who, by recommendation by his son Keenan Wynn, became one of the world's most beloved clowns, and one of the best actors of his time. He was born on November 9, 1886. He performed in the Ziegfeld Follies, and later had a son Keenan in 1916. He later wrote his own shows...
Ned Glass
Veteran Polish-born character actor Ned Glass grew up in New York, and, after vaudeville experience, started acting in small parts on Broadway from the early 1930's. He gained further experience in the capacity of theatrical production supervisor, before entering motion pictures in 1937 as an MGM contract player...
Jack Weston
Born in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of a shoe repairman, Jack Weston began acting at the age of ten. Encouraged by his father and a perceptive teacher in his public school, he was brought to the Cleveland Playhouse, where he joined their children's theater. He stayed with the company until he was drafted into the army at the age of 19...
R.G. Armstrong
Actor, Predator
A golden career was reflected in his name. Robert Golden Armstrong ("Bob" to his friends) was born in Birmingham, Alabama on April 7, 1917. He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. While there, he was frequently performing on stage with the Carolina Playmakers. After graduating, R.G...
Victor French
Victor French was the son of a stuntman. His debut was a small role in Lassie, uncredited. He had his first real acting experiences in western-films, where he usually played the "bad guy" due to his rather gruff look. This changed with Little House on the Prairie, (as Isaiah Edwards). In 1977, he left Little House on the Prairie to play in his own sitcom Carter Country...
Nehemiah Persoff
Born in 1919 (some sources say 1920) in Jerusalem, Nehemiah Persoff immigrated with his family to America in 1929. Following schooling at the Hebrew Technical Institute of New York, he found a job as a subway electrician doing signal maintenance until an interest in the theater altered the direction of his life...
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...
Clive Revill
A grand, well-respected actor of stage, film and television, most people think New Zealander Clive Revill is British. Although most people think of the curly, red-haired gent as a comic eccentric best known for his sterling work on the musical stage, he has been highly regarded for his formidable dramatic work in Shakespearean roles...
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...
Richard Jaeckel
Stocky tough-guy character actor Richard Jaeckel remains one of Hollywood's most prolific supporting stars. Born in Long Island, New York, on October 10, 1926, Jaeckel's family moved to Los Angeles when he was still in his teens. After graduation from Hollywood High School, Jaeckel was discovered by a casting director while working as a mailboy for 20th Century-Fox...
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...
James Gregory
One of the most beloved actors of all, James Gregory was born December 23, 1911, in the Bronx and grew up in New Rochelle, N.Y. In high school, he was elected president of the Drama Club. He went to work on Wall Street as a runner shortly after the 1929 crash. James Gregory performed in drama groups and achieved pro status as a summer stock player in 1935...
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...
Donald Meek
Actor, Stagecoach
On British and Australian stage before coming to the USA in 1912, he played more than 800 roles, starting with Sir Henry Irving at age 8. He first appeared in the US at Castle Square Theatre, Boston, in 1912, and made his New York debut in 1917 in "Going Up".
Charles Bickford
American character actor of gruff voice and appearance who was a fixture in Hollywood pictures from the earliest days of the talkies. The fifth of seven children, he was born in the first minute of 1891. He was a boisterous child, and at nine was tried and acquitted for attempted murder in the shooting of a motorman who had run over his dog...
Charles Durning
Actor, The Sting
WWII veteran, dance instructor and diversely talented stage & screen actor were all inclusions on the resume of this perpetually busy US actor who didn't get in front of the cameras until around the time of his fortieth birthday. The stockily built Charles Durning was one of Hollywood's most dependable and sought after supporting actors...
John Goodman
John Stephen Goodman is a U.S. film, television, and stage actor. He was born in St. Louis, Missouri, to Virginia Roos (Loosmore), a waitress and saleswoman, and Leslie Francis Goodman, a postal worker who died when John was a small child. He is of English, Welsh, and German ancestry. John is best known for his role as Dan Conner on the television series Roseanne (1988-1997)...
Ian McKellen
Ian Murray McKellen was born on May 25, 1939 in Burnley, Lancashire, England, to Margery Lois (Sutcliffe) and Denis Murray McKellen, a civil engineer. He is of Scottish, Northern Irish, and English descent. During his early childhood, his parents moved with Ian and his sister Jean to the mill town of Wigan...
John Williams
John Williams was a tall, urbane Anglo-American actor best known for his role as Chief Inspector Hubbard in Dial M for Murder, a role he played on Broadway, in Alfred Hitchcock's classic 1954 film, and on television in 1958. Playing Hubbard on the Great White Way brought him the 1953 Tony Award as Best Featured Actor in a Play...
Agnes Moorehead
Actress, Bewitched
Of Irish/English ancestry, Agnes was born near Boston, the daughter of a Presbyterian minister (her mother was a mezzo-soprano) who encouraged her to perform in church pageants. Aged three, she sang 'The Lord is my Shepherd' on a public stage and seven years later joined the St. Louis Municipal Opera as a dancer and singer for four years...
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...
Regis Toomey
Pittsburgh-born and -raised character actor Regis Toomey, of Irish descent, took an early interest in the performing arts and initially studied drama at the university of his home town. One of four children of Francis X. and Mary Ellen Toomey, John Regis Toomey initially pondered a law career, but acting won out and he gradually established himself as a musical stage performer...
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...
Donald Houston
Sandy-haired Welsh actor who served in the RAF during World War II and hit paydirt and stardom with his first two British films, The Blue Lagoon with Jean Simmons, and A Run for Your Money with Sir Alec Guinness, maintaining his career with lesser distinction in bawdy comedies and melodramas. His caracters were authority figures...
Keenan Wynn
Character actor Keenan Wynn was born into a famous show-business family. One in particular is his father, Ed Wynn. Keenan was the one to help to push his father to also become a well-known character actor. They appeared together in Son of Flubber, The Absent Minded Professor, The Great Man, The Patsy.
Frank Cady
Although Frank Cady's most famous role would be that of general-store owner Sam Drucker, one of the less nutty residents of Hooterville in both Green Acres and Petticoat Junction, he had a history as a film, stage and television actor long before those shows. Cady also appeared on some radio programs including Gunsmoke...
Jessie Royce Landis
Jessie Royce Landis was called "an international star" in her New York Times obituary. She was 20 when she made her stage debut at the Playhouse in Chicago as the young countess in "The Highwayman". Soon she was on Broadway. In 1950 she went to London for "Larger Than Life", a dramatization of W. Somerset Maugham's novel...
Robert J. Wilke
Prolific American character actor of primarily villainous roles. The son of German parents, Cincinnati feed-store manager August Wilke and his wife Rose, Robert Joseph Wilke grew up in Cincinnati. He worked as a lifeguard at a Miami, Florida, hotel, where he made contacts in the film business. He was able to obtain work as a stuntman and continued as such until the mid-'40s...
John Ireland
Actor, Spartacus
Born in Canada, John Ireland was raised in New York. Performing as a swimmer in a water carnival, he moved into the legitimate theater, often appearing in minor roles in Broadway plays. His first big break in pictures came in 1945 when he appeared as Windy the introspective letter-writing G.I. in the classic war epic A Walk in the Sun...
Whit Bissell
Whit Bissell came to Hollywood in the 1940s, and by the time he retired he had appeared in more than 200 movies and scores of TV series. He is best known for playing the evil scientist who turned Michael Landon into a half beast in the 1957 cult classic film I Was a Teenage Werewolf. Bissell specialized in playing doctors...