For some strange reason, we always like to know about our movie stars and celebrities, which many tend to idolize. Of course, this is a major reason why we have gossip columns, tabloids, TMZ, and a whole media industry dedicated to it. I usually stay away from the gossip because I’m really not interested in certain details of their personal lives and feel that they deserve some privacy. Also, some of the stuff you hear in the Hollywood gossip columns, well, they’re obtained through dubious means like paying people money for information, which I’ve learned in journalism class is totally unethical. In this selection, you’ll see some more Hollywood legends as well as a few from around the world, naturally. First, you have Merle Oberon best known as Catherine Earnshaw from Wuthering Heights as well as someone who lied about being born in Tasmania to conceal her mixed Indian heritage. Second, comes legendary swashbuckling Errol Flynn who was actually born in Tasmania but carried a scandalous lifestyle. Then there’s comic Danny Kaye whose films preserve his original genius in physical comedy, idiosyncratic pantomine, and rapid-fire nonsense songs. After that are French actors Maurice Chevalier and Charles Boyer who were inspirations for two very well known cartoon characters followed by legendary character actresses Agnes Moorehead and Edna May Oliver. Then there’s Madeline Kahn best known as a leading lady in Mel Brooks movies as well as Ralph Bellamy famous for playing doomed nice guys in Cary Grant films as well as Franklin Delano Roosevelt. And last but not, least is none other than one of the greatest silent screen actresses of all time Lillian Gish. So for your pleasure, here are 10 more movie stars who have never won an Oscar.
71. Merle Oberon
Personal Life: (1911-1979) Born Estelle Merle Thompson in Bombay, British India. Mother Anglo-Indian with partial Maori descent who might’ve had her at 12. Father might’ve been a mechanical engineer who worked in Indian Railways who later joined the British Army and died during the Battle of the Somme in WWI. Most likely raised by her grandmother. Would later try to conceal her Indian heritage by saying she was born in Tasmania and that all her school records were destroyed by fire. Would maintain such fiction for her professional life and admitted that it wasn’t true in the last year of her life. Records located since her death have confirmed her true origin. Moved to Calcutta in 1917 and quit school as a teenager. Said to work as a telephone operator, won a contest for a restaurant, and first performed with the Calcutta Amateur Dramatic Society. Was discovered by a man who said he’d introduce to her to Rex Ingram but bailed out one her once he saw she was mixed race. Yet, though he avoided her, she went to France and met Ingram at Nice. Made her first film in 1928. Came to England at 17 where she worked as a club hostess under the name Queenie O’Brien. Married 4 times with her first marriage to director Sir Alexander Korda. Adopted 2 children with third husband Bruno Pagiliai. Was involved in a serious car accident in 1937 which scarred her for life. Was said to suffer further damage to her complexion in 1940 from cosmetic poison and an allergic reaction to sulfa drugs. Retired in 1973. Died of a stroke in Malibu, California at 68.
Famous for: Anglo-Indian actress. Notable roles are Anne Boleyn from The Private Life of Henry VIII, Antonita, a Dancer of Passionate Temperament from The Private Life of Don Juan, Lady Blakeney from The Scarlet Pimpernel, Kitty Vane from Dark Angel, Karen Wright from These Three, Messalina from I, Claudius, Leslie Steele / Lady Claire Mere from The Divorce of Lady X, Cathy Earnshaw from Wuthering Heights, Joan Ames from ‘Til We Meet Again, Jill from That Uncertain Feeling, Lydia MacMillan from Lydia, Marjorie Ismay from Forever and a Day, Kitty Langley from The Lodger, George Sand from A Song to Remember, Cathy Mallory from Night Song, Linda Venning from Affair in Monte Carlo, Empress Josephine from Desiree, Dorothy Donnelly from Deep in My Heart, and Serena Moore from Interval.
Nominated for: Oberon was nominated for Best Actress in 1935 for The Dark Angel.
Most Crushing Loss: Not being nominated for Best Actress in 1939 for Wuthering Heights. Of course, the competition was brutal that year anyway.
Reasons: Well, Oberon’s face was scarred early in her career due to a 1937 car accident and might’ve suffered some more damage to cosmetic poisoning in 1940. And though makeup and camera technicians manage to hide her facial flaws, her career was in decline by 1945. Also, she didn’t get along with Sir Laurence Olivier during the filming of Wuthering Heights as well as The Divorce of Lady X and we know that Olivier’s career was gangbusters in the 1940s and 1950s, which may have cost her roles in Shakespearean film productions.
Trivia: Was of Sri Lankan and Maori extraction. Nicknamed, “Queenie.” Received stage name from her first husband. Romantically linked to David Niven. Fourth husband Richard Wolders was best known as Audrey Hepburn and Leslie Caron’s boyfriend.
72. Danny Kaye
Personal Life: (1911-1987) Born David Daniel Kaminsky in Brooklyn, New York to Ukranian Jewish immigrants. Mother died while he was in his teens. Was a high school dropout and ran away to Florida with a friend where they formed band. Worked as a soda jerk, insurance investigator, and office clerk. Was a tummler in the Borscht Belt and at the White Roe Resort for 4 seasons. Used the name Danny Kaye for the first time when he toured with a vaudeville group. Also worked for a burlesque revue. Made his film debut in 1935. Married to Sylvia Fine for 47 years and had a daughter named Dena. However, he and Sylvia became estranged in 1947 and he was involved with a succession of women (despite gay and bisexual rumors as well as an alleged affair with Sir Laurence Olivier that probably never happened). Died of heart failure brought on by complications of Hepatitis C which he received from a tainted blood transfusion during bypass surgery at 76.
Famous for: American actor, singer, dancer, and comedian. Performances featured physical comedy, idiosyncratic pantomimes, and rapid-fire nonsense songs. Made 17 films. Made a lot of movies with Virginia Mayo. Notable roles are Danny Weems from Up in Arms, Burleigh Hubert Sullivan from The Kid from Brooklyn, Walter Mitty from The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Professor Hobart Frisbee from A Song Is Born, Georgie from The Inspector General, Hans Christen Andersen, Phil Davis from White Christmas, Hubert Hawkins from The Court Jester, Samuel L. Jacobowsky from Me and the Colonel, Red Nichols from The Five Pennies, and the Ragpicker from The Madwoman of Chaillot.
Nominated for: Kay was never nominated for an Oscar.
Most Crushing Loss: Not receiving an honorary Oscar at least.
Reasons: He was mainly a comedian and mostly made comedy films. Such would make him automatically ineligible for Oscars. Also spoke out against McCarthyism and the Hollywood Blacklist during the Red Scare.
Trivia: Attended a public school that was later named in honor of him. Witnessed a typhoon in Osaka, Japan in 1934, which nearly killed him. Yet, when the storm subsided, he had to calm his audience on stage with a flashlight to sing every song as loud as he can as well as inspired him to do pantomime, gestures, songs, and facial expressions. First ambassador-at-large for UNICEF. Hosted and sang for the 25th anniversary Disneyland celebration and help open for Epcot in 1982. Grew up a few blocks away from his wife and worked for her father, but didn’t meet until he was already in show business in 1939. Hosted the Academy Awards in 1952. Recorded, “I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts.” Couldn’t read a note of music so learned scores by ear. Entertained at home as a chef, specializing in Italian and Chinese food. Also taught Chinese cooking classes in San Francisco and built a kitchen in his house. Was an aviation enthusiast and operated several aircraft. Was part-owner of the Seattle Mariners but was a Dodgers fan. The only one in his original Brooklyn family born in America.
73. Errol Flynn
Personal Life: (1909-1959) Born in Tasmania, Australia. Father was a biologist, lecturer, and later professor at the University of Tasmania (later at the Queen’s University at Belfast). Educated in England for 2 years and would later be expelled from another school in Australia. Was a junior clerk at a shipping company but was fired for stealing petty cash. At 18, went to Papua New Guinea where he tried but failed to find his fortune in metals mining and tobacco planting. Made his first film in 1933 and joined the Northampton Repertory Company in England where he received 7 months training as a professional actor. The next year he was dismissed over a violent fracas with a female stage manager which led her tumbling down a stairwell and joined Warner Bros. Made his first Hollywood film in 1935. Became a US citizen in 1942. Married 3 times and had 4 children (1 son to first wife Lili Damita, 2 daughters to second wife Nora Eddington, and 1 daughter to third wife Patrice Wymore). Had a reputation for womanizing, hard drinking, and narcotic abuse. Was rejected for service in WWII due to a health problems such as enlarged heart with a murmur, lingering chronic tuberculosis, and numerous STDs. Lost his savings in the 1950s after a series of financial disasters. Was prematurely aged and overweight by that time as well. Suffered from spinal osteoarthritis near the end of his life. Had hepatitis as early as 1952 which damaged his liver. Most likely died of a pulmonary embolism at 50.
Famous for: Australian American actor known for his romantic swashbuckler roles in films and his playboy lifestyle. Also was renown for his fast movie sword play you wouldn’t see in a fencing match. Appeared in 8 movies with Olivia DeHavilland. His successful career in Hollywood ended after WWII and did a series of flops in the 1950s in which he spent sailing aimlessly in the Western Mediterranean. Notable roles are Peter Blood from Captain Blood, Geoffrey Vickers from The Charge of the Light Brigade, Miles Hendon from The Prince and the Pauper, Robin Hood from The Adventures of Robin Hood, Captain Courtney from The Dawn Patrol, Wade Hatton from Dodge City, Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex from The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex, Kerry Bradford from Virginia City, Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe from The Sea Hawk, J. E. B. Stuart from The Santa Fe Trail, George Armstrong Custer from They Died With Their Boots On, Francis Warren from Footsteps in the Dark, James J. Corbett from Gentleman Jim, Jean Picard from Uncertain Glory, Captain Nelson from Objective, Burma!, Mark Caldwell from Cry Wolf, Don Juan de Marana from Adventures of Don Juan, Soames Forsyte from That Forsyte Woman, William Tell from The Story of William Tell, and Mike Campbell from The Sun Also Rises.
Nominated for: Flynn was never nominated for an Oscar.
Most Crushing Loss: Not being nominated for Best Actor in 1939 for The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex. And yes, the Earl of Essex was really the hot idiot Flynn portrayed him to be.
Reasons: Well, other than acting in westerns and swashbucklers, Flynn had a lifestyle of womanizing as well as drug and alcohol abuse. In 1942, his lifestyle caught up with him when 2 underage girls accused him of statutory rape. Although he survived, he gained a notorious reputation as a ladies’ man which permanently damaged his screen image as an idealized romantic lead player. Not to mention, he wasn’t great to work with. Also, was already a has been after WWII.
Trivia: Father of photojournalist and war correspondent Sean Flynn who went missing in Cambodia in 1970 (probably murdered in the Khmer Rouge). Longtime friend of painter Boris Smirnoff who painted his portrait several times. Friends with Edward G. Robinson, Barbara Stanwyck, Norma Shearer, and Jean Harlow. Once thought Bette Davis had a crush on him while on the set of Elizabeth and Essex but her quarrelsome nature that led her to slap him across the face was really about her sharing equal billing with a guy she didn’t consider a real actor. And it wasn’t until years later when she said, “Damn it! The man could act!” Was a sailing and sea enthusiast. Was a war correspondent for the US during the Spanish Civil War. Wrote 3 books including an adventure novel.
74. Lillian Gish
Personal Life: (1893-1993) Born in Springfield, Ohio. Father deserted the family before she was old enough to remember him but was later found institutionalized at an Oklahoma Hospital, where he died in 1912. Mother was an actress who later opened a candy store where she and her sister would sell popcorn and candy to theater patrons. Spent her childhood in Ohio, Illinois, and Oklahoma. Raised by her mother and relatives from both sides. Moved to New York when the theater next to her mother’s candy store burned down where they joined a theater and took modeling jobs. Was discovered by neighbor and aspiring actress Gladys Smith (a. k. a. Mary Pickford) who introduced her to D. W. Griffith. Made her first film in 1912. Never married or had children. Retired in 1987. Died of heart failure at 99.
Famous for: American actress, director, and writer whose career spanned 75 years. Was called “The First Lady of American Cinema.” Was a star of the Silent Era who successfully transitioned to sound and character roles. Notable roles are Elsie Stoneman from Birth of a Nation, The Woman Who Rocks the Cradle / Eternal Mother from Intolerance: Love’s Struggle Throughout the Ages, Lucy – The Girl from Broken Blossoms or The Yellow Man and the Girl, Anna Moore from Way Down East, Henriette Girard from Orphans of the Storm, Romola, Hester Prynne from The Scarlet Letter, Annie Laurie, Mimi from La Boheme, Laura Belle McCanles from Duel in the Sun, Mother Mary of Mercy from Portrait of Jennie, Rachel Cooper from The Night of the Hunter, Mattilda Zachary from The Unforgiven, Mrs. Smith from The Comedians, Hetty Seibert from Follow Me, Boys!, and Sarah Webber from The Whales of August.
Nominated for: Gish was nominated for Best Supporting Actress in 1947 for Duel in the Sun.
Most Crushing Loss: Not being nominated for Best Supporting Actress in 1955 for The Night of the Hunter. Seriously, she was totally badass when she scared Robert Mitchum with a shotgun. Luckily she received an honorary Oscar in the 1970s.
Reasons: I’m sure members of the Academy wouldn’t see her in a great light if they knew she starred in Birth of a Nation (a film which makes Gone With the Wind look like Glory. I mean it basically glorifies lynching and the KKK). Was an outspoken non-interventionist and member of the America First Committee during the early years of WWII which resulted her being briefly blacklisted. Also, her sound career was sporadic. Also, in her early years, she was typecast as an ingénue.
Trivia: Was friends with Helen Hayes as well as her son’s godmother. Was also close to Mary Pickford discovered her and introduced to her career while they were neighbors. Romantically linked to D. W. Griffith. Survived the 1918 flu pandemic. Has a prize named in her and her sister’s honor. Older sister to Dorothy (whose career in sound wasn’t so prolific). Only silent era actress to receive the American Film Institute Lifetime Achievement Award. Directed Remodeling Her Husband in 1920.
75. Agnes Moorehead
Personal Life: (1900-1974) Born in Clinton, Massachusetts. Father was a Presbyterian minister. Mother was a singer. Said her first performance was reciting “The Lord’s Prayer” at her father’s church when she was 3 years old. Grew up in St. Louis, Missouri and later joined the chorus of the St. Louis Municipal Opera Company. Graduated from Muskingum College with a bachelor’s degree in biology. Taught school for 5 years in Soldiers Grove Wisconsin and earned a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin. Graduated with honors from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts with honors. Her early acting career was marked with constant unemployment and days she went hungry but eventually found work in radio. Yet, her career finally took off when she met Orson Welles in 1937. Made her first film in 1941. Married twice and might’ve adopted a son. Died in Rochester, Minnesota of uterine cancer at 74 (possibly caused by filming The Conqueror at the nuclear test site in Yucca Flat, Nevada).
Famous for: American actress whose career spanned 3 decades in stage, radio, film, and television. Could play many different types but often portrayed haughty and arrogant characters. Notable roles are Mary Kane from Citizen Kane, Fanny from The Magnificent Ambersons, Violette Shumberg from The Big Street, Mrs. Mathews from Journey into Fear, Mrs. Reed from Jane Eyre, Mrs. Emily Hawkins from Since You Went Away, Baroness Aspasia Conti from Mrs. Parkington, Bruna Jacobson from Our Vines Have Tender Grapes, Madge Rapf from Dark Passage, Aggie MacDonald from Johnny Belinda, Nancy Ashford from Magnificent Obsession, Sara Warren from All That Heaven Allows, Hunlun from The Conqueror, Ellen Shawnessy from Raintree County, Queen Elizabeth I from The Story of Mankind, Vassilissa Mironova from The Tempest, Mrs. Snow from Pollyanna, Velma from Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte, Sister Cluny from The Singing Nun, and The Goose from Charlotte’s Web.
Nominated for: Moorehead was nominated 4 times for Best Supporting Actress in 1942 for The Magnificent Ambersons, 1944 for Mrs. Parkington, 1948 for Johnny Belinda, and 1964 for Hush…Hush Sweet Charlotte.
Most Crushing Loss: Not being nominated for Best Supporting Actress in 1941 for Citizen Kane.
Reasons: Well, she was closely associated with Orson Welles and was burned by the competition whenever she was nominated. Also, despite being married twice, a conservative Republican, and a devoutly religious woman, she was widely believed to be a lesbian in the entertainment community and might’ve even acknowledged it. Bewitched co-star and closet case, Paul Lynde would say of her, “Well, the whole world knows Agnes was a lesbian–I mean classy as hell, but one of the all-time Hollywood dykes.” A journalist reported an incident of one of her husbands cheating on her, “Agnes screamed at him that if he could have a mistress, so could she.” However, though we know she worked with a few gay people and had gay friends, rumors of her lesbianism have never been confirmed.
Trivia: Played Endora on Bewitched. Said to show up on the set with “a Bible in one hand and a script in the other” according to Dick Sargent. Served on her alma mater’s board of trustees for a year and received an honorary doctorate in literature. Was an inaugural member of the Mercury Theatre Company. Left a lot of her family’s estate and farmlands to Bob Jones University as well as biblical studies books from her personal library (which is ironic considering that many of her own peers thought she was a lesbian). BJU would later trade her stuff with an Ohio college for $25,000. Also left her professional papers, scripts, Christmas cards, and scrapbooks to the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research at the Wisconsin Historical Society.
76. Madeline KahnPersonal Life: (1942-1999) Born Madeline Gail Wolfson in Boston to a non-observant Jewish family. Father was a garment manufacturer. At 2, her parents divorced and moved to New York City with her mother. Kahn was the name of her stepfather who later adopted her as Paula Kahn. Attended Hofstra University on a drama scholarship but graduated in speech therapy in 1964. Briefly taught school and made her debut as a chorus girl and appeared on Broadway in 1968. Made her first film the same year. Married to John Hansbury. Died of ovarian cancer at 57.
Famous for: American actress, comedian, and singer. Best known for her performances in Mel Brooks and Peter Bogdanovitch films. Notable roles are Eunice Burns from What’s Up Doc?, Trixie Delight from Paper Moon, Lili Von Shtupp from Blazing Saddles, Elizabeth from Young Frankenstein, Jenny Hill from The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother,
Victoria Brisbane from High Anxiety, Mrs. Montenegro from The Cheap Detective, Caroline Howley from City Heat, El Sleezo Patron from The Muppet Movie, Empress Nympho from History of the World: Part I, Betty from Yellowbeard, Mrs. White from Clue, Gussie Mausheimer from An American Tail, Mrs. Munchnik from Mixed Nuts, Martha Mitchell from Nixon, and Gypsy Moth from A Bug’s Life.
Nominated for: Kahn was nominated twice for Best Supporting Actress in 1973 for Paper Moon and 1974 for Blazing Saddles.
Most Crushing Loss: Not being nominated for Best Supporting Actress in 1974 for Young Frankenstein, which is a better Mel Brooks film than Blazing Saddles. Seriously, her performance as Elizabeth was much better than Lili Von Shtupp.
Reasons: She’s best known for her comedic roles as a sexy leading lady in Mel Brooks movies. Also was more of a theater actress.
Trivia: Won a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play in 1993. Was an operatically trained singer. Husband and brother erected a bench for her in New York’s Central Park. Was a host of Saturday Night Live.
77. Maurice Chevalier
Personal Life: (1888-1972) Born in Paris, France. Father was a house painter. Worked as a carpenter’s apprentice, electrician, printer, and doll painter. Started in show business in 1901 singing at a café for which he wasn’t paid. Was wounded by shrapnel and became a prisoner of war during WWI for 2 years. Debuted on Broadway in 1922 and went to Hollywood in 1928. Married twice and had many mistresses. Died at 83.
Famous for: French actor, Cabaret singer, and dancer. Career spanned for over 60 years. Best known for signature songs including “Louise”, “Mimi”, “Valentine”, and “Thank Heaven for Little Girls” and for his films. Bowler hat was his trademark attire. Was partner to the biggest female name in France for 2 years. Made 60 films and was paired with Jeannette McDonald. Notable roles are Maurice Marney from Innocents of Paris, Count Alfred Renard from The Love Parade, Pierre Mirande from The Big Pond, Albert Loriflan from Playboy in Paris, Maurice from Love Me Tonight, Danilo from The Merry Widow, Gaston de Nerac ‘Paragot’ from The Beloved Vagabond, Emile Clément from Man About Town, the King from A Royal Affair, Honoré Lachaille from Gigi, Claude Chavasse from Love in the Afternoon, Paul Barriere Can-Can, and Panisse from Fanny.
Nominated for: Chevalier was nominated twice for Best Actor in 1929 for The Love Parade and 1930 for The Big Pond.
Most Crushing Loss: Not winning Best Actor in 1929 for The Love Parade. I could understand him losing to Wallace Beery for The Big House, but George Arliss? Nevertheless, at least he received an honorary Oscar in the 1950s the same year Gigi came out.
Reasons: Not sure about the 1930s but in the 1940s, he was blackballed by Hollywood and the French filmmaking industry for performing for Allied POWs at a German prison camp. Of course, the Nazis wanted him to do more but he refused all their offers save for the camp where he himself was held prisoner in WWI. Yet, he was still arrested by the French government for collaboratism for which he was acquitted. Yet, it would be several years before he was granted a visa to leave the country. Was also seen as “potentially dangerous” to the US government for signing an anti-nukes petition called the Stockholm Appeal.
Trivia: Thought a 10 cent parking fee was a bit too much. Spoke with a heavy French accent in his films even though his real English was quite fluent and sounded more American. Was friends with Adolphe Menjou and Charles Boyer. Has inspired countless imitations such as Lumiere from Beauty and the Beast being the most famous. Subject of the first official celebrity roast at the New York Friars’ Club in 1949.
78. Ralph Bellamy
Personal Life: (1904-1991) Born in Chicago, Illinois. Mother was a Canadian immigrant. Ran away from home at 15 and joined a road show before landing in New York where he started acting on stage. Movie debut in 1931. Married 4 times. Was married to Alice Murphy for 42 years. Died of a lung ailment at 87.
Famous for: American actor whose career spanned 62 years. Played leading and supporting roles garnering acclaim and awards. Co-starred in 5 films with Fay Wray. Notable roles are Johnny Franks from The Secret Six, Dr. Ladd from Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Daniel Leeson from The Awful Truth, Bruce Baldwin from His Girl Friday, Dr. Davis from Footsteps in the Dark, Colonel Paul Montford from The Wolf Man, Franklin Delano Roosevelt from Sunrise at Campobello, Randolph Duke from Coming to America, and James Morse from Pretty Woman.
Nominated for: He was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in 1937 for The Awful Truth.
Most Crushing Loss: Not being nominated for Best Actor in 1960 for Sunrise at Campobello. Seriously, he’s practically said to be Franklin Delano Roosevelt during the 1920s. Luckily he was so respected by his peers that he was awarded an Honorary Oscar.
Reasons: More than anything, he’s kind of an underrated actor who was much more respected in theater than in Hollywood. Also helped shelter those blacklisted in Hollywood in the Actors’ Equity Broadway Theater during the darkest days of McCarthyism.
Trivia: Owned his own theater company in 1927. Opened the popular Palm Springs Raquet Ball Club in 1934 with Charles Farrell. Founding member of the Screen Actors Guild in 1933. President of Actors’ Equity from 1952-1964. Won a Tony for Sunrise at Campobello.
79. Charles Boyer
Personal Life: (1899-1978) Born in a small town in Southern France as a merchant’s son. Discovered the movies at 11. During WWI, he performed comedy sketches for soldiers and worked as a hospital orderly. Studied in the Sorbonne and Paris Conservatory. Big acting break came when he replaced a leading man in a stage production which became an immediate hit. Performed on stage and silent screen during the 1920s before signing an MGM contract and moving to the US though his film career didn’t really take off until talkies. Married to British actress Pat Paterson for 44 years and had a son who committed suicide at 21 through Russian roulette. Became a US citizen in 1942. Died of an overdose on Seconal while at a friend’s house in Scottsdale 2 days after his wife’s death shortly before his 79th birthday, which was probably a suicide.
Famous for: Franco-American actor who appeared in more than 80 films between 1920 and 1976. Though best known for playing romantic leads particularly suave and sophisticated ladies’ men, he also played character roles as he got older and sometimes the occasional villain. Yet, he was said to be the last of cinema’s great lovers since his career lasted longer than most romantic actors. Notable roles are Pepe le Moko from Algiers, Boris Androvski from The Garden of Allah, Napoleon Bonaparte from Conquest, Michel Marnet from Love Affair, Cesar from Fanny, Gregor Anton from Gaslight, and other character roles.
Nominated for: He was nominated 4 times for Best Actor: 1937 for Conquest, 1938 for Algiers, 1944 for Gaslight, and 1961 for Fanny.
Most Crushing Loss: His 1944 Oscar loss to Bing Crosby is perhaps one of the most undeserving losses for an actor in movie awards history. His phenomenal performance as Ingrid Bergman’s husband from hell in Gaslight is the main reason why we refer “gaslighting” as a term for psychological abuse. You can’t deny that Boyer should’ve won that year.
Reasons: Well, losing to Spencer Tracy (twice) and Maximilian Schell is understandable. Yet, his loss to Bing Crosby might be more or less due to Crosby’s popularity as a beloved entertainer and easy going public persona. Didn’t hurt that Going My Way was a feel-good family film. Gaslight was neither but it’s still a far superior movie. Also, 1940s movie awards ceremonies weren’t known for giving Oscars for scary villain roles. Just look at why Richard Widmark lost to Edmund Gwenn.
Trivia: His performance in Algiers was an inspiration for Looney Tunes character Pepe Le Pew. Recorded an album in 1966 which was said to be one of Elvis Presley’s favorites. Awarded an honorary Oscar certificate for establishing the French Research Foundation in Los Angeles. Spoke 5 languages including German, Italian, and Spanish.
80. Edna May Oliver
Personal Life: (1883-1942) Born Edna May Nutter in Malden, Massachusetts. Dropped out of school at 14 to pursue a stage career and made her big break in 1917. Made her first film in 1923. Briefly married to David Welford Pratt. Tied of small intestinal complications at 59.
Famous for: American actress and one of the best known character players in the 1930s who often played tart-tongued spinsters. Mostly appeared in period pieces, particularly Charles Dickens adaptations. Notable roles are Mrs. Tracy Wyatt from Cimarron, Aunt March from Little Women, The Red Queen from Alice in Wonderland, Aunt Betsy Trotwood from David Copperfield, Miss Pross from A Tale of Two Cities, Juliet’s Nurse from Romeo and Juliet, Mrs. McKlennar from Drums Along the Mohawk, Maggie Sutton from The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle, Countess de Mavon from Nurse Edith Cavell, and Lady Catherine Brough from Pride and Prejudice.
Nominated for: Oliver was nominated for Best Supporting Actress in 1939 for Drums Along the Mohawk.
Most Crushing Loss: Not being nominated for Best Supporting Actress in 1936 for Romeo and Juliet.
Reasons: 1939 was perhaps one of the worst years for an Oscar nominee in the actress categories for those who weren’t in Gone With the Wind. Also, as a character actress mostly known for playing older women, the Academy basically thought that Oliver would have another chance since she was expected to have a long career ahead of her. They didn’t expect she’d die so suddenly.
Trivia: Descendant of John Quincy Adams. Appeared on Broadway with a young Humphrey Bogart. Asked why she played predominantly comedic roles, she replied, “With a horse’s face, what more can I play?”