People who have excelled in art of acting through the years.
Marlon Brando is widely considered the greatest movie actor of all time, rivaled only by the more theatrically oriented Laurence Olivier
in terms of esteem. Unlike Olivier, who preferred the stage to the screen, Brando concentrated his talents on movies after bidding the Broadway stage adieu in 1949...
“ Starting in New York, Brando brought realism on a new scale to film that directors wanted but few could deliver. More than just a professional who hit his mark and memorized his lines, Brando made us believe in his characters. ” - cinemabon
Considered by many critics to be the greatest living actress, Meryl Streep has been nominated for the Academy Award an astonishing 20 times, and has won it three times. Meryl was born Mary Louise Streep in 1949 in Summit, New Jersey, to Mary Wolf (Wilkinson), a commercial artist, and Harry William Streep...
“ Nominated more times than any actress in the history of film, Meryl is the epitome of what all female actors should aspire to. Like Brando, she brought a new level of realism to her roles that surpassed anything actors have ever attempted and still does. If she ever gave a bad performance, I never saw it. ” - cinemabon
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...
“ Stern, gentle, understanding, kind, generous... you could use all of those adjectives and more to describe Tracy in one sentence but you couldn't fit it on one page. No matter where he was in any shot, you couldn't take your eyes off him. He had quintessential screen presence. ” - cinemabon
Born May 12, 1907 in Hartford, Connecticut, she was the daughter of a doctor and a suffragette, both of whom always encouraged her to speak her mind, develop it fully, and exercise her body to its full potential. An athletic tomboy as a child, she was also very close to her brother, Tom, and was devastated at age 14 to find him dead...
“ More than any actress of her generation, Kate Hepburn gave her all to a part and tried to give it moments of truth. Often starring with her off screen lover, Spencer Tracy, she overpowered the camera with more than beauty - she had honesty that flowed from her eyes at 24 frames per second. ” - cinemabon
Thomas Jeffrey Hanks was born in Concord, California, to Janet Marylyn (Frager), a hospital worker, and Amos Mefford Hanks, an itinerant cook. His father had English, and some German, ancestry, while his mother's family, originally surnamed "Fraga", was entirely Portuguese. Tom grew up in what he has called a "fractured" family...
“ It isn't easy winning Best Actor of the Year Oscars back to back. Hanks not only accomplished that feat but continues to deliver the same level of incredible screen acting that has made him one of the all time great actors of the silver screen. ” - cinemabon
Born in New York City to legendary screen star Henry Fonda
and New York socialite Frances Seymour Brokaw, Jane Seymour Fonda was destined early to an uncommon and influential life in the limelight. Although she initially showed little inclination to follow her father's trade, she was prompted by...
“ Honesty in an actor is not only rare but very difficult to portray. Actors must bear their soul in front of a camera. Think "being stripped naked" and then let a billion people watch. Fonda is an actor's actor and had delivered that true quality to her characters repeatedly. ” - cinemabon
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...
“ To say that greatness runs in some families would be an understatement if you were speaking of the Fonda's. One only has to see "The Grapes of Wrath" once to know the breadth of Henry's abilities. Then multiply that times a hundred when you see the huge body of work he produced on the same level. ” - cinemabon
Ruth Elizabeth Davis was born April 5, 1908, in Lowell, Massachusetts, to Ruth Augusta (Favor) and Harlow Morrell Davis, a patent attorney. Her parents divorced when she was 10. She and her sister were raised by their mother. Her early interest was dance. To Bette, dancers led a glamorous life, but then she discovered the stage...
“ When she was good, she was very very good... the other films were just bad ones. However, she made so many great ones that they dwarf any mistakes she made along the way. History will judge that Bette Davis paved the way for actors like Meryl Streep and Jane Fonda who followed. My personal favorite was "Now, Voyager." ” - cinemabon
Jack Nicholson, an American actor, producer, director and screenwriter, is a three-time Academy Award winner and twelve-time nominee. Nicholson is also notable for being one of two actors - the other being Michael Caine
- who have received Oscar nomination in every decade from the 1960s through the 1990s...
“ While Jack had humble beginnings, by the time he landed major roles, he had honed his craft and instantly made a name for himself as an actor of the highest quality. His ability to make a character real is second to no other actor when it came to the roles he portrayed. ” - cinemabon
Robert De Niro
De Niro's longtime collaboration with Scorsese later earned him an Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull
. He also earned nominations for the psychological thrillers Taxi Driver
and Cape Fear
, both directed by Scorsese. De Niro received additional Academy Award nominations for Michael Cimino
's Vietnam war drama The Deer Hunter
“ Rounding out the top ten is New York's favorite son and one of the Twentieth Century's or any century's best actor. Like Brando and Nicholson, De Niro brought a high level of believability to his roles, making us believe he was a boxer or a hoodlum and what it must have been like. They can't all be number one, but Bobby certainly shares the top with Brando. ” - cinemabon
Born in London, England, Daniel Michael Blake Day-Lewis is the second child of Cecil Day-Lewis (A.K.A. Nicholas Blake
) (Poet Laureate of England) and his second wife, Jill Balcon
. His maternal grandfather was Sir Michael Balcon
, an important figure in the history of British cinema and head of the famous Ealing Studios...
“ The only male actor in cinema history to win three Academy Award for Actor in a leading role; is perhaps one of this generations best for his strong performances in My Left Food and Lincoln. ” - cinemabon
One of the world's most underrated Academy Award-winning actresses, Jennifer Jones was born Phylis Lee Isley on 2 March 1919 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to Flora Mae (Suber) and Phillip Ross Isley, who ran a travelling stage show. As a young aspiring actress, she met and fell for young aspiring actor Robert Walker
and they soon married...
“ Very few actors emerge in their first film with a home run. Usually it takes time to hone one's craft. That was never the case with Jennifer Jones. She had such powerful screen presence that it was difficult if not impossible for directors to rein her in. ” - cinemabon
Audrey Hepburn was born Audrey Kathleen Hepburn-Ruston on May 4, 1929 in Brussels, Belgium. She was a blue-blood and a cosmopolitan from birth. Her mother, Ella van Heemstra, was a Dutch baroness; Audrey's father, Joseph Victor Anthony Hepburn-Ruston, was born in Úzice, Bohemia, of English and Austrian descent, and worked in business...
“ Hepburn (no relation to Katherine) was another actor with incredible screen presence. Like Jones, Hepburn took the film world by storm when she first appeared and continued to wow them until her untimely death. ” - cinemabon
Eldred Gregory Peck was born in La Jolla, California, to Bernice Mary (Ayres) and Gregory Pearl Peck, a chemist and druggist in San Diego. He had Irish (from his paternal grandmother), English, and some German, ancestry. His parents divorced when he was five years old. An only child, he was sent to live with his grandmother...
“ Peck had one of the most powerful screen presence of any actor of his age or any age. In almost every film he ever did, his characters came across with great power and empathy. No matter the genre, Peck could play anything and do it well. ” - cinemabon
Anthony Hopkins was born on December 31, 1937, in Margam, Wales, to Muriel Anne (Yeats) and Richard Arthur Hopkins, a baker. His parents were both of half Welsh and half English descent. Influenced by Richard Burton
, he decided to study at College of Music and Drama and graduated in 1957. In 1965, he moved to London and joined the National Theatre...
“ England has given us many great actors, most come from the stage and do well in film. Few come from the stage and do not retain that overt style of acting. Subtle, honest, brilliant - Hopkins is one of those actors you wish you were, even if you had no such aspirations. ” - cinemabon
Alicia Christian Foster was born in Los Angeles on November 19, 1962. She is the daughter of Evelyn Ella "Brandy" (Almond) and Lucius Fisher Foster III, an Air Force lieutenant colonel and later real estate broker. Brandy had filed for divorce in 1959 after having three children with Lucius, but the exes had a brief re-encounter in 1962 which resulted in Alicia's birth...
“ I can think of very few child actors that became superstars except for one. Jodie Foster not only became a good adult film actor but a great one, surpassing each role with better and better performances. Courageous best describes this incredible actor. ” - cinemabon
won numerous awards, including an Academy Award for his performance in the The Color of Money
, a BAFTA Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, a Cannes Film Festival Award, an Emmy Award, and many honorary awards. Despite being colorblind, he won several national championships as a driver in Sports Car Club of America road racing...
“ As much as Brando and De Niro brought a brutal realism to the screen, Paul Newman brought subtly, charm, wit, and grace. He was a man that any member of the audience could relate to and did. His list of nominations are as long as the number of times he amazed us with his high level of superb acting. ” - cinemabon
Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor was considered one of the last, if not the last, major star to have come out of the old Hollywood studio system. She was known internationally for her beauty, especially for her violet eyes, with which she captured audiences early on in her youth and kept the world hooked on with since...
“ As much as acting is involved in making a role great, screen presence is another factor in being a successful screen actor. I doubt anyone would disagree that Liz Taylor had more presence in her little finger than most people have in a lifetime of work. She could just walk into a scene and you'd wonder what she would do for an encore. ” - cinemabon
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...
“ Bogie is one actor who was never given a chance to be the star until late in career. But oh when he did reach star status, look out. There was no stopping him. He gave us some of film's most memorable characters and no one else could have done that but him. Here's looking at you, kid. ” - cinemabon
Six time Academy Award-nominated actress Glenn Close was born and raised in Greenwich, Connecticut. She is the daughter of Elizabeth Mary Hester "Bettine" (Moore) and William Taliaferro Close (William Close
), a prominent doctor. Both of her parents were from upper-class northeastern families. Glenn...
“ She's been nominated numerous times but never won. Close is the lovable loser. So much for the Oscar p***ing contest. That doesn't mean she doesn't deserve to win. Whether her roles are likable or not, she is a great actress and has the admiration of this cinemaphile. ” - cinemabon
A leading man of prodigious talents, Peter O'Toole
was raised in Leeds, England, the son of Constance Jane Eliot (Ferguson), a Scottish nurse, and Patrick Joseph O'Toole, an Irish bookie. As a boy, he decided to become a journalist, beginning as a newspaper copy boy. Although he succeeded in becoming a reporter...
“ Starting with his first great role as "Lawrence of Arabia" all the way through to his older performances, O'Toole is another lovable loser who never took home the big prize but still the won the hearts of many cinema fans, including this one. ” - cinemabon
Julia Fiona Roberts never dreamed she would become the most popular actress in America. She was born in Smyrna, Georgia, to Betty Lou (Bredemus) and Walter Grady Roberts, one-time actors and playwrights, and is of English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, German, and Swedish descent. As a child, due to her love of animals...
“ No one can deny that being beautiful helps in any career. But being that and then making yourself look plain for the camera is not easy. Roberts is both beautiful and intriguing when brings her powerful screen presence to roles and gives them life. ” - cinemabon
Probably more frequently remembered for his turbulent personal life and multiple marriages, Richard Burton was nonetheless regarded as one of the great British actors of the post-WWII period. Burton was born Richard Walter Jenkins in Pontrhydyfen, Wales, to Edith Maude (Thomas) and Richard Walter Jenkins...
“ This next choice was difficult as there were three or four who could have come in at this level. However, Burton was on that short list of English actors who made the successful transiton from stage to screen and kept all of the subtlty that make for great performances. ” - cinemabon
was born on February 8, 1925 in Newton, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston. He initially acted on TV before moving to Hollywood for the big screen, cultivating a career that would span decades. An eight time Academy Award nominee, with two wins, Lemmon starred in over 60 films including Some Like It Hot
“ Both comedy and tragedy were well within the range of Lemmon's work if you look at "Mr. Roberts" or "Days of Wine and Roses" and realize the same actor was capable of both. ” - cinemabon
Ask Kate Winslet what she likes about any of her characters, and the word "ballsy" is bound to pop up at least once. The British actress has made a point of eschewing straightforward pretty-girl parts in favor of more devilish damsels; as a result, she's built an eclectic resume that runs the gamut from Shakespearean tragedy to modern-day mysticism and erotica...
“ Few modern actors can bring to the screen the variety and depth that Kate Winslet has to her roles whether being glamorous on the "Titanic" or despised as in "The Reader." She has a powerful undeniable screen presence. ” - cinemabon
Often credited as the greatest comedian of all time, Peter Sellers was born to a well-off English acting family in 1925. His mother and father worked in an acting company run by his grandmother. As a child, Sellers was spoiled, as his parents' first child had died at birth. He enlisted in the Royal Air Force and served during World War II...
“ Although seldom mentioned at award time, Sellers was one of the most versitile actors of all time. He could play any part and do it with such conviction that the transformation was remarkable. "Dr. Strangelove" only gives us a glimpse of his great talent. ” - cinemabon
Jessica Phyllis Lange was born 1949 in Cloquet, Minnesota, to Dorothy Florence (Sahlman) and Albert John Lange, a traveling salesman and teacher. She is of Finnish (mother) and Dutch and German (father) descent. She obtained a scholarship to study art at the University of Minnesota, but instead went to Paris to study drama...
“ One of the greatest contemporary actors of her generation, Lange has a power on the screen that is difficult to match or counter against. I would not want to share the same frame with her. She overpowers you like a warm gentle welcome wave of honesty in her level and style of acting. ” - cinemabon
Cleft-chinned, steely-eyed and virile star of international cinema who rose from being "the ragman's son" (the name of his best-selling 1988 autobiography) to become a bona fide superstar, Kirk Douglas, also known as Issur Danielovitch Demsky, was born in Amsterdam, New York, in 1916. His parents, Bryna (Sanglel) and Herschel Danielovitch...
“ A body of work with some of Hollywood's greatest directors places this incredible actor as best on any list. ” - cinemabon
Dustin Lee Hoffman was born in Los Angeles, California, to Lillian (Gold) and Harry Hoffman, who was a furniture salesman and prop supervisor for Columbia Pictures. He was raised in a Jewish family (from Ukraine, Russia-Poland, and Romania). Hoffman graduated from Los Angeles High School in 1955, and went to Santa Monica City College...
“ Can anyone name an actor who has started and sustained his career as well as Hoffman has? I doubt it. He has consistantly delivered his professional best to every role he has ever attempted and delivered so many times I've lost count. ” - cinemabon
William McChord Hurt was born in Washington, D.C., to Claire Isabel (McGill) and Alfred McChord Hurt, who worked at the State Department. He was trained at Tufts University and The Juilliard School and has been nominated for four Academy Awards, including the most recent nomination for his supporting role in David Cronenberg
's A History of Violence
“ While his best work came at the beginning of his career and his personal life seems to have blackened his name somewhat, the overall body of work by Bill Hurt is tremendous and merits mention with those of the great screen actors. ” - cinemabon
Born Deborah Jane Kerr-Trimmer in Scotland in 1921, she was the daughter of a soldier who had been gassed in World War I. A shy, insecure child, she found an outlet for expressing her feelings in acting. Her aunt, a radio star, got her some stage work when she was a teenager, and she came to the attention of British film producer Gabriel Pascal
“ Nominated six times as Best Actress, this lovable loser never took the golden statue home but that does not lessen her valuable contribution to film. She was not only one of the most liked actresses of all time but a real charmer on the screen as well. ” - cinemabon
Eileen Evelyn Greer Garson was born on September 29, 1904 in London, England, to Nancy Sophia (Greer) and George Garson, a commercial clerk. She was of Scottish and Ulster-Scots descent. Her childhood was a normal if not non-descript life. Greer showed no early signs of interest in becoming an actress...
“ Greer Garson was nominated seven times for Best Actress and finally won for William Wyler's "Mrs. Miniver" in which she portrayed an English housewife. In both life and on the screen, she was more than any housewife. In addition to being very beautiful, she had an incredible screen presence and friendly nature that made her a favorite among fan and other actors. ” - cinemabon
James Stewart was nominated for five Academy Awards, winning one in competition for The Philadelphia Story
and receiving an Academy Lifetime Achievement award. Stewart was named the third greatest male screen legend of the Golden Age Hollywood by the American Film Institute. He was a major Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer contract star...
“ While I take pride in noting examples of great acting, one of the most obvious blunders I made was to exclude Stewart from this list. His contribution to cinema is both large and broad. While relegated to comedic roles early, his sense of drama grew as he matured, especially his work with Hitchcock. ” - cinemabon
One of the greatest actors in all of film history, Al Pacino established himself during one of film's greatest decades, the 1970s, and has become an enduring and iconic figure in the world of American movies. Pacino was born on April 25, 1940, in the Bronx, New York, to an Italian-American family. His parents...
“ Another oversight I made was to exclude the man who made The Godfather a compelling film to watch. Pacino's performance is riveting and that was at the beginning of his career. Nominated eight times for an Academy Award and winning for "Scent" Pacino has left a legacy of great film roles in a long illustrious career. ” - cinemabon
Denzel Washington is an American actor and filmmaker. He has received three Golden Globe awards, a Tony Award, and two Academy Awards: Best Supporting Actor for the historical war drama film Glory
and Best Actor for his role as a corrupt cop in the crime thriller Training Day
. Denzel Hayes Washington...
“ What list would be complete without Denzel? He's been in so many movies I've loved over the years and the Academy has seen fit to reward him for a couple of those roles. He is intense, funny, and full of charm. ” - cinemabon
Actress Viola Davis was born on her grandmother's farm, at the then-Singleton Plantation in St. Matthews, South Carolina. When she was two months old her family moved to Central Falls, Rhode Island, where her father, Dan Davis, worked as a horse groomer and trainer. Her mother, Mary Alice (Logan), a maid and factory worker...
“ Nominated twice for an Oscar and having won SAG and Tony Awards, I feel that like Smith, it's only a matter of time before Davis gets her statue. She is one of the finest actors today and is overdue. ” - cinemabon
Robin McLaurin Williams was born on Saturday, July 21st, 1951, in Chicago, Illinois, a great-great-grandson of Mississippi Governor and Senator, Anselm J. McLaurin. His mother, Laurie McLaurin (née Janin), was a former model from Mississippi, and his father, Robert Fitzgerald Williams, was a Ford Motor Company executive from Indiana...
“ Trained at Julliard in the art of acting, Williams tended to use his ability to extemporize on stage. However, when it came to film, Williams learned to focus his unique talent to his roles, making them memorable ones. ” - cinemabon
Christian Charles Philip Bale was born in Pembrokeshire, Wales, UK on January 30, 1974, to English parents Jennifer "Jenny" (James) and David Charles Howard Bale. His mother was a circus performer and his father, who was born in South Africa, was a commercial pilot. The family lived in different countries throughout Bale's childhood...
“ Ever since Bale starred in "Empire of the Sun" he has shown the world his versatile talent as an actor transcends generations. Despite his temperament, he is an asset to any project. ” - cinemabon
America's Sweetheart and star of the wildly popular Hunger Games series, Jennifer Lawrence is the first, and thus far only, person born in the 1990s to have received an acting Oscar (for Silver Linings Playbook
). Lawrence was born Jennifer Shrader Lawrence on August 15, 1990 in Louisville, Kentucky, to Karen (Koch)...
“ What genre can't Jennifer Lawrence play? She's an actor for the ages as she's proved in film after film. I predict she will be at the top of any list before she's finished her incredible run in the cinema. ” - cinemabon
Bradley Charles Cooper was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His mother, Gloria (Campano), is of Italian descent, and worked for a local NBC station. His father, Charles John "Charlie" Cooper, who was of Irish descent, was a stockbroker. He has a sister, Holly. Immediately after Bradley graduated from the Honors English program at Georgetown University in 1997...
“ At first we believed Coop had comedic talents... until "Silver Linings..." Bradley has demonstrated that rare ability to shine in every role he's been given. He's this generation's actor's actor. ” - cinemabon
Cate Blanchett was born on May 14, 1969 in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, to June (Gamble), an Australian teacher and property developer, and Robert DeWitt Blanchett, Jr., an American advertising executive, originally from Texas. She has an older brother and a younger sister. When she was ten years old...
“ With "Carol" Blanchett has cemented her place in the current lexicon of contemporary Hollywood stars that give a film its polish of excellence. Gradually, she's accumulate a list of outstanding performances. ” - cinemabon
A native of Cat Island, The Bahamas (though born in Miami during a mainland visit by his parents), Poitier grew up in poverty as the son of farmers Evelyn (Outten) and Reginald James Poitier, who also drove a cab. He had little formal education and at the age of 15 was sent to Miami to live with his brother...
“ Through out his career, Poitier had to trailblaze his way into a white dominated field. He made his mark early and made it possible for many other actors of color to have a career in this business. ” - cinemabon
George Timothy Clooney was born on May 6, 1961, in Lexington, Kentucky, to Nina Bruce (née Warren), a former beauty pageant queen, and Nick Clooney
, a former anchorman and game show host (who was also the brother of singer Rosemary Clooney
). He has Irish, English, and German ancestry. Clooney spent most of this youth in Ohio and Kentucky...
“ Like Cary Grant before him, Clooney creates a screen persona that looks easy and relaxed. If only most actors could turn on charisma the way he does. You can't take your eyes off him. His talent is as natural as walking. ” - cinemabon
Once told by an interviewer, "Everybody would like to be Cary Grant", Grant is said to have replied, "So would I." Cary Grant was born Archibald Alexander Leach in Horfield, Bristol, England, to Elsie Maria (Kingdon) and Elias James Leach, who worked in a factory. His early years in Bristol would have been an ordinary lower-middle-class childhood...
“ It wasn't easy being Cary Grant. He didn't just stumble onto a movie set and turn heads. He worked hard in dozens of small roles before he earned his stardom. But through the years, Grant shined in his roles and earned the respect of his fellow thespians, even though Grant never took home the Academy's coveted prize. ” - cinemabon
Laurence Olivier could speak William Shakespeare
's lines as naturally as if he were "actually thinking them", said English playwright Charles Bennett
, who met Olivier in 1927. Laurence Kerr Olivier was born in Dorking, Surrey, England, to Agnes Louise (Crookenden) and Gerard Kerr Olivier, a High Anglican priest. His surname came from a great-great-grandfather who was of French Huguenot origin...
“ Known mostly for his stage acting, Olivier finally understood the nuances of film after William Wyler nursed him into movie health. After "Wuthering Heights" Olivier became a household name and would never look back. He had a stellar career and easily earns a spot here. ” - cinemabon
Willard Carroll "Will" Smith, Jr. (born September 25, 1968) is an American actor, comedian, producer, rapper, and songwriter. He has enjoyed success in television, film, and music. In April 2007, Newsweek called him "the most powerful actor in Hollywood". Smith has been nominated for five Golden Globe Awards, two Academy Awards, and has won four Grammy Awards...
“ Though nominated twice, Will has yet win the coveted prize despite his outstanding performances in several movies. I feel it's only a matter of time before his talent is recognized this way. ” - cinemabon