Best Actors by Year -- WMK

by williamkromer | created - 14 Jun 2012 | updated - 4 months ago | Public

WMK's winner and four nominees, in order, for Best Actor by year. [Note: Some years have six nominees due to ties for fifth place.]

1. Lew Ayres

Actor | Holiday

Lew Ayres was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota and raised in San Diego, California. A college dropout, he was found by a talent scout in the Coconut Grove nightclub in Los Angeles and entered Hollywood as a bit player. He was leading man to Greta Garbo in The Kiss (1929), but it was the role of Paul ...

1931 -- ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT

Other Nominees: Wallace Beery (Min and Bill), Lionel Barrymore (A Free Soul), James Cagney (The Public Enemy), Peter Lorre (M)

2. Wallace Beery

Actor | Dinner at Eight

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 ...

MIN AND BILL

3. Lionel Barrymore

Actor | It's a Wonderful Life

Famed actor, composer, artist, author and director. His talents extended to the authoring of the novel "Mr. Cartonwine: A Moral Tale" as well as his autobiography. In 1944, he joined ASCAP, and composed "Russian Dances", "Partita", "Ballet Viennois", "The Woodman and the Elves", "Behind the Horizon...

A FREE SOUL

4. James Cagney

Actor | Angels with Dirty Faces

One of Hollywood's preeminent male stars of all time, James Cagney was also an accomplished dancer and easily played light comedy. James Francis Cagney was born on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in New York City, to Carolyn (Nelson) and James Francis Cagney, Sr., who was a bartender and amateur ...

THE PUBLIC ENEMY

5. 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 (...

M

6. 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 ...

1932 -- I AM A FUGITIVE FROM A CHAIN GANG

Other Nominees: Wallace Beery (Grand Hotel), Colin Clive (Frankenstein), William Powell (One Way Passage), John Barrymore (Grand Hotel)

7. Wallace Beery

Actor | Dinner at Eight

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 ...

GRAND HOTEL

8. Colin Clive

Actor | Frankenstein

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 (1931). Film history - horror film history - but part of a short history for actor ...

FRANKENSTEIN

9. William Powell

Actor | The Thin Man

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 ...

ONE WAY PASSAGE

10. John Barrymore

Actor | Twentieth Century

John Barrymore was born John Sidney Blyth on February 15, 1882 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. An 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 ...

GRAND HOTEL

11. Warner Baxter

Actor | In Old Arizona

Warner Baxter claimed to have an early pre-disposition toward show business: "I discovered a boy a block away who would eat worms and swallow flies for a penny. For one-third of the profits, I exhibited him in a tent." When he was age 9, his widowed mother moved to San Francisco where, following ...

1933 -- 42ND STREET

Other Nominees: Pat O'Brien (The World Gone Mad), James Cagney (Footlight Parade), Robert Armstrong (King Kong), Clive Brook (Cavalcade)

12. Pat O'Brien

Actor | Some Like It Hot

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 ...

THE WORLD GONE MAD

13. James Cagney

Actor | Angels with Dirty Faces

One of Hollywood's preeminent male stars of all time, James Cagney was also an accomplished dancer and easily played light comedy. James Francis Cagney was born on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in New York City, to Carolyn (Nelson) and James Francis Cagney, Sr., who was a bartender and amateur ...

FOOTLIGHT PARADE

14. 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 ...

KING KONG

15. Clive Brook

Actor | On Approval

Born in London, England to Charlotte Mary (opera singer) and George Alfred Brook. He was educated privately. Stage experience included: "Oliver Twist", "Voysey Inheritence", "If I were King", "Importance of Being Ernest", Fair and Warmer", "Over Sunday", "Clothes and the WOman", and many others. ...

CAVALCADE

16. William Powell

Actor | The Thin Man

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 ...

1934 -- THE THIN MAN

Other Nominees: Clark Gable (It Happened One Night), W. C. Fields (It's a Gift), Spencer Tracy (Marie Galante), John Barrymore (Dinner at Eight)

17. Clark Gable

Actor | It Happened One Night

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 ...

IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT

18. W.C. Fields

Actor | It's a Gift

William Claude Dukenfield was the eldest of five children born to Cockney immigrant James Dukenfield and Philadelphia native Kate Felton. He went to school for four years, then quit to work with his father selling vegetables from a horse cart. At eleven, after many fights with his alcoholic father ...

IT'S A FIFT

19. Spencer Tracy

Actor | Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

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 ...

MARIE GALANTE

20. John Barrymore

Actor | Twentieth Century

John Barrymore was born John Sidney Blyth on February 15, 1882 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. An 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 ...

DINNER AT EIGHT

21. Charles Laughton

Actor | Witness for the Prosecution

Charles Laughton was born in Scarborough, North Riding of Yorkshire, England, to Eliza (Conlon) and Robert Laughton, hotel keepers of Irish and English descent. He was educated at Stonyhurst, Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (received gold medal). His first appearance on stage was in 1926. Laughton ...

1935 -- MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY

Other Nominees: Victor McLaglen (The Informer), Freddie Bartholemew (David Copperfield), Fredric March (Les Miserables), Franchot Tone (Mutiny on the Bounty)

22. Victor McLaglen

Actor | The Quiet Man

Rambunctious British leading man (contrary to popular belief, he was of Scottish ancestry, not Irish) and later character actor primarily in American films, Victor McLaglen was a vital presence in a number of great motion pictures, especially those of director John Ford. McLaglen (pronounced ...

THE INFORMER

23. Freddie Bartholomew

Actor | Captains Courageous

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 ...

DAVID COPPERFIELD

24. Fredric March

Actor | The Best Years of Our Lives

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 ...

LES MISERABLES

25. Franchot Tone

Actor | Mutiny on the Bounty

President of the Dramatic Club at Cornell University, Franchot Tone gave up the family business for acting, making his Broadway debut in "The Age of Innocence".

Tone then went into movies for MGM, making his film debut in The Wiser Sex (1932). With his theatrical background, Tone became one of the ...

MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY

26. Walter Huston

Actor | The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

For many years Walter Huston had two passions: his career as an engineer and his vocation for the stage. In 1909 he dedicated himself to the theatre, and made his debut on Broadway in 1924. In 1929 he journeyed to Hollywood, where his talent and ability made him one of the most respected actors in ...

1936 -- DODSWORTH

Other Nominees: William Powell (The Great Ziegfeld), Leslie Howard (The Petrified Forest), Spencer Tracy (San Francisco/Fury), Fredric March (Anthony Adverse)

27. William Powell

Actor | The Thin Man

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 ...

THE GREAT ZIEGFELD

28. Leslie Howard

Actor | Pygmalion

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 ...

THE PETRIFIED FOREST

29. Spencer Tracy

Actor | Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

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 ...

SAN FRANCISCO / FURY

30. Fredric March

Actor | The Best Years of Our Lives

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 ...

ANTHONY ADVERSE

31. 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 ...

1937 -- THE GOOD EARTH

Other Nominees: Spencer Tracy (Captain's Courageous), Cary Grant (The Awful Truth), Ronald Colman (Lost Horizon), Tyrone Power (In Old Chicago)

32. Spencer Tracy

Actor | Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

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 ...

CAPTAIN'S COURAGEOUS

33. Cary Grant

Actor | North by Northwest

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 on January 18, 1904 in Horfield, Bristol, England, to Elsie Maria (Kingdon) and Elias James Leach, who worked in a factory. His early years...

THE AWFUL TRUTH

34. Ronald Colman

Actor | Random Harvest

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 ...

LOST HORIZON

35. Tyrone Power

Actor | Witness for the Prosecution

Tyrone Power was one of the great romantic swashbuckling stars of the mid-twentieth century, and the third Tyrone Power of four in a famed acting dynasty reaching back to the eighteenth century. His great-grandfather was the first Tyrone Power (1795-1841), a famed Irish comedian. His father, known ...

IN OLD CHICAGO

36. Robert Donat

Actor | Goodbye, Mr. Chips

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 ...

1938 -- THE CITADEL

Other Nominees: Charles Boyer (Algiers), Lionel Barrymore (You Can't Take It With You), James Cagney (Angels With Dirty Faces), James Stewart (You Can't Take It With You)

37. Charles Boyer

Actor | Gaslight

Charles Boyer studied philosophy before he went to the theater where he gave his debut in 1920. Although he had at first no intentions to pursue a career at the movies (his first movie was L'homme du large (1920) by Marcel L'Herbier) he used his chance in Hollywood after several filming stations ...

ALGIERS

38. Lionel Barrymore

Actor | It's a Wonderful Life

Famed actor, composer, artist, author and director. His talents extended to the authoring of the novel "Mr. Cartonwine: A Moral Tale" as well as his autobiography. In 1944, he joined ASCAP, and composed "Russian Dances", "Partita", "Ballet Viennois", "The Woodman and the Elves", "Behind the Horizon...

YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU

39. James Cagney

Actor | Angels with Dirty Faces

One of Hollywood's preeminent male stars of all time, James Cagney was also an accomplished dancer and easily played light comedy. James Francis Cagney was born on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in New York City, to Carolyn (Nelson) and James Francis Cagney, Sr., who was a bartender and amateur ...

ANGELS WITH DIRTY FACES

40. James Stewart

Actor | Vertigo

James Maitland Stewart was born on May 20, 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 ...

YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU

41. James Stewart

Actor | Vertigo

James Maitland Stewart was born on May 20, 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 ...

1939 -- MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON

Other Nominees: Robert Donat (Goodbye Mr. Chips), Clark Gable (Gone With the Wind), Laurence Olivier (Wuthering Heights), Lionel Barrymore (On Borrowed Time)

42. Robert Donat

Actor | Goodbye, Mr. Chips

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 ...

GOODBYE MR. CHIPS

43. Clark Gable

Actor | It Happened One Night

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 ...

GONE WITH THE WIND

44. Laurence Olivier

Actor | Rebecca

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 ...

WUTHERING HEIGHTS

45. Lionel Barrymore

Actor | It's a Wonderful Life

Famed actor, composer, artist, author and director. His talents extended to the authoring of the novel "Mr. Cartonwine: A Moral Tale" as well as his autobiography. In 1944, he joined ASCAP, and composed "Russian Dances", "Partita", "Ballet Viennois", "The Woodman and the Elves", "Behind the Horizon...

ON BORROWED TIME

46. Henry Fonda

Actor | 12 Angry Men

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 ...

1940 -- THE GRAPES OF WRATH

Other Nominees: Charles Chaplin (The Great Dictator), James Stewart (The Philadelphia Story), Laurence Olivier (Rebecca), Cary Grant (The Philadelphia Story)

47. Charles Chaplin

Writer | The Great Dictator

Considered to be one of the most pivotal stars of the early days of Hollywood, Charlie Chaplin lived an interesting life both in his films and behind the camera. He is most recognized as an icon of the silent film era, often associated with his popular character, the Little Tramp; the man with the ...

THE GREAT DICTATOR

48. James Stewart

Actor | Vertigo

James Maitland Stewart was born on May 20, 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 ...

THE PHILADELPHIA STORY

49. Laurence Olivier

Actor | Rebecca

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 ...

REBECCA

50. Cary Grant

Actor | North by Northwest

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 on January 18, 1904 in Horfield, Bristol, England, to Elsie Maria (Kingdon) and Elias James Leach, who worked in a factory. His early years...

THE PHILADELPHIA STORY

51. Orson Welles

Actor | Citizen Kane

His father was a well-to-do inventor, his mother a beautiful concert pianist; Orson Welles was gifted in many arts (magic, piano, painting) as a child. When his mother died (he was nine) he traveled the world with his father. When his father died (he was fifteen) he became the ward of Chicago's Dr....

1941 -- CITIZEN KANE

Other Nominees: Humphrey Bogart (The Maltese Falcon), Cary Grant (Penny Serenade), Walter Pidgeon (How Green Was My Valley), Joel McCrea (Sullivan's Travels)

52. 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 ...

THE MALTESE FALCON

53. Cary Grant

Actor | North by Northwest

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 on January 18, 1904 in Horfield, Bristol, England, to Elsie Maria (Kingdon) and Elias James Leach, who worked in a factory. His early years...

PENNY SERENADE

54. Walter Pidgeon

Actor | Forbidden Planet

Walter Pidgeon, a handsome, tall and dark-haired man, began his career studying voice at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. He then did theater, mainly stage musicals. He went to Hollywood in the early 1920s, where he made silent films, including Mannequin (1926) and Sumuru (1927). ...

HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY

55. Joel McCrea

Actor | Foreign Correspondent

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 ...

SULLIVAN'S TRAVELS

56. James Cagney

Actor | Angels with Dirty Faces

One of Hollywood's preeminent male stars of all time, James Cagney was also an accomplished dancer and easily played light comedy. James Francis Cagney was born on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in New York City, to Carolyn (Nelson) and James Francis Cagney, Sr., who was a bartender and amateur ...

1942 -- YANKEE DOODLE DANDY

Other Nominees: Ronald Colman (Random Harvest), Ronald Reagan (Kings Row), Walter Pidgeon (Mrs. Miniver), Tim Holt (The Magnificent Ambersons)

57. Ronald Colman

Actor | Random Harvest

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 ...

RANDOM HARVEST

58. Ronald Reagan

Actor | The Killers

Ronald Reagan had quite a prolific career, having catapulted from a Warner Bros. contract player and television star, into serving as president of the Screen Actors Guild, the governorship of California (1967-1975), and lastly, two terms as President of the United States (1981-1989).

Ronald Wilson ...

KINGS ROW

59. Walter Pidgeon

Actor | Forbidden Planet

Walter Pidgeon, a handsome, tall and dark-haired man, began his career studying voice at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. He then did theater, mainly stage musicals. He went to Hollywood in the early 1920s, where he made silent films, including Mannequin (1926) and Sumuru (1927). ...

MRS. MINIVER

60. Tim Holt

Actor | The Magnificent Ambersons

As they say, like father, like son. Cowboy hero Tim Holt avidly followed in the boots of his famous character-actor dad, the granite-jawed Jack Holt (b. Charles John Holt), who appeared in hundreds of silents and talkies (many of them westerns) over the years. The two actually appeared together as ...

THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS

61. Henry Fonda

Actor | 12 Angry Men

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 ...

1943 -- THE OX-BOW INCIDENT

Other Nominees: Humphrey Bogart (Casablanca), Paul Lukas (Watch on the Rhine), Mickey Rooney (The Human Comedy), Walter Pidgeon (Madame Curie)

62. 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 ...

CASABLANCA

63. Paul Lukas

Actor | Watch on the Rhine

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 ...

WATCH ON THE RHINE

64. Mickey Rooney

Actor | It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World

Mickey Rooney was born Joe Yule Jr. on September 23, 1920 in Brooklyn, New York. He first took the stage as a toddler in his parents vaudeville act at 17 months old. He made his first film appearance in 1926. The following year, he played the lead character in the first Mickey McGuire short film. ...

THE HUMAN COMEDY

65. Walter Pidgeon

Actor | Forbidden Planet

Walter Pidgeon, a handsome, tall and dark-haired man, began his career studying voice at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. He then did theater, mainly stage musicals. He went to Hollywood in the early 1920s, where he made silent films, including Mannequin (1926) and Sumuru (1927). ...

MADAME CURIE

66. Claude Rains

Actor | Casablanca

William Claude Rains, born in the Clapham 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...

1944 -- MR. SKEFFINGTON

Other Nominees: Eddie Bracken (Hail the Conquering Hero), Bing Crosby (Going My Way), Alexander Knox (Wilson), Gary Cooper (The Story of Dr. Wassell)

67. Eddie Bracken

Actor | Hail the Conquering Hero

This owl-faced comic actor enjoyed his first featured film role in the RKO production Too Many Girls (1940), in which he reprised the role of "JoJo Jordan" that he had played in the Broadway stage version of that musical. (Into the pantheon of pop-music standards came one that Bracken had ...

HAIL THE CONQUERING HERO

68. Bing Crosby

Actor | White Christmas

Bing Crosby was born Harry Lillis Crosby, Jr. in Tacoma, Washington, the fourth of seven children of Catherine Helen "Kate" (Harrigan) and Harry Lowe Crosby, a brewery bookkeeper. He was of English and Irish descent. Crosby studied law at Gonzaga University in Spokane but was more interested in ...

GOING MY WAY

69. Alexander Knox

Actor | Wilson

A Presbyterian minister's son, softly-spoken, intellectual-looking Alexander Knox received his education from the University of Western Ontario, where he studied English literature. An excellent elocutionist, member of the university's Hesperian Club, he had his first fling with dramatic acting ...

WILSON

70. 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...

THE STORY OF DR. WASSELL

71. Ray Milland

Actor | The Lost Weekend

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 ...

1945 -- THE LOST WEEKEND

Other Nominees: Hurd Hatfield (The Picture of Dorian Gray), William Eythe (The House on 92nd Street), Gregory Peck (The Keys of the Kingdom), Robert Walker (The Clock)

72. Hurd Hatfield

Actor | The Picture of Dorian Gray

William Rukard Hurd Hatfield was an American leading man best known for his portrayal of the title character in the Oscar-winning 1945 film 'The Picture of Dorian Gray'. A native of New York, Hatfield came to England to study acting at the Chekhov Theatre Studio in Devonshire. He had lived in ...

THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY

73. William Eythe

Actor | The House on 92nd Street

He had the requisite charm and dark, thick-browed good-looks of a Tyrone Power that often spelled "film stardom" but it was not to be in the case of actor William Eythe. Spotted for Hollywood while performing on Broadway, he made nary a dent when he finally transferred his skills to film and is ...

THE HOUSE ON 92ND STREET

74. Gregory Peck

Actor | To Kill a Mockingbird

Eldred Gregory Peck was born on April 5, 1916 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 ...

THE KEYS OF THE KINGDOM

75. Robert Walker

Actor | Strangers on a Train

He possessed the same special brand of rebel/misfit sensitivity and charm that made superstars out of John Garfield and (later) James Dean and Montgomery Clift. In the war-torn 1940s, Robert Walker represented MGM's fresh, instinctive breed of up-and-coming talent. His boyish good looks combined ...

THE CLOCK

76. Larry Parks

Actor | The Jolson Story

When amiable Columbia Pictures actor Larry Parks was entrusted the role of entertainer Al Jolson in the biopic The Jolson Story (1946), his career finally hit the big time. Within a few years, however, his bright new world crumbled courtesy of the House Un-American Activities Committee after the ...

1946 -- THE JOLSON STORY

Other Nominees: Gregory Peck (The Yearling), Fredric March (The Best Years of Our Lives), Henry Fonda (My Darling Clementine), James Stewart (It's a Wonderful Life)

77. Gregory Peck

Actor | To Kill a Mockingbird

Eldred Gregory Peck was born on April 5, 1916 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 ...

THE YEARLING

78. Fredric March

Actor | The Best Years of Our Lives

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 ...

THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES

79. Henry Fonda

Actor | 12 Angry Men

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 ...

MY DARLING CLEMENTINE

80. James Stewart

Actor | Vertigo

James Maitland Stewart was born on May 20, 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 ...

IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE

81. Edward G. Robinson

Actor | Key Largo

Edward G. Robinson arrived in the United States at age ten, and his family moved into New York's Lower East Side. He took up acting while attending City College, abandoning plans to become a rabbi or lawyer. The American Academy of Dramatic Arts awarded him a scholarship, and he began work in stock...

1947 -- THE RED HOUSE

Other Nominees: William Powell (Life with Father), John Garfield (Body and Soul), Lon McCallister (The Red House), Gregory Peck (Gentleman's Agreement)

82. William Powell

Actor | The Thin Man

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 ...

LIFE WITH FATHER

83. John Garfield

Actor | Four Daughters

John Garfield was born Jacob Julius Garfinkle on the Lower East Side of New York City, to Hannah Basia (Margolis) and David Garfinkle, who were Jewish immigrants from Zhytomyr (now in Ukraine). Jules was raised by his father, a clothes presser and part-time cantor, after his mother's death in 1920,...

BODY AND SOUL

84. Lon McCallister

Actor | The Red House

He started his career as a teenage bit actor in such wholesome, folksy tales as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1938) and Judge Hardy's Children (1938). As an adult, he found the strength of his career riding on that same homespun sentiment. Lon McCallister was born Herbert Alonzo McCallister, Jr. in...

THE RED HOUSE

85. Gregory Peck

Actor | To Kill a Mockingbird

Eldred Gregory Peck was born on April 5, 1916 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 ...

GENTLEMAN'S AGREEMENT

86. Clifton Webb

Actor | Laura

Already trained in dance and theater, he quit school at age 13 to study music and painting. By 19 he was a professional ballroom dancer in New York, and by his mid-twenties he was performing in musicals, dramas on Broadway and in London, and in silent movies. His first real success in film came in ...

1948 -- SITTING PRETTY

Other Nominees: Humphrey Bogart (Key Largo), Edward G. Robinson (Key Largo), Gary Cooper (Good Sam), Montgomery Clift (Red River)

87. 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 ...

KEY LARGO

88. Edward G. Robinson

Actor | Key Largo

Edward G. Robinson arrived in the United States at age ten, and his family moved into New York's Lower East Side. He took up acting while attending City College, abandoning plans to become a rabbi or lawyer. The American Academy of Dramatic Arts awarded him a scholarship, and he began work in stock...

KEY LARGO

89. 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...

GOOD SAM

90. Montgomery Clift

Actor | From Here to Eternity

Edward Montgomery Clift (nicknamed 'Monty' his entire life) was born on October 17, 1920 in Omaha, Nebraska, just after his twin sister Roberta and eighteen months after his brother Brooks Clift. He was the son of Ethel "Sunny" Anderson (Fogg) and William Brooks Clift. His father made a lot of ...

RED RIVER

91. Broderick Crawford

Actor | All the King's Men

Broderick Crawford is best remembered for two roles: his Oscar-winning turn as Willie Stark in All the King's Men (1949), and as Chief Dan Mathews on the syndicated TV series Highway Patrol (1955). He was also memorable as Judy Holliday's boisterous boyfriend in Born Yesterday (1950).

He was born ...

1949 -- ALL THE KING'S MEN

Other Nominees: John Wayne (Sands of Iwo Jima), Montgomery Clift (The Heiress), Richard Todd (The Hasty Heart), Ralph Richardson (The Fallen Idol)

92. John Wayne

Actor | True Grit

John Wayne was born Marion Robert Morrison in Iowa, to Mary Alberta (Brown) and Clyde Leonard Morrison, a pharmacist. He was of English, Ulster-Scots, and Irish ancestry.

Clyde developed a lung condition that required him to move his family from Iowa to the warmer climate of southern California, ...

SANDS OF IWO JIMA

93. Montgomery Clift

Actor | From Here to Eternity

Edward Montgomery Clift (nicknamed 'Monty' his entire life) was born on October 17, 1920 in Omaha, Nebraska, just after his twin sister Roberta and eighteen months after his brother Brooks Clift. He was the son of Ethel "Sunny" Anderson (Fogg) and William Brooks Clift. His father made a lot of ...

THE HEIRESS

94. Richard Todd

Actor | The Hasty Heart

British leading man who achieved some success in American films, as well. Born in Ireland as the son of a British officer, Todd grew up in Devon and attended Shrewsbury Public School. His interest in theatre led him to small roles in stock in England and Scotland, following which he helped found ...

THE HASTY HEART

95. Ralph Richardson

Actor | Doctor Zhivago

Sir Ralph Richardson was one of the greatest actors of the 20th Century English-language theater, ascending to the height of his profession in the mid-1930s when he became a star in London's West End. He became the first actor of his generation to be knighted. He became Sir Ralph in 1947, and was ...

THE FALLEN IDOL

96. James Stewart

Actor | Vertigo

James Maitland Stewart was born on May 20, 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 ...

1950 -- HARVEY

Other Nominees: Broderick Crawford (Born Yesterday), William Holden (Sunset Boulevard), Clifton Webb (Cheaper by the Dozen), Stewart Granger (King Solomon's Mines)

97. Broderick Crawford

Actor | All the King's Men

Broderick Crawford is best remembered for two roles: his Oscar-winning turn as Willie Stark in All the King's Men (1949), and as Chief Dan Mathews on the syndicated TV series Highway Patrol (1955). He was also memorable as Judy Holliday's boisterous boyfriend in Born Yesterday (1950).

He was born ...

BORN YESTERDAY

98. William Holden

Actor | Stalag 17

William Holden was born William Franklin Beedle, Jr. in O'Fallon, Illinois, to Mary Blanche (Ball), a schoolteacher, and William Franklin Beedle, Sr., an industrial chemist. He came from a wealthy family (the Beedles) that moved to Pasadena, California, when he was three. In 1937, while studying ...

SUNSET BOULEVARD

99. Clifton Webb

Actor | Laura

Already trained in dance and theater, he quit school at age 13 to study music and painting. By 19 he was a professional ballroom dancer in New York, and by his mid-twenties he was performing in musicals, dramas on Broadway and in London, and in silent movies. His first real success in film came in ...

CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN

100. Stewart Granger

Actor | Scaramouche

Stewart Granger was born James Leblanche Stewart in London, the grandson of the actor "Luigi Lablache". He attended Epsom College but left after deciding not to pursue a medical degree. He decided to try acting and attended Webber-Douglas School of Dramatic Art, London. By 1935, he made his stage ...

KING SOLOMON'S MINES