During the Golden Age of Hollywood, actors were managed by what was called, “The Studio System” in which the moguls sought to develop a star’s talent as well as supervise aspects of their lives. Sure the resident studio mogul may make you a star, yet there was a cache with a new image like a possible name change or possible plastic surgery. I mean most of the moguls were Jews who changed their names to fit in so why shouldn’t Jewish, Hispanic, or real joke name sounding actors do the same? Oh, and as for projects, well, the studio chooses what you work in and what characters you play. So if you’re black or Asian, you can hope for a stereotyped supporting role at best. Sometimes they’d try to arrange dates and romances, especially if there’s suspicion if some male heartthrob is secretly gay. But if you get into some sort of trouble like divorce, alcoholism, drugs, adultery, or legal troubles, then the studio will pitch in with hush money. In this selection here are 10 more actors and actresses who never got to beat the Meryl Streep of their day. First, you have Pete Postlethwaite who did a lot of notable films during the last few decades before he croaked a few years ago. Second, you have notable old school British actresses Dame Edith Evans, Dame Gladys Cooper, and Susannah York. Third, there’s ZaSu Pitts whose funny voice was the inspiration for Popeye’s girlfriend Olive Oyl as well as notable 1930s actress Constance Bennett. After them, comes Oliver Reed best known for his drinking and dying during Gladiator. Then you have Herbert Lom most famous for playing Peter Sellers’ crazy boss from The Pink Panther series followed by General Jack D. Ripper portrayer Sterling Hayden. Finally, there’s Betty Grable, best known for her $1 million legs and being a WWII sex symbol. So for your reading pleasure, here are 10 more actors and actresses who never received the gold statuette.
151. Pete Postlethwaite
Personal Life: (1946-2011) Born in Warrington, Cheshire in England. Trained as a teacher at Saint Mary’s College and taught drama at Loreto College before training as an actor at The Old Vic Theater School. Was a smoker from the age of 10. Made his first film in 1975. Married to Jacqueline Morrish for 24 years and had 2 children. Was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1990 and had one testicle removed. Died of pancreatic cancer at 64.
Famous for: British actor known for his character performances in various films. Notable roles are Captain Beams from The Last of the Mohicans, Giuseppe Conlon from In the Name of the Father, Mr. Kobayashi from The Usual Suspects, Magic Man from James and the Giant Peach, Brother Gilbert of Glockenspur from Dragonheart, William S. Holabird from Amistad, John from Between Strangers, Dr. Lorbeer/ Dr. Brandt from The Constant Gardener, Spyros from Clash of the Titans, Maurice Fischer from Inception, and Fergus “Fergie” Colm from The Town.
Nominated for: Postlethwaite was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in 1993 for In the Name of the Father.
Most Crushing Loss: Not being nominated for Best Supporting Actor in 1995 for The Usual Suspects.
Reasons: Postlethwaite was basically burned by the competition the year he was nominated and it was for a film that would be seen as obscure to most Americans.
Trivia: Was advised to adopt a stage name “would never be put up in lights outside theaters because they couldn’t afford the electricity” but decided against it. Told the British Secretary of Energy that he’d return his OBE if a new coal power plant was built, which led to the proposal being shelved.
152. Dame Gladys Cooper
Personal Life: (1888-1971) Born in London. Made her stage debut in 1905 and performed in Edwardian musicals and pantomime as a teenager. Made her first film in 1913. Moved to Hollywood in 1940. Married 3 times and had 3 children. After her third husband died, she returned to Great Britain. Died of pneumonia at Henley-on-Thames at 82.
Famous for: British actress whose career spanned 7 decades on stage, film, and television. Notable roles are Flora MacDonald from Bonnie Prince Charlie, Beatrice Lacy from Rebecca, Mrs. Strafford from Kitty Foyle, Lady Frances Nelson from That Hamilton Woman, Myrna Hartley from The Black Cat, Mrs. Vale from Now, Voyager, Sister Marie Therese Vauzous from The Song of Bernadette, Alice – Dutchess de Brancourt from Mrs. Parkington,
Clarissa Scott from The Valley of Decision, Beatrice Remington from Love Letters, Mrs. Hamilton from The Bishop’s Wife, Mrs. Medlock from The Secret Garden, Mme. Dupuis from Madame Bovary, Mrs. Railton-Bell from Separate Tables, Mrs. Karoudjian from The List of Adrian Messenger, Mrs. Higgins from My Fair Lady, and Aunt Mary from The Happiest Millionaire.
Nominated for: Cooper was nominated 3 times for Best Supporting Actress consisting of: in 1942 for Now, Voyager, 1944 for The Song of Bernadette, and 1965 for My Fair Lady.
Most Crushing Loss: Losing to Theresa Wright in 1942. Seriously, Mrs. Vale is one of the most selfish and least affectionate mothers in movie history.
Reasons: Well, in 1942, there was a war on, which was very good for Mrs. Miniver not much for other nominated movies. Also, Cooper was nominated in very bad years and got burned by the competition.
Trivia: Manager of the Playhouse Theatre from 1917 to 1933. Was in 2 Best Picture winners.
153. Dame Edith Evans
Personal Life: (1888-1976) Born in London. Father was a junior civil servant at the General Post Office. Was apprenticed at 15 to a milliner and soon began attending drama classes which developed into an amateur performing group. Made her first stage appearance in 1910 and her West End debut in 1913. Made her first film in 1915. Married to George Booth for 10 years. Died in Kilndown, Kent at 88.
Famous for: British actress whose career spanned 60 years and played more than 100 roles on stage. Was widely known to portray haughty aristocratic women. Notable roles are Augusta Lady Bracknell from The Importance of Being Earnest, Mrs. Tanner from Look Back in Anger, Rev Mother Emmanuel from The Nun’s Story, Miss Western from Tom Jones, Mrs. St Maugham from The Chalk Garden, Lady Gregory from Young Cassidy, Mrs. Maggie Ross from The Whisperers, Miss Victoria Woodworth from Ftizwilly, Ghost of Christmas Past from Scrooge, Josephine from The Madwoman of Chaillot, and Anne-Marie from A Doll’s House.
Nominated for: Evans was nominated 3 times twice for Best Supporting Actress and once for Best Actress consisting of: in 1963 for Tom Jones, 1964 for The Chalk Garden, and 1967 for The Whisperers.
Most Crushing Loss: Losing to Margaret Rutherford in 1963. I mean Evans was great as Squire Western’s sister. I’m not sure if people still remember The V. I. P.s.
Reasons: Evans was better known on the British stage than in Hollywood. She was also more of a comic actress than a dramatic one.
Trivia: Joined ENSA and entertained troops in Gibraltar during WWII as well as toured with them in Europe, Britain, and India. Received honorary degrees from the universities of London (1950), Cambridge (1951), Oxford (1954) and Hull (1968). Had as sculpted head on display at the Royal Court Theatre for many years and a portrait painted of her. Said to be the greatest stage actress of the 20th century.
154. Susannah York
Personal Life: (1939-2011) Born Susannah Yolande Fletcher in Chelsea, London in England. Father was a merchant banker and a steel magnate. Parents divorced in 1943 and both remarried. Moved with her mother to Scotland. At 13, she was expelled from school for swimming in the pool nude. Trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. Made her first film in 1960. Married to Michael Wells for 16 years and had 2 children before their 1976 divorce. Diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2010 and died the next year at 72.
Famous for: British actress whose appearances in films during the 1960s gave her an international reputation. Notable roles are Ellen from There Was a Crooked Man, Sophie Western from Tom Jones, Candace Trumpey from The 7th Dawn, Madeleine Usher from The Fall of the House of Usher, Margaret More from A Man for All Seasons, Eleanor from Oh! What a Lovely War, Section Officer Maggie Harvey from Battle of Britain, Alice from They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?, Cathryn from Images, Lara from Superman and other films, Jane Turner from The Awakening, Queenie from Alice, Lady Churchill from Yellowbeard, Mrs. Cratchit from A Christmas Carol, and Olivia from Loop.
Nominated for: York was nominated for Best Supporting Actress in 1969 for They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?.
Most Crushing Loss: Not being nominated for Best Supporting Actress in 1966 for A Man for All Seasons, in which she bests Henry VIII in recitation.
Reasons: When nominated for an Oscar, she snubbed the Academy, declaring it offended her without being asked. Of course, nobody asks to be nominated for an Oscar. Also, publicly supported Mordechai Vanunu, the Israeli dissident who revealed Israel’s nuclear weapons program, an incident which still generated a lot of controversy as recent as 2007.
Trivia: Appointed Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 1991. Wrote 2 children’s fantasy novels. Patron of Children’s Film Unit.
155. Oliver Reed
Personal Life: (1938-1999) Born in London. Was drafted in the Royal Army Medical Corps. Started his acting career as an extra in the 1950s. Was scarred from a bar fight in 1963. Married twice and had a daughter to Jacquie Daryl. Also had a son to his first wife Kate Byrne. Was known for his alcoholism. Was a tax exile at Guernsey and Ireland from the 1970s. Died of a heart attack in Malta at 61.
Famous for: British actor who exemplified his macho image in “tough guy” roles. Notable roles are Le Bete from The Trap, Billy Sikes from Oliver!, Ivan Dragomiloff from The Assassination Bureau, Gerald Crich from Women in Love, Urban Grandier from The Devils, Hugh Lombard from Ten Little Indians, Frank Hobbs from Tommy, Tom from Blueblood, Ben Rolf from Burnt Offerings, Gen. Rodolfo Graziani from Lion of the Desert, Gerald Kingsland from Castaway, Athos from The Three Musketeers, Hannibal Brooks, Vulcan from The Adventures of Baron Muchausen, and Proximo from Gladiator.
Nominated for: Reed was never nominated for an Oscar.
Most Crushing Loss: Not being nominated for Best Supporting Actor in 2000 for Gladiator.
Reasons: Reed was notorious for his alcoholism and binge drinking that he was often irritated that his appearances on TV talk shows focused more on his drinking feats than his latest film. It didn’t help that there were numerous anecdotes about it. Also appeared in a series of exploitation films.
Trivia: Was filming Gladiator at the time of his death. Nephew of director Sir Carol Reed. Brother was a sports journalist. Recorded some music with limited success.
156. Betty Grable
Personal Life: (1916-1973) Born Elizabeth Ruth Grable in St. Louis, Missouri. Was propelled into show business by her mother and made her first movie in 1929 at 12. Mother then gave her a makeover by bleaching her hair blonde. Was fired for her mother trying to get her a contract using false identification. Married twice with her first husband being Jackie Coogan. Had 2 daughters with second husband Harry James whom she was married to for 22 years before divorcing him in 1965 on grounds of alcoholism and infidelity. Died of lung cancer at 56.
Famous for: American actress, dancer, and singer and popular contract star for 20th Century-Fox during the 1940s and 1950s. Celebrated for having the most beautiful legs in Hollywood. Highest paid US entertainer in 1947. Notable roles are Dance Specialty from The Gay Divorcee, Trio Singer from Follow the Fleet, Laura Watson from Pigskin Parade, Carol Parker from Million Dollar Legs, Lily Blane from Tin Pan Alley, Carol Brown from A Yank in the RAF, Kathryn ‘Kay’ Latimer from Moon Over Miami, Pat Lambert from Footlight Serenade, Vicky Lane from Springtime in the Rockies, Madeline Marlowe/Rosie O’Grady from Sweet Rosie O’Grady, Kate Farley from Coney Island, Lorry Jones/Laura Lorraine from Pin Up Girl, Bonnie Collins from Diamond Horseshoe, Yansci ‘Jenny’ Dolly from The Dolly Sisters, Cynthia Pilgrim from The Shocking Miss Pilgrim, Myrtle McKinley Burt from Mama Wore Tights, Francesca/Angelina from That Lady in Ermine, Winnifred Jones from The Beautiful Blonde from Bashful Bend, Kitty Moran from My Blue Heaven, Kay Hudson from Call Me Mister, Molly Larkins from The Farmer Takes a Wife, and Loco Dempsey from How to Marry a Millionaire.
Nominated for: Grable was never nominated for an Oscar.
Most Crushing Loss: Not receiving an honorary Oscar. Seriously, her legs are iconic.
Reasons: Well, her legs basically made her a sex symbol during the 1940s and 1950s. Also, specialized in musical and romantic comedy.
Trivia: 20th Century Fox took a $1 million insurance policy on her legs with Lloyd’s of London. Iconic bathing suit poster made her the number one pin-up girl of World War II, surpassing Rita Hayworth. Hugh Hefner said her legs inspired him to found Playboy (and you thought it was Marilyn Monroe).
157. Herbert Lom
Personal Life: (1917-2012) Herbert Charles Angelo Kuchačevič ze Schluderpacheru in Prague during the Autro-Hungarian Empire which is now the Czech Republic. Made his film debut in 1938. Moved to the UK in 1939. Took Lom as a stage name because it was the shortest name he could find in a phone book. Was unable to obtain an American visa due to “political reasons” during WWII. Became a British citizen after the war. Married 3 times and had 3 children. Retired in 2004. Died in his sleep at 95.
Famous for: Czech-born British actor whose career lasted for more than 60 years appearing in character roles. Portrayed villains early in his career and played professional men in his later years. Notable roles are Napoleon from The Young Mr. Pitt and War and Peace, Kristo from Night and the City, Louis from The Ladykillers, Maj. DuPaty de Clam from I Accuse!, Tigranes Levantus from Spartacus, Charles Dreyfus from The Pink Panther series, Ben Yussuf from El Cid, Captain Nemo from Mysterious Island, Simon Legree from Uncle Tom’s Cabin,
Shahbandar from Gambit, and Dr. Edward Armstrong from Ten Little Indians.
Nominated for: Lom was never nominated for an Oscar.
Most Crushing Loss: Not being nominated for Best Supporting Actor in 1955 for The Ladykillers. Also not being nominated for Best Supporting Actor for Dreyfus whose breakdown of violent insanity is hysterical.
Reasons: Lom is best known for his comedies and Hammer Horror films. Also he was often typecast as a villain, especially a foreign one. Also, he was from Czechoslovakia.
Trivia: Wrote 2 historical novels. Had a Jewish girlfriend who died in a Nazi concentration camp (and was deported from the UK for not having proper papers, which is even sadder. Not to mention, he didn’t know she was Jewish until then).
158. Sterling Hayden
Personal Life: (1916-1986) Born Sterling Relyea Walter in Montclair, New Jersey. Adopted at 9 by James Hayden after his father died. Grew up on the East Coast. Dropped out of school at 16 and worked as a sailor, fisherman, and fireman. Got his first command at 22. Became a print model and made his first film in 1941. Enlisted in the US Marine Corps as John Hamilton, was commissioned lieutenant, and spent WWII as a US OSS agent sailing supplies from Italy to Yugoslav partisans in Croatia. Married 3 times with his first wife being Madeline Carroll. Had 6 children and married to third wife Catherine Devine McConnell for 26 years. Died of prostate cancer at 70.
Famous for: American actor and author who appeared as a leading man specializing in westerns and film noir. Later became a noted character actor. Notable roles are Norman Williams from Virginia, Bert Donner from El Paso, Dix Handley from The Asphalt Jungle, Pervis DeJong from So Big, Sir Gawain from Prince Valiant, Johnny “Guitar” Logan from Johnny Guitar, Sheriff Tod Shaw from Suddenly, Jim Bowie from The Last Command, Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper from Dr. Strangelove, Captain McCluskey from The Godfather, Russell Tinsworthy from 9 to 5, and his numerous roles in westerns.
Nominated for: Hayden was never nominated for an Oscar.
Most Crushing Loss: Not being nominated for Best Supporting Actor in 1964 for Dr. Strangelove. I mean he’s the kind of guy you didn’t want to be in the same room with as General Ripper.
Reasons: Had a brief membership in the Communist Party after WWII but cooperated with the House Committee on Un-American Activities confessing his ties and naming names, which he thought the committee already knew about. Also during his second divorce, he defied a court order and went on a sailing trip with 4 of his kids from San Francisco Bay to Tahiti with a well-known photographer to document it (he also lied about making a film there and got in trouble with the studio).
Trivia: Received a Silver Star, a Bronze Arrowhead device, and a commendation from Marshal Tito for his services. Was a huge sailing enthusiast and earned his master’s license at 21.
159. Constance Bennett
Personal Life: (1904-1965) Born in New York City from a famous theatrical family. Father was an actor Richard Bennett while mother was an actress and literary agent. Made her first film in 1916 with her parents. Married 5 times and had 3 children. Collapsed and died from a cerebral hemorrhage at Fort Dix, New Jersey at 60.
Famous for: American actress who mostly appeared in movies from the 1920s and 1930s. First Bennett sister to make it into show business. Notable roles are Elise Bascom from What’s Wrong with the Women?, Sally from Sally, Irene, and Mary, Ann Marvin from This Thing Called Love, Sylvia Brenner from Sin Takes a Holiday, Venice Muir from Lady with a Past, Mary Evans from What Price, Hollywood?, Judy Carroll from Rockabye, Duchess of Florence from The Affairs of Cellini, Helen Hall / Raquel from Moulin Rouge, Lorry Evans from Bed of Roses, Marion Kerby from Topper and other films, Gerry Lester from Tail Spin, Joan Madison from Law of the Tropics, Christina Blaine from Escape to Glory, Griselda Vaughn from Two-Faced Woman, Joan Bannister from Madame Spy, Zenia Lascalles from Centennial Summer, and Estelle from Madame X.
Nominated for: Bennett wasn’t nominated for an Oscar.
Most Crushing Loss: Not being nominated for Best Actress in 1932 for What Price, Hollywood? which was a tragic behind the scenes look at the Hollywood studio system. Too bad they only had 3 nominee slots at the time.
Reasons: Most of Bennett’s movies were made before WWII and she didn’t make many movies after that. Was renowned as a drama queen who feuded with the press and enjoyed lawsuits. Also died before she could stage a comeback. Not to mention, she wasn’t as well-known as her sister Joan and was later remembered just as, “Joan Bennett’s sister.”
Trivia: Sister of Joan Bennett. Granddaughter of legendary Jamaican-born Shakespearean actor Lewis Morrison who was of English, Spanish, Jewish, and African ancestry. Founded a cosmetics and clothing company. Helped provide relief and entertainment to US troops stationed in Europe after WWII and won military honors for her services. Fifth husband would become a Brigadier General and be buried beside her at Arlington National Cemetery.
160. ZaSu Pitts
Personal Life: (1894-1963) Born Eliza Susan Pitts in Parsons, Kansas. Father lost a leg while 76th New York Infantry Regiment in the Civil War. “ZaSu” was a childhood nickname as a compromise for her father’s 2 sisters who wanted her to be named after them. Moved to Santa Cruz, California at 9 so her family can seek a warmer climate and job opportunities. Made her stage debut in 1914-1915 in school and community theater. Moved to Los Angeles in 1916. Married twice and adopted 2 children with first husband Thomas Sarsfield Gallery. Married to second husband John Edward “Eddie” Woodall for 30 years. Diagnosed with cancer during the 1950s but continued to work until the very end. Died at 69.
Famous for: American actress who starred in silent dramas and comedies before transitioning into comedy sound films. Often played worrisome spinsters and receptionists. Notable roles are Becky from The Little Princess, Trina from Greed, Polly Jordon from The Great Divide, Maggie Keenan from Pretty Ladies, Hope Durant from Monte Carlo, Camille from Casey at the Bat, Cecelia Schweisser from The Wedding March, Mother Spengler from Sins of the Fathers, Harriet from Paris, Pauline Hastings from No, No, Nanette, Minnie from The Bad Sister, Temperance Worker from Destry Rides Again, Mrs. Dole from Back Street, Matilda Ounce Hemingway from Dames, Cousin Cora Cartwright from Life with Father, Nurse Valerie Humpert from Francis, Olivia from The Thrill of It All, and Gertie from It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.
Nominated for: Pitts was never nominated for an Oscar.
Most Crushing Loss: Not receiving an honorary Oscar for her career which spanned from the silent era to the 1960s.
Reasons: Well, most of Pitts’ career took place during the silent and Pre-Code eras. After that, she just appeared in comedies. Also appeared in Eric Von Stroheim’s Greed which was a massive flop.
Trivia: First name pronounced, “Say Zoo” as she said it. Was the inspiration for Olive Oyl. Wrote a book of candy recipes.