My Hall of Fame Character Actors

by bubb1964 | created - 25 Jun 2017 | updated - 20 Aug 2018 | Public

Men who appeared in cinema and television who almost always delivered sterling performances.

1. Lou Antonio

Actor | Cool Hand Luke

Oklahoma-born Lou Antonio is English-French-German on his mother's side and Greek on his father's side. A talented baseball player as a teenager, he was scouted by the Boston Red Sox while in high school, but an injury ended his dreams of playing professional baseball. He attended Oklahoma ...

2. Strother Martin

Actor | Slap Shot

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, ...

3. 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...

4. John Cullum

Actor | Northern Exposure

John Cullum was born on March 2, 1930 in Knoxville, Tennessee, USA as John Curtis Cullum. He is an actor, known for Northern Exposure (1990), 1776 (1972) and Before We Go (2014). He has been married to Emily Frankel since May 5, 1959. They have one child.

5. 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. ...

6. Howard Da Silva

Actor | 1776

Howard da Silva was one of 324 actors, writers and directors who fell victim to the Hollywood blacklisting of the early 1950s, and had his career halted in the blink of an eye. Originally was a steelworker before making his stage debut at age 20 in New York. He made a name for himself on Broadway ...

7. Charles Durning

Actor | Dog Day Afternoon

WWII veteran, dance instructor and diversely talented stage & screen actor were all inclusions on the resume of this perpetually busy US actor who didn't get in front of the cameras until around the time of his fortieth birthday. The stockily built Charles Durning was one of Hollywood's most ...

8. Thayer David

Actor | Rocky

He was David Thayer Hersey from an upper crust Winchester, Massachusetts family. After secondary school he began attending Harvard University. Along with several students he founded the Brattle Theatre Company in 1946. After working closely on Brattle with fellow Harvard graduates and his father,...

9. Herb Edelman

Actor | The Odd Couple

Herb Edelman was born on November 5, 1933 in Brooklyn, New York, USA as Herbert Edelman. He was an actor and assistant director, known for The Odd Couple (1968), The Golden Girls (1985) and Barefoot in the Park (1967). He was married to Louise Sorel. He died on July 21, 1996 in Woodland Hills, Los ...

Adept as a lead, but shined in character roles.

10. 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 ...

11. John Hillerman

Actor | Magnum, P.I.

The impeccably urbane Englishman Jonathan Quayle Higgins III (VC !) -- Tom Selleck's sophisticated majordomo in Magnum, P.I. (1980) -- was of French, German and Austrian descent, raised in a small Texas town and educated at a Catholic high school. He majored in journalism from the University of ...

Excellent at characters with a cigarette holder in his teeth and a board up his ass.

12. L.Q. Jones

Actor | The Edge

Tall, sandy haired, mustachioed actor from Texas born Justus McQueen, who adopted the name of the character he portrayed in his first film, Battle Cry (1955). Jones, with his craggy, gaunt looks, first appeared in minor character roles in plenty of WWII films including The Young Lions (1958), The ...

Delightful at playing *beep* also noted as a director and producer.

13. Bill Quinn

Actor | Twilight Zone: The Movie

Bill Quinn was born on May 6, 1912 in New York City, New York, USA as William Tyrrell Quinn. He was an actor, known for Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983), Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989) and The Birds (1963). He was married to Mary Catherine Roden. He died on April 29, 1994 in Camarillo, ...

14. Richard B. Shull

Actor | Splash

Veteran character actor Richard B. Shull was born on February 24, 1929 in Evanston, Illinois and raised in the Midwest. He attended the University of Iowa, then served with the U.S. Army in 1953. Finding work as a stage manager following his release, he finally made his Broadway debut in the Marx ...

15. Lee Strasberg

Actor | The Godfather: Part II

Famed acting teacher Lee Strassberg was born in Budzanov, Austria-Hungary (now Budanov, Ukraine). Brought to America as a child, he had a brief acting career, before becoming one of the founders of the Group Theatre in 1931, directing a number of plays there. His greatest influence, however, was ...

Acting late in life, the esteemed acting coach excelled when called to perform.

16. Vic Tayback

Actor | Alice

Vic Tayback was born on January 6, 1930 in New York City, New York, USA. He was an actor and director, known for Alice (1976), All Dogs Go to Heaven (1989) and Bullitt (1968). He was married to Sheila McKay Barnard. He died on May 25, 1990 in Glendale, California, USA.

17. Michael Murphy

Actor | Manhattan

Michael Murphy was born in Los Angeles, California, to Georgia Arlyn (née Money), a teacher, and Bearl Branton Murphy, a salesman. After a hitch in the Marine Corps, Murphy attended the University of Arizona, Tucson, and then went to U.C.L.A. for his California teaching credential. From 1962 to ...

From Woody Allen films to cheesy fare, he excelled. I especially love his work in "An Unmarried Woman."

18. John Vernon

Actor | Dirty Harry

John Vernon was a prolific stage-trained Canadian character player who made a career out of convincingly playing crafty villains, morally-bankrupt officials and heartless authority figures in American films and television since the 1960s. Vernon was directed by some stellar filmmakers, including ...

19. Alex Rocco

Actor | The Godfather

Tough and volatile-looking Italianate character actor Alex Rocco was born in Boston and spent time training with such notable teachers as Leonard Nimoy and Jeff Corey to curb his thick Boston accent. In Hollywood from 1963, he worked as a bartender during the lean years and began his TV career in ...

This was a great man; a man with vision and guts; and there isn't even a plaque or a signpost or a statue of him...Adept at drama; hilarious at comedy.

20. Richard Mulligan

Actor | Soap

Originally a student of playwriting at Columbia University, Richard Mulligan began his acting career in regional theater and soon after made his Broadway debut in the Pulitzer Prize-winning play "All the Way Home". In addition to his continuing Broadway career, Mulligan has successfully transferred...

21. M. Emmet Walsh

Actor | Blood Simple

Wonderfully talented, heavyset character actor (from New York, but regularly playing Southerners) M. Emmet Walsh has made a solid career of playing corrupt cops, deadly crooks, and zany comedic roles since the early 1970s.

Michael Emmet Walsh was born in Ogdensburg, to Agnes Katharine (Sullivan) and...

22. Richard Stahl

Actor | Overboard

Richard Stahl was born on January 4, 1932 in Detroit, Michigan, USA. He was an actor, known for Overboard (1987), The American President (1995) and L.A. Story (1991). He was married to Kathryn Ish. He died on June 18, 2006 in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA.

23. Dom DeLuise

Actor | The Secret of NIMH

As might be said for the late and great comedians Harvey Korman and Madeline Kahn, it seems that Mel Brooks was the only director on the planet who knew how to best utilize this funnyman's talents on film. Brooks once quipped that, whenever he hired Dom DeLuise for one of his films, he would ...

24. Peter Ustinov

Actor | Spartacus

Peter Ustinov was a two-time Academy Award-winning film actor, a director, writer, journalist and raconteur. He wrote and directed many acclaimed stage plays and led numerous international theatrical productions.

He was born Peter Alexander Freiherr von Ustinov on April 16, 1921, in Swiss Cottage, ...

25. John Marley

Actor | Love Story

Veteran character actor John Marley was one of those familiar but nameless faces that television and filmgoers did not take a shine to until the late 1960s, when he had hit middle age. Distinctive for his craggy face, dark bushy brows and upswept silvery hair, his life (born in 1907) started out ...

26. 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 ...

27. Richard Bright

Actor | Once Upon a Time in America

Fair complexioned, cold-eyed actor Richard Bright has notched up an impressive array of character performances of often shifty, or deadly characters on the wrong side of the law. First came to attention as a burglar in the engrossing The Panic in Needle Park (1971), and then followed it the ...

28. Christopher Walken

Actor | Hairspray

Nervous-looking lead and supporting actor of the American stage and films, with sandy colored hair, pale complexion and a somewhat nervous disposition. He won an Oscar as Best Supporting Actor for his performance in The Deer Hunter (1978), and has been seen in mostly character roles, often ...

An icon and often a lead, but has been sterling in loads of character roles.

29. George Gaynes

Actor | Tootsie

George Gaynes was born in Helsinki in May, 1917, which was then the capital of the Grand Duchy of Finland. The Grand Duchy was part of the Russian Empire, which was in a state of collapse at the time of Gaynes' birth. The Emperor Nicholas II of Russia had abdicated the throne on March 15, two ...

"Does Jeff Know?"

30. Fulton Mackay

Actor | Porridge

Fulton Mackay was born on August 12, 1922 in Paisley, Scotland. He was an actor and writer, known for Local Hero (1983), Defense of the Realm (1985) and Doing Time (1979). He is perhaps best known for his portrayal of authoritarian prison warder Mr Mackay in the BBC sitcom Porridge (1973-1977). He ...

31. Len Lesser

Actor | Kelly's Heroes

Len Lesser was born on December 3, 1922 in New York City, New York, USA as Leonard King Lesser. He was an actor, known for Kelly's Heroes (1970), How to Stuff a Wild Bikini (1965) and Papillon (1973). He was married to Janice Burrell. He died on February 16, 2011 in Burbank, California, USA.

32. John Carroll Lynch

Actor | The Founder

John Carroll Lynch was born August 1, 1963 in Boulder, Colorado, and was raised in Denver. It was there John found a passion for acting and became a Denver Broncos fan. He graduated in the mid-80s with a B.F.A. in theatre from the The Catholic University of America / Hartke Theatre Acting program. ...

33. Ji-Tu Cumbuka

Actor | Mandingo

Ji-Tu Cumbuka is one of the many U.S. African actors who overcame walls of adversity in the 60s. Born in Montgomery County, Alabama on March fourth, 1940 in an era of oppression, Ji-Tu did not let social norms hold him back from what he loved. Opportunities were slim; a U.S. African actor of the ...

34. Mike Kellin

Actor | Midnight Express

Burly, coarse, raspy-voiced Mike Kellin was often cast as a tough cop, gangster, or soldier, usually a corporal or sergeant, so it may be surprising to some that during his stint in the US Navy during World War II he was a Lieutenant Commander.

Though he seemed to be straight out of the tenements of...

35. Woodrow Parfrey

Actor | The Outlaw Josey Wales

Parfrey was born Sydney Woodrow Parfrey in New York City, New York, to Hazel (James) and Sidney Parfrey, both Welsh immigrants. One of the most interesting character actors to emerge on American film and television in the 1960s, Parfrey brought a quirky charisma to every role he played, from ...

36. Rip Torn

Actor | Men in Black

Rip Torn was born Elmore Rual Torn Jr. on February 6, 1931 in Temple, Texas, the son of Thelma Mary (Spacek) and Elmore Rudolph Torn, who was an agriculturalist and economist, credited with popularizing the custom of eating black-eyes peas on New Year's Day. "Rip" is a family name, taken by ...

37. Clifton James

Actor | Live and Let Die

Blustery, stocky, loud although often genial character actor who has created a niche for himself playing often frustrated and fast talking Southern characters... most noticeably as Sheriff J.W. Pepper alongside Roger Moore in the James Bond adventures Live and Let Die (1973) and The Man with the ...

38. Leslie Nielsen

Actor | Airplane!

Leslie William Nielsen was born in Regina, Saskatchewan, and raised in Tulita (formerly Fort Norman), Northwest Territories. His mother, Mabel Elizabeth (Davies), was Welsh. His father, Ingvard Eversen Nielsen, was a Danish-born Mountie and a strict disciplinarian. Leslie studied at the Academy of ...

39. Burton Gilliam

Actor | Blazing Saddles

Burton Gilliam was born on August 9, 1938 in Dallas, Texas, USA. He is an actor, known for Blazing Saddles (1974), Back to the Future Part III (1990) and Paper Moon (1973). He is married to Susan. They have two children. He was previously married to Sheila K. Brown and Carolyn M. Reed.

40. Peter McRobbie

Actor | Bridge of Spies

Peter McRobbie was born on January 31, 1943 in Hawick, Borders, Scotland. He is an actor, known for Bridge of Spies (2015), The Visit (2015) and Lincoln (2012). He has been married to Charlotte Bova since September 10, 1977. They have two children.

41. 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 ...

42. Ernie Hudson

Actor | Ghostbusters

As a child growing up in Benton Harbor, Michigan, Ernie Hudson wrote short stories, poems and songs, always thinking that his words might one day come to life on stage. After a short stint in the Marine Corps, he moved to Detroit where he became the resident playwright at Concept East, the oldest ...

43. Richard Kiel

Actor | Moonraker

Towering 7' 2" tall actor who has cornered the market on playing giants, intimidating henchman, bayou swamp monsters and steel toothed villains! Kiel worked in numerous jobs including as a night club bouncer and a cemetery plot salesman, before breaking into film & TV in several minor roles in the ...

44. Dub Taylor

Actor | The Getaway

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

45. Kenneth McMillan

Actor | Dune

Character actor Kenneth McMillan was born on July 2, 1932 in Brooklyn, New York. Prior to becoming an actor, McMillan was a manager at Gimbels Department Store. At age 30, McMillan decided to pursue an acting career. He attended the LaGuardia High School for Performing Arts and took acting lessons ...

46. Stephen Root

Actor | Office Space

Stephen Root, one of today's most prolific character actors, is currently starring in the HBO hit series Barry. The show has been nominated for multiple Emmy's and Golden Globes, earning a total of 32 nominations in its first season. Season two airs March 31st on HBO. In 2018, Stephen played a ...

47. Malachi Throne

Actor | It Takes a Thief

Malachi Throne, the character actor who became one of the more ubiquitous faces on television from the "Golden Age" of the 1950s through the 21st Century, was born in New York City on December 1, 1928, the son of Samuel and Rebecca Throne, who had immigrated to America from the Austro-Hungarian ...

48. Bradford Dillman

Actor | The Enforcer

Dark-haired, Ivy League-looking Bradford Dillman, whose white-collar career spanned nearly five decades, possessed charm and confident good looks that were slightly tainted by a bent smile, darting glance and edgy countenance that often provoked suspicion. Sure enough, the camera picked up on it ...

49. 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...

50. Wallace Shawn

Actor | The Princess Bride

American character actor and writer Wallace Shawn has one of those fun, mischievously homely faces just made to entertain. Though he got out of the starting gate rather slowly, he has since excelled on stage, television and film while managing to turn himself into a winner with his loser-type looks...

51. Kevin Dunn

Actor | Transformers

Kevin Dunn was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1956. He is an American actor who has made over 100 appearances in both TV and film.

One of his earliest roles was in the Alan Parker film Mississippi Burning (1988) with Gene Hackman and Willem Dafoe. He followed this up with Kathryn Bigelow's Blue Steel...

52. Gary Cole

Actor | Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

Gary Cole was born on September 20, 1956 in Park Ridge, Illinois, USA as Gary Michael Cole. He is known for his work on Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006), One Hour Photo (2002) and Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004). He was previously married to Teddi Siddall.

53. Jack Warden

Actor | 12 Angry Men

Jack Warden was born John Warden Lebzelter, Jr. on September 18, 1920 in Newark, New Jersey, to Laura M. (Costello) and John Warden Lebzelter. His father was of German and Irish descent, and his mother was of Irish ancestry. Raised in Louisville, Kentucky, at the age of seventeen, young Jack ...

54. Ray Walston

Actor | Popeye

Ray Walston started his acting career as a spear carrier with a local stock company. When the family moved to Houston, Texas, Walston's father wanted to teach him the oil business, but Walston instead joined a traveling repertory company (selling tickets as well as acting). He went on to associate ...

55. Anthony Zerbe

Actor | The Omega Man

Hailing from Long Beach, California, talented character actor Anthony Zerbe has kept busy in Hollywood and on stage since the late 1960s, often playing villainous or untrustworthy characters, with his narrow gaze and unsettling smirk. Zerbe was born May 20, 1936 in Long Beach, and served a stint in...

He can play the gamut of roles and has. Also teaches acting and has taken several actors "under his wing."



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