Actors and actresses that made the average worthwhile, the worthwhile memorable, and the memorable unforgettable.
James Maitland Stewart was born on 20 May 1908 in Indiana, Pennsylvania, to Elizabeth Ruth (Johnson) and Alexander Maitland Stewart, who owned a hardware store. He was of Scottish, Ulster-Scots, and some English, descent. Stewart was educated at a local prep school, Mercersburg Academy, where he was a keen athlete (football and track)...
“ The ultimate "everyman" persona, how can you not love to cheer for him? Combine this with a very long list of good to great films, and you have your overall #1. ” - ksneath
Audrey Hepburn was born Audrey Kathleen 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, and her father, Joseph Victor Anthony Ruston, was born in Úzice, Bohemia, of English and Austrian descent, and worked in business...
“ Mrs. Hepburn truly stands apart from any other actress in history with a unique combination of authenticity, grace, geniality and style. Always engaging to watch in any part. ” - ksneath
One of Hollywood's preeminent male stars of all time (eclipsed, perhaps, only by "King" Clark Gable
and arguably by Gary Cooper
or Spencer Tracy
), and the cinema's quintessential "tough guy", James Cagney was also an accomplished--if rather stiff--hoofer and easily played light comedy. James Francis Cagney was born on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in New York City...
“ Gritty tough guy AND a polished singer/dancer. Who else could pull that off?? Cagney injects great energy and vigor into every performance, making him one of the screen's most captivating personalities. ” - ksneath
This marvelous screen comedienne's best asset was only muffled during her seven years' stint in silent films. That asset? It was, of course, her squeaky, frog-like voice, which silent-era cinema audiences had simply no way of perceiving, much less appreciating. Jean Arthur, born Gladys Georgianna Greene in upstate New York...
“ With that distinctive voice and irresistible charm, Arthur will win you over time after time. Her portfolio includes many unquestionable classics. To top it all off, she appears ageless throughout her career on-screen. ” - ksneath
Gregory Peck first film, Days of Glory, was released in 1944. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor five times, four of which came in his first five years of film acting: for The Keys of the Kingdom (1944), The Yearling (1946), Gentleman's Agreement (1947), and Twelve O'Clock High (1949)...
“ Peck's quiet moral strength lends itself well to many a good part. It's hard to find a bad film. ” - ksneath
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...
“ It is difficult to argue that Davis owns the greatest career of any actress. Could any leading lady ever be so despised yet so adored as she? ” - ksneath
Edward G. Robinson
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...
“ Typecast throughout much of his career (and understandably so) as a mobster, Robinson also displayed a much larger range on a number of occasions. Many good films. You'll need to try mightily to find a bad performance. ” - ksneath
Myrna Williams, later to become Myrna Loy, was born on August 2, 1905 in Radersburg, Montana. Her father was the youngest person ever elected to the Montana State legislature. Later on her family moved to Helena where she spent her youth. At the age of 13, Myrna's father died of influenza and the rest of the family moved to Los Angeles...
“ From a career in silents as the femme fetale, to the wisecracking, adventurous wife of Nick Charles, to the wise and caring homemaker, Loy is a friend of the silver screen viewer in any role. ” - ksneath
Cary Grant was an English actor who became an American citizen in 1942. Known for his transatlantic accent, debonair demeanor, and "dashing good looks", Grant is considered one of classic Hollywood's definitive leading men. In 1999, the American Film Institute named Grant the second greatest male star of Golden Age Hollywood cinema (after Humphrey Bogart)...
“ Perhaps no actor has so distinguished a career in comedy and drama than Cary. With irresistible wit and charm, you can't go wrong when you see his name adorning the title screen. ” - ksneath
Ingrid Bergman was one of the greatest actresses from Hollywood's lamented Golden Era. Her natural and unpretentious beauty and her immense acting talent made her one of the most celebrated figures in the history of American cinema. Bergman is also one of the most Oscar-awarded actresses, tied with Meryl Streep
, both are second only to Katharine Hepburn
William Powell was on the New York stage by 1912, but it would be ten years before his film career would begin. In 1924 he went to Paramount Pictures, where he was employed for the next seven years. During that time, he played in a number of interesting films, but stardom was elusive. He did finally attract attention with The Last Command
“ Powell is the embodiment of upper-class, gentlemanly exuberance. Although best known for his work with Myrna Loy, he starred in a number of other very good films. ” - ksneath
Judy Holliday was born Judith Tuvim in New York City on June 21, 1921. Her mother, a piano teacher, was attending a play when she went into labor and made it to the hospital just in time. Judy was an only child. By the age of four, her mother had her enrolled in ballet school which fostered a life-long interest in show business...
“ With the shortest filmography of the group, Holliday makes the list simply for being unforgettable. An intelligent girl who played the lovable ditz to perfection. ” - ksneath
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...
“ After years of getting second billing playing the slimy gangster, Bogie broke through to become one of the most recognized personalities in cinema history, lending his world-worn face to many all-time classic films. ” - ksneath
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...
With features chiseled in stone, and renowned for playing a long list of historical figures, particularly in Biblical epics, the tall, well built and ruggedly handsome Charlton Heston was one of Hollywood's greatest leading men and remained active in front of movie cameras for over sixty years. As a Hollywood star...
Marie Magdelene Dietrich von Losch (aka Marlene) was born in Berlin, Germany on December 27, 1901. Her father was an army officer who had served in the Franco-Prussian War. Because of his constant absences from the family due to his army duties, Marlene and the rest had to rely on themselves. When he died...
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, where they tried ranching in the Mojave Desert...
Olivia de Havilland
Olivia Mary de Havilland was born July 1, 1916, in Tokyo, Japan, to British parents Lilian Augusta (Ruse), a former actress, and Walter Augustus de Havilland, an English professor and patent attorney. Her sister, Joan, later to become famous as Joan Fontaine
, was born the following year. Her surname comes from her paternal grandfather...
Screen legend, superstar, and the man with the most famous blue eyes in movie history, Paul Leonard Newman was born in January 1925, in Cleveland, Ohio, the second son of Theresa (Fetsko) and Arthur Sigmund Newman. Paul's father was Jewish, the son of immigrants from Poland and Hungary; he owned a successful sporting goods store...
One of America's most prolific actresses was born Doris Mary Ann Von Kapplehoff on April 3, 1922, in Cincinnati, Ohio, to Alma Sophia (Welz), a housewife, and William Joseph Kappelhoff, a music teacher and choir master. Her grandparents were all German immigrants. She had two brothers, Richard, who died before she was born and Paul, a few years older...
Legendary actor Glenn Ford was born Gwyllyn Samuel Newton Ford in Sainte-Christine-d'Auvergne, Quebec, Canada, to Hannah Wood (Mitchell) and Newton Ford, a railroad executive. His family moved to Santa Monica, California when he was eight years old. His acting career began with plays at high school, followed by acting in West Coast, a traveling theater company...
Gloria Hallward was born in Los Angeles, California. She was the daughter of Michael Hallward, an architect, and Jean MacDougall, an actress whose stage name was Jean Grahame. Her mother later became her acting coach. Descended from royalty--King Edward III through her father's side--she was bred for acting at an early age...
Errol Flynn was born to parents Theodore Flynn
, a respected biologist, and Marrelle Young, an adventurous young woman. Young Flynn was a rambunctious child who could be counted on to find trouble. Errol managed to have himself thrown out of every school he was enrolled in. In his late teens he set out to find gold...
Elsa Sullivan Lanchester was born into an unconventional a family at the turn of the 20th century. Her parents, James "Shamus" Sullivan and Edith "Biddy" Lanchester, were socialists - very active members of the Social Democratic Federation (SDF) in a rather broad sense and did not believe in the institution of marriage and being tied to any conventions of legality for that matter...
Burt Lancaster, one of five children, was born in Manhattan, to Elizabeth (Roberts) and James Henry Lancaster, a postal worker. All of his grandparents were immigrants from Northern Ireland. He was a tough street kid who took an early interest in gymnastics. He joined the circus as an acrobat and worked there until he was injured...