Best Actor Performances (1939 and Beyond)

by idonnowho | created - 13 Jan 2014 | updated - 04 Dec 2017 | Public

1. 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 ...

Best Actor of 1939 (for "The Wizard" in "The Wizard of Oz").

2. Cliff Edwards

Actor | His Girl Friday

Becoming popular with playing the ukulele, his unique singing and supplying the voice of animated movies, Cliff Edwards was one of the most popular singers in America.

Born in Hannibal, Missouri, Edwards left school at the age of 14, moved to St. Louis, and started to work as a singer in saloons. ...

Best Actor of 1940 (for "Jiminy Cricket" in "Pinocchio")

3. Fred Shields

Actor | The Three Caballeros

In Kansas City, Shields owned a theatre group, The Playmakers, and performed in stage plays. He also worked as a newscaster for WDAF radio. In 1929, he announced the plane flight of Germany's Graf Zeppelin over the U.S. In 1930, he came to Hollywood, CA, with Ger, his wife, Karena, and daughter, ...

Best Actor of 1942 (for "The Great Prince" in "Bambi").

4. James Baskett

Actor | Song of the South

James Baskett was born on February 16, 1904 in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA. He was an actor, known for Song of the South (1946), Policy Man (1938) and Revenge of the Zombies (1943). He was married to Margaret. He died on July 9, 1948 in Los Angeles, California, USA.

Best Actor of 1946 (for "Uncle Remus" and "Br'er Fox" in "Song of the South").

5. Burl Ives

Actor | The Big Country

Burl Ives was one of six children born to a Scottish-Irish farming family. He first sang in public for a soldiers' reunion when he was age 4. In high school, he learned the banjo and played fullback, intending to become a football coach when he enrolled at Eastern Illinois State Teacher's College ...

Best Actor of 1949 (for "Uncle Hiram Douglas" in "So Dear to My Heart").

6. Ed Wynn

Actor | Alice in Wonderland

An old-fashioned comedian, who, by recommendation by his son Keenan Wynn, became one of the world's most beloved clowns, and one of the best actors of his time. He was born on November 9, 1886. He performed in the Ziegfeld Follies, and later had a son Keenan in 1916. He later wrote his own shows, ...

Best Actor of 1951 (for "The Mad Hatter" in "Alice in Wonderland").

7. Bobby Driscoll

Actor | Peter Pan

Bobby Driscoll was a natural-born actor. Discovered by chance at the age of five-and-a-half in a barber shop in Altadena, CA. and then convincing in anything he ever undertook on the movie screen and on television throughout his career spanning 17 years (1943-1960). Includes such notable movie ...

Best Actor of 1953 (for "Peter Pan" in "Peter Pan").

8. 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. ...

Best Actor of 1954 (for "Ned Land" in "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea").

9. Larry Roberts

Actor | Lady and the Tramp

Larry Roberts was born Lawrence Saltzman on September 28, 1926. He was the only child of Robert E. and Mabel (Haber) Saltzman. Larry was a native of Cleveland, Ohio. After Larry's parents divorced, his father moved to Los Angeles. During World War II, Larry served with General Patton's Third Army ...

Best Actor of 1955 (for "The Tramp" in "Lady and the Tramp"; it was his only acting role, but he did a damn good job with it).

10. Kevin Corcoran

Actor | Old Yeller

Kevin Corcoran was born on June 10, 1949 in Santa Monica, California, USA as Kevin Anthony Corcoran. He was an assistant director and actor, known for Old Yeller (1957), Swiss Family Robinson (1960) and Pollyanna (1960). He was married to Laura Soltwedel. He died on October 6, 2015 in Burbank, ...

Best Actor of 1960 (for "Jimmy Bean" in "Pollyanna").

11. Dick Van Dyke

Actor | Mary Poppins

Dick Van Dyke was born Richard Wayne Van Dyke in West Plains, Missouri, to Hazel Victoria (McCord), a stenographer, and Loren Wayne Van Dyke, a salesman. His younger brother is entertainer Jerry Van Dyke. His ancestry includes English, Scottish, German, Swiss-German, and Dutch. Although he'd had ...

Best Actor of 1964 (for "Bert the Chimney Sweep" in "Mary Poppins").

12. Christopher Plummer

Actor | Beginners

Arthur Christopher Orme Plummer was born in Toronto, Ontario. He is the only child of Isabella Mary (Abbott), a secretary to the Dean of Sciences at McGill University, and John Orme Plummer, who sold securities and stocks. He is a great-grandson of John Abbott, who was Canada's third Prime Minister...

Best Actor of 1965 (for "Captain Georg Von Trapp" in "The Sound of Music").

13. Louis Prima

Actor | The Jungle Book

Born in New Orleans' French Quarter, Louis Prima longed to play jazz. When he was a child, he studied the violin. His older brother Leon took up trumpet while Louis was still quite young, and he soon followed in his brother's footsteps. He played in clubs like "The Famous Door" in the 1930s, and by...

Best Actor of 1967 (for "King Louie" in "The Jungle Book").

14. Ron Moody

Actor | Oliver!

Equipped with a crooked, leering smirk and devilish gleam in his eye, the homely, yet beautifully expressive mug of actor Ron Moody will be most assuredly remembered for one signature role, despite the fact that the talented comedian had much, much more to offer. Carol Channing may have had her ...

Best Actor of 1968 (for "Fagin" in "Oliver!").

15. Gene Wilder

Actor | Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

Gene Wilder was born Jerome Silberman in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to Jeanne (Baer) and William J. Silberman, who manufactured miniature whiskey and beer bottles. His father was a Russian Jewish immigrant, while his Illinois-born mother was of Russian Jewish descent.

Wilder caught his first big break ...

Best Actor of 1971 (for "Willy Wonka" in "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory").

16. 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, ...

Best Actor of 1973 (for "Prince John" in "Robin Hood").

17. Graham Chapman

Writer | Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Graham Chapman was born on January 8, 1941 in Leicester, England while a German air raid was in progress. Graham's father was a chief police inspector and probably inspired the constables Graham often portrayed later in comedy sketches. Graham studied medicine in college and earned an M.D., but he ...

Best Actor of 1975 (for "King Arthur" in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail").

18. Bob Newhart

Actor | The Rescuers

Bob Newhart was born on September 5, 1929 in Oak Park, Illinois, USA as George Robert Newhart. He is an actor and writer, known for The Rescuers (1977), Elf (2003) and Newhart (1982). He has been married to Ginny Newhart since January 12, 1963. They have four children.

Best Actor of 1977 (for "Bernard" in "The Rescuers").

19. Keith Coogan

Actor | Adventures in Babysitting

Keith Coogan was born Keith Eric Mitchell on January 13, 1970 in Palm Springs, California. The grandson of legendary character actor Jackie Coogan, Keith began his acting career doing TV commercials -- his first gig was as a stand-in in a McDonald's TV spot -- as well various TV shows and ...

Best Actor of 1981 (for "Young Tod" in "The Fox and the Hound").

20. John Candy

Actor | Planes, Trains & Automobiles

Candy was one of Canada's greatest and funniest character actors. His well-known role as the big hearted buffoon earned him classics in Uncle Buck (1989) and Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987). His career has handed him some dry spells but Candy always rebounded.

Born in Newmarket, Ontario, in ...

Best Actor of 1985 (for "Police Officer" in "Follow That Bird").

21. Vincent Price

Actor | The Abominable Dr. Phibes

Actor, raconteur, art collector and connoisseur of haute cuisine are just some of the attributes associated with Vincent Price. He was born of Welsh ancestry to prosperous parents ("not rich enough to evoke envy but successful enough to demand respect"). His uniquely cultivated voice and persona ...

Best Actor of 1986 (for "Professor Ratigan" in "The Great Mouse Detective").

22. John Candy

Actor | Planes, Trains & Automobiles

Candy was one of Canada's greatest and funniest character actors. His well-known role as the big hearted buffoon earned him classics in Uncle Buck (1989) and Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987). His career has handed him some dry spells but Candy always rebounded.

Born in Newmarket, Ontario, in ...

Best Actor of 1988 (for "Don the Horse" in "Hot to Trot").

23. Ken Page

Actor | The Nightmare Before Christmas

Ken Page was born on January 20, 1954 in St. Louis, Missouri, USA as Kenneth Page. He is an actor, known for The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), All Dogs Go to Heaven (1989) and Dreamgirls (2006).

Best Actor of 1989 (for "King Gator" in "All Dogs Go to Heaven").

24. John Candy

Actor | Planes, Trains & Automobiles

Candy was one of Canada's greatest and funniest character actors. His well-known role as the big hearted buffoon earned him classics in Uncle Buck (1989) and Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987). His career has handed him some dry spells but Candy always rebounded.

Born in Newmarket, Ontario, in ...

Best Actor of 1990 (for "Wilbur" in "The Rescuers 2 Down Under").

25. Robby Benson

Actor | Beauty and the Beast

Robby Benson was born on January 21, 1956 in Dallas, Texas, USA as Robin David Segal. He is an actor and director, known for Belle en het Beest (1991), Friends (1994) and One on One (1977). He has been married to Karla DeVito since July 11, 1982. They have two children.

Best Actor of 1991 (for "The Beast" in "Beauty and the Beast").

26. Robin Williams

Actor | Mrs. Doubtfire

Robin McLaurin Williams was born on Saturday, July 21st, 1951, in Chicago, Illinois, a great-great-grandson of Mississippi Governor and Senator, Anselm J. McLaurin. His mother, Laurie McLaurin (née Janin), was a former model from Mississippi, and his father, Robert Fitzgerald Williams, was a Ford ...

Best Actor of 1992 (for "The Genie" in "Aladdin").

27. Ken Page

Actor | The Nightmare Before Christmas

Ken Page was born on January 20, 1954 in St. Louis, Missouri, USA as Kenneth Page. He is an actor, known for The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), All Dogs Go to Heaven (1989) and Dreamgirls (2006).

Best Actor of 1993 (for "Oogie Boogie" in "The Nightmare Before Christmas").

28. James Earl Jones

Actor | Rogue One

James Earl Jones was born on January 17, 1931 in Arkabutla, Mississippi, USA. At an early age, he started to take dramatic lessons to calm himself down. It appeared to work as he has since starred in many films over a 40-year period, beginning with the Stanley Kubrick classic Dr. Strangelove or: ...

Best Actor of 1994 (for "Mufasa" in "The Lion King").

29. Tim Allen

Actor | Toy Story

Timothy Allen Dick was born on June 13, 1953, in Denver, Colorado, to Martha Katherine (Fox) and Gerald M. Dick. His father, a real estate salesman, was killed in a collision with a drunk driver while driving his family home from a University of Colorado football game, when Tim was eleven years old...

Best Actor of 1995 (for "Buzz Lightyear" in "Toy Story").

30. Charlie Sheen

Actor | Two and a Half Men

Charlie Sheen was born Carlos Irwin Estévez on September 3, 1965, in New York City. His father, actor Martin Sheen (born Ramon Antonio Gerard Estevez), was at the time just breaking into the business, with performances on Broadway. His mother, Janet Sheen (née Templeton), was a former New York art ...

Best Actor of 1996 (for "Charlie Barkin" in "All Dogs Go to Heaven 2").

31. James Woods

Actor | Vampires

James Howard Woods was born on April 18th, 1947 in Vernal, Utah, the son of Martha A. (Smith) and Gail Peyton Woods, a United States Army intelligence officer who died during Woods' childhood. James is of Irish, English, and German descent. He grew up in Warwick, Rhode Island, with his mother and ...

Best Actor of 1997 (for "Hades" in "Hercules").

32. Andy Dick

Actor | Road Trip

Andy Dick was born on December 21, 1965 in Charleston, South Carolina, USA as Andrew Roane Dick. He is an actor and producer, known for Road Trip (2000), Employee of the Month (2006) and Inspector Gadget (1999). He was previously married to Ivone Kowalczyk.

Best Actor of 1998 (for "Nuka" in "The Lion King 2: Simba's Pride").

33. Tom Hanks

Producer | Cast Away

Thomas Jeffrey Hanks was born in Concord, California, to Janet Marylyn (Frager), a hospital worker, and Amos Mefford Hanks, an itinerant cook. His mother's family, originally surnamed "Fraga", was entirely Portuguese, while his father was of mostly English ancestry. Tom grew up in what he has ...

Best Actor of 1999 (for "Woody" in "Toy Story 2").

34. John Goodman

Actor | 10 Cloverfield Lane

John Stephen Goodman is a U.S. film, television, and stage actor. He was born in St. Louis, Missouri, to Virginia Roos (Loosmore), a waitress and saleswoman, and Leslie Francis Goodman, a postal worker who died when John was a small child. He is of English, Welsh, and German ancestry. John is best ...

Best Actor of 2001 (for "James P. Sullivan" in "Monsters, Inc.").

35. Denis Leary

Writer | Rescue Me

Denis Leary was born and raised in Worcester, Massachusetts, the son of Nora (Sullivan) and John Leary, Irish immigrants who had grown up together. His mother was a maid and his father was an auto mechanic. After a childhood in the 1960s, Leary went to Emerson College in Boston, where he tried his ...

Best Actor of 2002 (for "Diego" in "Ice Age").

36. Paul Walker

Actor | The Fast and the Furious

Paul William Walker IV was born in Glendale, California. He grew up together with his brothers, Caleb and Cody, and sisters, Ashlie and Amie. Their parents, Paul William Walker III, a sewer contractor, and Cheryl (Crabtree) Walker, a model, separated around September 2004. His grandfather, William ...

Best Actor of 2006 (for "Jerry Shepherd" in "Eight Below").

37. Brian Posehn

Actor | Run Ronnie Run

Brian Posehn was born on July 6, 1966 in Sacramento, California, USA as Brian Edmund Posehn. He is an actor and writer, known for Run Ronnie Run (2002), The Sarah Silverman Program. (2007) and Sex Drive (2008). He has been married to Melanie Truhett since September 4, 2004.

Best Actor of 2007 (for "Glen Maverick" in "Surf's Up").

38. Jim Carrey

Actor | Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Jim Carrey, Canadian-born and a U.S. citizen since 2004, is an actor and producer famous for his rubbery body movements and flexible facial expressions. The two-time Golden Globe-winner rose to fame as a cast member of the Fox sketch comedy In Living Color (1990) but leading roles in Ace Ventura: ...

Best Actor of 2008 (for "Horton" in "Horton Hears a Who!")

39. David Cross

Actor | Arrested Development

David Cross was born on April 4, 1964 in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. He is an actor and writer, known for Arrested Development (2003), Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) and Megamind (2010). He has been married to Amber Tamblyn since October 6, 2012. They have one child.

Best Actor of 2011 (for "Ian Hawke" in "Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked").

40. Peter Dinklage

Actor | Game of Thrones

Peter Dinklage is an American actor. Since his breakout role in The Station Agent (2003), he has appeared in numerous films and theatre plays. Since 2011, Dinklage has portrayed Tyrion Lannister in the HBO series Game of Thrones. For this he won an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama ...

Best Actor of 2012 (for "Captain Gutt" in "Ice Age 4: Continental Drift").

41. Tom Hanks

Producer | Cast Away

Thomas Jeffrey Hanks was born in Concord, California, to Janet Marylyn (Frager), a hospital worker, and Amos Mefford Hanks, an itinerant cook. His mother's family, originally surnamed "Fraga", was entirely Portuguese, while his father was of mostly English ancestry. Tom grew up in what he has ...

Best Actor of 2013 (for "Walt Disney" in "Saving Mr. Banks").

42. Scott Adsit

Actor | Big Hero 6

Scott Adsit performed on the mainstage of Chicago's Second City, between 1994 and 1998, and, alongside Saturday Night Live (1975)'s Rachel Dratch and Tina Fey, was one of the driving forces behind such groundbreaking revues as "Pinata Full of Bees" and "Paradigm Lost". An in-depth look at his craft...

Best Actor of 2014 (for "Baymax" in "Big Hero 6").

43. Lewis Black

Actor | Inside Out

Lewis Black was born on August 30, 1948 in Silver Spring, Maryland, USA as Lewis Niles Black. He is an actor and producer, known for Inside Out (2015), Accepted (2006) and Man of the Year (2006).

Best Actor of 2015 (for "Anger" in "Inside Out").

44. Idris Elba

Actor | Beasts of No Nation

An only child, Idrissa Akuna Elba was born and raised in London, England. His father, Winston, is from Sierra Leone and worked at Ford Dagenham; his mother, Eve, is from Ghana and had a clerical duty. Idris attended school in Canning Town, where he first became involved in acting, before he dropped...

Best Actor of 2016 (for "Shere Kahn" in "The Jungle Book")

45. Diedrich Bader

Actor | Office Space

Diedrich Bader was born in Alexandria, Virginia, but moved to Paris, France, with his family at age two. While in the "City of Light" he developed an appreciation for movie legends like Fred Astaire and Charles Chaplin. So, when a fragile "Chaplin" movie reel burned in the theater's projector, ...

Best Actor of 2017 (for "Batman/Bruce Wayne" in "Lego Batman")



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