Category Archives: 10 Favorite Actors of 1950’s
He never won an Academy Award. He only starred in three major motion pictures. Yet his name is synonymous with Hollywood and Cinema. James Dean bolted on the screen. His raw edge and quiet demeanour only mystified his fans and movie goers. He starred with some of the greatest names in Hollywood, such as Elizabeth Taylor, Natalie Wood, Rock Hudson, Mercedes McCambridge, Ann Doran, Raymond Massey, and Jo Van Fleet. He also starred with actors who themselves would become stars in their own right, such as Dennis Hopper, Sal Mineo, Rod Taylor, Julie Harris, Carroll Baker, and Earl Holliman. Yet, James Dean is probably more recognized than any of those names.
His onscreen presence was powerful, and his abilities were unfortunately never fully realized. Off screen his life was also powerful, and full of energy with an air of mystery. Raised by an uncle and aunt after his mother’s death and estrangement from his father, Dean’s life was much like a Hollywood movie, or at least a made for TV movie. Many claim to have been a lover of James Dean, including both men and women. Very few really knew James Dean.
James Dean, he came in like a flight of a Phoenix and soon left leaving behind a trail that would last forever. Ironically his words seem so true for him; Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.
Stella!!…in a role that made him a star, Marlon Brando gives a different dimension to Stanley and introduces method acting to Hollywood. He also looked really good in a sweaty t-shirt! This role that deserved an Oscar is maybe the best of his career. But he didn’t stop there, he went on in the 50’s to star in 10 more films and win his first Academy Award for his role in, On the Waterfront.
Brando was the first rebel and the first star to use method acting, one which was not seen or heard of prior to that. He became not just a star but a superstar and a legend. Throughout the 1950’s and his entire acting career, Marlon Brando was one of the truest actors to hit the screen.
Giant. That was Rock Hudson. It was also the first film I recall seeing him in. Personally I didn’t like all the romantic comedy he starred in with Doris Day, but movies like, Giant, Magnificent Obsession, Never Say Goodbye, those were the movies I loved Rock in.
A huge name in the 50’s, Rock was a handsome, daring, rugged man’s man. Now we know underneath that rough manly exterior laid a raw, emotional battle against society and even Hollywood. Rock was one of the best talents of the fifties, but very overlooked and under-appreciated. Nominated only once for an Oscar in his role of Bick Benedict in Edna Furber’s movie rendition of Giant, Rock Hudson captured the screen in a way only Rock could.
With the 1950’s came newcomer and heart throb, Paul Newman with his memorable blue eyes and cool laid back persona. His big screen debut, The Silver Chalice (1954) was nearly his last. He considered his performance in this costume epic to be so bad that he took out a full-page ad in a trade paper apologizing for it to anyone who might have seen it. But he went on to star as boxer Rocky Graziano in Somebody Up There Likes Me, a role meant for James Dean, but went to Newman after Dean’s untimely death in 1955. When he took the role for Brick in the great Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Paul Newman became a Hollywood icon.
He was nominated for 9 Acting Academy Awards in 5 different decades, in the 50s (Best Lead Actor for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), in the 60s (Best Lead Actor for The Hustler (1961), Hud (1963), and Cool Hand Luke (1967), in the 80s (Best Lead Actor for Absence of Malice (1981), The Verdict (1982), and The Color of Money (1986) winning for this last film), in the 90’s (Best Lead Actor for Nobody’s Fool (1994) and finally in 2002s Road to Perdition (2002) for Best Supporting Actor.
Paul Newman has become a Hollywood living legend, and still ruggedly handsome as he enters his 7th decade of life.
A true star and legend on the big screen. Jimmy Stewart was a huge star prior to the 50’s, and he continued to reign as Hollywood elite in the 1950’s. One of his best performances was Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window in 1954.
Was named #3 on The 50 Greatest Screen Legends Actor list by the American Film Institute
Classic, charming, debonair, the perfect gentleman, and superb. These are the words that can only describe one legend in Hollywood and that would have to be Cary Grant. Already a star when the 1950’s began, Grant continued to be a huge box office draw in the 50’s, with roles such as; Monkey Business, To Catch a Thief, An Affair to Remember, and his now infamous role in one of the greatest Hitchcock films ever, North by Northwest.
One of the unknown little stories of Grant was that from 1933 onwards, he occasionally shared a house with Randolph Scott. There were many rumors about their relationship. Scott often referred to himself, jokingly, as Grant’s wife. Many studio heads threatened not to employ them unless they lived separately. Grant was married five times, Betty Drake, and Dyan Cannon, being two of his wives. His only child, Jennifer Grant with his fourth wife Dyan Cannon plays on CSI: Las Vegas as Sedona Wylie.
Ian Fleming modeled the James Bond character partially with Grant in mind, however when offered the role in the film Dr. No, he turned it down, as he felt at 58 he was too old to play Bond. Cary Grant continued to be name in Hollywood and the stage even after the 50’s and into the 70’s and 80’s when he died in 1986 prior to performing in his one man show “An Evening With Cary Grant” at the Adler Theater in Davenport, Iowa, on November 28, 1986. Died later that night at St. Luke’s Hospital at 11:22 p.m.
I had my first glimpse of Montgomery Clift in the film, Suddenly Last Summer. I was hooked. He showed a man full of mystery and vulnerability that I personally could relate to, and I had never seen that in men on the big screen. I soon became a fan of Monty.
His most memorable role was probably that of Rudolph Peterson in Judgment at Nuremberg, but that was not released until the 60’s after an automobile accident had scarred his face and his psyche. My favorite role of Monty’s was in the 1957 film, Raintree County, when he falls in love with the beautiful Elizabeth Taylor character. In 1956, during filming of Raintree County (1957), he ran his Chevrolet into a tree after leaving a party at Elizabeth Taylor’s; it was she who saved him from choking by pulling out two teeth lodged in his throat. His smashed face was rebuilt.
Unfortunately, Monty was more like his character in Suddenly Last Summer. Confused, introverted and emotionally unstable. Like many of Elizabeth Taylor’s close friends, Monty struggled with his sexuality and his Hollywood persona and his life ended tragically and too quickly for this great screen star. After many years he reconciled with his estranged father, but he continued bedeviled by dependency on drugs and his unrelenting guilt over his homosexuality. On July 22, 1966, his companion Lorenzo James found him lying nude on top of his bed, dead from what the autopsy called “occlusive coronary artery disease.” His death was called the longest suicide in history by famed acting teacher, Robert Lewis.