Academy Award Best Actor

by jrobin3360 | created - 29 Jan 2012 | updated - 06 Jun 2016 | Public

Here are the male actors that won an Oscar for their performance in a leading role, from 1927 til today.

1. Emil Jannings

Actor | The Last Command

His real name was Theodor Friedrich Emil Janenz, and in the early 1900s, he was already working in the theater under Max Reinhardt's company. Important movies where he defined himself as a convincing actor were Madame DuBarry (1919) and Quo Vadis? (1924), followed by Der letzte Mann (1924)(aka The ...

1927 for August Schilling in "The Way of All Flesh". 1928 for Gen. Dolgorucki / Grand Duke Sergius Alexander "The Last Command". http://lv-well.com/name/nm0417837/

2. Warner Baxter

Actor | Penthouse

Warner Baxter claimed to have an early pre-disposition toward show business: "I discovered a boy a block away who would eat worms and swallow flies for a penny. For one-third of the profits, I exhibited him in a tent." When he was age 9, his widowed mother moved to San Francisco where, following ...

1929 for "The Cisco Kid" in "In Old Arizona". http://lv-well.com/name/nm0062828/

3. George Arliss

Actor | Disraeli

One of the oldest actors on the screen in the 1920s and 1930s, George Arliss starred on the London stage from an early age. He came to the United States and starred in several films, but it was his role as British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli in Disraeli (1929) that brought him his greatest ...

1930 for "Benjamin Disraeli" in "Disraeli". http://lv-well.com/name/nm0002183/

4. Lionel Barrymore

Actor | It's a Wonderful Life

Famed actor, composer, artist, author and director. His talents extended to the authoring of the novel "Mr. Cartonwine: A Moral Tale" as well as his autobiography. In 1944, he joined ASCAP, and composed "Russian Dances", "Partita", "Ballet Viennois", "The Woodman and the Elves", "Behind the Horizon...

1931 for "Stephen Ashe" in "A Free Soul". http://lv-well.com/name/nm0000859/

5. Wallace Beery

Actor | Dinner at Eight

In 1902, 16-year-old Wallace Beery joined the Ringling Brothers Circus as an assistant to the elephant trainer. He left two years later after a leopard clawed his arm. Beery next went to New York, where he found work in musical variety shows. He became a leading man in musicals and appeared on ...

For "Champ" in the 1931 film "The Champ". Tied with Fredric March for Best Actor at the 5th Academy Awards. http://lv-well.com/title/tt0021730/

6. 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 ...

For his role as "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" in the 1931 film of the same title. Tied with Wallace Beery for Best Actor at the 5th Academy Awards. http://lv-well.com/title/tt0022835/

7. Charles Laughton

Actor | Witness for the Prosecution

Charles Laughton was born in Scarborough, North Riding of Yorkshire, England, to Eliza (Conlon) and Robert Laughton, hotel keepers of Irish and English descent. He was educated at Stonyhurst, Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (received gold medal). His first appearance on stage was in 1926. Laughton ...

For his portrayal of "Henry VIII" in the 1933 film "The Private Life of Henry VIII". http://lv-well.com/title/tt0024473/

8. Clark Gable

Actor | It Happened One Night

William Clark Gable was born on February 1, 1901 in Cadiz, Ohio, to Adeline (Hershelman) and William Henry Gable, an oil-well driller. He was of German, Irish, and Swiss-German descent. When he was seven months old, his mother died, and his father sent him to live with his maternal aunt and uncle ...

Won for the 1934 film "It Happened One Night". http://lv-well.com/title/tt0025316/

9. Victor McLaglen

Actor | The Quiet Man

Rambunctious British leading man (contrary to popular belief, he was of Scottish ancestry, not Irish) and later character actor primarily in American films, Victor McLaglen was a vital presence in a number of great motion pictures, especially those of director John Ford. McLaglen (pronounced ...

1935 Oscar's. For his portrayal of Gypo Nolan in "The Informer" http://lv-well.com/title/tt0026529/

10. Paul Muni

Actor | Scarface

Paul Muni was born Sept. 22, 1895, in Lemberg, Austro-Hungarian Empire, to Salli and Phillip Weisenfreund, who were both professionals. His family was Jewish, and spoke Yiddish. Paul was educated in New York and Cleveland public schools. He was described as 5 feet 10 inches, with black hair and ...

For his portrayal of Louis Pasteur in the 1936 film "The Story of Louis Pasteur". http://lv-well.com/title/tt0028313/

11. 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 ...

Won best actor in 1937 for his role as "Manuel" in "Captains Courageous" & 1938 for his role as "Father Flanagan" in "Boys Town". http://lv-well.com/name/nm0000075/

12. Robert Donat

Actor | The 39 Steps

Robert Donat's pleasant voice and somewhat neutral English accent were carefully honed as a boy because he had a stammer and took elocution lessons starting at age 11 to overcome the impediment. It was not too surprising that freedom from such a vocal embarrassment was encouragement to act. His ...

For Charles Edward Chipping in the 1939 film "Goodbye Mr Chips". http://lv-well.com/title/tt0031385/

13. James Stewart

Actor | Vertigo

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 ...

For the portrayal of 'Macaulay "Mike" Connor in the 1940 romantic comedy "The Philadelphia Story". http://lv-well.com/title/tt0032904/

14. Gary Cooper

Actor | High Noon

Born to Alice Cooper and Charles Cooper (not in film business). Gary attended school at Dunstable school England, Helena Montana and Iowa College, Grinnell, Iowa. His first stage experience was during high school and college. Afterwards, he worked as an extra for one year before getting a part in a...

For Alvin York in "Sergeant York". http://lv-well.com/title/tt0034167/

15. James Cagney

Actor | Angels with Dirty Faces

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 ...

For George M. Cohan in the 1942 musical "Yankee Doodle Dandy". http://lv-well.com/title/tt0035575/

16. Paul Lukas

Actor | Watch on the Rhine

Oscar-winning actor Paul Lukas was born in Hungary and graduated from the School for Dramatic Arts. In 1916 he went to Kosice (Kassa) to be an actor; in 1918 he became an actor specializing in comedy. For ten years he was the most popular character player and romantic lead of the company. In 1918 ...

For Kurt Muller in the 1943 drama "Watch on the Rhine". http://lv-well.com/title/tt0036515/awards

17. Bing Crosby

Actor | White Christmas

Bing Crosby was born Harry Lillis Crosby, Jr. in Tacoma, Washington, the fourth of seven children of Catherine Helen "Kate" (Harrigan) and Harry Lowe Crosby, a brewery bookkeeper. He was of English and Irish descent. Crosby studied law at Gonzaga University in Spokane but was more interested in ...

For his 1944 portrayal of Father Chuck O'Malley in "Going My Way". http://lv-well.com/name/nm0001078/awards

18. 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 ...

For his 1945 portrayal of Don Birnam in "The Lost Weekend". http://lv-well.com/name/nm0001537/awards

19. 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 ...

For his 1946 portrayal of Al Stephenson in "The Best Years of Our Lives". http://lv-well.com/title/tt0036868/combined

20. 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 ...

1947 portrayal of Anthony John in "A Double Life". http://lv-well.com/title/tt0039335/combined

21. Laurence Olivier

Actor | Rebecca

Laurence Olivier could speak William Shakespeare's lines as naturally as if he were "actually thinking them", said English playwright Charles Bennett, who met Olivier in 1927.

Laurence Kerr Olivier was born in Dorking, Surrey, England, to Agnes Louise (Crookenden) and Gerard Kerr Olivier, a High ...

1948 portrayal of the Danish Prince Hamlet in the movie "Hamlet". He also directed this film. http://lv-well.com/title/tt0040416/combined

22. Broderick Crawford

Actor | All the King's Men

Broderick Crawford is best remembered for two roles: his Oscar-winning turn as Willie Stark in All the King's Men (1949), and as Chief Dan Mathews on the syndicated TV series Highway Patrol (1955). He was also memorable as Judy Holliday's boisterous boyfriend in Born Yesterday (1950).

He was born ...

In the 1949 drama "All the King's Men", he portrayed Willie Stark. http://lv-well.com/title/tt0041113/combined

23. José Ferrer

Actor | Dune

José Ferrer was born on January 8, 1912 in Santurce, Puerto Rico as José Vicente Ferrer de Otero y Cintrón. He was an actor, known for Dune (1984), Cyrano de Bergerac (1950) and Moulin Rouge (1952). He was married to Stella Daphne Magee, Rosemary Clooney, Phyllis Hill and Uta Hagen. He died on ...

For the 1950 romantic drama "Cyrano de Bergerac". http://lv-well.com/title/tt0042367/combined http://lv-well.com/name/nm0001207/reference

24. 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 ...

Bogie won his best actor Oscar for portraying Charlie Allnut in the 1951 classic "The African Queen". http://lv-well.com/title/tt0043265/combined http://lv-well.com/name/nm0000007/reference

25. Gary Cooper

Actor | High Noon

Born to Alice Cooper and Charles Cooper (not in film business). Gary attended school at Dunstable school England, Helena Montana and Iowa College, Grinnell, Iowa. His first stage experience was during high school and college. Afterwards, he worked as an extra for one year before getting a part in a...

His second Oscar win for best actor was for his dynamic portrayal of Marshal Will Kane in the 1952 western drama "High Noon". http://lv-well.com/title/tt0044706/combined http://lv-well.com/name/nm0000011/reference

26. 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 ...

For his role as J.J. Sefton in the 1953 film "Stalag 17

27. Marlon Brando

Actor | Apocalypse Now

Marlon Brando is widely considered the greatest movie actor of all time, rivaled only by the more theatrically oriented Laurence Olivier in terms of esteem. Unlike Olivier, who preferred the stage to the screen, Brando concentrated his talents on movies after bidding the Broadway stage adieu in ...

Though nominated three times prior, Marlon's first win as best actor in a leading role came from his portrayal of Terry Malloy in the 1954 crime drama "On The Waterfront".

http://lv-well.com/title/tt0047296/combined

28. Ernest Borgnine

Actor | Marty

Ernest Borgnine was born Ermes Effron Borgnino on January 24, 1917 in Hamden, Connecticut. His parents were Anna (Boselli), who had emigrated from Carpi (MO), Italy, and Camillo Borgnino, who had emigrated from Ottiglio (AL), Italy. As an only child, Ernest enjoyed most sports, especially boxing, ...

His only Oscar award was for "Best Actor" in the 1955 romantic drama "Marty".

http://lv-well.com/title/tt0047296/combined

29. Yul Brynner

Actor | The Ten Commandments

Exotic leading man of American films, famed as much for his completely bald head as for his performances, Yul Brynner masked much of his life in mystery and outright lies designed to tease people he considered gullible. It was not until the publication of the books "Yul: The Man Who Would Be King" ...

Won the Oscar for his portrayal of King Mongkut of Siam in "The King and I in 1956.

http://lv-well.com/title/tt0049408/combined

30. Alec Guinness

Actor | Star Wars

Alec Guinness was an English actor. He is known for his six collaborations with David Lean: Herbert Pocket in Great Expectations (1946), Fagin in Oliver Twist (1948), Col. Nicholson in The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor), Prince Faisal in Lawrence...

For his portrayal of Lt. Colonel L. Nicholson in the epic "Bridge on the River Kwai".

http://lv-well.com/title/tt0050212/combined

31. David Niven

Actor | Murder by Death

David Niven was named after the Saint's Day on which he was born, St. David, patron Saint of Wales. He attended Stowe School and Sandhurst Military Academy and served for two years in Malta with the Highland Light Infantry. At the outbreak of World War II, although a top-line star, he re-joined the...

For his portrayal of Major Angus Pollock in the film Separate Tables. http://lv-well.com/title/tt0052182/combined

32. Charlton Heston

Actor | Ben-Hur

With features chiseled in stone, and renowned for playing a long list of historical figures, particularly in Biblical epics, the tall, well built and ruggedly handsome Charlton Heston was one of Hollywood's greatest leading men and remained active in front of movie cameras for over sixty years. As ...

For his portrayal of Jewish prince Judah Ben-Hur in the William Wyler epic Ben-Hur. http://lv-well.com/title/tt0052618/combined

33. 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 ...

Best actor in Elmer Gantry. http://lv-well.com/title/tt0053793/combined

34. Maximilian Schell

Actor | Judgment at Nuremberg

Maximilian Schell was the most successful German-speaking actor in English-language films since Emil Jannings, the winner of the first Best Actor Academy Award. Like Jannings, Schell won the Oscar, but unlike him, he was a dedicated anti-Nazi. Indeed, with the exception of Maurice Chevalier and ...

Maximilian won the Oscar for best actor for his role as defense attorney Hans Rolfe in the 1961 post WWII drama Judgment at Nuremberg. http://lv-well.com/title/tt0055031/combined

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 ...

His portrayal of Atticus Finch defending a black man in the depression era south film "To Kill a Mockingbird" earned this Hollywood icon his only Oscar win.

http://lv-well.com/title/tt0056592/combined

36. Sidney Poitier

Actor | In the Heat of the Night

A native of Cat Island, The Bahamas (though born in Miami during a mainland visit by his parents), Poitier grew up in poverty as the son of farmers Evelyn (Outten) and Reginald James Poitier, who also drove a cab. He had little formal education and at the age of 15 was sent to Miami to live with ...

Nominated twice for a Best Actor in a Leading Role, Sidney's only Oscar win came from his role of Homer Smith in the 1963 drama "Lilies of the Field".

http://lv-well.com/title/tt0057251/combined

37. Rex Harrison

Actor | My Fair Lady

Rex Harrison was born Reginald Carey Harrison in Huyton, Lancashire, England, to Edith Mary (Carey) and William Reginald Harrison, a cotton broker. He changed his name to Rex as a young boy, knowing it was the Latin word for "King". Starting out on his theater career at age 18, his first job at the ...

Though nominated twice for Best Actor in a Leading Role, Rex's only win was for his role of Professor Henry Higgins in the 1964 musical drama "My Fair Lady".

http://lv-well.com/title/tt0058385/combined

38. 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 ...

Lee's sole Oscar came from his portrayal of Kid Shelleen/Tim Strawn in the 1965 comedy western "Cat Ballou".

http://lv-well.com/title/tt0059017/combined

39. Paul Scofield

Actor | A Man for All Seasons

Though his number of film roles amount to a bit over 30, Paul Scofield has cast a giant shadow in the world of stage and film acting. He grew up in West Sussex, the son of a schoolmaster. He attended the Varndean School for Boys in Brighton. The love of acting came early. While still high school ...

For his portrayal of Sir Thomas More in the biographical drama "A Man for all Seasons".

http://lv-well.com/title/tt0060665/combined

40. Rod Steiger

Actor | In the Heat of the Night

Rodney Stephen Steiger was born in Westhampton, New York, to Augusta Amelia (Driver) and Frederick Jacob Steiger, both vaudevillians. He was of German and Austrian ancestry. After his parents' divorce, Steiger was raised by his mother in Newark, New Jersey. He dropped out of Westside High school at...

Rod's only win of this award, despite a nomination the previous year, came from his portrayal of Police Chief Bill Gillespie in the 1967 crime drama "In the Heat of the Night".

http://lv-well.com/title/tt0061811/combined



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