During the first half of the 20th century to the early 1960s, most movies were made in black and white which has led many to think that the filmmakers didn’t have the technology to make color movies. However, this is a myth since there were quite a few movies made in color but the process was expensive and time consuming that most filmmakers just didn’t bother. And sometimes the colorization was just partial and didn’t look realistic in any way (though as long as the colorization is consistent with artistic vision, I’m not against this). However, such myths gave rise to the idea of colorization of classic black and white films in the 1980s and early 1990s courtesy of Ted Turner, which many people thought would introduce old movies to a new audience. Yet, to me and a lot of detractors, it’s just wrong. Seriously, even if making a film in color back in the day wouldn’t make sense in the finance scheme as well as be quite exhausting, if the filmmakers wanted their black and white films made in color, they would’ve done it. To colorize Casablanca would be just a travesty as doing the same to Schindler’s List for God’s sake. And if you want to know why colorization is a bad idea, here’s something by Roger Ebert http://www.rogerebert.com/interviews/casablanca-gets-colorized-but-dont-play-it-again-ted. In this selection, I bring you 10 more legends from those past Hollywood days when black and white movies were mostly produced. First, we have Austrian actress Romy Schneider best known for her European films and the Sissi Trilogy. Second, there are African American performers Juanita Moore who was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for Imitation of Life and Canada Lee who should’ve had his big break as a leading man in Cry, the Beloved Country, but was blacklisted instead. After them, is Chinese American actress Anna May Wong who was a celebrated actress and fashion icon, but because of certain rules in the Hays Code (or racism), wasn’t allowed to play the part of O-Lan from The Good Earth because the guy cast as her husband was white and a European actress was cast in the role instead. Then, you have Telly Savalas best known for his bald head and Kojak as well as Italian actor Vincent Gardenia who’s best remembered as Archie Bunker’s neighbor Frank Lorenzo. Next, comes Mexican actress Katy Juardo who’s known for appearing in westerns as well as was married for a time to Ernest Borgnine followed by Italian Pier Angeli who was better known for her relationships with James Dean and Vic Damone. After them, there’s Greek actress Irene Papas who appeared in 70 films for over 50 years but she was an unconventional beauty with a thick accent. And finally, there’s British 1960s sensation Sir Alan Bates. So without further adieu, here are 10 more actors and actresses who never got to make their Oscar speech during their careers.
161. Romy Schneider
Personal Life: (1938-1982) Born Rosemarie Magdalena Albach in Nazi-era Vienna, Austria. Parents divorced in 1945 and mother remarried a restauranteur who might’ve had an unhealthy interest in her. Made her first film at 15. Was engaged to Alain Delon. Married twice and had 2 children. Son from first marriage died in an accident in attempting to climb a spiked fence at his stepfather’s home puncturing his femoral artery in the process at 14. Drank excessively after that (though may not have around the time of her death). Was found dead in her Paris apartment at 43 (officially ruled as a cardiac arrest).
Famous for: Austrian-German and French actress who made successful and critically acclaimed films of the 1950s and 1960s. Notable roles are Princess/Queen Victoria from Victoria in Dover, Niddy Hoevelmann from The Last Man, Sissi/Empress Elizabeth of Austria from the Sissi Trilogy and Ludwig, Anne-Claire Jouvain from Love from Paris, Nicole from Eva, Christine Weiring from Christine, Katia from Magnificent Sinner, Leni from The Trial, Regine from The Victors, Carole Werner from What’s New Pussycat?, Francesca Anderson from My Lover My Son, Gita Samuels from The Assassination of Trotsky, Anna Kupfer from Le Train, Helene from Mado, Marie from A Simple Story, Hélène Martin from Bloodline, Katherine Mortenhoe from Death Watch, and Emma Eckhert from La Banquière.
Nominated for: Schneider was never nominated for an Oscar.
Most Crushing Loss: Not being nominated for Best Actress in 1963 for The Cardinal.
Reasons: Schneider was a European actress much more iconic in France and Austria than Hollywood.
Trivia: The Prix Romy Schneider; this prize—the most prestigious award for promising actresses in the French film industry—is awarded by a jury each year in Paris was named after her. Austrian newspaper has a TV award named after her, too.
162. Juanita Moore
Personal Life: (1914-2014) Born in Greenwood, Mississippi and raised in Los Angeles. Was a chorus girl at the Cotton Club while working in theater. Married for 50 years to Charles Burris and had at least one daughter. Retired in 2001. Died of natural causes at 99.
Famous for: American actress whose career spanned 59 years. Fifth African American to be nominated for an Academy Award in any category, and the third in the Supporting Actress category at a time when only a single African American had won an Oscar. Started out as an extra and played bit parts before her first big break in the 1940s. Notable roles are Nurse from Pinky, Nightclub Patron / Churchgoer from Cabin in the Sky, Dominique from Affair in Trinidad, Hilda from The Girl Can’t Help It, Lacy – Backstage Maid from The Helen Morgan Story, Annie Johnson from Imitation of Life, Julius’ Mother from A Child Is Waiting, Nurse from Rosie!, Viney from Skin Game, Hattie Fox from Fox Style, and Kenny’s Grandmother from The Kid.
Nominated for: Moore was nominated for Best Supporting Actress in 1959 for Imitation of Life.
Most Crushing Loss: Losing to Shelley Winters in 1959. Sure Winters was in The Diary of Anne Frank and isn’t either abused or abusive in any way. Yet, what’s more crushing is that Moore loss might’ve had nothing to do with her talents. In fact, she might’ve received the lowest vote count.
Reasons: If you were an African American actress in the 1950s, even if you were nominated for an Oscar, the chances of winning were slim (since it was during Jim Crow and segregation so it’s racism, folks). Also was confined to few roles due to the Hays Code and racism in general.
Trivia: Co-founded a theater troupe now headed by her grandson.
163. Anna May Wong
Personal Life: (1905-1961) Born Wong Liu Tsong in Los Angeles to second-generation Cantonese American parents. Worked at Ville de Paris department store. Made her first film at 16 and dropped out of high school (to the chagrin of her parents but they later came to accept her career in show business since her father wrote an article expressing pride in his famous daughter in the 1930s). Suffered bouts of depression and sudden anger as well as practiced excessive smoking and drinking. Had relationships with Caucasian men since Chinese looked down actresses as prostitutes. Mother died in a car accident in 1931. Suffered an internal hemorrhage in 1953. Died of a heart attack at 56.
Famous for: American actress who became the first Chinese American movie star and the first Asian American to gain international recognition. Long and varied career spanned both silent and sound film (in the US and Europe), stage, radio, and television. Notable roles are Lotus Blossom from The Toll of the Sea, Mongol Slave from The Thief of Baghdad, Shosho from Piccadilly, Princess Ling Moy from Daughter of the Dragon, Hui Fei from Shanghai Express, Lan Ying from Dangerous to Know, Kwan Mei from Lady of Chungking, Su Lin from Impact, and Tawny from Portrait in Black.
Nominated for: Wong was never nominated for an Oscar.
Most Crushing Loss: Other than not being nominated for Best Supporting Actress in 1932 for Shanghai Express (since the award didn’t exist), I would say her most crushing loss wasn’t receiving an honorary Oscar from the Academy for being one of the first Asian American stars in Hollywood.
Reasons: For one, Wong was Asian, which basically limited her range of roles she could play like supporting roles as demure butterflies or stereotypical dragon ladies, which caused her a lot of frustration that she fled to Europe for a time. State anti-miscegenation laws (i.e. racism) prevented her from playing leads and she was usually passed over in favor of a white actress (even if the character was Asian). One notorious example of this was when MGM refused to consider her for the part of O-Lan for The Good Earth which went to German actress Luise Rainer. All because the main male character was played by Paul Muni and that the Hays Code had a rules against miscegenation, making this one of the most notorious casting disputes in movie history. Also, was less well received in China after Shanghai Express that they were also against her getting the part of O-Lan as well. And when she did portray Chinese characters in a positive light, they were for B-movies. Not to mention, many people thought at the time that it was impossible to be Chinese and American (even though she was a native born US citizen). Also, she died too early to receive an honorary Oscar.
Trivia: Real name means “yellow snow frost.” Friends with Marlene Dietrich and Leni Riefenstahl. Received an honorary doctorate from Peking University in 1932. Supported China during the Second Sino-Japanese War and made a series of anti-Japanese propaganda films during WWII. Starred in The Gallery of Madame Liu-Tsong in 1951-1952 under her real name which was the first US TV show to have an Asian lead. Was an outspoken activist in Chinese American causes and better film roles. Went on a tour of China for a year during the 1930s and chronicled her experiences in the New York Herald Tribune. Fluent in German and French. Wrote a cookbook called New Chinese Recipes in 1942. Converted her Santa Monica Home to “Moongate Apartments.” Hosted on of the first documentaries on China narrated by a Chinese American. Starred in one of the first color features.
164. Telly Savalas
Personal Life: (1922-1994) Born in Garden City, New York to Greek immigrants. Father was a Greek restaurant owner while mother was an artist. Spoke only Greek before he entered grade school. Worked as a lifeguard until he unsuccessfully tried to save a man from drowning which haunted him for the rest of his life. Graduated from Columbia University in 1948 with a degree in psychology. Served 3 years in the US Army during WWII by working in the State Department and later ABC News. Began his acting career in 1950 and started in radio and television. Married 3 times and had 6 children. Died of bladder and prostate cancer at 72.
Famous for: American actor and singer whose career spanned 4 decades. Notable roles are
Detective Lt. Gunderson from The Young Savages, Private Detective Charles Sievers from Cape Fear, Feto Gomez from Birdman of Alcatraz, Pontius Pilate from The Greatest Story Ever Told, Sgt. Guffy from Battle of the Bulge, Sgt. Maj. Dagineau from Beau Geste, Archer Maggott from The Dirty Dozen, MSgt. Big Joe from Kelly’s Heroes, Captain Sam Surcher from Pretty Maids All in a Row, Pancho Villa, and El Sleezo Tough from The Muppet Movie.
Nominated for: Savalas was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in 1962 for Birdman of Alcatraz.
Most Crushing Loss: Not receiving an honorary Oscar for his career because he didn’t live long enough.
Reasons: Well, when it comes to the 1962 Oscars, Savalas was just burned by the competition. Not to mention, he spent a lot of his career being typecast as villains and that he spent a lot of his later years playing Kojak.
Trivia: Was Jenifer Aniston’s godfather. Played Kojak. Had some chart success as a singer. Brother recorded a series of Greek folk songs and appeared as a detective on Kojak.
165. Katy Jurado
Personal Life: (1924-2002) Born María Cristina Estela Marcela Jurado García in Guadalajara, Mexico. Parents and relatives were impoverished aristocrats who lost their wealth during the Mexican Revolution. Father was cattle baron and orange farmer while mother was an opera singer. Was discovered by director Emilio Fernández at 16 and pursued an acting career in spite of family wishes and married her first husband Víctor Velázquez to slip from her family’s control (she’d have 2 children with him. Made her first film in 1943. Worked as a movie columnist, radio reporter and bullfight critic to support her family and was spotted at a bullfight by John Wayne and came to Hollywood in 1951. Second husband was Ernest Borgnine. Moved back to Mexico permanently in 1968. Was plunged in a deep depression she could never overcome after her son died tragically in a highway accident at Monterrey. Suffered from heart and lung ailments toward the end of her life. Died at Cuernavaca, Mexico from kidney failure and pulmonary disease at 78.
Famous for: Mexican actress who established herself in Mexico and was a regular in Westerns during the 1950s and 1960s. Notable roles are Chelo Estrada from Bullfighter and the Lady, Helen Ramirez from High Noon, Paloma from El Bruto, Nita from Arrowhead, Señora Deverreaux from Broken Lance, Rosa from Trapeze, María Longworth from One-Eyed Jacks, Anita from The Badlanders, Sara from Barabbas, Eulalia from A Covenant with Death, Angela, the Witch from The Bridge in the Jungle, Eulogia from Fé, Esperanza y Caridad, Senora Baker from Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid, Señora Gregoria from Under the Volcano, and Meesa from The Hi-Lo Country.
Nominated for: Jurado was nominated for Best Supporting Actress in 1954 for Broken Lance.
Most Crushing Loss: Not being nominated for Best Supporting Actress in 1951 for High Noon. Her performance makes you wish that Gary Cooper never married Grace Kelly in that movie.
Reasons: Jurado was a Latina who was typecast to play ethnic roles in American films, sometimes stereotypically. She had a more diverse career in Mexico but Americans don’t watch Mexican movies (at least in the Northeast).
Trivia: First Latin American actress nominated for an Oscar and win a Golden Globe. Family once owned much of the land that would become the state of Texas. Cousin of Mexican President Emilio Portes Gil. Romantically linked to John Wayne, Tyrone Power, Louis L’Amour, and Marlon Brando. Was friends with Anthony Quinn, Burt Lancaster, Sam Peckinpah, Frank Sinatra, Alan Ladd, Sammy Davis Jr., Dolores del Río, John Wayne and others.
166. Vincent Gardenia
Personal Life: (1920-1992) Born Vincenzo Scognamiglio in Naples, Italy. Family immigrated to the US when he was 2 years old. Father established an acting troupe that performed Italian language melodramas which he’d perform while growing up in New York City. Made his stage debut at 5 and left when he made his English debut on Broadway in 1960. Died of a heart attack in Philadelphia at 72.
Famous for: Italian American actor whose career spanned for over 40 years. Notable roles are Lawyer Laslo from Murder, Inc., Bartender from The Hustler, Dutch Schnell from Bang the Drum Slowly, Det. Frank Ochoa from Death Wish, Sheriff Pete Hartmann from The Front Page, Det. Lt. Krim from Heaven Can Wait, Mr. Mushnik from Little Shop of Horrors, and Cosmo Castorini from Moonstruck.
Nominated for: Gardenia was nominated twice for Best Supporting Actor in 1973 for Bang the Drum Slowly and 1987 for Moonstruck.
Most Crushing Loss: Losing to Sean Connery for Best Supporting Actor in 1987. I mean Connery is a decent actor but his performance as Jim Malone from The Untouchables was far from his best (since he didn’t play a convincing Irishman). Gardenia should’ve at least lost to Albert Brooks or Denzel Washington.
Reasons: Probably due to that he was better known for his theatrical and TV career than his films.
Trivia: Played Frank Lorenzo in All in the Family. Life member of The Actors Studio. Won a Tony in 1972.
167. Pier Angeli
Personal Life: (1932-1971) Born Anna Maria Pierangeli in Cagliari, Sardinia in Italy. Made her first film in 1950 and moved to Hollywood a year later under MGM. Married twice with her first husband being Vic Damone and had a son to each husband. Found dead from a barbiturate overdose at 39.
Famous for: Italian actress known for her film appearances in the 1950s and 1960s, often starring as love interest. Notable roles are Teresa Russo from Teresa, Anna Vasarri from The Light Touch, Nina Burkhardt from The Story of Three Loves, Eufemia Calderon from Sombrero, Lisa from Flame and the Flesh, Deborra from The Silver Chalice, Norma from Somebody Up There Likes Me, Ildith from The Last Days of Sodom and Gomorrah, Louise from Battle of the Bulge, and Alexandra from Addio, Alexandra.
Nominated for: Angeli was never nominated for an Oscar. Her sister was though but she’s not as famous.
Most Crushing Loss: Not being nominated for Best Actress in 1951 for Teresa. Granted, she was young at the time but still. I mean she won a Golden Globe for it.
Reasons: Angeli was usually cast as a love interest to many of America’s emerging leading men of the time in the 1950s. Also she had a highly publicized custody battle over her son with Vic Damone during their divorce. Not to mention, she’s best known for dating James Dean and being Vic Damone’s wife. Then there’s the fact she died young.
Trivia: Twin sister of Marisa Pavan. Romantically linked to Kirk Douglas and James Dean. Was chosen to play in The Godfather but died before filming began.
168. Irene Papas
Personal Life: (1926-present) Born Irini Lelekou in Chiliomodi, Corinth in Greece. Discovered by Elia Kazan and started her early career in Greece before Hollywood. Married and divorced Alkis Papas but kept his name. Retired in 2003.
Famous for: Greek actress and occasional singer who starred in over 70 films in a career spanning more than 50 years. Appeared with Anthony Quinn in 7 films. Notable roles are Luisa Azzali from The Unfaithfuls, Faidia from Theodora, Slave Empress, Grune from Attila, Jocasta Constantine from Tribute to a Bad Man, Maria from The Guns of Navarone, Elektra from Electra, Antigone, Laskarina Bouboulina from Bouboulina, Ida Ginetta from The Brotherhood, Widow from Zorba the Greek, Helene from Z, Queen Katherine of Aragon from Anne of the Thousand Days, Helen from The Trojan Women, Hind from The Message, Klytaimnistra from Iphigenia, Simonetta Palazzi from Bloodline, Mabrouka from Lion of the Desert, Shaheen Parvici from Into the Night, and Mother Giuseppina from The Assisi Underground.
Nominated for: Papas was never nominated for an Oscar.
Most Crushing Loss: Not being nominated for Best Supporting Actress in 1964 for Zorba the Greek. There’s still time to award her an honorary Oscar for her career so get to it, Academy.
Reasons: Despite her accolades, but as Roger Ebert said, “Her height rules out many leading men, her accent rules out many roles, and her unusual beauty is not the sort that superstar actresses like to compete with.” Perhaps this is why she’s not as familiar to us as she should be. That, or it’s just that the Academy just didn’t seem to recognize her talents or she tended to get overshadowed by leading men.
Trivia: Serves on the board of directors of the Anna-Marie Foundation. Released 3 albums. Romantically linked to Marlon Brando.
169. Sir Alan Bates
Personal Life: (1934-2003) Born in Derby, England. Mother was a pianist while father was a cellist and insurance broker. Wanted to be an actor since he was 11. Studied acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art before leaving to join the Royal Air Force. Made his stage debut in 1955 and his first film in 1960. Married to Victoria Ward for 22 years yet they separated many years before her death and had 2 sons. Was also known for his proclivities with men and women. Had a hip replacement before being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Died from a stroke at 69 after going through a coma.
Famous for: British actor who rose to prominence in the 1960s when he appeared in films. Notable roles are Frank Rice from The Entertainer, Stephen Maddux from The Running Man, Basil from Zorba the Greek, Jos Jones from Georgy Girl, Gabriel Oak from Far From Madding Crowd, Yakov Bok from The Fixer, Rupert Burkin from Women in Love, Col. Vershinin from Three Sisters, Ted Burgess from The Go-Between, Saul from An Unmarried Woman, Rudge Campbell from The Rose, Sergei Diaghilev from Nijinsky, Claudius from Hamlet, Gayev from The Cherry Orchard, Jennings from Gosford Park, Alexander Leek from The Mothman Prophecies, and Tom Connolly from Evelyn.
Nominated for: Bates was nominated for Best Actor in 1968 for The Fixer.
Most Crushing Loss: Not being nominated for Best Actor in 1966 for Georgy Girl.
Reasons: Bates was well known for his bisexual proclivities which he rarely mentioned in his interviews or even acknowledged to his male lovers. One of his boyfriends was Olympic skater John Curry who died in his arms from AIDS in 1994. Yet, he also had couple of girlfriends in his later years.
Trivia: Attended RADA with Albert Finney and Peter O’Toole. Set up a theater in memory of his son who died at 19. Won 2 Tony Awards.
170. Canada Lee
Personal Life: (1907-1952) Born Leonard Lionel Cornelius Canegata in New York City. Father was from the Caribbean island of St. Croix. Trained as a musician by 12 as a concert violinist. Ran away in his teens to become a jockey but ended up a boxer instead where he fought under the name of Canada Lee as a result of an announcer’s mispronunciations. Yet, an eye injury would effectively end his athletic career by 1933. Began acting in 1934 after being impoverished despite earning $90,000 in his boxing career. Made his first film in 1939. Married twice and had a son to his first wife Juanita Waller. Died of a heart attack at 45.
Famous for: American actor who pioneered roles for African Americans who furthered the tradition by such actors as Paul Robeson. Made 5 films. Notable roles are George ‘Joe’ Spencer from Lifeboat, Ben Chaplin from Body and Soul, Lt. ‘Dixie’ Thompson from Lost Boundaries, and Stephen Kumalo from Cry, the Beloved Country.
Nominated for: Lee was never nominated for an Oscar.
Most Crushing Loss: Not being nominated for Best Actor in 1952 for Cry, the Beloved Country. What even makes it more crushing is that this was the best role of his career, which should’ve generated Oscar buzz and help his career by our standards, but not so in the 1950s.
Reasons: Well, other than being black, Lee was a civil rights activist during the 1930s and 1940s as well as spoke against segregation in the armed forces during WWII. Unfortunately, this led him to being blacklisted once he was done filming Cry, the Beloved Country and he refused to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities. His blacklisting is believed to have led him to his early death.
Trivia: Conducted a 15 piece orchestra in Harlem during the 1930s at a night club he also managed. Neither survived the Great Depression. Was a surrogate father figure to Dr. Jack Geiger who founded Physicians for Social Responsibility. Was the first African American DJ on a major radio station.