My Favorite Actors

by carmike | created - 26 Aug 2014 | updated - 26 Aug 2014 | Public

A list of my favorite male actors, mostly from the classic era, in no particular order.

1. Dennis O'Keefe

Actor | T-Men

Tall, cheerful, outdoorsy leading man of Hollywood B movies who started in show business as an infant accompanying his vaudevillian parents ("Flanagan and Edwards, the Rollicking Twosome") on the stage. In his teens, Dennis started to write film scripts while attending college. He then tried to ...

2. Edmond O'Brien

Actor | The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

Oscar-winner Edmond O'Brien was one of the most-respected character actors in American cinema, from his heyday of the mid-1940s through the late 1960s. Born on September 10, 1915, in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, O'Brien learned the craft of performance as a magician, reportedly tutored by...

3. Robert Ryan

Actor | The Wild Bunch

Distinguished U.S. actor and longtime civil rights campaigner Robert Bushnell Ryan was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Mable Arbutus (Bushnell), a secretary, and Timothy Aloysius Ryan, whose wealthy family owned a real estate firm. His father was of Irish ancestry, and his mother was of English and ...

4. Dana Andrews

Actor | Laura

American leading man of the 1940s and 1950s, Dana Andrews was born Carver Dana Andrews on New Years Day 1909 on a farmstead outside Collins, Covington County, Mississippi. One of thirteen children, including fellow actor Steve Forrest, he was a son of Annis (Speed) and Charles Forrest Andrews, a ...

5. Raymond Burr

Actor | Rear Window

Born Raymond William Stacy Burr on 21 May 1917 in New Westminster, British Columbia, Burr spent most of his early life traveling. As a youngster, his father moved his family to China, where the elder Burr worked as a trade agent. When the family returned to Canada, Raymond's parents separated. He ...

6. John Payne

Actor | Miracle on 34th Street

Perhaps not so surprisingly, John Payne maintained that his favorite movie of all time was one of his own -- Miracle on 34th Street (1947) -- simply because it reflected his own strong and spiritual belief system. Today, of course, the film, which co-stars beautiful Maureen O'Hara, Oscar-winning ...

7. Dick Powell

Actor | Murder, My Sweet

Few actors ever managed a complete image transition as thoroughly as did Dick Powell: in his case, from the boyish, wavy-haired crooner in musicals to rugged crime fighters in films noir. Powell grew up in the town of Little Rock, Arkansas, one of three brothers (one of them, Howard, ended up as ...

8. William Hopper

Actor | Perry Mason

William Hopper was born on January 26, 1915 in New York City, New York, USA as William DeWolf Hopper Jr. He was an actor, known for Perry Mason (1957), 20 Million Miles to Earth (1957) and Rebel Without a Cause (1955). He was married to Janette Jinty Mansfield and Jane Gilbert. He died on March 6, ...

9. 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 ...

10. Glenn Ford

Actor | Superman

Legendary actor Glenn Ford was born Gwyllyn Samuel Newton Ford in Sainte-Christine-d'Auvergne, Quebec, Canada, to Hannah Wood (Mitchell) and Newton Ford, a railroad executive. His family moved to Santa Monica, California when he was eight years old. His acting career began with plays at high school...

11. Alan Ladd

Actor | Shane

Alan Walbridge Ladd was born in Hot Springs, Arkansas, the only child of Ina Raleigh (aka Selina Rowley) and Alan Ladd, a freelance accountant. His mother was English, from County Durham, and his paternal grandparents were Canadian. His father died when he was four. At age five, he burned his ...

12. William Holden

Actor | Stalag 17

William Holden was born William Franklin Beedle, Jr. in O'Fallon, Illinois, to Mary Blanche (Ball), a schoolteacher, and William Franklin Beedle, Sr., an industrial chemist. He came from a wealthy family (the Beedles) that moved to Pasadena, California, when he was three. In 1937, while studying ...

13. Dan Duryea

Actor | Too Late for Tears

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 ...

14. David Janssen

Actor | The Green Berets

David Janssen was born David Harold Meyer in 1931 in Naponee, Nebraska, to Berniece Mae (Graf) and Harold Edward Meyer, a banker. He was of German, and some Swiss-German and Scottish-Irish, descent. David took the surname of his stepfather, Eugene Janssen. The Janssen family settled in Hollywood ...

15. Sterling Hayden

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

Born to George & Frances Simonson Walter, and named Sterling Relyea Walter. Father died in 1925. Adopted by stepfather 'James Hayden' renamed Sterling Walter Hayden. Grew up in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., and Maine. Though very poor, attended prep school at ...

16. Humphrey Bogart

Actor | Casablanca

Humphrey DeForest Bogart was born in New York City, New York, to Maud Humphrey, a famed magazine illustrator and suffragette, and Belmont DeForest Bogart, a moderately wealthy surgeon (who was secretly addicted to opium). Bogart was educated at Trinity School, NYC, and was sent to Phillips Academy ...

17. Robert Taylor

Actor | Quo Vadis

Born Spangler Arlington Brugh, Robert Taylor began displaying a diversity of talents in his youth on the plains of Nebraska. At Beatrice High School, he was a standout track athlete, but also showed a talent for using his voice, winning several oratory awards. He was a musician and played the cello...

18. Fredric March

Actor | The Best Years of Our Lives

Fredric March began a career in banking but in 1920 found himself cast as an extra in films being produced in New York. He starred on the Broadway stage first in 1926 and would return there between screen appearances later on. He won plaudits (and an Academy Award nomination) for his send-up of ...

19. Arthur Kennedy

Actor | Lawrence of Arabia

Arthur Kennedy, one of the premier character actors in American film from the late 1940s through the early 1960s, achieved fame in the role of Biff in Elia Kazan's historic production of Arthur Miller's Pultizer-Prize winning play "Death of a Salesman." Although he was not selected to recreate the ...

20. Patrick McGoohan

Actor | The Prisoner

Though born in America, Irish actor Patrick McGoohan rose to become the number-one British TV star in the 1950s to 1960s era. His parents moved to Ireland when he was very young and McGoohan acquired a neutral accent that sounds at home in British or American dialogue. He was an avid stage actor ...

21. Howard Duff

Actor | No Way Out

Tough, virile, wavy-haired and ruggedly handsome with trademark forlorn-looking brows that added an intriguing touch of vulnerability to his hard outer core, actor Howard Duff and his wife-at-the-time, actress Ida Lupino, were one of Hollywood's premiere film couples during the 1950s "Golden Age". ...

22. Charles McGraw

Actor | Spartacus

Stony-faced, grizzled-looking tough guy Charles McGraw (real name Charles Butters) notched up dozens of TV and film credits, usually portraying law enforcement figures or military officers, plus the odd shifty gangster. While at high school he worked as a theatre usher and was nicknamed "Chick" by ...

23. Ray Milland

Actor | The Lost Weekend

Ray Milland became one of Paramount's most bankable and durable stars, under contract from 1934 to 1948, yet little in his early life suggested a career as a motion picture actor.

Milland was born Alfred Reginald Jones in the Welsh town of Neath, Glamorgan, to Elizabeth Annie (Truscott) and Alfred ...

24. Richard Basehart

Actor | Moby Dick

Despite many a powerful performance, this actor's actor never quite achieved the stardom he deserved. Ultimately, Richard Basehart became best-known to television audiences as Admiral Harriman Nelson, commander of the glass-nosed nuclear submarine 'S.S.R.N Seaview' in Irwin Allen's Voyage to the ...

25. Richard Widmark

Actor | The Alamo

Richard Widmark established himself as an icon of American cinema with his debut in the 1947 film noir Kiss of Death (1947) in which he won a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award nomination as the killer "Tommy Udo". Kiss of Death (1947) and other noir thrillers established Widmark as part of a new ...

26. Van Johnson

Actor | Battleground

Van Johnson was the well-mannered nice guy on screen you wanted your daughter to marry. This fair, freckled and invariably friendly-looking MGM song-and-dance star of the 40s emerged a box office favorite (1944-1946) and second only to heartthrob Frank Sinatra during what gossipmonger Hedda Hopper ...

27. Mark Stevens

Actor | The Dark Corner

Mark Stevens, a second-tier star during the 1940s and 1950s, was born Richard William Stevens in Cleveland, OH, in 1916 (the dates in reference books vary between 1915-20). Of Scottish and English heritage, the freckle-faced boy with the reddish hair had a father who was an American flyer. His ...

28. Van Heflin

Actor | Shane

Craggy-faced, dependable star character actor Van Heflin never quite made the Hollywood "A" list, but made up for what he lacked in appearance with hard work, charisma and solid acting performances. He was born Emmett Evan Heflin in Oklahoma in December 1908, the son of Fanny Bleecker (Shippey) and...

29. James Stewart

Actor | Anatomy of a Murder

James Maitland Stewart was born on May 20, 1908 in Indiana, Pennsylvania, to Elizabeth Ruth (Johnson) and Alexander Maitland Stewart, who owned a hardware store. He was of Scottish, Ulster-Scots, and some English, descent. Stewart was educated at a local prep school, Mercersburg Academy, where he ...

30. Marshall Thompson

Actor | It! The Terror from Beyond Space

Although he geared himself up for major film stardom throughout the 1950s, it took a leading role on a 1960s TV series opposite a lion and chimpanzee to make Marshall Thompson a genuine household name. Born on November 27, 1925, and named James Marshall Thompson after an ancestor, a famed Supreme ...

31. James Arness

Actor | Gunsmoke

American leading man famed as the star of one of the longest-running shows in U.S. television history, Gunsmoke (1955). Born of Norwegian heritage (the family name, Aurness, had formerly been Aursness) in Minneapolis, Minnesota to Rolf and Ruth Duesler Aurness. His father was a traveling salesman ...

32. Spencer Tracy

Actor | Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

Spencer Tracy was born four years after his brother Carroll to truck salesman John Edward and Caroline Brown Tracy. He attended Marquette Academy along with Pat O'Brien and the two left school to enlist in the Navy at the start of World War I. He was still at Norfolk Navy Yard in Virginia at the ...

33. Fred Astaire

Actor | The Towering Inferno

Fred Astaire was born in Omaha, Nebraska, to Johanna (Geilus) and Fritz Austerlitz, a brewer. Fred entered show business at age 5. He was successful both in vaudeville and on Broadway in partnership with his sister, Adele Astaire. After Adele retired to marry in 1932, Astaire headed to Hollywood. ...

34. Donald O'Connor

Actor | Singin' in the Rain

Born into a vaudeville family, O'Connor was the youthful figure cutting a rug in several Universal musicals of the 1940s. His best-known musical work is probably Singin' in the Rain (1952), in which he did an impressive dance that culminated in a series of backflips off the wall. O'Connor was also ...

35. Gregory Peck

Actor | To Kill a Mockingbird

Eldred Gregory Peck was born on April 5, 1916 in La Jolla, California, to Bernice Mary (Ayres) and Gregory Pearl Peck, a chemist and druggist in San Diego. He had Irish (from his paternal grandmother), English, and some German, ancestry. His parents divorced when he was five years old. An only ...

36. Kirk Douglas

Actor | Spartacus

Cleft-chinned, steely-eyed and virile star of international cinema who rose from being "the ragman's son" (the name of his best-selling 1988 autobiography) to become a bona fide superstar, Kirk Douglas, also known as Issur Danielovitch Demsky, was born on December 9, 1916 in Amsterdam, New York. ...

37. Burt Lancaster

Actor | From Here to Eternity

Burt Lancaster, one of five children, was born in Manhattan, to Elizabeth (Roberts) and James Henry Lancaster, a postal worker. All of his grandparents were immigrants from Northern Ireland. He was a tough street kid who took an early interest in gymnastics. He joined the circus as an acrobat and ...

38. Robert Mitchum

Actor | Out of the Past

Robert Mitchum was an underrated American leading man of enormous ability, who sublimated his talents beneath an air of disinterest. He was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, to Ann Harriet (Gunderson), a Norwegian immigrant, and James Thomas Mitchum, a shipyard/railroad worker. His father died in a ...

39. Fred MacMurray

Actor | Double Indemnity

Fred MacMurray was likely the most underrated actor of his generation. True, his earliest work is mostly dismissed as pedestrian, but no other actor working in the 1940s and 50s was able to score so supremely whenever cast against type.

Frederick Martin MacMurray was born in Kankakee, Illinois, to ...

40. Edward G. Robinson

Actor | Key Largo

Emanuel Goldenberg arrived in the United States from Romania at age ten, and his family moved into New York's Lower East Side. He took up acting while attending City College, abandoning plans to become a rabbi or lawyer. The American Academy of Dramatic Arts awarded him a scholarship, and he began ...

41. Walter Pidgeon

Actor | Forbidden Planet

Walter Pidgeon, a handsome, tall and dark-haired man, began his career studying voice at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. He then did theater, mainly stage musicals. He went to Hollywood in the early 1920s, where he made silent films, including Mannequin (1926) and Sumuru (1927). ...

42. William Talman

Actor | Armored Car Robbery

William Talman is best known for his role as Hamilton Burger, the district attorney who perpetually lost to Perry Mason in the long-running series Perry Mason (1957). Talman was an accomplished screenwriter and stage and screen actor, and appeared in numerous roles on television as a character ...

43. John Garfield

Actor | Four Daughters

John Garfield was born Jacob Julius Garfinkle on the Lower East Side of New York City, to Hannah Basia (Margolis) and David Garfinkle, who were Jewish immigrants from Zhytomyr (now in Ukraine). Jules was raised by his father, a clothes presser and part-time cantor, after his mother's death in 1920,...

44. Victor Mature

Actor | Samson and Delilah

American leading man Victor John Mature was born in Louisville, Kentucky, to Clara P. (Ackley) and Marcellus George Mature, a cutler and knife sharpener. His father, born Marcello Gelindo Maturi in Pinzolo, Trentino, was Italian, and his mother was of Swiss-German and German descent. Mature worked ...

45. Joseph Cotten

Actor | The Third Man

Joseph Cheshire Cotten, Jr. was born in Petersburg, Virginia, into a well-to-do Southern family. He was the eldest of three sons born to Sally Whitworth (Willson) and Joseph Cheshire Cotten, Sr., an assistant postmaster.

Jo (as he was known) and his brothers Whit and Sam spent their summers at their...

46. Orson Welles

Actor | Citizen Kane

His father was a well-to-do inventor, his mother a beautiful concert pianist; Orson Welles was gifted in many arts (magic, piano, painting) as a child. When his mother died (he was six) he traveled the world with his father. When his father died (he was fifteen) he became the ward of Chicago's Dr. ...

47. Bruce Bennett

Actor | The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

Herman Brix was a star shot-putter in the 1928 Olympics. After losing the lead in MGM's Tarzan the Ape Man (1932) due to a shoulder injury, he was contracted by Ashton Dearholt for his independent production of The New Adventures of Tarzan (1935), a serial and the only Tarzan film between the ...

48. William Powell

Actor | The Thin Man

William Powell was on the New York stage by 1912, but it would be ten years before his film career would begin. In 1924 he went to Paramount Pictures, where he was employed for the next seven years. During that time, he played in a number of interesting films, but stardom was elusive. He did ...

49. Peter Graves

Actor | Airplane!

Peter Graves was born Peter Duesler Aurness on March 18, 1926 on Minneapolis, Minnesota. While growing up in Minnesota, he excelled at sports and music (as a saxophonist), and by age 16, he was a radio announcer at WMIN in Minneapolis. After two years in the United States Army Air Force, he studied...

50. 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...

51. Henry Fonda

Actor | 12 Angry Men

Henry Jaynes Fonda was born in Grand Island, Nebraska, to Elma Herberta (Jaynes) and William Brace Fonda, who worked in advertising and printing. His recent ancestry included Dutch, English, and Scottish.

Fonda started his acting debut with the Omaha Community Playhouse, a local amateur theater ...

52. Paul Langton

Actor | It! The Terror from Beyond Space

Although established in show business for many years, it wasn't until 1964 with the debut of the TV series, "Peyton Place" that he became truly famous as the hapless and scheming, Leslie Harrington. His tenure there lasted several years and he added considerable style and finesse with his presence ...

53. William Bendix

Actor | Lifeboat

William Bendix was not a son of Brooklyn, New York, although because of his stereotypical "Brooklyn accent" it has been widely supposed that he was. Bendix was actually born in the Borough of Manhattan (New York City proper), in a midtown flat hard by the tracks of the long-since defunct ...

54. Roy Roberts

Actor | Chinatown

Veteran character player Roy Roberts proudly claimed over 900 performances in a 40-year career. He might not have been known necessarily by name, but the face was distinct and obviously familiar. The prototype of the steely executive, the no-nonsense mayor, the assured banker, the stentorian leader...

55. James Cagney

Actor | The Roaring Twenties

One of Hollywood's preeminent male stars of all time, James Cagney was also an accomplished dancer and easily played light comedy. James Francis Cagney was born on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in New York City, to Carolyn (Nelson) and James Francis Cagney, Sr., who was a bartender and amateur ...

56. Ralph Meeker

Actor | Kiss Me Deadly

Burly American character actor Ralph Meeker first acted on stage at his Alma mater, Northwestern University, alongside other budding performers Charlton Heston and Patricia Neal. He graduated as a music major, because his dean had discouraged him from pursuing a theatrical career. Ignoring that ...

57. Robert Duvall

Actor | The Apostle

Veteran actor and director Robert Selden Duvall was born on January 5, 1931, in San Diego, CA, to Mildred Virginia (Hart), an amateur actress, and William Howard Duvall, a career military officer who later became an admiral. Duvall majored in drama at Principia College (Elsah, IL), then served a ...

58. Lee Marvin

Actor | The Dirty Dozen

Prematurely white-haired character star who began as a supporting player of generally vicious demeanor, then metamorphosed into a star of both action and drama projects, Lee Marvin was born in New York City, the son of Courtenay Washington (Davidge), a fashion writer, and Lamont Waltman Marvin, an ...

59. James Franciscus

Actor | Beneath the Planet of the Apes

James Grover Franciscus graduated magna cum laude from Yale University in 1957 with a B.A. in English and theater. His father, John Allen Franciscus, was a pilot killed in action during WWII. His mother was named Loraine (nee Grover) and he had one sibling, a brother named John. Mr. Franciscus is ...

60. Stephen McNally

Actor | No Way Out

"B" actor Stephen McNally forsook a thriving career as a practicing attorney in the late 1930s when he made the decision to switch gears and pursue acting, which he did avidly. He began his career on stage using his real name of Horace McNally and earned minor status in World War II-era films as ...

61. William Lundigan

Actor | Pinky

The athletic William Lundigan stood 6' 2" and weighed 170 pounds. He played football, basketball and tennis at Syracuse (NY) University. He was discovered by Charles R. Rogers, head of production at Universal Studios. Rogers happened to tune into radio station WFBL in Syracuse. He was so intrigued ...

62. Zachary Scott

Actor | Mildred Pierce

American leading man of suave or sinister roles. A collateral relative of George Washington and William Barclay 'Bat' Masterson, Scott was the son of a wealthy surgeon. Intending to follow his father into medicine, Scott studied at the University of Texas, but found he preferred the theater. He ...

63. Ronald Colman

Actor | Random Harvest

British leading man of primarily American films, one of the great stars of the Golden Age. Raised in Ealing, the son of a successful silk merchant, he attended boarding school in Sussex, where he first discovered amateur theatre. He intended to attend Cambridge and become an engineer, but his ...

64. Richard Denning

Actor | An Affair to Remember

Born in Poughkeepsie, New York, Louis Albert Denninger Jr. was the son of a garment manufacturer who relocated and set up shop in Los Angeles when Louis Jr. was 18 months old. After finishing school, Denninger enrolled at Woodbury Business College and majored in business and accounting, graduating ...

65. 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 ...

66. Gig Young

Actor | They Shoot Horses, Don't They?

Gig Young was born Byron Barr to parents John and Emma Barr in Minnesota, and raised in Washington, DC, where he developed a passion for theatre while appearing in high school plays. After gaining some amateur experience, he applied for and received a scholarship to the acclaimed Southern ...

67. 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...

68. Lawrence Tierney

Actor | Reservoir Dogs

Legendary Hollywood "tough guy", on screen and off. Remembered as the title character in Dillinger (1945) and as the consummately brutal lover of Claire Trevor in Born to Kill (1947). Notorious also for his frequent, well-publicized past involvements in public altercations - like barroom brawls - ...

69. Gene Kelly

Soundtrack | Singin' in the Rain

Eugene Curran Kelly was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the third son of Harriet Catherine (Curran) and James Patrick Joseph Kelly, a phonograph salesman. His father was of Irish descent and his mother was of Irish and German ancestry.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer was the largest and most powerful studio in...

70. Hugh Marlowe

Actor | All About Eve

Marlowe was born Hugh Hipple in Philadelphia, and began his stage career in the 1930s at the Pasadena Playhouse in California. He performed extensively on radio, stage, television and film with credits including off-Broadway productions of "The Deer Park" in 1967 and "All My Sons" in 1974.



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