The 300 Best Character Movie Actors - Always in the Cast but never the Star

by Greeleyguy55 | created - 02 Dec 2011 | updated - 10 months ago | Public

You have seen at least one these actors in most any picture made since the 1930's. Some like John Goodman and Karl Malden have had top billing, but most of these Stars are known as the "Co-Star", "Second Banana" "With" or "Also Staring" roles. The vital people that make the story.

Update 6/8/13 - After many comments and some bad omissions on my part, I have updated this list. Thank you all for your comments and please continue.

Update 10/2/13 Again updated to list to 200, after many great comments. Thanks again and keep them coming.

Update 2/14/14 - More comments and more additions. I am now at 250, so any additions from here on out, will be with removing some of the lesser known for ones that people have I have omitted and are worthy of this list.

Update 7/22/14 - Since I said I would stop at 250, but I have gotten several comments about additions and found some of my own. I enjoy the comments and the research, so I will continue onto 300. Thank to you all.

Update 2/6/15 - I haven't been able to get back to this in awhile, but did read all of your comments and concur with most of them. To that end, I have removed many on this list who were known more for their TV work, than in the Movies and added several glaring omissions. Again thanks for all your interest in this.

1. Walter Brennan

Actor | To Have and Have Not

In many ways the most successful and familiar character actor of American sound films and the only actor to date to win three Oscars for Best Supporting Actor, Walter Brennan attended college in Cambridge, Massachusetts, studying engineering. While in school he became interested in acting and ...

2. Ward Bond

Actor | The Quiet Man

Gruff, burly American character actor. Born in 1903 in Benkelman, Nebraska (confirmed by Social Security records; sources stating 1905 or Denver, Colorado are in error.) Bond grew up in Denver, the son of a lumberyard worker. He attended the University of Southern California, where he got work as ...

3. Thelma Ritter

Actress | Rear Window

Thelma Ritter appeared in high school plays and was trained at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. In the 1940s she worked in radio. Her movie career was started with a bit part in the 1946 Miracle on 34th Street (1947). In the movie she played a weary Xmas shopper. Her performance in the short ...

4. Karl Malden

Actor | On the Waterfront

Born to a Czech mother and a Serbian father in Chicago as Mladen Sekulovich, on March 22, 1912, Karl Malden did not speak English until he was in kindergarten. After graduating from high school in the nearby steel town of Gary, Indiana, Malden worked in the industry for three years until 1934, when...

5. John Carradine

Actor | The Grapes of Wrath

John Carradine, the son of a reporter/artist and a surgeon, grew up in Poughkeepsie, New York. He attended Christ Church School and Graphic Art School, studying sculpture, and afterward roamed the South selling sketches. He made his acting debut in "Camille" in a New Orleans theatre in 1925. ...

6. Mary Wickes

Actress | Sister Act

From the grand old school of wisecracking, loud and lanky Mary Wickes had few peers while forging a career as a salty scene-stealer. Her abrupt, tell-it-like-it-is demeanor made her a consistent audience favorite on every medium for over six decades. She was particularly adroit in film parts that ...

7. Barry Fitzgerald

Actor | The Quiet Man

One of Hollywood's finest character actors and most accomplished scene stealers, Barry Fitzgerald was born William Joseph Shields in 1888 in Dublin, Ireland. Educated to enter the banking business, the diminutive Irishman with the irresistible brogue was bitten by the acting bug in the 1920s and ...

8. Martin Balsam

Actor | All the President's Men

Martin Henry Balsam was born on November 4, 1919 in the Bronx, New York City, to Lillian (Weinstein) and Albert Balsam, a manufacturer of women's sportswear. He was the first-born child. His father was a Russian Jewish immigrant, and his mother was born in New York, to Russian Jewish parents. ...

9. Slim Pickens

Actor | Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

Slim Pickens spent the early part of his career as a real cowboy and the latter part playing cowboys, and he is best remembered for a single "cowboy" image: that of bomber pilot Maj. "King" Kong waving his cowboy hat rodeo-style as he rides a nuclear bomb onto its target in the great black comedy ...

10. Harry Morgan

Actor | M*A*S*H

Harry Morgan was a prolific character actor who starred in over 100 films and was a stage performer. Known to a younger generation of fans as "Col. Sherman T. Potter" on M*A*S*H (1972). Also known for his commanding personality throughout his career, he tackled movies and television in a way no ...

11. Norman Fell

Actor | Three's Company

Norman Fell was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1924. He graduated from Temple University with a bachelor's degree in drama. During World War II, he was an Air Force tail gunner in the Pacific. After the war, he studied acting and obtained small parts in television and on stage. His first ...

12. Charles Lane

Actor | The Music Man

Mean, miserly and miserable-looking, they didn't come packaged with a more annoying and irksome bow than Charles Lane. Glimpsing even a bent smile from this unending sourpuss was extremely rare, unless one perhaps caught him in a moment of insidious glee after carrying out one of his many nefarious...

13. Andy Devine

Actor | Robin Hood

Rotund comic character actor of American films. Born Andrew Vabre Devine in Flagstaff, Arizona, the later-to-be Rotund comic character actor was raised in nearby Kingman, Arizona, the son of Irish-American hotel operator Thomas Devine and his wife Amy. Devine was an able athlete as a student and ...

14. Ben Johnson

Actor | The Last Picture Show

Born in Oklahoma, Ben Johnson was a ranch hand and rodeo performer when, in 1940, Howard Hughes hired him to take a load of horses to California. He decided to stick around (the pay was good), and for some years was a stunt man, horse wrangler, and double for such stars as John Wayne, Gary Cooper ...

15. Alan Hale

Actor | The Adventures of Robin Hood

Alan Hale decided on a film career after his attempt at becoming an opera singer didn't pan out. He quickly became much in demand as a supporting actor, starred in several films for Cecil B. DeMille and directed others for him. With the advent of sound Hale played leads in a few films, but soon ...

16. Dub Taylor

Actor | The Wild Bunch

Dub Taylor was born on February 26, 1907 in Richmond, Virginia, USA as Walter Clarence Taylor II. He was an actor, known for The Wild Bunch (1969), The Getaway (1972) and Bonnie and Clyde (1967). He was married to Florence Gertrude Heffernan. He died on October 3, 1994 in Los Angeles, California, ...

17. Harry Carey

Actor | Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

Born in New York City to a Judge of Special Sessions who was also president of a sewing machine company. Grew up on City Island, New York. Attended Hamilton Military Academy and turned down an appointment to West Point to attend New York Law School, where his law school classmates included future ...

18. Henry Jones

Actor | Vertigo

Henry Burk Jones was born in New Jersey and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was the son of Helen (Burk) and John Francis Xavier Jones, and the grandson of Pennsylvania Representative Henry Burk, a Prussian immigrant. He graduated from St. Joseph's College. His Broadway debut was in 1938 in ...

19. Thomas Mitchell

Actor | Stagecoach

Thomas Mitchell was one of the great American character actors, whose credits read like a list of the greatest films of the 20th century: Lost Horizon (1937); Stagecoach (1939); The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939); Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939); Gone with the Wind (1939); It's a Wonderful Life...

20. Paul Fix

Actor | El Dorado

Paul Fix, the well-known movie and TV character actor who played "Marshal Micah Torrance" on the TV series The Rifleman (1958), was born Peter Paul Fix on March 13, 1901 in Dobbs Ferry, New York to brew-master Wilhelm Fix and his wife, the former Louise C. Walz. His mother and father were German ...

21. Harry Carey Jr.

Actor | Tombstone

Harry Carey, Jr., had been reliable character actor for decades, mostly in Westerns, before he retired. He is the son of the actor Harry Carey and the actress Olive Carey. He was born on his parents' 1000-acre ranch near Saugus, in the northwestern part of Los Angeles County, which is now next door...

22. John Dehner

Actor | The Right Stuff

Unlike many actors, John Dehner's career didn't begin on the stage or on radio. He started out as an animator for Walt Disney Studios, then worked as a disc jockey and a professional pianist. He made his film debut in the 1940s, and has appeared in dozens of films. A tall and distinguished looking ...

23. Jack Elam

Actor | C'era una volta il West

Colorful American character actor equally adept at vicious killers or grizzled sidekicks. As a child he worked in the cotton fields. He attended Santa Monica Junior College in California and subsequently became an accountant and, at one time, manager of the Bel Air Hotel. Elam got his first movie ...

24. Kathleen Freeman

Actress | The Blues Brothers

Kathleen Freeman's introduction to show business came very early in life. Her parents were vaudevillians, and she made her debut at age 2 in their act. Later she attended UCLA with intentions of becoming a pianist, but was bitten by the acting bug and never looked back. She gained experience on ...

25. Chill Wills

Actor | The Alamo

Colorful character actor of American Westerns. Named "Chill" as an ironic comment on his birth date being the hottest day of 1902. A musician from his youth, he performed from the age of 12 with tent shows, in vaudeville, and with stock companies. While performing in vaudeville in Kansas City, he ...

26. Strother Martin

Actor | Cool Hand Luke

American character actor who achieved considerable fame in the last decade of his life. A native of Kokomo, Indiana, Strother Martin Jr. was the youngest of three children of Strother Douglas Martin, a machinist, and Ethel Dunlap Martin. His family moved soon after his birth to San Antonio, Texas, ...

27. John McGiver

Actor | The Manchurian Candidate

John Irwin McGiver came to acting relatively late in life. He held a B.A. and Masters degrees in English from Fordham, Columbia and Catholic Universities and spent his early years teaching drama and speech at Christopher Columbus High School in the Bronx. He had an early flirt with the acting ...

28. Elisha Cook Jr.

Actor | Rosemary's Baby

Although this pint-sized actor started out in films often in innocuous college-student roles in mid-30s rah-rahs, playing alongside the likes of a pretty Gloria Stuart or a young, pre-"Oz" Judy Garland, casting directors would soon enough discover his flair for portraying intense neurotics or ...

29. Roddy McDowall

Actor | Fright Night

Roddy McDowall was born in Herne Hill, London, England, to Winifriede Lucinda (Corcoran), who had always wanted to be in movies, and Thomas Andrew McDowall, a merchant seaman. He was of Irish and Scottish origin. McDowall was enrolled in elocution courses at age five and by ten had appeared in his ...

30. Mike Mazurki

Actor | Some Like It Hot

With an intimidating face like craggy granite and a towering 6'5" solid frame, Mike Mazurki (born Mikhail Mazuruski or Mikhail Mazurkiewicz) was one of cinema's first serial thugs and specialized in playing strongarm men, gangsters and bullies for over 50 years on screen. Nearly always portrayed as...

31. Hans Conried

Actor | Peter Pan

Hans Conried was born in Baltimore and raised both there and in New York City. He studied acting at Columbia University, and played many major classical roles onstage. After having been a member of Orson Welles' Mercury Theatre Company, he was heard as Prof. Kropotkin on the radio show "My Friend ...

32. Noah Beery Jr.

Actor | The Rockford Files

Familiar and well-liked character actor of very different persona than either his father, Noah Beery, or his uncle, Wallace Beery. He attended Harvard Military Academy but managed to make a number of appearances on film and on stage with his father before adulthood. At age 19, he began playing ...

33. Eli Wallach

Actor | Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo

One of Hollywood's finest character / "Method" actors, Eli Wallach was in demand for over 60 years (first film/TV role was 1949) on stage and screen, and has worked alongside the world's biggest stars, including Clark Gable, Clint Eastwood, Steve McQueen, Marilyn Monroe, Yul Brynner, Peter O'Toole,...

34. Jay C. Flippen

Actor | The Killing

Jay C. Flippen could probably be characterized these days as one of those distinctive faces you know but whose name escapes you while viewing old 50s and 60s movies and TV. His distinctive bulldog mug, beetle brows, bulky features, and silver-white hair were ideally suited for roles as criminals ...

35. Bruce Cabot

Actor | King Kong

Hollywood stalwart Bruce Cabot's main claim to fame, other than rescuing Fay Wray from King Kong (1933), is that he tested for the lead role of The Ringo Kid in John Ford's Western masterpiece Stagecoach (1939). John Wayne got the role and became the most durable star in Hollywood history, while ...

36. Eve Arden

Actress | Our Miss Brooks

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 ...

37. Paul Ford

Actor | It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World

If any man ever had a character face absolutely made for TV and film, it was Paul Ford. Small-eyed, lugubrious, pot-bellied, balding and with a plum nose to rival Karl Malden, Ford was a rather wanderlust family man who decided to give acting a try in his early 40. He excelled at puppetry and found...

38. Dean Jagger

Actor | White Christmas

Dean Jagger was born in Lima, Ohio, on November 7, 1903. He dropped out of high school twice before finally graduating from Wabash College. Working first as a school teacher, he soon became interested in acting and enrolled at Chicago's "Lyceum Art Conservatory". Mr. Jagger made his first movie and...

39. James Gleason

Actor | Here Comes Mr. Jordan

James Gleason was born in New York City to William Gleason and Mina Crolius, who were both in the theatre. He was married to Lucile Gleason (born Lucile Webster), and had a son, Russell Gleason. As a young man James fought in the Spanish-American War. After the war he joined the stock company at ...

40. Royal Dano

Actor | Killer Klowns from Outer Space

Royal Dano was undoubtedly one of the best, most quirky and striking character actors to ever grace the big and small screen alike in a lengthy and impressive career which spanned 42 years.

Royal Edward Dano was born on November 16, 1922 in New York City, to Mary Josephine (O'Connor) and Caleb ...

41. Edward Andrews

Actor | Sixteen Candles

The son of a Georgia minister, Edward Andrews debuted on stage in 1926 at age 12 and by 1935 had landed on Broadway. A solid character actor, his large physique and amiable demeanor made him a natural for the jovial, grandfatherly type or genial, small-town businessman which he often played, but ...

42. J. Pat O'Malley

Actor | The Jungle Book

J. Pat had a warm smile, twinkling eyes, and an Irish name. He was born in Burnley, England, and began his acting career in British musical halls. J. Pat came to the USA at the outbreak of World War II, and his film debut was Lassie Come Home (1943). He also worked on the Broadway stage during the ...

43. Arthur O'Connell

Actor | Anatomy of a Murder

Though veteran character actor Arthur O'Connell was born in New York City in 1908, he looked as countrified as apple pie, looking ever more comfy in overalls than he ever did in a suit. He made his stage debut in the mid 1930s and came into contact with Orson Welles' Mercury Theatre. As a result, ...

44. Robert Morley

Actor | Marie Antoinette

English character actor Robert Morley was educated in England, Germany, France and Italy. His family planned for him to go into the diplomatic service but he liked the idea of acting more. After studying at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London he appeared on the London stage in 1929 ...

45. Trevor Howard

Actor | The Third Man

The son of an insurance underwriter, who represented Lloyd's of London in Ceylon, Trevor Wallace Howard-Smith was born in Margate, Kent. He spent his early childhood globetrotting with his mother, frequently left in the care of strangers. After attending private school, he subsequently trained at ...

46. Dabney Coleman

Actor | WarGames

For decades, Dabney Coleman has often appeared as a smarmy, selfish, nervous person, often with money, who is mostly out for himself. He did such a good job in this type of part that he's made a career of it in film.

Dabney Wharton Coleman was born in Austin, Texas, to Mary Wharton (Johns) and ...

47. S.Z. Sakall

Actor | Casablanca

Hungarian-born S.Z. Sakall was a veteran of German, Hungarian and British films when he left Europe because of the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi movement. In Hollywood from shortly after the outbreak of World War II, Sakall began appearing in comedies and musicals, often playing a lovable if ...

48. Edna May Oliver

Actress | The Personal History, Adventures, Experience, & Observation of David Copperfield the Younger

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. Her father's stepfather, Samuel Oliver, did have a mother named ...

49. Jack Albertson

Actor | Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

A former song-and-dance man and veteran of vaudeville, burlesque and Broadway, Jack Albertson is best known to audiences as "The Man" in the TV series Chico and the Man (1974), for which he won an Emmy. In 1968 Albertson, the brother of actress Mabel Albertson, won the Oscar for Best Supporting ...

50. Andrew Duggan

Actor | Seven Days in May

Actor. Born in Franklin, Indiana on December 28, 1923, he was raised in Texas and went to college at Indiana University. There, on a speech and drama scholarship, he began to act and perform however this was interrupted by being called into the service. In World War II where he saw action overseas,...

51. Eugene Pallette

Actor | The Adventures of Robin Hood

Gargantuan-bellied, frog-voiced character actor who was a staple in forties movies. After World War II his ultra-right-wing political views fuelled his 'bomb' paranoia and he bought a property in Oregon which he turned into a well-stocked compound in case the Russians attacked. Many of his old ...

52. Millard Mitchell

Actor | Singin' in the Rain

Millard Mitchell was born to American parents in Havana, Cuba. He was a popular stage and radio actor in the 1930's in New York, where he also filmed his first cinema appearances (industrial short features). His first Hollywood role was in Mr. and Mrs. North (1942). After World War II, Mitchell ...

53. Richard Conte

Actor | The Godfather

Richard Conte was born Nicholas Richard Conte on March 24, 1910, in Jersey City, New Jersey, the son of an Italian-American barber. The young Conte held a variety of jobs before becoming a professional actor, including truck driver, Wall Street clerk and singing waiter at a Connecticut resort. The ...

54. John Fiedler

Actor | 12 Angry Men

Typical of busy character actors, Fiedler made his face (and voice) recognizable to millions. Many know the bald-pated Fiedler as therapy patient "Mr. Peterson" on The Bob Newhart Show (1972); others might first recognize him for the 1968 movie, The Odd Couple (1968), and spin-off TV show, The Odd ...

55. Murray Hamilton

Actor | Jaws

Murray Hamilton was one of those character actors whose face would be familiar to most movie buffs at an instant, yet his name may not. That's a shame, because Hamilton was one of the most versatile and prolific of performers who was never anything less than completely convincing in any role he ...

56. George Macready

Actor | Paths of Glory

George Macready--the name probably doesn't ring any bells for most but the voice would be unmistakable. He attended and graduated from Brown University and had a short stint as a New York newspaperman, but became interested in acting on the advice of colorful Polish émigré classical stage director ...

57. Jim Backus

Actor | It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World

Jim Backus was born James Gilmore Backus on February 25, 1913 in Cleveland, Ohio. He was one of the few actors to do it all: radio, Broadway, movies, television and cartoons. After attending preparatory school in his hometown Cleveland, Backus enrolled at the American Academy of Dramatic Art, to ...

58. Willis Bouchey

Actor | The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

Willis Bouchey appeared in almost 150 movies and television shows over a 30-year period from 1951 to 1979. He was one of those wonderful character actors who would be a crooked judge in one film and a humorous cavalry officer in another. He appeared in many of John Ford's movies as well as James ...

59. Hugh Griffith

Actor | Ben-Hur

Enjoyably larger-than-life character actor Hugh Emrys Griffith was born in Marianglas, Anglesey, North Wales, to Mary (Williams) and William Griffith. Griffith left the world of banking (having been employed as a teller) after winning a scholarship to study acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic ...

60. Keenan Wynn

Actor | Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

The talented scion of a show-business family, Keenan Wynn's father was the great burlesque and television buffoon Ed Wynn while his maternal grandfather, Frank Keenan, earned distinction on the other side of the entertainment ladder as a Shakespearean tragedian. Mother Hilda Keenan was also a minor...

61. Percy Herbert

Actor | The Guns of Navarone

The massive brooding face and nose of British actor Percy Herbert is familiar to movie goers and TV audiences alike. A seemingly unlikely stage discovery by no one less than the great Dame Sybil Thorndike of British theater, Herbert moved into movie roles by the early 1950s. Initially fitting in as...

62. Red Buttons

Actor | The Poseidon Adventure

Although Red Buttons is best known as a stand-up comic, he is also a successful songwriter, an Academy Award-winning actor (and has been nominated for two Golden Globe awards) and an accomplished singer. Born Aaron Chwatt in New York City's Lower East Side, Buttons (who got his name from a uniform ...

63. Robert Newton

Actor | Around the World in 80 Days

Robert Newton was one of the great character actors -- and great characters -- of the British cinema, best remembered today for playing Long John Silver in Treasure Island (1950) and its sequel for Walt Disney in the 1950s. His portrayal of Long John Silver and of Blackbeard, the Pirate (1952) ...

64. Don 'Red' Barry

Actor | Jesse James' Women

Donald Barry went from the stage to the screen. After four years of playing villains and henchmen at various studios, Barry got the role that changed his image: Red Ryder in the Republic Pictures serial Adventures of Red Ryder (1940). Although he had appeared in westerns for two years or so, this ...

65. Ed Wynn

Actor | Alice in Wonderland

An old-fashioned comedian, who, by recommendation by his son Keenan Wynn, became one of the world's most beloved clowns, and one of the best actors of his time. He was born on November 9, 1886. He performed in the Ziegfeld Follies, and later had a son Keenan in 1916. He later wrote his own shows, ...

66. Ned Beatty

Actor | Network

Stocky, genial-looking supporting actor Ned Beatty was once hailed by Daily Variety as the "busiest actor in Hollywood".

Ned Thomas Beatty was born in Louisville, Kentucky, to Margaret (Fortney) and Charles William Beatty. He grew up fishing and working on farms. His hometown of St. Matthews, ...

67. Jack Weston

Actor | Dirty Dancing

In a 40-year career that spanned Broadway, television and movies, the versatile actor played everyone from sleazy villains to terrifying killers to clumsy comics. His bad-guy roles included a stalker who, along with Alan Arkin terrorized a blind Audrey Hepburn in the 1967 cult classic Wait Until ...

68. R.G. Armstrong

Actor | Predator

A golden career was reflected in his name. Robert Golden Armstrong ("Bob" to his friends) was born in Birmingham, Alabama on April 7, 1917. He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. While there, he was frequently performing on stage with the Carolina Playmakers. After graduating,...

69. Nehemiah Persoff

Actor | An American Tail

Born in 1919 (some sources say 1920) in Jerusalem, Nehemiah Persoff immigrated with his family to America in 1929.

Following schooling at the Hebrew Technical Institute of New York, he found a job as a subway electrician doing signal maintenance until an interest in the theater altered the direction...

70. Clive Revill

Actor | The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes

A grand, well-respected actor of stage, film and television, most people think New Zealander Clive Revill is British. Although most people think of the curly, red-haired gent as a comic eccentric best known for his sterling work on the musical stage, he has been highly regarded for his formidable ...

71. Fred Clark

Actor | Sunset Blvd.

This popular, baggy-eyed, bald-domed, big lug of a character actor had few peers when called upon to display that special "slow burn" style of comedy few others perfected. But perfect he did -- on stage, film and TV. In fact, he pretty much cornered the market during the 50s and 60s as the dour, ...

72. John Hoyt

Actor | Spartacus

John Hoyt was born on October 5, 1905 in Bronxville, New York, USA as John McArthur Hoysradt. He was an actor and writer, known for Spartacus (1960), When Worlds Collide (1951) and Attack of the Puppet People (1958). He was married to Doroth Oltman Haveman. He died on September 15, 1991 in Santa ...

73. Donald Crisp

Actor | How Green Was My Valley

Donald Crisp was born George William Crisp at the family home in Bow, London. Donald's parents were James Crisp and Elizabeth Crisp, his birth was registered by his mother on 4th September 1882. Donald's sisters were Elizabeth, Ann, Alice (known as Louisa) and Eliza and his brothers were James, ...

74. Donald Meek

Actor | Stagecoach

On British and Australian stage before coming to the USA in 1912, he played more than 800 roles, starting with Sir Henry Irving at age 8. He first appeared in the US at Castle Square Theatre, Boston, in 1912, and made his New York debut in 1917 in "Going Up".

75. Charles Bickford

Actor | The Song of Bernadette

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 ...

76. Ian McKellen

Actor | The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Widely regarded as one of greatest stage and screen actors, both in his native Great Britain and internationally, twice nominated for the Oscar and recipient of every major theatrical award in UK and US, Ian Murray McKellen was born on May 25, 1939 in Burnley, Lancashire, England, to Margery Lois (...

77. John Williams

Actor | Sabrina

John Williams was a tall, urbane Anglo-American actor best known for his role as Chief Inspector Hubbard in Dial M for Murder (1954), a role he played on Broadway, in Alfred Hitchcock's classic 1954 film, and on television in 1958. Playing Hubbard on the Great White Way brought him the 1953 Tony ...

78. Harry Dean Stanton

Actor | Alien

Prolific character actor Harry Dean Stanton's drooping, weather-beaten appearance and superb acting talent have been his ticket to appearing in over 100 films, and 50 TV episodes.

Stanton was born in West Irvine, Kentucky, to Ersel (Moberly), a cook, and Sheridan Harry Stanton, a barber and tobacco ...

79. Agnes Moorehead

Actress | Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte

Of Irish/English ancestry, Agnes was born near Boston, the daughter of a Presbyterian minister (her mother was a mezzo-soprano) who encouraged her to perform in church pageants. Aged three, she sang 'The Lord is my Shepherd' on a public stage and seven years later joined the St. Louis Municipal ...

80. Hank Worden

Actor | The Searchers

Raised on a cattle ranch in Montana. Educated at Stanford and the University of Nevada as an engineer. Washed out as an Army pilot. Toured the country in rodeos as a saddle bronc rider. Broke his neck in a horsefall in his 20s, but didn't know it until his 40s. Chosen along with Tex Ritter from a ...

81. William Demarest

Actor | It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World

Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, William Demarest was a prolific actor in movies and TV, making more than 140 films. Demarest started his acting career in vaudeville and made his way to Broadway. His most famous role was in My Three Sons (1960), replacing a very sick William Frawley. Demarest was ...

82. Kenneth More

Actor | The Longest Day

Affable, bright and breezy Kenneth More epitomised the traditional English virtues of fortitude and fun. At the height of his fame in the 1950s he was Britain's most popular film star and had appeared in a string of box office hits including Genevieve (1953), Doctor in the House (1954), Reach for ...

83. Regis Toomey

Actor | The Big Sleep

Pittsburgh-born and -raised character actor Regis Toomey, of Irish descent, took an early interest in the performing arts and initially studied drama at the university of his home town. One of four children of Francis X. and Mary Ellen Toomey, John Regis Toomey initially pondered a law career, but ...

84. Evelyn Keyes

Actress | The Seven Year Itch

No shrinking violet this one, but despite her talent, vivacity and sheer drive, lovely and alluring blonde Evelyn Keyes would remain for the most part typed as a "B" girl on the silver screen. In spite of her ripe contributions to such superior pictures as Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941), The Jolson ...

85. Dabbs Greer

Actor | The Green Mile

Dabbs Greer was a very familiar face in films and especially on TV. He was a sort of "everyman" in his roles and played merchants, preachers, businessmen, and other "pillars of the community" types as well as assorted villains. With his plain looking face, wavy hair and mellow, distinctive voice he...

86. Theodore Bikel

Actor | The Defiant Ones

Theodore Bikel is one of the most versatile and respected actors and performers of his generation. A master of languages, dialects and accents, he has played every sort of film villain and semi-bad guy imaginable, and always adds depth, dimension and even sympathy to characters that would end up as...

87. Donald Houston

Actor | Clash of the Titans

Sandy-haired Welsh actor who served in the RAF during World War II and hit paydirt and stardom with his first two British films, The Blue Lagoon (1949) with Jean Simmons, and A Run for Your Money (1949) with Sir Alec Guinness, maintaining his career with lesser distinction in bawdy comedies and ...

88. Sheldon Leonard

Producer | Make Room for Daddy

Sheldon Leonard was born in New York City's lower Manhattan, the son of Jewish parents. He studied acting at Syracuse University and, after graduating, landed a job on Wall Street. Following the Wall Street crash of 1929, he found himself unemployed and resolved to become a professional actor on ...

89. Gloria Grahame

Actress | The Bad and the Beautiful

Gloria Hallward, an acting pupil of her mother (stage actress and teacher Jean Grahame), acted professionally while still in high school. In 1944 Louis B. Mayer saw her on Broadway and gave her an MGM contract under the name Gloria Grahame. Her debut in the title role of Blonde Fever (1944) was ...

90. Frank Cady

Actor | Rear Window

Although Frank Cady's most famous role would be that of general-store owner Sam Drucker, one of the less nutty residents of Hooterville in both Green Acres (1965) and Petticoat Junction (1963), he had a history as a film, stage and television actor long before those shows. Cady also appeared on ...

91. Louis Calhern

Actor | Duck Soup

Tall, distinguished, aristocratic Louis Calhern seemed to be the poster boy for old-money, upper-crust urban society, but he was actually born Carl Vogt, to middle-class parents in New York City. His family moved to St. Louis when he was a child, and it was while playing football in high school ...

92. Jessie Royce Landis

Actress | North by Northwest

Jessie Royce Landis was called "an international star" in her New York Times obituary. She was 20 when she made her stage debut at the Playhouse in Chicago as the young countess in "The Highwayman". Soon she was on Broadway. In 1950 she went to London for "Larger Than Life", a dramatization of W. ...

93. Jane Darwell

Actress | The Grapes of Wrath

Missouri-born Jane Darwell was born Patti Woodard, the daughter of William Robert Woodard, president of the Louisville Southern Railroad, and Ellen (Booth) Woodard, in Palmyra, Missouri, where she grew up on a ranch . She nursed ambitions to be an opera singer, but put it off because of her ...

94. Robert J. Wilke

Actor | The Magnificent Seven

Prolific American character actor of primarily villainous roles. The son of German parents, Cincinnati feed-store manager August Wilke and his wife Rose, Robert Joseph Wilke grew up in Cincinnati. He worked as a lifeguard at a Miami, Florida, hotel, where he made contacts in the film business. He ...

95. John Ireland

Actor | All the King's Men

Born in Canada, John Ireland was raised in New York. Performing as a swimmer in a water carnival, he moved into the legitimate theater, often appearing in minor roles in Broadway plays. His first big break in pictures came in 1945 when he appeared as Windy the introspective letter-writing G.I. in ...

96. Leo Genn

Actor | Quo Vadis

Leo Genn was the son of a successful jewelry merchant Woolfe (William) Genn and his wife Rachel Asserson. He attended the City of London School as a youth and went on to study law at Cambridge. He received his law degree as a qualified barrister (which in English law tradition is a lawyer who is a ...

97. O.Z. Whitehead

Actor | The Grapes of Wrath

American character actor of rather bizarre range, a member of the so-called "John Ford Stock Company." Originally a New York stage actor of some repute, Whitehead entered films in the 1930s. He played a wide variety of character parts, often quite different from his own actual age and type. He is ...

98. Whit Bissell

Actor | The Magnificent Seven

Whit Bissell came to Hollywood in the 1940s, and by the time he retired he had appeared in more than 200 movies and scores of TV series. He is best known for playing the evil scientist who turned Michael Landon into a half beast in the 1957 cult classic film I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957). Bissell...

99. Edith Evans

Actress | The Whisperers

Edith Evans was the greatest actress on the English stage in the 20th century, treading the boards for over half-a-century. She made her professional stage debut in 1912 and excelled in both classic and modern roles in the West End of London and on Broadway, as well as the Shakespeare Memorial ...

100. Elsa Lanchester

Actress | Witness for the Prosecution

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 ...