Broadway to Hollywood Exodus in the late 1920s-mid 1930s

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1.
James Cagney
Actor, White Heat
One of Hollywood's preeminent male stars of all time (eclipsed, perhaps, only by "King" Clark Gable and arguably by Gary Cooper or Spencer Tracy), and the cinema's quintessential "tough guy", James Cagney was also an accomplished--if rather stiff--hoofer and easily played light comedy. James Francis Cagney was born on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in New York City...
 
2.
Humphrey Bogart
Actor, Casablanca
Humphrey DeForest Bogart was born in New York City, New York, to Maud Humphrey, a famed magazine illustrator and suffragette, and Belmont DeForest Bogart, a moderately wealthy surgeon (who was secretly addicted to opium). Bogart was educated at Trinity School, NYC, and was sent to Phillips Academy in Andover...
 
3.
Barbara Stanwyck
Today Barbara Stanwyck is remembered primarily as the matriarch of the family known as the Barkleys on the TV western The Big Valley, wherein she played Victoria, and from the hit drama The Colbys. But she was known to millions of other fans for her movie career, which spanned the period from 1927 until 1964...
 
4.
Katharine Hepburn
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...
 
5.
Cary Grant
Cary Grant was an English actor who became an American citizen in 1942. Known for his transatlantic accent, debonair demeanor, and "dashing good looks", Grant is considered one of classic Hollywood's definitive leading men. In 1999, the American Film Institute named Grant the second greatest male star of Golden Age Hollywood cinema (after Humphrey Bogart)...
 
6.
Henry Fonda
Henry Jaynes Fonda was born in Grand Island, Nebraska, to Elma Herberta (Jaynes) and William Brace Fonda, who worked in advertising and printing. His recent ancestry included Dutch, English, and Scottish. Fonda started his acting debut with the Omaha Community Playhouse, a local amateur theater troupe directed by Dorothy Brando...
 
7.
The Marx Brothers
Actor, Duck Soup
The Marx Brothers, Groucho, Chico, Harpo and Zeppo are a group of actors known for Duck Soup (1933), Animal Crackers (1930) Horse Feathers (1932) A Night in Casablanca (1946) A Day at the Races (1937) and A Night at the Opera (1935). They began their careers in Vaudeville, before becoming stars in the movies.
 
9.
Spencer Tracy
Spencer Tracy was born four years after his brother Carroll to truck salesman John Edward and Caroline Brown Tracy. He attended Marquette Academy along with Pat O'Brien and the two left school to enlist in the Navy at the start of World War I. He was still at Norfolk Navy Yard in Virginia at the end of the war...
 
10.
James Stewart
James Maitland Stewart was born on 20 May 1908 in Indiana, Pennsylvania, to Elizabeth Ruth (Johnson) and Alexander Maitland Stewart, who owned a hardware store. He was of Scottish, Ulster-Scots, and some English, descent. Stewart was educated at a local prep school, Mercersburg Academy, where he was a keen athlete (football and track)...
 
11.
Kay Francis
Kay Francis is possibly the biggest of the 'forgotten stars' from Hollywood's Golden Era, yet, for a while in the 1930s, she ranked as one of the most popular actresses, tagged the 'Queen of Warner Brothers', by 1935 earning a yearly salary of $115,000 (compared to Bette Davis with $18,000). The daughter of actress Katherine Clinton and businessman Joseph Gibbs...
 
12.
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 Anglican priest. His surname came from a great-great-grandfather who was of French Huguenot origin...
 
13.
Rosalind Russell
The middle of seven children, she was named after the S.S. Rosalind at the suggestion of her father, a successful lawyer. After receiving a Catholic school education, she went to the American Academy of Dramatic Art in New York, having convinced her mother that she intended to teach acting. In 1934...
 
14.
Jeanette MacDonald
Actress, San Francisco
She was the third daughter of Daniel and Anne MacDonald, younger sister to Blossom (MGM's character actress Marie Blake), whom she followed to New York and a chorus job in 1920. She was busy in a string of musical productions. In 1928 Paramount tested and rejected her, but a year later Ernst Lubitsch saw her test and picked her to play opposite Maurice Chevalier in The Love Parade...
 
15.
Fred Astaire
Actor, Top Hat
Fred Astaire was born in Omaha, Nebraska, to Johanna (Geilus) and Fritz Austerlitz, a brewer. Fred entered show business at age 5. He was successful both in vaudeville and on Broadway in partnership with his sister, Adele Astaire. After Adele retired to marry in 1932, Astaire headed to Hollywood. Signed to RKO...
 
16.
Ethel Merman
Born in the Astoria section of Queens, New York City, Ethel Merman was surely the pre-eminent star of 'Broadway' musical comedy. Though untrained in singing, she could belt out a song like quite no one else, and was sought after by major songwriters such as Irving Berlin and Cole Porter. Having debuted in 1930 in "Girl Crazy...
 
17.
Ginger Rogers
Actress, Top Hat
Ginger Rogers was born Virginia Katherine McMath in Independence, Missouri on July 16, 1911. Her mother, known as Lelee, went to Independence to have Ginger away from her husband. She had a baby earlier in their marriage and he allowed the doctor to use forceps and the baby died. She was kidnapped by her father several times until her mother took him to court...
 
18.
Al Jolson
Soundtrack, The Aviator
Al Jolson was known in the industry as "The World's Greatest Entertainer," for well over 40 years. After his death his influence continued unabated with such performers as Sammy Davis Jr., Elvis Presley, Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Jackie Wilson and Jerry Lee Lewis all mentioning him as an inspiration...
 
19.
Buddy Ebsen
Buddy Ebsen began his career as a dancer in the late 1920s in a Broadway chorus. He later formed a vaudeville act with his sister Vilma Ebsen, which also appeared on Broadway. In 1935 he and his sister went to Hollywood, where they were signed for the first of MGM's Eleanor Powell movies, Broadway Melody of 1936...
 
20.
Ray Bolger
Ray Bolger was born Raymond Wallace Bolger on January 10, 1904 in Dorchester, Massachusetts, to Anne C. (Wallace) and James Edward Bolger, both Irish-Americans. Ray began his career in vaudeville. He was half of a team called "Sanford and Bolger" and also did numerous Broadway shows on his own. Like Gene Kelly...
 
21.
Eleanor Powell
Actress, Born to Dance
Eleanor Powell was born in 1912 in Springfield, Massachussetts, and got her professional start in Atlantic City clubs, from where she moved into in revue in New York at the Ritz Grill and Casino de Paris at the age of sixteen. She started her career on Broadway in 1929, where her machine-gun foot work gained her the title of world champion in tapping...
 
22.
Ethel Waters
Actress, Beulah
The child of a teenage rape victim, Ethel Waters grew up in the slums of Philadelphia and neighboring cities, seldom living anywhere for more than a few weeks at a time. "No one raised me, " she recollected, "I just ran wild." She excelled not only at looking after herself, but also at singing and dancing; she began performing at church functions...
 
23.
Beatrice Lillie
Dubbed "the funniest woman in the world", comedienne Beatrice Lillie was born the daughter of a Canadian government official and grew up in Toronto. She sang in a family trio act with her mother, Lucy, and her piano-playing older sister, Muriel. Times were hard and the ambitious mother eventually took the girls to England to test the waters...
 
24.
W.C. Fields
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 (who hit him on the head with a shovel)...
 
25.
Irene Dunne
Irene Marie Dunne was born on December 20, 1898, in Louisville, Kentucky. She was the daughter of Joseph Dunne, who inspected steamships, and Adelaide Henry, a musician who prompted Irene in the arts. Her first production was in Louisville when she appeared in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" at the age of five...
 
26.
Fredric March
Fredric March began a career in banking but in 1920 found himself cast as an extra in films being produced in New York. He starred on the Broadway stage first in 1926 and would return there between screen appearances later on. He won plaudits (and an Academy Award nomination) for his send-up of John Barrymore in The Royal Family of Broadway...
 
27.
Pat O'Brien
Although he came to be called "Hollywood's Irishman in Residence"--and, along with good friends James Cagney, Allen Jenkins, Frank McHugh and a few others were called "The Irish Mafia"--and he often played Irish immigrants, Pat O'Brien was US-born and -bred. As a young boy the devoutly Roman Catholic O'Brien considered entering the seminary to study for the priesthood...
 
28.
Ruby Keeler
Ruby Keeler started as a dancer on Broadway. After her marriage to Al Jolson she moved to Hollywood and become a star in Warners musicals opposite Dick Powell. After her divorce from Jolson she retired for almost 30 years, until she appeared in "No No Nanette" on Broadway in 1971 under the direction of Busby Berkeley.
 
29.
Joan Blondell
Actress, Grease
With blonde hair, big blue eyes and a big smile, Joan was usually cast as the wisecracking working girl who was the lead's best friend. Born into vaudeville to a comic named Eddie, Joan was on the stage when she was three years old. For years, she toured the circuit with her parents and joined a stock company when she was 17...
 
30.
Alice Faye
Soundtrack, Yes Man
Alice Faye started her career as singer with Rudy Vallee's band in the early 1930s in New York. She went with Vallee to Hollywood, when he was able to get a number for her in George White's Scandals. When the female star of this film, Lilian Harvey left the set, Faye got her role. In her early years in Hollywood...
 
31.
Jack Haley
Jack Haley was a movie and vaudeville actor who is always remembered as the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz. The Tin Man role was originally was going to Buddy Ebsen, but due to allergic reaction from the aluminum powder makeup, Ebsen was taken out of the casting and Haley replaced him. To avoid the same problem arising...
 
32.
Ann Harding
Ann, born Dorothy Gatley, spent most of her childhood as an "army brat" constantly moving around before the family finally settled in New York. Ann first appeared on the stage while she spent a year attending Bryn Mawr College. She became a clerk and freelance script reader with a film company before she made her stage debut in Greenwich Village...
 
33.
Leslie Howard
Leslie Howard Stainer was born in London, to Lilian (Blumberg) and Ferdinand "Frank" Steiner. His father was a Hungarian Jewish immigrant, and his English mother was of German Jewish, and mostly English, descent. Leslie went to Dulwich College. After school, he worked as a bank clerk until the outbreak of World War I...
 
34.
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...
 
35.
Sylvia Sidney
Actress, Sabotage
Sylvia Sidney was born in New York City, in the Bronx borough, on August 8, 1910 with the birth name of Sophia Kosow. Her father was Russian born and her mother was born in Romania. They divorced not long after her birth. Her mother subsequently remarried and Sylvia was adopted by her stepfather, Sigmund Sidney...
 
36.
Lyda Roberti
Lyda's father was German clown Roberti, her mother a Polish trick rider. As a child performer, she toured Europe and Asia with the Circus in which she was born, leaving it (and her reportedly abusive father) in Shanghai, China. In this truly international city, Lyda became a child cafe entertainer and learned the fractured English that became her trademark...
 
37.
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...
 
38.
Fanny Brice
Fanny Brice was a popular and influential American comedienne, singer, theatre and film actress, who made many stage, radio and film appearances but is best remembered as the creator and star of the top-rated radio comedy series, The Baby Snooks Show. Thirteen years after her death, she was portrayed on the Broadway stage by Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl...
 
39.
Helen Hayes
Known as "The First lady of the American Theater", Helen Hayes had a legendary career on stage and in films and television that spanned over eighty years. Hayes was born in Washington, D.C., to Catherine Estelle "Essie" Hayes, an actress who worked in touring companies, and Francis van Arnum Brown, a clerk and salesman...
 
40.
Bill Robinson
According to one jazz dance source, Bill "Bojangles" Robinson was the chief instigator for getting tap dance "up on its toes." Early forms of tap, including the familiar "buck and wing", contained a flat-footed style, while Robinson performed on the balls of his feet with a shuffle-tap style that allowed him more improvisation. It obviously got him noticed and it certainly made him a legend...
 
41.
Tyrone Power
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 to historians as Tyrone Power Sr....
 
42.
Sophie Tucker
What becomes a legend most? For the beloved Russian-born entertainer Sophie Tucker, it was most definitely the live stage. The stage was her home. She fed off a live audience and it's what made her the sensation she was. Seeing her up close and personal was to get the very best of her. Movies and TV were too restrictive to capture the true essence of Sophie Tucker...
 
43.
Paul Robeson
Soundtrack, Pride
This handsome, eloquent and highly charismatic actor became one of the foremost interpreters of Eugene O'Neill's plays and one of the most treasured names in song during the first half of the twentieth century. He also courted disdain and public controversy for most of his career as a staunch Cold War-era advocate for human rights...
 
44.
Lee Tracy
Rangy, red-headed and straightforward to the bone while possessing distinctively adenoidal vocal tones, this actor with a voracious appetite for high living was a fine cinematic representation of the racy and race-paced style of pre-Code Hollywood. Lee Tracy patented with peerless skill the lightning...
 
45.
Billie Burke
Billie Burke was born Mary William Ethelbert Appleton Burke on August 7, 1885 in Washington, D.C. Her father was the internationally famous clown, Billy Burke, and she would spend most of her early years touring Europe before the family settled in London. In 1903, she appeared on the stage as an actress and came to America in 1907 to star opposite John Drew in "My Wife"...
 
46.
Ethel Barrymore
Ethel Barrymore was the second of three children seemingly destined for the actor's life of their parents Maurice and Georgiana. Maurice Barrymore had emigrated from England in 1875, and after graduating from Cambridge in law had shocked his family by becoming an actor. Georgiana Drew of Philadelphia acted in her parents' stage company...
 
47.
Claude Rains
Actor, Casablanca
William Claude Rains, born in the Camberwell area of London, was the son of the British stage actor Frederick Rains. The younger Rains followed, making his stage debut at the age of eleven in "Nell of Old Drury." Growing up in the world of theater, he saw not only acting up close but the down-to-earth business end as well...
 
48.
Mary Boland
Actress, The Women
Lively, buxom character actress Mary Boland made a name for herself playing vacuous or pixillated motherly types during the 1930's. One of her most memorable performances was as the addle-brained Mrs. Rimplegar of Three Cornered Moon, who gives away her family fortune to a swindler because he seemed like 'such a nice young man'...
 
49.
Bette Davis
Actress, All About Eve
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...
 
50.
Jeanne Eagels
Actress, The Letter
Jeanne Eagels, one of the most intriguing stars of late silent films and the early talkies, was born Amelia Jean Eagles on June 26, 1890 in Kansas City, Missouri, to Edward and Julia Sullivan Eagles. Young Jean was part of an impoverished family of eight, with three brothers and two sisters. She likely stopped going to school when she was 11 years old...
 
51.
Van Heflin
Actor, Shane
Craggy-faced, dependable star character actor Van Heflin never quite made the Hollywood "A" list, but made up for what he lacked in appearance with hard work, charisma and solid acting performances. He was born Emmett Evan Heflin in Oklahoma in December 1910, the son of Fanny Bleecker (Shippey) and Emmett Evan Heflin...
 
52.
Frances Farmer
Born in Seattle, Frances Farmer studied journalism and drama at the University of Washington, Seattle. In 1935, after winning a trip to Russia to see the Moscow Art Theater, she went to Hollywood where she secured a seven-year contract with Paramount. By the end of 1936, she was one of Paramount's most talked-about new stars...
 
53.
Brian Donlevy
It seems that Brian Donlevy started out life as colorfully as any character he ever played on the stage or screen. He lied about his age (he was actually 14) in 1916 so he could join the army. When Gen. John J. Pershing sent American troops to invade Mexico in pursuit of Pancho Villa--Mexican rebels under Villa's command raided Columbus...
 
54.
Charlotte Greenwood
Actress, Oklahoma!
Charlotte Greenwood was born Frances Charlotte Greenwood on June 25, 1890, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was a sickly child and her father left the family when she was very young. Charlotte grew into a healthy, six foot tall woman. She started her career dancing in vaudeville where she became known for her long legs...
 
55.
Marilyn Miller
Actress, Sally
"Look for the Silver Lining" became the appropriate signature song for one of Broadways's most popular musical stage stars of the 1920s, Marilyn Miller, for she embodied a vibrant, child-like optimism in her very best "happily ever after" showcases. Such happiness, however, did not extend into her personal life...
 
56.
Joe E. Brown
Joe E. Brown happily claimed that he was the only youngster in show business who ran way from home to join the circus with the blessings of his parents. In 1902, the ten-year-old Brown joined a circus tumbling act called the Five Marvellous Ashtons, which toured various circuses and vaudeville theaters...
 
57.
Tallulah Bankhead
Actress, Lifeboat
Tallulah Brockman Bankhead was born on January 31, 1902 in Huntsville, Alabama. Her father was a mover and shaker in the Democratic Party who served as Speaker of the United States House of Representatives from June 4, 1936, to September 16, 1940. Tallulah had been interested in acting and, at age 15...
 
58.
Margaret Sullavan
Born in Norfolk, Virginia to wealthy stockbroker Cornelius Hancock Sullavan and heiress Garland Council Sullavan, Margaret Brooke overcame a muscle weakness in her childhood to go on to become a rebellious teenager at posh private schools. She went on to perform with the University Players at Harvard and made her Broadway debut in Hello...
 
59.
Fred MacMurray
Fred MacMurray was likely the most underrated actor of his generation. True, his earliest work is mostly dismissed as pedestrian, but no other actor working in the 1940s and 50s was able to score so supremely whenever cast against type. Frederick Martin MacMurray was born in Kankakee, Illinois, to Maleta Martin and Frederick MacMurray...
 
60.
Allan Jones
Allan Jones was born Theodore Allen Jones in Old Forge, Pennsylvania. A coal miner's son, he worked in the mines until 1926. At that point in time, he received a scholarship from Syracuse University, but chose instead to study music at New York University with Claude Warford and then with Felix Leroux in Paris and Sir Henry Wood in London...
 
61.
Helen Morgan
Actress, Applause
Before the tragic legacies of songbird icons Édith Piaf, Billie Holiday and Judy Garland took hold, there was the one...the original...lady who sang the blues and started the whole "bawl" rolling. Like her successors, Helen Morgan lived the sad songs she sang...and more. She started her life fittingly enough on August 2...
 
62.
James Melton
James Melton was a popular singer, a Met lyric tenor, a recording artist for Victor and Columbia records and a producer and actor. He was raised in Citra, Florida, where he worked on a farm raising pigs and loading watermelons. He made his first public appearance as soloist in a local choir. A high school teacher noticed his talents and encouraged him to further his vocal studies...
 
64.
Fredi Washington
Fredi Washington was a pioneering African-American actress whose fair skin and green eyes often were impediments to her showing her extraordinary acting skills. Her talent was often overlooked because of people's obsession with her race and color. In the few films in which she acted her enormous talent as an actress couldn't be hidden...
 
65.
Lee J. Cobb
Lee J. Cobb, one of the premier character actors in American film for three decades in the post-World War II period, was born Leo Jacoby in New York City's Lower East Side on December 8, 1911. The son of a Jewish newspaper editor, young Leo was a child prodigy in music, mastering the violin and the harmonica...
 
66.
Charles Laughton
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 formed own film company...
 
67.
Elsa Lanchester
Actress, Mary Poppins
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...
 
68.
Claudette Colbert
Claudette Colbert was born in Paris and brought to the United States as a child three years later. Born Lily Claudette Chauchoin, she went to high school in New York. She was studying at the Art Students League when, in 1923, she took the name Claudette Colbert for her first Broadway role in "The Wild Westcotts"...
 
69.
Melvyn Douglas
Two-time Oscar-winner Melvyn Douglas was one of America's finest actors. In addition to his two Oscars, he also won a Tony Award and an Emmy. Douglas would enjoy cinema immortality if for no other reason than his being the man who made Greta Garbo laugh in Ernst Lubitsch's classic comedy Ninotchka, but he was much, much more...
 
70.
Miriam Hopkins
Born into wealth in Savannah,Georgia on October 18, 1902, Ellen Miriam Hopkins was able to attend the finest educational institutions including Goddard Seminary in Plainfield, Vermont and Syracuse University in New York State. Studying dance in New York , she received her first taste of show business as a chorus girl at twenty...
 
71.
Constance Bennett
Actress, Topper
Independent, outspoken Constance Bennett, the first of the Bennett sisters to enter films, appeared in New York-produced silents before a chance meeting with Samuel Goldwyn led to her Hollywood debut in Cytherea. She abandoned a burgeoning career in silents for marriage to Philip Plant in 1925; after they divorced...
 
72.
Robert Montgomery
As a child, Robert Montgomery enjoyed a privileged life, as his father was the president of the New York Rubber Co. When he died, the fortune was gone and Robert worked at a number of jobs. He later went to New York to be a writer, and on the advice of a friend tried acting. He worked with George Cukor on the stage and his first film...
 
73.
Franchot Tone
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. With his theatrical background, Tone became one of the most talented movie actors in Hollywood.
 
74.
Penny Singleton
Actress, The Jetsons
Her father was Irish Philadelphian newspaperman, Benny McNulty. He was related to Jim Farley Roosevelt's campaign managers and later Postmaster General. As a child, she sang songs at a silent movie theater. After the sixth grade she joined a touring vaudeville act called "The Kiddie Kabaret." Billed as Penny McNulty...
 
75.
Hardie Albright
Hardie Albright's parents had a traveling vaudeville act, in which he made his stage debut at the age of six. He studied drama at Carnegie Tech and was a member of Eva Le Gallienne's repertory theater. He appeared in many Broadway plays before making his film debut in 1931. Appearing in over 50 films...
 
76.
Nina Mae McKinney
Actress, Hallelujah
Nina Mae McKinney is known as the seductress "Chick" from Hallelujah, the first all-black, all-sound musical. Even though she was acknowledged as a great actress, singer and dancer by audiences in the U.S. and Europe, today she is mostly forgotten. She certainly had the looks, enthusiasm, and acting talent to succeed...
 
78.
Walter Huston
Walter Huston, who was born Toronto, Ontario, established himself as one of the great actors of the English-speaking stage and cinema. He established himself as a well-respected and much-sought-after character lead beginning with the early talkies and continuing through the 1930s & '40s. Huston originally studied engineering before seeking a life in the theater...
 
79.
Eric Blore
Actor, Top Hat
Born in London, Eric Blore came out of college and started his working life as an insurance agent. But while touring in Australia he took an interest in the stage and theater. He gave up his insurance job and turned to acting after returning to England. With his elfish long, straight nose, squint-eyed demeanor and a crisp voice...
 
80.
Mae West
Actress, I'm No Angel
Mae West was born in Queens, New York, to "Battling Jack" West and Matilda Doelger. She began her career as a child star in vaudeville, and later went on to write her own plays, including "SEX", for which she was arrested. Though her first movie role was a small part in Night After Night, her scene has become famous...
 
81.
Eddie Cantor
Soundtrack, Cinderella Man
Singer, songwriter ("Merrily We Roll Along"), comedian, author and actor, educated in public schools. He made his first public appearance in Vaudeville in 1907 at New York's Clinton Music Hall, then became a member of the Gus Edwards Gang, later touring vaudeville with Lila Lee as the team Cantor & Lee...
 
84.
Jack Benny
The son of a saloonkeeper, Jack Benny (born Benny Kubelsky) began to study the violin at the age six, and his "ineptness" at it later become his trademark (in reality, he was a very accomplished player). When given the opportunity to play in live theatre professionally, Benny quit school and joined vaudeville...
 
85.
Lillian Roth
Tragic songstress Lillian Roth (nee Lillian Rutstein), born in Boston, Massachusetts, on December 13, 1910, was given her first name in honor of singer Lillian Russell. She was the daughter of daunting stage parents who groomed her and younger sister Anne for stardom at an early age. The girls did not disappoint...
 
86.
Gertrude Lawrence
Actress, Rembrandt
Eminent London and Broadway musical star who appeared in nine films from 1929 through 1950.
 
87.
Florence Eldridge
Versatile character actress Florence Eldridge seemed often better served by the stage than by her roles in motion pictures. On the boards from the age of seventeen as a chorine in "Rock-a-Bye Baby" in 1918, she acted with touring companies and on Broadway and soon found herself playing leading parts...
 
88.
Brian Aherne
Actor, I Confess
Brian Aherne was an Oscar-nominated Anglo-American stage and screen actor who was one of the top cinema character actors in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. Born on May 2, 1902 in King's Norton, Worcestshire, England, Aherne performed as an actor as a child. At age 18 he made his debut as an adult with the company that would evolve into the world-famous Birmingham Repertory Theatre...
 
89.
Burgess Meredith
Actor, Rocky
One of the truly great and gifted performers of the century who often suffered lesser roles, Burgess Meredith was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1907 and educated in Amherst College in Massachusetts before joining Eva Le Gallienne's stage company in New York City in 1933. He became a favorite of dramatist Maxwell Anderson...
 
90.
Clark Gable
Clark Gable was an American film actor, often referred to as "The King of Hollywood" or just simply as "The King." The 1930s saw him at the peak of his acting ability and his popular appeal, as he often portrayed down-to-earth, bravado characters with a carefree attitude. He was known as the epitome of masculinity with his unmatched charm and knowing smile...
 
91.
Jack Oakie
"America's Joyboy," beefy, plump-faced comedian Jack Oakie, was one of the funniest top and second banana jokesters of stage, radio and especially film's "Golden Age." He would accomplish so much despite the fact that he was "functionally deaf" throughout his career and performed primarily with the aid of lip reading or vibrations...
 
92.
Jimmy Durante
Comedian, composer, actor, singer and songwriter ("Inka Dinka Doo") Jimmy Durante was educated in New York public schools. He began his career as a Coney Island pianist, and organized a five-piece band in 1916. He opened the Club Durant with Eddie Jackson and Lou Clayton, with whom he later formed a comedy trio for vaudeville and on television...
 
93.
Ross Alexander
The tragically brief life of fresh-faced, boyishly handsome Ross Alexander, who seemed to have everything going for him, plays these days like a bad Hollywood movie. Alexander was a charming, highly engaging young actor whose pleasant voice and breezy personality aided greatly in his transition from Broadway teen player to young adult Warner Bros...
 
94.
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...
 
95.
Glenda Farrell
Glenda Farrell began acting in the theater as a child. Her first major film role was in the gangster movie Little Caesar (1931) with Edward G. Robinson. In 1932, she became a Warner Bros. contract actor. She is perhaps best known for her role as Torchy Blane in the 1930s Warner Bros. film series, in which she appeared in seven Torchy Blane films...
 
96.
Paul Muni
Actor, Scarface
Paul Muni was born Sept. 22, 1895, in Lemberg, Austro-Hungarian Empire, to Salli and Phillip Weisenfreund, who were both professionals. His family was Jewish, and spoke Yiddish. Paul was educated in New York and Cleveland public schools. He was described as 5 feet 10 inches, with black hair and eyes...
 
97.
Ann Sothern
Ann Sothern, born Harriet Lake on January 22,1909 in Valley City, North Dakota, and her film career started as an extra-bit part in the film Broadway Nights in 1927. She would work as an extra for the next six years. It barely paid the bills. Finally, Ann got her break with Columbia Pictures when they signed her to a contract in 1934...
 
98.
George Murphy
After giving up college, George Murphy decided to become a dancer. Starting in 1927, he worked with his wife and partner Julie Johnson on Broadway. In 1934, after his wife retired from show business, he worked with Shirley Temple, in Hollywood, as well as Eleanor Powell, Fred Astaire, and Ronald Reagan...
 
99.
Kitty Carlisle
Kitty Carlisle Hart wore a cloak of many professional and elegant colors. Actress, opera singer, Broadway performer, TV celebrity, game show panelist, patron of the arts, and, at age 95, this vital woman continued her six-decade musical odyssey with songs and reminisces in her one-woman show: "Kitty Carlisle Hart: An American Icon," which toured from her beloved New York to Los Angeles...
 
100.
Lionel Stander
Lionel Stander, the movie character actor with the great gravelly voice, was born on January 11th, 1908 in The Bronx borough of New York City. Stander's acting career was derailed when he was blacklisted during the 1950s after being exposed as a Communist Party member during the House Un-American Activities Committee hearings...