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Top 50 Acting Legends

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  • Humphrey Bogart
  • Cary Grant
  • James Stewart
  • Marlon Brando
  • Fred Astaire
  • Henry Fonda
  • Clark Gable
  • James Cagney
  • Spencer Tracy
  • Charlie Chaplin
  • Gary Cooper
  • Gregory Peck
  • John Wayne
  • Laurence Olivier
  • Gene Kelly
  • Orson Welles
  • Kirk Douglas
  • James Dean
  • Burt Lancaster
  • The Marx Brothers
  • Buster Keaton
  • Sidney Poitier
  • Robert Mitchum
  • Edward G. Robinson
  • William Holden


  • Katharine Hepburn
  • Bette Davis
  • Audrey Hepburn
  • Ingrid Bergman
  • Greta Garbo
  • Marilyn Monroe
  • Elizabeth Taylor
  • Judy Garland
  • Marlene Dietrich
  • Joan Crawford
  • Barbara Stanwyck
  • Claudette Colbert
  • Grace Kelly
  • Ginger Rogers
  • Mae West
  • Vivien Leigh
  • Lillian Gish
  • Shirley Temple
  • Rita Hayworth
  • Lauren Bacall
  • Sophia Loren
  • Jean Harlow
  • Carole Lombard
  • Mary Pickford
  • Ava Gardner

I Like this site i got it from

AFI Just Click the Lists on the Side or Download the PDF

Note...on this list its the legends meaning 1950 and before.

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  • 1 year later...

Top 50 of HOLLYWOOD CINEMA, that is. Seeing katharine hep in this list devalues the category of "top 50." Her tone of voice/inflections were very annoying, to say the least. She was also very unfunny in Bringing Up Baby. As a matter of fact, I can't think of any movies she's in where I think she did a splendid job. No LOUISE BROOKS?! No LUCILLE BALL?! What the hell kind of list is this?

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Thanks Bitter Almonds :bow:

I really respect your opinion because of your encylclopedic knowledge of films in general and foreign films in particular.


With a little help from my friends i.e., imdb and wikipedia :cool: Actually, looking at the list of actresses, I see they listed Sophia Loren, yet she didn't start doing big Hollywood production until well after 1950. I wouldn't categorise her as an American actress, but if she makes the list, then I'd say they shoulda listed Liv Ullmann and Bibi Andersson (from the Ingmar Bergman movies) as well as Anna Karina from the Godard movies. Heck, I'd list Natalya Bondarchuck on her performance on Solaris alone :beatnik: Anyway, acting legends!

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Hannah Schygulla! She mainly (perhaps, exclusively) worked for R.W. Fassbinder back in the late 60s and early 70s. Check her out in "The Marriage of Maria von Braun," "The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant," and "The Gods of the Plague" (where she also sings) LEGENDARY :rockon:


I can't believe I know how to spell to her name from memory :googly:

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  • 3 weeks later...

Idk what movie you saw man, but Katherine Hepburn was the bomb in Bringing Up Baby, The chemistry her and Cary Grant had was hilarious.

I just wonder why most of the people on this list are older actors. I'm not trying to start any fights here, but it seems to me like people romanticize old movies too much. Don't get me wrong, I love screwball comedies, and fast-talking private eye flicks, but there are also a lot of great actors out there nowadays too.

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  • 1 year later...

I've always thought listing favourite actors is the same as listing favourite songs. It's all subjective.

I could list a hundred great actors or actresses but I'll list "my" favourite three of each...

Favourite three actors;

1. Sir Laurence Olivier

2. Tom Hanks

3. Willem Dafoe

My favourite three actresses;

1. Bette Davis

2. Jessica Lange

3. Meryl Streep

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  • 1 year later...
  • 2 weeks later...

Favourite Actors:

1. Cary Grant - could do everything and make it seem effortless.

2. Humphrey Bogart - ugly as sin, but boy, could he act!

3. Peter O'Toole - should have won the best actor for Beckett, The Lion In Winter and Lawrence of Arabia.

4. Spencer Tracy - A brilliant actor who appeared in many outstanding films.

5. Burt Lancaster - absolutely mesmerizing in Elmer Gantry and The Rainmaker. Also did most of his own stunts.

6. David Niven - brilliantly understated performance in Separate Tables. Urbane and witty, much like Cary Grant.

Favourite Actresses:

1. Katherine Hepburn - What can I say that hasn't been said before. Excelled in period pieces, screwball comedies and everything in between.

2. Bette Davis - Not much to look at, but like Bogart, she was an amazing performer.

3. Maggie Smith - I believe her performance in The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie was the greatest in a long and distinguished career.

4. Deborah Kerr - I loved her in The King and I and An Affair To Remember. Cute as a button too!

5. Ingrid Bergman - many understated, yet, exceptional performances.

6. Glenda Jackson - I believe her performances as Queen Elizabeth I (in the BBC series and the film Mary Queen Of Scots), are without equal. She could make poor and mediocre films worth watching due to the strength of her performances.

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Esquire had the good sense to interview some of the acting legends still alive in their recent issue, and they came out much better than their attempt at scraping some personality off Christian Bale.

It's clear that something really special happened with The Godfather. Here's DeNiro's interview:


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