1940's

 

Abbott and Costello, Abbott's whose real name is William A. Abbott, was born in Ashbury, New Jersey, on October 2, 1895 and died in 1974, Costello's real name is Louis Francis Cristillo, was born in Paterson, New Jersey, on March 6, 1906 and died in 1959. They came up the hard way in the 1930's. Years in burlesque were rewarded with a spot on Kate Smith's radio show, and their sudden popularity led to a 1939 Broadway revue, 'The Streets of Paris'. In 1940, Universal signed them for supporting roles in their first film "One Night in the Tropics". After their success in this movie, they were signed to a long contract and starred in "Buck Privates" in 1941, which featured two of their favorite routines 'The Dice Game' and 'Army Drill'. By the end of 1941, theatre owners voted Bud and Lou Number 3 at the box office, after Mickey Rooney and Clark Gable.

Best known films:

  • Buck Privates (1941)
  • Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)
  • Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff (1949)
  • Jack and the Beanstalk (1952)

 

Humphrey Bogart was born in New York City on December 25, 1899 and died in 1957. After having experienced some measure of success on Broadway during the late 1920's, he was brought out to Hollywood, a conventional, good looking and reasonably competant actor. But he failed to click in a number of mainly second-rate pictures and returned to the theatre to find that good parts there were also few and far between. Finally he got his big break in the theatre, when in 1935 he landed the part of the gangster, Duke Mantee, in 'The Petrified Forest and was cast in the film version.

Best known films:

  • The Petrified Forest (1936)
  • The Maltese Falcon (1941)
  • Casablanca (1943), Academy Award nomination
  • To Have and Have Not (1944)
  • The Big Sleep (1946)
  • The Treasure of Sierra Madre (1948)
  • Key Largo (1948)
  • The African Queen (1951), Academy Awards winner for Best Actor
  • The Caine Mutiny (1954), Academy Award nomination
  • Sabrina (1954)

 

John Garfield, whose real name is Julius Garfinkle, was born in New York City, on March 3, 1913 and died in 1952. After studying at drama school, he spent some time bumming around the country before he joined the Group Theatre and made his name on the Broadway stage, most notably in 'Golden Boy' in 1937. He arrived at Warner Bros. the following year, where his down to earth qualities were first seen in "Four Daughters", which earned him his first Oscar nomination, but the studios failed to star him in roles he deserved. In 1941, he proved he could hold his own when he starred with Edward G. Robinson in "Sea Wolf". His difficulties during the last few years of his life led to a premature heart attack at the age of 39, which was no doubt brought on by the activities of the House UnAmerican Activies Committee. He was one of the saddest and most tragic victims of the HUAC witch hunt.

Best known films:

  • Four Daughters (1938), Academy Award nomimation
  • Sea Wolf (1941)
  • Tortilla Flat (1942)
  • Air Force (1942)
  • Destination Tokyo (1943)
  • To Have and Have Not (1944)
  • The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)
  • Gentleman's Agreement (1947), Academy Award nomimation
  • He Ran All the Way (1951)

 

Cary Grant, whose real name is Archibald Alexander Leach, was born in Bristol, England on January 18, 1904 and died in 1986. Coming from a broken home, he ran away at 14 to join a travelling troupe of young comedians who played in vaudeville houses all over England. He worked hard to perfect his acrobatic and pantomine skills and was selected for a US tour in 1920. Staying on in New York, he graduated to operetta during the late 20s then headed west to California late in 1931 and ended up signing a 5 year contract with Paramount shortly before his 28th birthday. His first movies were in "Hot Saturday" (1932), with Mae West in "I'm No Angel" and "She Done Him Wrong" both in 1933. By 1937, the screwball comedy had become established in Hollywood. This popular new type of movie provided a natural opportunity for him with his special blend of spontaneous vitality and charm. He and Constance Bennett made a pair of lively and sophisticated ghosts in "Topper", followed imediatly by "The Awful Truth", his first major success as a comedy star.

Best known films:

  • Topper (1937)
  • The Awful Truth (1937)
  • Bringing Up Baby (1938)
  • His Girl Friday (1940)
  • The Philadelphia Story (1940)
  • Suspicion (1941)
  • None But the Lonely Heart (1944), Academy Award nomination
  • Notorious (1946)
  • To Catch a Thief (1955)
  • North by Northwest (1959)
  • Charade (1963)

 

Gene Kelly, whose real name is Eugene Curran Kelly, was born in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. on August 23, 1912, and died in 1996. He had danced in his childhood, became a dance instructor (after taking an Economics degree at the University of Pittsburg), and danced on Broadway. He had already choreographed "Billy Rose's Diamond Horseshoe" and the successful Broadway musical "Best Foot Foward" and had starred in Rodgers and Hart's "Pal Joey", before he was invited to Hollywood at the age of 30 by David O. Selznick. He played an egotistical dancer in "For Me and My Gal" in 1942 with Judy Garland.

Best known films:

  • For Me and My Gal (1942)
  • Anchors Aweigh (1945)
  • On the Town (1949)
  • An American in Paris (1951), Academy Award nomination
  • Singin' In The Rain (1955)
  • It's Always Fair Weather (1955)

 

Alan Ladd was born in Hot Springs, Arkansas, on September 3, 1913 and died in 1964. He grew up in difficult circumstances and genuine poverty after the early death of his father. As a young man he knocked around in many different jobs, including work on the fringes of the film industry both in front of the camera, as an extra or bit player, and behind the scenes as a grip. Though he was only 5 foot 6 inches, he had graceful movements of an athlete. His green eyes and blond hair were different than the usual actors of the period. Paramount gave him his first leading role as the psychopatic killer and teamed with Veronica Lake in "This Gun For Hire" in 1942. He became a star overnight. Although Paramount had their doubts about him, the enthusiastic public response quickly convinced the studio of his appeal.

Best known films:

  • This Gun For Hire (1942)
  • The Glass Key (1942)
  • The Great Gatsby (1949)
  • Shane (1953)
  • The Carpetbaggers (1964)

 

Robert Mitchum was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, on August 6, 1917 and died in 1997. As one might expect he experienced a tough childhood and while still a teenager, spent a number of years bumming around the country and living rough. A wide variety of jobs folowed, including a short stint as a professional boxer, before he broke into films as an extra and bit part player during the early 40s. He appeard in 16 different pictures released in 1943. The parts got larger and in 1944 he was signed by RKO, which opened the door with his first big break in 1945, when he was offered a starring role in "The Story of GI Joe", which he was nominated for a supporting best actor.

Best known films:

  • The Story of GI Joe (1945), Academy Award nomination
  • The Big Steal (1949)
  • The Night of The Hunter (1955)
  • Heave Knows Mr. Allison (1957)
  • The Sundowners (1960)
  • El Dorado (1960)
  • Cape Fear (1962)

 

Laurence Olivier was born in Dorking, England on May 22, 1907 and died in 1989. He became interested in the theatre as a boy and made a first notable appearance as Katherine in a schoolboy production of The Taming of the Shrew. After a brief stint at drama school, he played a variety of roles at Birmingham Rep and then on the West End stage. He was invited out to Hollywood and given screen tests, like so many of the young stage actors of the period. As an exceptionally handsome, stylish, and charismatic young English actor, he was cast in a few pictures, without much success he returned to England. He continued to develop his skills as an actor, mainly on the stage, in a variety of roles. Finally his big break came with a much acclaimed production of Romeo and Juliet in 1935. He also played Hamlet on the stage. He continued to establish himself as a leading Shakespearian actor before departing, somewhat reluctantly for Hollywood once again. His big break came when he was cast as Heathclife in "Wuthering Heights" in 1939.

Best known films:

  • Wuthering Heights (1939), Academy Award nomination
  • Rebecca (1940), Academy Award nomination
  • Pride and Prejudice (1940)
  • Henry V (1945)
  • Henry V, Academy Award nomination
  • Hamlet (1948), Academy Awards winner for Best Actor
  • Richard III (1956), Academy Award nomination
  • The Entertainer (1960), Academy Award nomination
  • Othello (1965), Academy Award nomination
  • Sleuth (1972), Academy Award nomination
  • The Marathon Man (1976), Academy Award nomination
  • The Boys From Brazil (1978), Academy Award nomination

 

Gregory Peck was born in La Jolla, California, on April 5, 1916 and died in 2003. A famous memo from producer David Selznick in 1941 reads "I am sorry to say that I don't see what we could do with Gregory Peck...We would have great difficulty in either using him ourselves or in getting other studios to use him. He photographs like Abe Lincoln, but if he has a great personality, I don't think it comes through...". It was only four years later that Peck became one of Selznick's leading actors and was very much in demand to play leading roles at all the major studios. Tall, handsome and an established stage actor, he was first signed by RKO to star in "Days of Glory" in 1943.

Best known films:

  • The Keys of the Kingdom (1945), Academy Award nomination
  • Duel in the Sun (1946)
  • The Yearling (1946), Academy Award nomination
  • Gentleman's Agreement (1947), Academy Award nomination
  • 12 O'Clock High (1949), Academy Award nomination
  • David and Bathsheba (1951)
  • The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1952)
  • Moby Dick (1956)
  • The Guns of Navarone (1961)
  • To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), Academy Awards winner for Best Actor
  • The Omen (1976)

 

James Stewart was born in Indiana, Pennsylvania, on May 20, 1908 and died in 1997. He gained his first stage experience while a student at Princeton University, but it was not until he graduated at the age of 24, that he became seriously interested in the theatre. He joined the University Players a summer stock company, which included Henry Fonda and Margaret Sullavan. Experience on Broadway and on tour led to a screen test and a contract with MGM in 1935. He was cast in small parts. At its peak during the late 30s, MGM was so well supplied with top start that it failed to appreciate Stewart's talent. He first made his mark during 1938-39 mainly on loan-out to other studios. He starred with Ginger Rogers in an enjoyable light comedy, Vivacious Lady (1938) and landed a role of the quiet spoken but effective sheriff who impresses Marlene Dietrich in Destry Rides Again (1939). But the high point was his collaboration with director Frank Capra in "You Can't Take It With You" (1938) and "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" (1939).

Best known films:

  • You Can't Take It With You (1938)
  • Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), Academy Award nomination
  • The Philadelphia Story (1940), Academy Awards winner for Best Actor
  • It's a Wonderful Life (1946), Academy Award nomination
  • Harvey (1950), Academy Award nomination
  • The Greatest Show On Earth (1952)
  • Vertigo (1958)
  • Anatomy of a Murder (1959), Academy Award nomination

 

John Wayne, whose realy name is Marion Michael Morrison, was born in Winterset, Iowa, on May 26, 1907 and died in 1979. Fresh out of USC where he had gone on a football scholarship, Wayne had only appeared in a few bit parts when his friend, John Ford, recommended him to director Raoul Walsh as a good possibility for the lead role in the epic 70mm western, "The Big Trail" in 1930. It was one of a small group of prestigious early talkie westerns which included "Billy the Kid" (1930) and Oscar- winning "Cimarron" (1931). But the phenomenon was short lived. Only the B westerns continued to flourish during the 1930's and Wayne was quickly demoted to the B's. Things only began to pick up during the late 30's when he was rescued from B westerns by John Ford, who offered him the lead role in "Stagecoach" in 1938 as Ringo Kid.

Best know films:

  • Stagecoach (1938)
  • The Long Voyage Home (1940)
  • The Fighting Seabees (1944)
  • They Were Expendable (1945)
  • The Angel and the Badman (1947)
  • Red River (1948)
  • Three Godfathers (1948)
  • Sands of Iwo Jima (1949), Academy Award nomination
  • Rio Grande (1950)
  • The Quiet Man (1952)
  • The Searchers (1956)
  • Rio Bravo (1959)
  • The Alamo (1960)
  • El Dorado (1967)
  • The Green Berets (1968)
  • True Grit (1969), Academy Award winner for Best Actor
  • The Shootist (1976)

 

Orson Welles was born in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on May 6, 1915 and died in 1985. He was sixteen when he first went on the stage in Dublin. He first made his name on Broadway and on the radio both as actor and director during the mid 1930's. In 1937, he joined John Houseman to form the Mercury Theatre and soon extended their activities into radio where they are still remembered for a famous 1938 version of "The War of the Worlds" which caused some Americans to head for the hills, convinced that the Martians had landed. Inevitably he was invited to Hollywood and was given a contract with RKO in 1939. His first movie was "Kane" in 1941, he helped write the script, directed and starred as "Kane", where he received his first Oscar nominations as actor, director, and won an Oscar for his contribution to the script.

Best known films:

  • Citizen Kane (1941), Academy Award nomination
  • Journey Into Fear (1943)
  • Jane Eyre (1944)
  • The Third Man (1949)
  • Touch of Evil (1958)
  • A Man for all Seasons (1966)

1950's

 

Marlon Brando was born in Omaha, Nebraska, on April 3, 1924 and died in 2004. He was born into a middle-class family of French extraction, the name being originally Brandeau. He was a difficult child, so his father sent him to a military academy in Minnesota from which he was expelled a few weeks before graduating. He drifted around for a while before joining his two older, Frances and Jocelyn, in New York. Jocelyn was already an actress and she got him to enroll at the Dramatic Workshop. After touring in summer stock, he made it to Broadway, at the age of twenty, in 'I Remember Mama', but his meeting with Elia Kazan and his work with the Actors' Studio was crucial to his development as an actor. It was when John Garfield turned down the role of Kowalski in Tennessee Williams's 'A Streetcar Named Desire' in 1947, that Brando got his big chance in the film production. Brando chose for his first film, the Stanley Kramer production of "The Men" in 1950. He then recreated his stage role in "Streetcar" and was nomimated for best actor.

Best known films:

  • A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), Academy Award nomination
  • Viva Zapata (1952), Academy Award nomination
  • Julius Caesar (1953), Academy Award nomination
  • On the Waterfront (1954), Academy Awards winner for Best Actor
  • Desiree (1954)
  • Guys and Dolls (1955)
  • Sayonara (1957), Academy Award nomination
  • One-Eyed Jacks (1960)
  • Mutiny on the Bounty (1962)
  • Last Tango in Paris (1972)
  • The Godfather (1972), Academy Award winner Best Actor
  • Last Tango in Paris (1973), Academy Award nomination
  • A Dry White Season (1989), Academy Award nomination

 

Montgomery Clift, whose real name was Edward Montgomery Clift, was born in Omaha, Nebraska, on October 17, 1920 and died in 1966. He started acting at a very early age in amateur productions, and was already in summer stock at 14. A year later, he made his Broadway debut in 'Fly Away Home'. Later, he was encouraged by Elia Kazan to extend his range by using the Actors's Studio in New York. His first screen role was as John Wayne's adopted son in "Red River" in 1948. The release of this film was late, so the public first saw him in "The Search".

Best known films:

  • Red River (1948)
  • The Search (1948), Academy Award nomination
  • The Heiress (1949)
  • A Place in the Sun (1951), Academy Award nomination
  • From Here to Eternity (1953), Academy Award nomination
  • Indiscretion of an American Wife (1951)
  • Judgment at Nuremberg (1961), Academy Award nomination

 

Tony Curtis, whose real name is Bernard Schwartz, was born in the Bronx, on June 3, 1925. He was the son of an immigrant Jewish tailor and grew up in a tough neighbor- hood where he joined a street gang to survive. His education was minimal, but he did learn a bit of acting at the local settlement house. He continued to act in amateur productions in the navy during the war, where he joined up at seventeen and was wounded in Guam.

On his return, he took acting lessons and worked at the Dramatic Workshop in New York, before touring with at stock company. Universal Pictures, who were searching for young talent at that stage, offered him a contract in 1949. He was give pit parts in seven movies, three which were westerns. The studio's publicity machine turned him into a star in preparation for his top billing in the lush Arabian Nights adventure "The Prince Who Was a Thief" in 1951. He was on the cover of magazine's before the movie was released. The movie was a success and in the same year married Janet Leigh in a much publicised wedding.

Best known films:

  • The Prince Who Was a Thief (1951)
  • The Son of Ali Baba (1952)
  • Houdini (1953)
  • Sweet Smell of Success (1957)
  • The Defiant Ones (1958), Academy Award nomination
  • Some Like It Hot (1959)
  • Operation Petticoat (1959)
  • Spartacus (1960)
  • Sex and the Single Girl (1965)
  • The Great Race (1965)

 

James Dean was born in Marlon, Indiana, on February 8, 1931 and died 1955. His mother had a passion for poetry and gave him Byron as a second name. When he was eight, his mother died of lung cancer and he was sent to stay with his aunt and uncle on a farm. In high school, he excelled in sports, at the same time he became interested in art and literature. After graduating from high school, he went to California. In order to buy a new Triumph, he did some TV commercials.

He enrolled in UCLA and joined James Whitmore's drama group, attempting Malcolm in "Macbeth". Through the acquaintance of a journalist, Bill Bast, and others in the film world, he managed to get himself bit parts in three movies, he as a frightened soldier in "Fixed Bayonets" (1951), in the Dean Martin-Jerry Lewis comedy "Sailor Beware" (1951) as a boxer's second, and in "Has Anybody Seen My Gal" (1952), he enters a drugstore and asks for an ice-cream. In 1952, he went to New York and watched some classes at the Actors' Studio. He then got parts in some TV dramas. He was noticed by Billy Rose and was given a screen test at Warner Bros. and a seven year contract. It was Elia Kazan who asked him to play Caleb Trask in "East of Eden" in 1955.

Best known films:

  • East of Eden (1955), Academy Award nomination
  • Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
  • Giant (1956), Academy Award nomination

 

Kirk Douglas, whose real name is Issur Danielovitch Demsky, was born in Amsterdam, New York, on December 9, 1916. Son of poor Jewish-Russian immigrants, he had to struggle to make a name for himself. Working as a waiter, bell-boy and even professional wrestler, he paid for his education at St. Lawrence University and then at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. After a few small parts on Broadway, he joined the Navy for service during the war. In 1945, he returned to Broadway and radio acting, but was soon signed up by Hal Wallis for pictures. He made an impressive debut as Barbara Stanwyck's weak and bitter husband in "The Strange Love Of Martha Ivers" in 1946.

Best known films:

  • Champion (1949), Academy Award nomination
  • Detective Story (1951)
  • The Bad and the Beautiful (1953), Academy Award nomination
  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954)
  • Lust for Life (1956), Academy Award nomination
  • Gunfight at the OK Corral (1957)
  • Spartacus (1960)
  • There Was a Crooked Man (1970)

 

Charleton Heston, whose real name is Charles Carter, was born in Evanston, Illinois, on October 4, 1923. He had a classical theatre training, studying speech and drama at Northwestern University. After three years in the Air Force, he started his professional career in stock and on Broadway. His Shakespearean performances on CBS TV brought him to the attention of Hollywood, where he made his screen debut in "Dark City" in 1950. For his second film, he was cast by Cecil B. DeMille in "The Greatest Show on Earth" in 1952.

Best known films:

  • The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)
  • Arrowhead (1953)
  • The Ten Commandments (1956)
  • Touch of Evil (1958)
  • Ben-Hur (1959), Academy Awards winner for Best Actor
  • 55 Days at Peking (1963)
  • The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965)
  • The Planet of the Apes (1968)
  • Beneath the Plant of the Apes (1970)
  • Earthquake (1974)
  • Airport (1975)

 

William Holden, whose real name is William Franklin Beedle, was born in O'Fallon, Illinois, on April 17, 1918 and died in 1981. He grew up a handsome, clean-cut, all-American boy, expected to go into his father's chemical business. However, on a trip to New York in 1937, he became stagestruck.

On returning to California, he joined the Pasadena Workshop Theater. A Paramount talent scout spotted him in a play, he was tested, put under contract and groomed for stardom. But it was Columbia who gave him his first screen role as "Golden Boy" in 1939, the violinist who is forced to become a boxer. Columbia bought half his contract, and the golden boy worked hard between the two studios, usually playing boy-next-door types and young serviceman in films such as "Our Town" (1940), "I Wanted Wings" (1941) and "The Fleet's In (1942), before he enlisted in the Air Force where he served until 1945.

Best known films:

  • Golden Boy (1939)
  • Born Yesterday (1950)
  • Sunset Boulevard (1950), Academy Award nomination
  • Stalag 17 (1953), Academy Awards winner for Best Actor
  • Sabrina (1954)
  • The Lion (1962)
  • The Wild Bunch (1969)
  • Network (1976), Academy Award nomination

 

Burt Lancaster, whose real name is Burton Stephen Lancaster, was born in New York City, on November 2, 1913 and died in 1994. The son of a postal clerk, he grew up in a tough section of Manhattan's Upper East Side. An excellent sportsman at school, he won an athletic scholar- ship to New York University, but left soon after to form an acrobatic act with his friend Nick Cravat. They appeared in circuses, vaudeville and nightclubs as Lang and Cravat, but split up when they didn't make enough bookings to make ends meet. Lancaster had to take on less exciting jobs such as department store salesman and refrigerator repair man, before World War II gave him the action he needed. After service in North Africa and Italy, he returned to New York and odd jobs.

The story goes that he was 'discovered' in an elevator by a stage producer who asked him if he would read for a Broadway play. He got the part in 'The Sound Of Hunting' which only ran a few weeks, but he was spotted by an agent who got him a Hollywood contract. The unknown was cast as the lead in "The Killers" (1946), opposite Ava Gardner. He was 33 years old and was soon cast in a series of low key underworld melodramas.

Best know films:

  • Sorry Wrong Number (1948)
  • Vera Cruz (1954)
  • Come Back Little Sheba (1952)
  • From Here to Eternity (1953), Academy Award nomination
  • The Rose Tattoo (1955)
  • The Rainmaker (1956)
  • Gunfight at the OK Corral (1957)
  • Elmer Gantry (1960), Academy Award winner for best actor
  • Birdman of Alcatraz (1962), Academy Award nomination
  • The Swimmer (1968)
  • Ulzana's Reid (1972)
  • Atlantic City (1981), Academy Award nomination

 

Paul Newman was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on January 26, 1925. He was the son of the owner of a sporting goods store in Cleveland and as a child already involved in local dramatic groups. His hopes of seeing active duty as a pilot in the Naval Air Corps were brought to an end by his colour-blindness. He spent World War II as a radio operator in the Pacific. On his discharge, he returned to his first love of drama. He did summer stock and graduate studies at Yale Drama School, and eventially attended the Actor's Studio in New York. After his first big break on Broadway starring in 'Picnic' and a little television experienced, he felt he was ready for Hollywood. Under contract with Warner Bros. the 30 year old was given the lead rol in "The Silver Chalice" in 1955, then a year later he starred in "Somebody Up There Likes Me", playing the role of heavy weight boxer Rocky Graciano.

Best known films:

  • Somebody Up There Likes Me (1955)
  • The Left-Handed Gun (1958)
  • Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), Academy Award nomination
  • Exodus (1960)
  • The Hustler (1961), Academy Award nomination
  • Hud (1963), Academy Award nomination
  • Cool Hand Luke (1967), Academy Award nomination
  • Butch Cassiday and the Sundance Kid (1969)
  • The Sting (1973)
  • Absence of Malice (1981), Academy Award nomination
  • The Verdict (1982), Academy Award nomination
  • The Color of Money (1986), Academy Award winner for best actor
  • Nobody's Fool (1994), Academy Award nomination

 

Sidney Poitier was born in Miama, Florida, on February 20, 1924. He was born in Miami during a mainland visit by his parents but was raised in Cat Island, The Bahamas. His family was poor tomato growers. He had little formal education and at the age of 15 was sent to Miami to live with his brother, in order to forestall a growing tendency toward delinquency. In the U.S., he first experienced the racism that divided the country, a great shock to a boy coming from a society of black majority.

At 18, he went to New York, did menial jobs and slept in bus terminals. After an audition at the American Negro Theatre where he was rejected, he dedicated the next six months to overcoming his accent and perfecting his performance. On his second try, he was accepted. He was spotted in a rehearsal and given a bit part in a Broadway production of 'Lysistrata' for which he got excellent reviews.

By the end of 1949, he was having to choose between leading roles on stage and an offer to work for Darryl F. Zanuck in the film "No Way Out" in 1950. His performance as a doctor treating a white bigot got him plenty of notice and led to more roles, each considerably more interesting and prominent than most black actors of the time were getting.

Nevertheless, the roles were still less interesting and prominent than those white actors routinely obtained. But seven years later, after turning down several projects he considered demeaning, Poitier got a number of roles that catapulted him into a category rarely if ever achieved by a black man of that time, that of starring leading man. His first Oscar nomination came in 1958, when he starred in "The Defiant One's".

Best known films:

  • Cry the Beloved Country (1952)
  • The Blackboard Jungle (1955)
  • The Defiant Ones (1958), Academy Award nomination
  • Lilies of the Field (1963), Academy Award winner for Best Actor
  • In the Heat of the Night (1967)
  • Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967)

 

Anthony Quinn, whose real name was Antonio Rudolfo Oaxaca Quinn, was born in Chihuahua, Mexico on April 21, 1915 and died in 2001. Son of an Irish father and Mexican mother, he grew up in the barrio of East L.A. shining shoes and selling newspapers and enjoyed a brief career as a prizefighter. He won a scholarship to study architecture with Frank Lloyd Wright, with whom he developed a close relationship and who gave him the idea of starring in the movies. He had small roles in "Parole", "Sworn Enemy" and "Night Waitress", all in 1936, before signing with Paramount, for which he appeared exclusively until 1940, mostly playing gangsters and Indians.

Best known films:

  • Viva Zapata! (1952), Academy Awards winner for best supporting actor
  • Lust for Life (1956), Academy Awards winner for best supporting actor
  • Wild is the Wind (1957), Academy Award nomination
  • Zorba the Greek (1964), Academy Award nomination

 

Frank Sinatra was born in Hoboken, New Jersey, on December 12, 1915 and died in 1998. He was the son of an Italian fireman. As a youngster, he entered as many talent contests he could and won first prize on a radio 'Amateur Hour' and was eventually hired as a vocalist with the Harry James and Tommy Dorsey bands. In the 1940's he became the idol of hundreds of thousands of screaming bobby-soxers across the US. He was popular on radio and on records.

Because of the prejudice he encountered as a immigrant's son, he acquired a lifelong hatred of racial and religious intolerance, which resulted in 1945, in his producing an Academy Award winning short "The House I Live In" and starring himself. His first films revealed him to be small, scrawny and emanciated, but this didn't stop his adoring fans. He gained more success in films with Gene Kelly like
"Anchors Aweigh" in 1945.

Best known films:

  • Anchors Aweigh (1945)
  • Take Me Out to the Ballgame (1949)
  • On the Town (1949)
  • From Here to Eternity (1953), Academy Awards winner for Best Supporting Actor
  • Guys and Dolls (1955)
  • The Man with the Golden Arm (1955), Academy Award nomination
  • High Society (1956)
  • Pal Joey (1957)
  • The Joker is Wild (1957)
  • Can-Can (1960)
  • Some Came Running (1960)
  • Ocean's Eleven (1960)
  • Robin and the Seven Hoods (1964)
  • Tony Rome (1967)
  • The Detective (1968)