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Famous Actors From the 1950s

Gary Cooper in 1952 High Noon

Some of the most famous actors were established during the fifties as Hollywood film studios battled with the increasing popularity and availability of television with a never before seen era of blockbuster movies.

The competition among the fifties movie studios would lead to some of the industry's most successful epics. Star branding and recognition was emphasized as publicists scrambled to present their clients to the public.

Gary Cooper won an Academy Award for Best Actor in 1952 for "High Noon." Gary Cooper was one of the most popular fifties actors then as well as now.

Although westerns remained a box office sellout during the fifties, many actors began to be described as anti-heroes in the newly popular melodramas.

Audiences favorite "bad boys" were Humphrey Bogart in "The African Queen" and Marlon Brando in "On The Waterfront." James Dean's portrayal of a troubled teenager in John Steinbeck's novel "East of Eden" won him an Oscar nomination at only 24 years old. 

Jose Ferrer

Humphrey Bogart

William Holden

Marlon Brando

Ernest Borgnine

Yul Brynner

Alec Guinness

David Niven

Charlton Heston

  • Jose Ferrer was the first actor of the fifties to win an Academy Awards nod for his work in "Cyrano de Bergerac." Read about Jose Ferrer at 1950 Academy Awards Winners.
  • Often referred to as one of the most famous actors of the fifties, Humphrey Bogart was and remains a cultural icon. Although nominated twice before, Bogart's only Oscar award was for the 1951 film "The African Queen." See 1951 Academy Awards Winners.
  • William Holden won the 1953 Best Actor award for "Stalag 17." Montgomery Clift and Burt Lancaster were both nominated for their roles in "From Here to Eternity" as did Frank Sinatra for best supporting actor. See 1953 Academy Awards Winners.
  • Not only is Marlon Brando considered one of the most famous actors of all time, he has often been referred to as one of the most gifted actors of the century. Marlon Brando won the 1954 Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in "On The Waterfront."
  • Ernest Borgnine's portrayal of the affable butcher in the 1955 film "Marty" won him an Academy Award for Best Actor in 1955.
  • The 1956 Academy Award Best Actor Oscar went to Yul Brynner for his performance as the King of Siam in "The King and I." See 1956 Academy Awards Winners.
  • Alec Guinness' role in "The Bridge on The River Kwai" won him an Academy Award for Best Actor for 1957. An English actor, Guinness played in at least one film each year during the 1950s. See 1957 Academy Awards Winners.
  • David Niven won the 1958 Academy Award for Best Actor in "Separate Tables" yet Paul Newman's role in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof", established his long standing career. Best known for his roles as Phileas Fogg in "Around the World in 80 Days" and the Phantom in "The Pink Panther" franchise, Niven was always a popular favorite with fans.
  • Another fifties actor who starred in at least one film a year during that decade, Charlton Heston's roles his 1959 Best Actor Award winning role in "Ben Hur" is the character he is most identified with.

Brigadier General Jimmy Stewart
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