great charactor actors

by hogwash-upson942 | created - 26 Oct 2012 | updated - 5 months ago | Public

1. Dwight Frye

Actor | Dracula

An extremely versatile character actor and originator of several memorable characterizations in the horror film genre, Dwight Frye had a notable theatrical career in the 1920s, moving from juvenile parts to leads before entering film. A favorite actor of Broadway theatrical producer-director Brock ...

2. C. Aubrey Smith

Actor | Rebecca

Movie roles are sometimes based upon what the audience expects to see. If the role called for the tall stereotypical Englishmen with the stiff upper lip and stern determination, that man would be C. Aubrey Smith, graduate of Cambridge University, a leading Freemason and a test cricketer for England...

3. Joe Sawyer

Actor | The Petrified Forest

Joe Sawyer's familiar mug appeared everywhere during the 1930s and 1940s, particularly as a stock player for Warner Bros. in its more standard college musicals, comedies and crime yarns. He could play both sides of the fence, street cops and mob gunmen, with equal ease. He was born Joseph Sauers in...

4. Gene Lockhart

Actor | His Girl Friday

Gene Lockhart was born on July 18, 1891, in London, Ontario, Canada, the son of John Coates Lockhart and Ellen Mary (Delany) Lockhart. His father had studied singing and young Gene displayed an early interest in drama and music. Shortly after the 7-year-old danced a Highland fling in a concert ...

5. J. Carrol Naish

Actor | Sahara

One of the most versatile character actors in the business, Joseph Patrick Carrol Naish (pronounced Nash) was born of Irish descent in New York City. His illustrious ancestors hailed from county Limerick and were listed in Burke's Peerage. He had a Catholic education at St. Cecilia's Academy, but ...

6. Kenneth Tobey

Actor | Innerspace

Born in Oakland, California, Kenneth Tobey was headed for a law career when he first dabbled in acting at the University of California Little Theater. That experience led to a year and a half of study at New York's Neighborhood Playhouse, where his classmates included Gregory Peck, Eli Wallach and ...

7. H.B. Warner

Actor | It's a Wonderful Life

Henry Byron Warner was the definitive cinematic Jesus Christ in Cecil B. DeMille's The King of Kings (1927). He was born into a prominent theatrical family on October 26, 1875 in London. His father was Charles Warner, and his grandfather was James Warner, both prominent English actors. He replaced ...

8. 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 ...

9. Ray Teal

Actor | The Best Years of Our Lives

Most familiar to TV audiences as no-nonsense Sheriff Roy Coffee on the long-running western series Bonanza (1959), Ray Teal was one of the most versatile character actors in the business. In his almost 40-year career he played everything from cops to gunfighters to sheriffs to gangsters to a judge ...

10. Lionel Atwill

Actor | Captain Blood

Lionel Atwill was born into a wealthy family and was educated at London's prestigious Mercer School to become an architect, but his interest turned to the stage. He worked his way progressively into the craft and debuted at age 20 at the Garrick Theatre in London. He acted and improved regularly ...

11. 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 ...

12. 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 ...

13. Samuel S. Hinds

Actor | It's a Wonderful Life

Samuel S. Hinds, a Harvard graduate, was a lawyer in Hollywood until the stock market crash of 1929, in which he lost most of his money. Hinds, who had an interest in theater acting, decided to embark on a career in acting, albeit it age 54. The tall, dignified-looking Hinds appeared in over 200 ...

14. Victor Jory

Actor | Gone with the Wind

Victor Jory was born in Dawson City, Yukon, Canada. His burly physique made him a wrestling and boxing champion during his military service in the United States Coast Guard. After a few appearances on Broadway, he made his way into Hollywood in the early 1930s. His acting career spanned exactly 50 ...

15. 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 ...

16. Walter Brennan

Actor | Red River

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 ...

17. Nigel Bruce

Actor | Rebecca

Nigel was, from the beginning, typecast as bumbling English aristocrats, military types or drawing room society snobs and, within the narrow parameters of his range, he was very, very good at playing these parts. Nigel Bruce was born in Mexico, where his father, Sir William W. Bruce, worked as an ...

18. 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, ...

19. Finlay Currie

Actor | Ben-Hur

Scottish-born Finlay Currie was a former church organist and choirmaster, who made his stage debut at 20 years of age. It took him 34 more years before making his first film, but he worked steadily for another 30 years after that. Although he was a large, imposing figure, with a rich, deep voice ...

20. John Litel

Actor | They Died with Their Boots On

John Litel's tough, no-nonsense demeanor on screen was not entirely due to his skill as an actor--when World War I broke out he enlisted in the French army, not wanting to wait until the US entered, and was twice decorated for bravery. Returning to the US after the war, he enrolled in the American ...

21. Donald Meek

Actor | Stagecoach

One Hollywood stalwart whose screen incarnations more than lived up to his name was bald-domed character actor Donald Meek, forever typecast as mousy, timorous or browbeaten Casper Milquetoasts. He stood at 5 ft. 6 in. in his boots and weighed a mere 81 pounds. However, the little Glaswegian's ...

22. Frank Morgan

Actor | The Wizard of Oz

Jovial, somewhat flamboyant Frank Morgan (born Francis Wuppermann) will forever be remembered as the title character in The Wizard of Oz (1939), but he was a veteran and respected actor long before he played that part, and turned in outstanding performances both before and after that film. One of ...

23. Lucile Watson

Actress | The Razor's Edge

Unsmiling character player Lucile Watson was one of Hollywood's most indomitable mothers of the 1930s and 1940s...and you can take that both ways. The archetypal matriarch who enhanced scores of plush, soapy, Victorian-styled drama, her prickly pears could be insufferable indeed and heaven help ...

24. Herbert Mundin

Actor | The Adventures of Robin Hood

Herbert Mundin was born on August 21, 1898 in St. Helens, Merseyside, England as Herbert Thomas Mundin. He was an actor, known for The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), David Copperfield (1935) and Chandu the Magician (1932). He was married to Ann Shaw and Hilda Frances Hoyes. He died on March 5, ...

25. Douglas Fowley

Actor | Singin' in the Rain

He was born in the Bronx, New York. As a young man, he moved to Los Angeles and studied at Los Angeles City College. He served in the Navy during World War II. Fowley played everything from cowboys to gangsters, appearing alongside stars like Clark Gable, Ava Gardner, Esther Williams, Gene Kelly ...

26. William Frawley

Actor | I Love Lucy

William Frawley was born in Burlington, Iowa. As a boy he sang at St. Paul's Catholic Church and played at the Burlington Opera House. His first job was as a stenographer for the Union Pacific Railroad. He did vaudeville with his brother Paul, then joined pianist Franz Rath in an act they took to ...

27. 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 ...

28. Henry Daniell

Actor | The Great Dictator

London-born Henry Daniell began his career on the British stage, and continued it on the Broadway stage when he emigrated to the US. He entered films in 1929, and excelled at playing the suave, well-bred villain who could kill an enemy or start a war with a certain air of upper-class disdain, as if...

29. 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...

30. Guy Middleton

Actor | The Happiest Days of Your Life

Lean, jaunty British character actor with military-style moustache and easy manner who specialised in playing dapper scoundrels, philanderers, dissipated bon vivants and con artists in a career lasting three and a half decades. Born in Hove, East Sussex, he spent two years working on the London ...

31. Charles Victor

Actor | The Ringer

Charles Victor was born on February 10, 1896 in Southport, Lancashire, England as Charles Victor Harvey. He was an actor, known for The Ringer (1952), Major Barbara (1941) and The Cure for Love (1949). He died on December 23, 1965 in London, England.

32. 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 ...

33. Ian Wolfe

Actor | Witness for the Prosecution

Respected character actor whose on-screen work included everything from Shakespeare to Dick Tracy (1990) (his last film). After a long apprenticeship in the theatre, the 38-year-old Wolfe finally debuted in films in The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1934), recreating his Broadway role. He then toiled...

34. Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams

Actor | Noah's Ark

The son of a rancher-turned-politician, Guinn Williams was given the nickname "Big Boy" (and he was, too - 6' 2" of mostly solid muscle from years of working on ranches and playing semi-pro and pro baseball) by Will Rogers, with whom he made one of his first films, in 1919. Although his father ...

35. 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...

36. George Coulouris

Actor | Citizen Kane

The son of a Greek immigrant father (merchant) and an English mother, George Coulouris was educated at England's Manchester Grammar School. As an actor he was quite adept at playing villains, particularly wealthy businessmen, but he was just as suitable at playing nobler roles. A member of Orson ...

37. Robert Keith

Actor | Guys and Dolls

Robert Keith was an American character actor who appeared in a number of prominent films and was the father of actor Brian Keith. A native of Indiana, Keith joined a stock company as a teenager and developed skills as a writer and actor. He appeared in dozens of plays around the country and on ...

38. Frank McHugh

Actor | All Through the Night

The parents of Frank McHugh ran their own stock company and he was on the stage as a child. When he was 10 he was part of an act that include his brother Matt McHugh and sister Kitty McHugh. After vaudeville and other stock companies, Frank debuted on Broadway "The Fall Guy" (1925). In 1930 he was ...

39. Maria Ouspenskaya

Actress | The Wolf Man

The daughter of a lawyer, Ouspenskaya studied singing at the Warsaw Conservatory and acting at Adasheff's School of the Drama in Moscow. She received her practical training as an actress touring in the Russian provinces. She later joined the Moscow Art Theatre. It was here that she first worked ...

40. Paul Kelly

Actor | Crossfire

In retrospect, actor Paul Kelly may have had more high drama in his off-camera life than he did in his rich stage and screen life. How many Broadway and/or Hollywood actors have survived career-wise after serving a prison term for manslaughter? Kelly, whose drive, ambition and talent were ...

41. 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 ...

42. George Macready

Actor | Gilda

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 ...

43. Hattie McDaniel

Actress | Gone with the Wind

After working as early as the 1910s as a band vocalist, Hattie McDaniel debuted as a maid in The Golden West (1932). Her maid-mammy characters became steadily more assertive, showing up first in Judge Priest (1934) and becoming pronounced in Alice Adams (1935). In this one, directed by George ...

44. Ed Begley

Actor | 12 Angry Men

Charismatic character star Edward James Begley was born in Hartford, Connecticut of Irish parents and educated at St.Patrick's school. His interest in acting first surfaced at the age of nine, when he performed amateur theatricals at the Hartford Globe Theatre. Determined to make his own way, he ...

45. Lyle Bettger

Actor | The Greatest Show on Earth

Handsome, blond-haired, steely-eyed villain in many film Westerns. He was never the grizzled outlaw, covered in trail dust. No, he was the immaculate-looking, "respectable" (but two-faced) dandy in silk damask vest, often puffing suavely on a cheroot, whose ashes he then might contemptuously flick ...

46. Edgar Buchanan

Actor | Shane

At the age of seven, he and his family moved to Oregon. After studying at the University of Oregon, he followed in his father's footsteps and became a dentist, graduating from North Pacific Dental College. From 1929 to 1937, he practiced oral surgery in Eugene, Oregon. He then moved his practice to...

47. Timothy Carey

Actor | The Killing

Timothy Carey had one of the most unusual careers of all Hollywood character actors, obtaining full cult status for his portrayals of the doomed, the psychotic and the plain crazy. Carey's career was an "Only in America" type of story, and he retains his status as a Great American Original a decade...

48. Leo G. Carroll

Actor | North by Northwest

One of the most indispensable of character actors, Leo G. Carroll was already involved in the business of acting as a schoolboy in Gilbert & Sullivan productions. Aged 16, he portrayed an old man in 'Liberty Hall'. In spite of the fact, that he came from a military family, and , perhaps, because of...

49. Meredith Edwards

Actor | Flower of Evil

Meredith Edwards was born on June 10, 1917 in Rhosllannerchrugog, Wales as Gwilym Meredith Edwards. He was an actor, known for Flower of Evil (1961), A Run for Your Money (1949) and The Great Game (1953). He was married to Daisy Clark. He died on February 8, 1999 in Denbighshire, Wales.

50. James Gleason

Actor | Arsenic and Old Lace

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 ...

51. Michael Goodliffe

Actor | A Night to Remember

Michael Goodliffe was born on October 1, 1914 in Bebington, Cheshire, England as Lawrence Michael Andrew Goodliffe. He was an actor, known for A Night to Remember (1958), Peeping Tom (1960) and 633 Squadron (1964). He died on March 20, 1976 in Wimbledon, London, England.

52. Charley Grapewin

Actor | The Wizard of Oz

This old codger film favorite, born in 1869 (some reports say 1875), got into the entertainment field at an early age, first as a circus performer (aerialist and trapeze artist). When acting sparked his interest, he worked in a series of stock companies while writing stage plays that he himself ...

53. Michael Gough

Actor | Batman & Robin

Tony Award-winning English actor Michael Gough, best known for playing the butler Alfred Pennyworth in the first four Batman (1989, 1992, 1995 & 1997) movies and for playing the arch-criminal Dr. Clement Armstrong in The Avengers (1961) episode "The Cybernauts", was an accomplished performer on ...

54. William Hartnell

Actor | Doctor Who

William Hartnell was born on 8 January 1908, just south of St. Pancras station in London. In press materials in the 1940s he claimed that his father was a farmer and later a stockbroker; it turns out that he had actually been born out of wedlock, as his biography "Who's There?" states.

At age 16 he ...

55. James Burke

Actor | The Maltese Falcon

James Burke was born on September 24, 1886 in New York City, New York, USA. He was an actor, known for The Maltese Falcon (1941), Charlie Chan's Murder Cruise (1940) and At the Circus (1939). He was married to Eleanor Durkin. He died on May 23, 1968 in Los Angeles, California, USA.

56. Clem Bevans

Actor | Harvey

Born in 1879, Clem Bevans spent most of his performing career on the stage. First appearing in 1900 in a vaudeville act with Grace Emmett as a boy and girl act, he would move on to burlesque and eventually make the move to Broadway and even opera productions. His first screen appearance did not ...

57. 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 ...



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