100 Greatest Leading Turner Classic Movies Character Actors

by jordanhores | created - 25 Dec 2016 | updated - 4 weeks ago | Public

This list is a list of greatest character actors based on Turner Classic Movies' What a Character program. All of these are from the golden age of Hollywood when studios had loads of talent to feature in the periphery. *=AFI's 100 Years 100 Stars (Self Version)

1. Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson

Actor | It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World

The son of a minstrel and circus tightrope walker, Eddie Anderson developed a gravel voice early in life which would become his trademark to fame. He joined his older brother Cornelius as members of "The Three Black Aces" during his vaudeville years, singing for pennies in the hotel lobby. He ...

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2. Margaret Dumont

Actress | Duck Soup

Margaret Dumont would probably consider it a tragedy that she is best-known for her performances as the ultimate straight woman in seven of the Marx Brothers' films (including most of their best). By all accounts she never understood their jokes (offscreen and on), which is of course a major reason...

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3. Edward Arnold

Actor | Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

Edward Arnold was born as Gunther Edward Arnold Schneider in 1890, on the Lower East Side of New York City, the son of German immigrants, Elizabeth (Ohse) and Carl Schneider. Arnold began his acting career on the New York stage and became a film actor in 1916. A burly man with a commanding style ...

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4. Albert Dekker

Actor | Kiss Me Deadly

A stage actor from 1927, Albert Dekker was an established Broadway star when he made his film debut ten years later. Tall and with rugged good looks, he often played aggressive character roles, a prime example being his double-crossing gang leader in the classic The Killers (1946). From 1944-46 he ...

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5. Ann Miller

Actress | Mulholland Dr.

Ann Miller was born Johnnie Lucille Ann Collier on April 12, 1923 in Chireno, Texas. She lived there until she was nine, when her mother left her philandering father and moved with Ann to Los Angeles, California. Even at that young age, she had to support her mother, who was hearing-impaired and ...

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6. Leon Errol

Actor | Higher and Higher

Leon Errol was born on July 3, 1881 in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia as Leonce Errol Simms. He was an actor, known for Higher and Higher (1943), The Girl from Mexico (1939) and The Invisible Man's Revenge (1944). He was married to Stella Bertha Nelson (aka Stella Chatelaine, dancer). He died ...

7. Dan Duryea

Actor | Scarlet Street

Dan Duryea was educated at Cornell University and worked in the advertising business before pursuing his career as an actor. Duryea made his Broadway debut in the play "Dead End." The critical acclaim he won for his performance as Leo Hubbard in the Broadway production of "The Little Foxes" led to ...

8. 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 ...

9. Aline MacMahon

Actress | One Way Passage

Aline MacMahon was born of Irish/Russian ancestry on May 3 1899, the daughter of William Marcus MacMahon and Jennie Simon MacMahon. Her father went on to become editor-in-chief of Munsey's Magazine, while her mother pursued a theatrical acting career from middle-age and lived to the ripe old age of...

10. Charles Coburn

Actor | The More the Merrier

A cigar-smoking, monocled, swag-bellied character actor known for his Old South manners and charm. In 1918 he and his first wife formed the Coburn Players and appeared on Broadway in many plays. With her death in 1937, he accepted a Hollywood contract and began making films at the age of sixty.

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11. Lee J. Cobb

Actor | 12 Angry Men

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...

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12. Billie Burke

Actress | The Wizard of Oz

Billie Burke was born Mary William Ethelbert Appleton Burke on August 7, 1885 in Washington, D.C. Her father was a circus clown, and as a child she toured the United States and Europe with the circus (before motion pictures and after the stage, circuses were the biggest form of entertainment in the...

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13. Spring Byington

Actress | You Can't Take It with You

The possessor of one of Hollywood's gentlest faces and warmest voices, and about as sweet as Tupelo honey both on-and-off camera, character actress Spring Byington was seldom called upon to play callous or unsympathetic (she did once play a half-crazed housekeeper in Dragonwyck (1946)). Although ...

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14. 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 ...

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15. 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 ...

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16. 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 ...

17. Margaret O'Brien

Actress | Meet Me in St. Louis

Born Angela Maxine O'Brien on January 15, 1937 in San Diego, California. Her film debut was one-minute shot in MGM's Babes on Broadway (1941). Her big moment came when she was cast in Journey for Margaret (1942). This film shot her into instant stardom and also resulted in Angela changing her name ...

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18. Edgar Kennedy

Actor | Duck Soup

Edgar Kennedy, who was born on April 26, 1890, near Monterey, California, hit the road as a young man and traveled across the country, working in a succession of jobs. He became a professional boxer, claiming to have gone 14 rounds against The Manassas Mauler, Jack Dempsey.

In addition to his ...

19. 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, ...

20. Franklin Pangborn

Actor | Hail the Conquering Hero

Franklin Pangborn - a name more befitting a fictionalized bank president rather than a great comedic actor - was a singular character actor but little is known of his early years. He spent some time in developing acting talent prior to appearing on Broadway by March of 1911, and would do six plays ...

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21. 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 ...

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22. Guy Kibbee

Actor | Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

Beginning his show business career at age 13 as an entertainer on Mississippi riverboats, Guy Kibbee graduated to the legitimate stage and spent many years in the theater. In the 1930s he was signed by Warner Brothers, and became part of what was known as "the Warner Brothers Stock Company", a ...

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23. 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 ...

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24. 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 ...

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25. Judith Anderson

Actress | Rebecca

Dame Judith Anderson was born Frances Margaret Anderson on February 10, 1897 in Adelaide, South Australia. She began her acting career in Australia before moving to New York in 1918. There she established herself as one of the greatest theatrical actresses and was a major star on Broadway ...

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26. Edward Everett Horton

Actor | Arsenic and Old Lace

It seemed like Edward Everett Horton appeared in just about every Hollywood comedy made in the 1930s. He was always the perfect counterpart to the great gentlemen and protagonists of the films. Horton was born in Brooklyn, New York City, to Isabella S. (Diack) and Edward Everett Horton, a ...

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27. 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 ...

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28. 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 ...

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29. 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 ...

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30. 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 ...

31. 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...

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32. David Wayne

Actor | The Andromeda Strain

His father was an insurance executive; his mother died when he was four. He attended Western Michigan University then worked as a statistician in Cleveland where he joined a Shakespeare repertory company. Two years later he had a minor role in "The American Way" in New York. He was rejected by the ...

33. Louise Beavers

Actress | Imitation of Life

1930s and 1940s film actress Louise Beavers was merely one of a dominant gallery of plus-sized and plus-talented African-American character actresses forced to endure blatant, discouraging and demeaning stereotypes during Depression-era and WWII Hollywood. It wasn't until Louise's triumphant role in...

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34. Cecil Kellaway

Actor | Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

Though a native of South Africa, Cecil Kellaway spent many years as an actor, author and director in the Australian film industry until he tried his luck in Hollywood in the 1930s. Finding he could get only gangster bit parts, he got discouraged and returned to Australia. Then William Wyler called ...

35. Shemp Howard

Actor | Scrambled Brains

Shemp Howard was born Samuel Horwitz in Brooklyn, New York, USA. He was also the brother of fellow stooges Moe Howard and Curly Howard. Larry Fine was not related to any of the other stooges.

When not working with The Three Stooges, Shemp made a lot of feature film appearances, such as The Bank Dick...

36. 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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37. 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 ...

38. Bert Lahr

Actor | The Wizard of Oz

Fittingly known to be a "Leo" for his horoscope, Bert Lahr is always remembered as the Cowardly Lion in (and the farmer "Zeke") The Wizard of Oz (1939). But during his acting career, he has been known for being in burlesque, vaudeville, and Broadway.

Dropped out of high school at the age of fifteen ...

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39. Beulah Bondi

Actress | It's a Wonderful Life

Character actress Beulah Bondi was a favorite of directors and audiences and is one of the reasons so many films from the 1930s and 1940s remain so enjoyable, as she was an integral part of many of the ensemble casts (a hallmark of the studio system) of major and/or great films, including The Trail...

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40. Charles McGraw

Actor | Spartacus

Gravel-voiced, stony-faced & grizzled-looking actor Charles McGraw notched up dozens of TV and film appearances, often portraying law enforcement figures or military officers, plus the odd shifty gangster. Notable appearances include as dogged cop Det. Sgt. Walter Brown protecting a mob witness in ...

41. 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 ...

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42. 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 ...

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43. Erik Rhodes

Actor | Top Hat

With his slicked back hair and thin moustache Erik Rhodes arrived in Hollywood to recreate his stage role of Rudolfo Tonetti (which he had performed first on Broadway and then in London, 1932-1933) for the filming of The Gay Divorcee (1934), starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Contrary to his ...

44. Ernest Borgnine

Actor | Marty

Ernest Borgnine was born Ermes Effron Borgnino on January 24, 1917 in Hamden, Connecticut. His parents were Anna (Boselli), who had emigrated from Carpi (MO), Italy, and Camillo Borgnino, who had emigrated from Ottiglio (AL), Italy. As an only child, Ernest enjoyed most sports, especially boxing, ...

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45. Felix Bressart

Actor | The Shop Around the Corner

With his lanky frame, big nose, toothbrush moustache and horn-rimmed glasses he looked like someone had decided to cross Groucho Marx with Albert Einstein. The perennial scene-stealer Felix Bressart had two distinct careers as a comic actor: an earlier one, on stage and screen in his native Germany...

46. Florence Bates

Actress | Rebecca

The American character actress, Florence Rabe, was the daughter of an antique store owner. She gained a degree in Mathematics from the University of Texas in 1906 and went on to a career in teaching and social work. She changed course after being persuaded by a friend to study law, and, passing her...

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47. 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 ...

48. Gail Patrick

Actress | My Man Godfrey

Cold, calculating and hard-as-nails is probably the best definition of Gail Patrick's femmes on the 30s and 40s silver screen, and the actress herself was no softie in real life. The tall, slender, patrician beauty was born with the equally stately-sounding name Margaret LaVelle Fitzpatrick in ...

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49. Gladys Cooper

Actress | My Fair Lady

Gladys Cooper was the daughter of journalist William Frederick Cooper and his wife Mabel Barnett. As a child she was very striking and was used as a photographic model beginning at six years old. She wanted to become an actress and started on that road in 1905 after being discovered by Seymour ...

50. 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 ...

51. Harry Davenport

Actor | Gone with the Wind

Character fame on film came quite late for long-time stage actor Harry Davenport at age 70, but he made up for lost time in very quick fashion with well over a hundred film roles registered from the advent of sound to the time of his death in 1949. Beloved for his twinkle-eyed avuncular and/or ...

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52. Hugh Herbert

Actor | Sh! The Octopus

Former stage actor and playwright - he wrote over 150 plays and vaudeville sketches - Hugh Herbert went in the early 30s to Hollywood as comedian. In the 30s he worked mostly for Warner, impersonating often eccentric millionaires, tycoons and dimwitted professors, in a few movies he collaborated on...

53. Hume Cronyn

Actor | Cocoon

Hume Cronyn was born on July 18, 1911 in London, Ontario, Canada as Hume Blake Cronyn Jr. He was an actor and producer, known for Cocoon (1985), *batteries not included (1987) and Shadow of a Doubt (1943). He was married to Susan Cooper, Jessica Tandy and Emily Woodruff. He died on June 15, 2003 in...

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54. Irving Bacon

Actor | Meet John Doe

A minor character actor who appeared in literally hundreds of films, actor Irving Bacon could always be counted on for expressing bug-eyed bewilderment or cautious frustration in small-town settings with his revolving door of friendly, servile parts - mailmen, milkmen, clerks, chauffeurs, cab ...

55. Joe E. Brown

Actor | Some Like It Hot

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 ...

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56. 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...

57. Lew Ayres

Actor | Holiday

Lew Ayres was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota and raised in San Diego, California. A college dropout, he was found by a talent scout in the Coconut Grove nightclub in Los Angeles and entered Hollywood as a bit player. He was leading man to Greta Garbo in The Kiss (1929), but it was the role of Paul ...

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58. Lupe Velez

Actress | The Girl from Mexico

Lupe Velez was born on July 18, 1908, in San Luis de Potosi, Mexico, as Maria Guadalupe Villalobos Velez. She was sent to Texas at the age of 13 to live in a convent. She later admitted that she wasn't much of a student because she was so rambunctious. She had planned to become a champion ...

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59. Marjorie Main

Actress | The Egg and I

Her father was a minister, and when she joined a local stock company as a youngster she changed her name to avoid embarrassing her family. She worked in vaudeville and debuted on Broadway in 1916. Her film debut was in A House Divided (1931). She repeated her stage role in Dead End (1937) as Baby ...

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60. 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 ...

61. Maude Eburne

Actress | The Bat Whispers

Eburne started on the stage in Ontario and New York, later appearing on Broadway in 1914, playing a cockney maid. She played comic servants on stage until 1930 then moved to films in 1931. On screen, she played a variety of roles from maids to aristocrats to pipe-smoking harridans. Eburne retired ...

62. May Whitty

Actress | Night Must Fall

Born Mary Whitty on June 19, 1865 to a Liverpool newspaper editor and his wife, she became known as May Whitty to the world.

She first stepped on the London stage in 1882. She worked as an understudy at the St. James Theatre, and then, began playing leading roles when she joined a traveling stock ...

63. Nat Pendleton

Actor | The Thin Man

Brawn won out over brain as well when it came to wrestler athlete Nat Pendleton's professional movie career. For two decades, this massively-built, dark-haired, good-looking lug played a number of kind-hearted lunkheads, goons, henchmen and Joe Palooka-like buffoons.

Nathaniel Greene Pendleton was ...

64. Peter Lorre

Actor | Casablanca

As a youth Peter Lorre ran away from home, worked as a bank clerk and, after stage training in Vienna, made his acting debut in Zurich. He remained unknown, traveling for several years and acting in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, until Fritz Lang cast him as the psychopathic child killer in M (...

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65. Porter Hall

Actor | Double Indemnity

For over two decades, Porter Hall made a career out of playing villains and pompous, unpleasant people. His movie career was not a mirror of his real life, however. Mr. Hall was well known as a generous and outgoing person who was well-liked by almost everybody he knew. It is ironic that the role ...

66. 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 ...

67. Roscoe Karns

Actor | It Happened One Night

On stage since age 15, Roscoe Karns parlayed his machine-gun delivery and street-wise demeanor (although many thought of him as a New Yorker, he was actually from San Bernardino, California) into character roles in dozens of films from the 1920s to the 1960s. His peak period, though, was in the ...

68. Sam Levene

Actor | After the Thin Man

Sam Levene was the actor who originated "craps-shooter extraordinaire" Nathan Detroit in the seminal American musical "Guys and Dolls" on the Great White Way in the original 1950 production. Levene was not a good singer and had trouble staying in key, so his solo number "Sue Me" had to be written ...

69. Sara Haden

Actress | Mad Love

Sara Haden was born on November 17, 1898 in Galveston, Texas, USA as Catherine Haden. She was an actress, known for Mad Love (1935), The Shop Around the Corner (1940) and She-Wolf of London (1946). She was married to Richard Abbott. She died on September 15, 1981 in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, ...

70. 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 ...

71. Sterling Holloway

Actor | The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

Popular American character actor of amusing appearance and voice whose long career led from dozens of highly enjoyable onscreen performances to world-wide familiarity as the voice of numerous Walt Disney animated films. Born in the American Deep South to grocer Sterling P. Holloway Sr. and Rebecca ...

72. 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...

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73. Tony Randall

Actor | The Odd Couple

Tony Randall was born on February 26, 1920 in Tulsa, Oklahoma as Aryeh Leonard Rosenberg. He attended Tulsa Central High School and later Northwestern University and New York City's Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre. After graduating, he starred in two plays: George Bernard Shaw's '...

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74. Tully Marshall

Actor | The Cat and the Canary

Tully Marshall intended to pursue a legal career, until he tried a dramatic course at Santa Clara University. He started stage work in San Francisco in 1883 and moved to New York in 1887, where he played in various roles on Broadway and on the road. After a few small parts in films he was given the...

75. Una Merkel

Actress | 42nd Street

Una Merkel began her movie career as stand-in for Lillian Gish in the movie The Wind (1928). After that, she performed on Broadway before she returned to movies for the D.W. Griffith film Abraham Lincoln (1930). In her early years, before gaining a few pounds, she looked like Lillian Gish, but ...

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76. 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 ...

77. Victor Moore

Actor | Make Way for Tomorrow

Victor Moore was born on February 24, 1876 in Hammonton, New Jersey, USA as Victor Frederick Moore. He was an actor, known for Make Way for Tomorrow (1937), Swing Time (1936) and The Seven Year Itch (1955). He was married to Shirley Paige and Emma Littlefield. He died on July 24, 1962 in East Islip...

78. Virginia Weidler

Actress | The Philadelphia Story

Delightful child/juvenile actress Virginia Weidler (her friends called her "Ginny") had that knowing gleam in her eye that usually spelled trouble in one form or another for anyone at arm's reach. Born in Eagle Rock, California in 1926, she was one of six children born to Alfred Weidler, an ...

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79. 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 ...

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80. 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 ...

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81. Jack Carson

Actor | Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

When Jack Carson arrived in Hollywood in 1937, he found work at RKO as an extra. His first major acting role came alongside Humphrey Bogart in the romantic comedy Stand-In (1937). After a few years, he developed into a popular character actor who would be seen in a large number of comedies, ...

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82. Monty Woolley

Actor | The Man Who Came to Dinner

Large and hearty Monty Woolley was born to privilege on August 17, 1888, the son of a hotel proprietor who owned the Marie Antoinette Hotel on Broadway. A part of Manhattan's elite social circle at a young age, he studied at both Yale (Master's degree) and Harvard and returned to Yale as an English...

83. Allen Jenkins

Actor | Tomorrow at Seven

Both of Allen Jenkins' parents were musical comedy performers, and he entered the theater as a stage mechanic after World War I, after having spent time working in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Although his screen persona was that of a not-too-bright Brooklyn tough guy, Jenkins attended the American ...

84. Grant Mitchell

Actor | Arsenic and Old Lace

You would think stage and film veteran Grant Mitchell was born to play stern authoritarians; his father after all was General John Grant Mitchell. But Mitchell would actually be better known for his portrayals of harangued husbands, bemused dads and bilious executives in 30s and 40s films. Born in ...

85. Henry Travers

Actor | It's a Wonderful Life

British-born Henry Travers was a veteran of the English stage before emigrating to the U.S. in 1917. He gained more stage experience there on Broadway working with the Theatre Guild, and began his long film career with Reunion in Vienna (1933). Travers' kindly, grandfatherly demeanor became ...

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86. Arthur Treacher

Actor | Mary Poppins

Born Arthur Veary Treacher in Brighton, East Sussex, England, he was the son of a lawyer. He established a stage career after returning from World War I, and by 1928, he had come to America as part of a musical-comedy revue called Great Temptations. When his film career began in the early 1930s, ...

87. Mae Busch

Actress | Sons of the Desert

Mae Busch can certainly claim career versatility, having successfully played Erich von Stroheim's mistress, Lon Chaney's girlfriend, Charley Chase's sister, James Finlayson's ex-wife and Oliver Hardy's wife! She was born in Melbourne, Australia, in 1891; her parents were in the theater and when she...

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88. Helen Twelvetrees

Actress | Is My Face Red?

Helen Twelvetrees was born Helen Marie Jurgens in Brooklyn, New York on December 25, 1908. Her interest in the theatricals was apparent at an early age. After graduating from high school. Helen embarked on a stage career. She participated in a number of plays in New York City, but gravitated toward...

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89. Lionel Atwill

Actor | Mystery of the Wax Museum

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 ...

90. Ann Dvorak

Actress | Scarface

Ann Dvorak was the daughter of silent film star Anna Lehr and silents director Edwin McKim. She entered films at the start of sound, as a dance instructor for the lavish MGM musicals. She came to international prominence in Scarface (1932) with Paul Muni, but often complained about the lack of ...

91. 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...

92. Burgess Meredith

Actor | Clash of the Titans

One of the truly great and gifted performers of the century, who often suffered lesser roles, Burgess Meredith was born in 1907 in Cleveland, Ohio. He was educated in Amherst College in Massachusetts, before joining Eva Le Gallienne's stage company, Civic Repertory Company, in New York City in 1933...

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93. Rochelle Hudson

Actress | Imitation of Life

Rochelle Hudson was born on March 6, 1916 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA. She was an actress, known for Imitation of Life (1934), Les Misérables (1935) and Harold Teen (1934). She was married to Robert L. Mindell, Dick Irving Hyland, Harold E. Thompson and Charles Brust. She died on January...

94. Don Beddoe

Actor | The Night of the Hunter

American character actor. Raised in New York City and Cincinnati, Ohio, Beddoe was the son of a professor at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music who happened also to be the world-famous Welsh tenor, Dan Beddoe. Although Don Beddoe intended a career in journalism, he took an interest in theatre and...

95. Iris Adrian

Actress | The Odd Couple

Sugar, Pepper, Pearl, Sunny, Goldie, Bubbles, all those are nicknames borne by petite actress Iris Adrian in several of the 160 movies she made. With such names, don't expect to see her playing Joan of Arc or Electra but it remains that all these pet names reflect her winning femininity, its ...

96. 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...

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97. Ned Sparks

Actor | 42nd Street

Ned Sparks proved himself a top character support whose style would be imitated for decades to come. Although less remembered now, he was an inimitable cinematic player back in 1930s Hollywood. The nasal-toned, deadpan comedian Sparks was born Edward A. Sparkman in Guelph, Canada, and was raised ...

98. 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 ...

99. 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 ...

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100. Rags Ragland

Actor | Whistling in Brooklyn

Rags Ragland was a boxer, then a burlesque comedian and then a Broadway performer before ending up in Hollywood to repeat his stage role as the boisterous sailor in Panama Hattie (1942), in which Ann Sothern played on film the part that had been played on Broadway by Ethel Merman. Ragland, typecast...



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