A Few Actors From the Golden Era will add more later. I'm Recommending a few of their movies. Please let me know if you need more recommendations for a specific actor or of an actor I might have forgotten.
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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)...
“ Movies: To Kill a Mockingbird, Captain Horatio Hornblower, Big Country, Designing Woman and Spellbound ” - starsofheaven-dow
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)...
“ Movies: It's a Wonderful Life, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, Shop Around The Corner, Glenn Miller Story, Pot O'Gold and Rear Window. ” - starsofheaven-dow
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 two reeler by Hans Tissler (an independent producer)...
“ Along Came Jones, The Lady and The Cowboy, Dallas and Mr. Deeds Goes To Town. ” - starsofheaven-dow
American leading man of the 1940s and 1950s, Dana Andrews, was born Carver Dana Andrews on a farm by Collins, Covington County, Mississippi. He was the son of Annis (Speed) and Charles Forrest Andrews, a Baptist minister. He was one of thirteen children, including actor Steve Forrest
. Andrews studied business administration at Sam Houston State Teachers College in Texas...
“ Laura, Fearmakers, Where The Sidewalk Ends and Night Song ” - starsofheaven-dow
The son of a former circus clown turned grocer and a cleaning woman, Red Skelton
was introduced to show business at the age of seven by Ed Wynn
, at a vaudeville show in Vincennes. At age 10, he left home to travel with a medicine show through the Midwest, and joined the vaudeville circuit at age 15...
“ The Southern Yankee, Bathing Beauty and Watch The Birdie. ” - starsofheaven-dow
Ronald Reagan is, arguably, the most successful actor in history, having catapulted from a career as 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)...
“ Bedtime For Bonzo, Calvary Charge and Hong Kong. ” - starsofheaven-dow
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...
“ Imitation General, The Sheepman, The Violent Men and The Doctor and the Girl. ” - starsofheaven-dow
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...
“ Stagecoach, Angel And The Badman, Rio Bravo and Donovan's Reef ” - starsofheaven-dow
Richard Widmark established himself as an icon of American cinema with his debut in the 1947 film noir Kiss of Death
in which he won a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award nomination as the killer "Tommy Udo". Kiss of Death
and other noir thrillers established Widmark as part of a new generation of American movie actors who became stars in the post-World War II era...
“ Run For the Sun, Pick Up On South Street and The Last Wagon ” - starsofheaven-dow
Effective light comedian of '30s and '40s films and '50s and '60s TV series, Robert Cummings was renowned for his eternally youthful looks (which he attributed to a strict vitamin and health-food diet). He was educated at Carnegie Tech and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Deciding that Broadway producers would be more interested in an upper-crust Englishman than a kid from Joplin...
“ Princess O'Rourke, Lets Live A Little, It Started With Eve and Saboteur ” - starsofheaven-dow
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)...
“ My Favorite Wife, His Girl Friday, People Will Talk, Talk of The Town, Bringing Up Baby and Father Goose ” - starsofheaven-dow
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 Jones...
“ The Doctor Takes a Wife, A Man Alone, The Big Clock and Women of Distinction ” - starsofheaven-dow
Robert Mitchum was an underrated American leading man of enormous ability, who sublimated his talents beneath an air of disinterest. He was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, to Ann Harriet (Gunderson), a Norwegian immigrant, and James Thomas Mitchum, a shipyard/railroad worker. His father died in a train accident when he was two...
“ His Kind of Women, The Big Steal, Macao, One Minute To Zero and Pacos Kid ” - starsofheaven-dow
Comedian Bob Hope was born Leslie Townes Hope in Eltham, London, England, the fifth of seven sons of Avis (Townes), light opera singer, and William Henry Hope, a stonemason from Weston-super-Mare, Somerset. His maternal grandmother was Welsh. Hope moved to Bristol before emigrating with his parents to the US in 1908...
“ His Favorite Spy, Alias Jesse James, Ghost Breakers and Nothing But the Truth. ” - starsofheaven-dow
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 playing the drums and singing with a local band...
“ Holiday Inn, Here Comes The Groom, High Society and Top O' The Morning ” - starsofheaven-dow
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...
“ The Big Sleep, To Have and Have Not, All Through The Night and We Are No Angels ” - starsofheaven-dow
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...
“ Shall We Dance, Second Chorus, Silk Stockings and Holiday Inn ” - starsofheaven-dow
George Montgomery was boxing champion at the University of Montana, where he majored in architecture and interior design. Dropping out a year later, he decided to take up boxing more seriously, and moved to California, where he was coached by ex-heavyweight world champion James J. Jeffries
. While in Hollywood...
“ Pawnee, Last of The Badmen and The Texas Rangers ” - starsofheaven-dow
Handsome leading man who developed into one of Hollywood's greatest and most popular western stars. Born to George and Lucy Crane Scott during a visit to Virginia, Scott was raised in Charlotte, North Carolina in a wealthy family. He attended Georgia Institute of Technology but, after being injured playing football...
“ Hangman's Knot, Man In The Saddle and Fort Worth ” - starsofheaven-dow
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...
Born into a vaudeville family, O'Connor was the youthful figure cutting a rug in several Universal musicals of the 1940s. His best-known musical work is probably Singin' in the Rain
, in which he did an impressive dance that culminated in a series of backflips off the wall. O'Connor was also effective in comedic lead roles, particularly as the companion to Francis the Talking Mule in that film series.
“ Francis The Talking Mule series ” - starsofheaven-dow
Alan Walbridge Ladd was born in Hot Springs, Arkansas, the only child of Ina Raleigh (aka Selina Rowley) and Alan Ladd, a freelance accountant. His mother was English, from County Durham, and his paternal grandparents were Canadian. His father died when he was four. At age five, he burned his apartment playing with matches...
“ And Now Tomorrow, Saskatchewan and Botany Bay ” - starsofheaven-dow
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 in Pennsylvania...
“ It Happened One Night, Gone With The Wind and Test Pilot ” - starsofheaven-dow
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.
“ Love Is News, That Wonderful Urge, Prince Of Foxes and Cafe Metropole ” - starsofheaven-dow
Born Spangler Arlington Brugh, Robert Taylor began displaying a diversity of talents in his youth on the plains of Nebraska. At Beatrice High School, he was a standout track athlete, but also showed a talent for using his voice, winning several oratory awards. He was a musician and played the cello in the school orchestra...
“ Her Cardboard Lover, Power and The Prize and Many Rivers To Cross ” - starsofheaven-dow
Robert Walker Jr.
Born at Queens Hospital on April 14, 1940. As the son of actors Robert Walker
and Jennifer Jones
, Robert Walker Jr. certainly had the right pedigree to make the grade in Hollywood. His parents separated when Robert was only three, and at age 9 his stepfather became the powerful film mogul David O. Selznick
who by this time had already taken firm control of his mother's career...
Danny Kaye left school at the age of 13 to work in the so-called Borscht Belt of Jewish resorts in the Catskill Mountains. It was there he learned the basics of show biz. From there he went through a series of jobs in and out of the business. In 1939, he made his Broadway debut in "Straw Hat Revue,"...
“ On The Double, The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty and A Song Is Born ” - starsofheaven-dow
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 experience at the Pasadena Community Playhouse...
“ The More The Merrier, Foreign Correspondent and Frenchie ” - starsofheaven-dow
David Niven was named after the Saint's Day on which he was born, St. David, patron Saint of Wales. He attended Stowe School and Sandhurst Military Academy and served for two years in Malta with the Highland Light Infantry. At the outbreak of World War II, although a top-line star, he re-joined the army (Rifle Brigade)...
“ The Moon Is Blue, Happy Go Lovely and A Kiss In The Dark ” - starsofheaven-dow
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 chemistry at Pasadena Junior College...
“ Born Yesterday, The Moon Is Blue, Sabrina, Dear Wife and Miss Grant Takes Richmond. ” - starsofheaven-dow
If there had to be an image for cool, the man to fit it would be Dean Martin. Martin was born Dino Paul Crocetti in Steubenville, Ohio, to Angela (Barra) and Gaetano Alfonso Crocetti, a barber. His father was an Italian immigrant, and his mother was of Italian descent. He spoke only Italian until age five...
“ At War With The Army, Scared Stiff and The Bells Are Ringing ” - starsofheaven-dow
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
. When talkies arrived...
“ Weekend At The Waldorf, Mrs. Parkington and The Forbidden Planet ” - starsofheaven-dow
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...
“ Holiday in Bali, Borderline, The Absentminded Professor and The Princess Comes Across ” - starsofheaven-dow
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 father's death cost him the financial support necessary...
“ Talk Of The Town, Random Harvest, Lucky Partners and A Tale of Two Cities ” - starsofheaven-dow
Van Johnson was the well-mannered nice guy on screen you wanted your daughter to marry. This fair, freckled and invariably friendly-looking MGM song-and-dance star of the 40s emerged a box office favorite (1944-1946) and second only to heartthrob Frank Sinatra
during what gossipmonger Hedda Hopper
dubbed the "Bobby-Soxer Blitz" era...
“ Weekend At the Waldorf, Duchess Of Idaho, Scene Of The Crime and Easy to Wed. ” - starsofheaven-dow
“ Look Who's Laughing, You Can't Cheat an Honest Man, Stage Door Canteen and Here We Go Again ” - starsofheaven-dow
“ Edgar Bergen Being the Ventriloquist and Charlie McCarthy the dummy its safe to say every movie Mr. Bergen is in Charlie will be also. ” - starsofheaven-dow
The only career Nelson Eddy ever considered was singing. His parents were singers, his grandparents were musicians. Unable to afford a teacher, he learned by imitating opera recordings. At age 14 he worked as a telephone operator in a Philadelphia iron foundry. He sold newspaper advertising and performed in amateur musicals...
Lou Costello was born Louis Francis Cristillo in Paterson, New Jersey, to Helen (Rege) and Sebastiano Cristillo. His father was from Calabria, Italy, and his mother was an American of Italian, French, and Irish ancestry. Raised in Paterson, Costello dropped out of high school and headed west to break into the movies...
“ Hold That Ghost, The Noose Hangs High and Mexican Hayride ” - starsofheaven-dow
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...
“ Twelve Angry Men ” - starsofheaven-dow
Oscar-winner Edmond O'Brien was one of the most-respected character actors in American cinema, from his heyday of the mid-1940s through the late 1960s. Born on September 10, 1915, in the New York City borough of The Bronx, O'Brien learned the craft of performance as a magician, reportedly tutored by neighbor Harry Houdini
“ D.O.A and The Admiral Was a Lady ” - starsofheaven-dow
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...
“ Captain Blood, Robin Hood and Seahawk ” - starsofheaven-dow
“ Sink The Bismark, Sheriff of Fractured Jaw and North West Frontier ” - starsofheaven-dow
Joseph Cheshire Cotten, Jr. was born in Petersburg, Virginia, into a well-to-do Southern family. He was the eldest of three sons born to Sally Whitworth (Willson) and Joseph Cheshire Cotten, Sr., an assistant postmaster. Jo (as he was known) and his brothers Whit and Sam spent their summers at their aunt and uncle's home at Virginia Beach...
“ Farmers Daughter, Hers To Hold and Half Angel ” - starsofheaven-dow
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 seven) he traveled the world with his father. When his father died (he was fifteen) he became the ward of Chicago's Dr...
“ Jane Eyre ” - starsofheaven-dow
Audie Murphy became a national hero during World War II as the most decorated combat soldier of the war. Among his 33 awards was the Medal of Honor, the highest award for bravery that a soldier can receive. In addition, he was also decorated for bravery by the governments of France and Belgium, and was credited with killing over 240 German soldiers and wounding and capturing many more...
“ Destry, The Guns of Fort Petticoat, Ride A Crooked Trail and The Posse From Hell ” - starsofheaven-dow
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 other handicap...
“ Thirty Nine Steps, The Inn Of Six Happiness and The Count Of Monte Cristo ” - starsofheaven-dow
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...
“ Pride and Prejudice, Rebecca and As You Like It ” - starsofheaven-dow
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 Dundee Repertory Theatre in 1939...
“ A Man Called Peter and Lighting Strikes Twice ” - starsofheaven-dow
Dashing actor Cornel Wilde was born Kornel Lajos Weisz on October 13, 1912, in Prievidza, Hungary (now part of Slovakia), to a Jewish family. In 1920, he immigrated to New York City with his parents, Rayna (Vid) and Vojtech Béla Weisz, and elder sister, Edith. His family Americanized their names and Kornel took the name Cornelius Louis Wilde...
Sir John Mills, one of the most popular and beloved English actors, was born Lewis Ernest Watts Mills on February 22, 1908, at the Watts Naval Training College in North Elmham, Norfolk, England. The young Mills grew up in Felixstowe, Suffolk, where his father was a mathematics teacher and his mother was a theater box-office manager...
Amiable and handsome James Garner had obtained success in both films and television, often playing variations of the charming anti-hero/con-man persona he first developed in Maverick, the offbeat western TV series that shot him to stardom in the late 1950s. James Garner was born James Scott Bumgarner in Norman...
Basil Rathbone was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1892, but three years later his family was forced to flee the country because his father was accused by the Boers of being a British spy at a time when Dutch-British conflicts were leading to the Boer War. The Rathbones escaped to England, where Basil and his two younger siblings...