Seems like we’re getting close to the end here and one more to go after this. Of course, we all know that visual effects have always been a mainstay in Hollywood since King Kong came out in the 1930s. It was released by Universal, a studio which was also know for all their great horror and monster movies your parents probably seen when they were kids. I’m not sure how many of them were scared but the visual effects don’t really translate well for those who’ve been raised on Star Wars and CGI. In this penultimate installment, I give you 10 more legendary movie stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood or at least retired or dead. First, there is Hume Cronyn who’s better known as Jessica Tandy’s Canadian husband followed by William Demarest who appeared in 140 films. Second, is Henry Travers you most people remember as Clarence the angel from It’s a Wonderful Life followed by fellow Brit supporting player Leo Genn. After that is River Phoenix who’s best known as a promising young actor who succumbed to a drug induced death at 23. Then we have Billie Burke who’s better known as Glinda the Good Witch from The Wizard of Oz as well a British swashbuckler Stewart Granger. Next, is versatile actress Ann Sheridan who was a pin-up in the 1940s in which she was known as “The Oomph Girl” as well as 1960s sex symbol Carroll Baker. And finally, we have pioneering scream queen Fay Wray who most of us remember from King Kong. So without further adieu, here are 10 more Oscar losers and also-rans in this pentultimate installment of my stars series.
181. Hume Cronyn
Personal Life: (1911-2003) Born in London, Ontario in Canada. Father was a businessman and Member of Parliament. Mother was heiress of the Labatt Brewing Company. Studied pre-law and drama at Ridley College and McGill University. Studied acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts under Max Reinhardt. Made his Broadway debut in 1934. Made his first film in 1943. Married 3 times with his second wife of 52 years being Jessica Tandy to whom he had 2 kids. Became a US citizen late in life. Died of prostate cancer in Connecticut at 91.
Famous for: Canadian American actor best known for his 79 year career and often appearing professionally with his wife Jessica Tandy in 13 films. Notable roles are Herbie Hawkins from Shadow of a Doubt, Duval from The Cross of Lorraine, Stanley ‘Sparks’ Garett from Lifeboat, Paul Roeder from The Seventh Cross, Capt. Munsey from Brute Force, Louis Howe from Sunrise at Campobello, Sosigenes from Cleopatra, Polonius from Richard Burton’s Hamlet, Mr. Fields from The World According to Garp, Joe Finley from Cocoon, Justice Rosenberg from The Pelican Brief, and Marvin from Marvin’s Room.
Nominated for: Cronyn was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in 1945 for The Seventh Cross.
Most Crushing Loss: Not being nominated for Best Supporting Actor in 1947 for Brute Force. As a brutal prison guard, he’s almost as cruel as the ones from The Shawshank Redemption.
Reasons: During his nomination, he was just burned by the competition. Yet, I didn’t think Barry Fitzgerald should’ve won that year.
Trivia: Great-grandfather was an archbishop and founder of Huron College that became the University of Western Ontario. Great-uncle was mayor of London, Ontario but fled to Vermont after being indicted for fraud and also built a mansion called Oakwood. Dad has an observatory dedicated to him. Won 2 Tony Awards.
182. William Demarest
Personal Life: (1892-1983) Born in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Yet, family moved to New Bridge, New Jersey when he was a baby. Was a US Army veteran from WWI and a former professional boxer. Started out on vaudeville often performing with his first wife before moving to Broadway. Married twice with his second marriage to Lucy Thayer that lasted for 44 years. Retired in 1978. Died of prostate cancer and pneumonia at 91.
Famous for: American character actor known for appearing in over 140 films between the 1920s and 1970s. Best known for his collaborations with Preston Sturges. One of the most recognizable voices in movie history. Notable roles are Buster Billings from The Jazz Singer, Wallace Whistling from Easy Living, Henry Kipper from Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Bill Griffith from Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Victor Walsh from The Farmer’s Daughter,
Skeeters – The Politician from The Great McGinty, Muggsy from The Lady Eve, Mr. Jones from Sullivan’s Travels, First Member Ale and Quail Club from The Palm Beach Story, Constable Edmund Kockenlocker from The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek, Sgt. Heppelfinger from Hail the Conquering Hero, Steve Martin from The Jolson Story, Cpl. Kiper from What Price Glory, Father Belacchi from The Mountain, and Mr. Martin from Viva Las Vegas.
Nominated for: Demarest was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in 1947 for The Jolson Story.
Most Crushing Loss: Not being nominated for Best Supporting Actor in 1941 for The Lady Eve as Henry Fonda’s smart ass valet who basically steals every scene he’s in.
Reasons: I think his collaborations with Preston Sturges might’ve made him Oscar ineligible, especially the Miracle on Morgan’s Creek. Also, was better known for his comic performances.
Trivia: Was Uncle Charlie on My Three Sons. Favorite recreations were hunting, fishing, golf, and playing the cello.
183. Henry Travers
Personal Life: (1874-1965) Born Travers John Heagerty in Prudhoe, Northumberland in England. Father was a doctor. Trained as an architect before taking to the stage as Henry Travers. Started acting in 1894 and made his first film in 1933. Immigrated to the US in 1917 and appeared on Broadway. Married twice. Retired in 1949. Died of arteriosclerosis at 91.
Famous for: British actor best known for his character roles in movies between the 1930s and 1940s. Usually played shy and bumbling but loveable older men and authority figures like doctors, judges, and dads in supporting roles. Notable roles are Dr. Cranley from The Invisible Man, Baron Cesarea from Death Takes a Holiday, Dr. Parsons from Dark Victory, John Kingsley from Stanley and Livingston, Pa from High Sierra, Prof. Jerome from Ball of Fire, Mr. Ballard from Mrs. Miniver, Eugene Curie from Madame Curie, Horace P. Bogardus from The Bells of St. Mary’s, Mr. Boyles from The Yearling, Joseph Newton from Shadow of a Doubt, and Clarence Odbody from It’s a Wonderful Life.
Nominated for: Travers was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in 1943 for Mrs. Miniver.
Most Crushing Loss: Not being nominated for Best Supporting Actor in 1946 for It’s a Wonderful Life.
Reasons: Travers was already typecast by this point in his career as a kindly old man, especially after playing Clarence from It’s a Wonderful Life.
Trivia: Was of Irish extraction.
184. Leo Genn
Personal Life: (1905-1978) Born in London. Father was a jewelry salesman. Studied law at Cambridge University. Made his theater debut in 1930 and member of the Old Vic Company. Made his first film in 1935. Served in the Royal Artillery during WWII and rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Married to Marguerite van Praag for 45 years. Died of a heart attack at 72.
Famous for: British actor whose career spanned between the 1930s and 1970s. Notable roles are The Constable of France from Henry V, Bel Affris from Caesar and Cleopatra, Adam Brant from Mourning Becomes Electra, Dr. Mark Kik from The Snake Pit, Petronius from The Snake Pit, William Bradford from Plymouth Adventure, Sir Clifford Chatterley from Lady Chatterly’s Lover, Starbuck from Moby Dick, Maj. Picquart from I Accuse!, Gen. Jung-Lu from 55 Days at Peking, and Dr. Lytell from Cover Up.
Nominated for: Genn was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in 1952 for Quo Vadis.
Most Crushing Loss: Not being nominated for Best Supporting Actor in 1956 for Moby Dick. Sure he may not have a showy role but man, he just gives a great performance of a guy just wanting to do his job yet very conflicted about feeding Gregory Peck’s Captain Ahab to the sharks. Still, it’s kind of sad that his character’s name is now the moniker for a major coffee chain based in Seattle.
Reasons: Genn was nominated for an Oscar in a very bad year and was burned by the competition. Not to mention, he starred in a lot of forgettable movies soon afterward.
Trivia: Was a qualified lawyer. Was part of the British unit that investigated Bergen Belsen concentration camp during WWII. Awarded the Croix de Guerre. Wife was an Ealing Studios casting director. Was given official leave to appear in Sir Laurence Olivier’s Henry V. Served as a governor and trustee for 2 theaters. Appointed Distinguished Visiting Professor of Theater Arts at Penn State in 1968 and Visiting Professor of Drama at the University of Utah in 1969.
185. River Phoenix
Personal Life: (1970-1993) Born River Bottom in Madras, Oregon. Parents were hippies who joined a Christian cult at one time called Children of God as missionaries but later became an exteriors architect and secretary to an NBC broadcaster. Spent part of his childhood in the Caribbean and Venezuela where his family became vegans. Family name changed to Phoenix when they moved to Florida. Never attended formal school. Collapsed and died of drug-induced heart failure on the sidewalk outside the West Hollywood nightclub The Viper Room, at 23.
Famous for: American actor, musician and activist whose rise to fame lent to the status of “teen sensation.” Started acting in commercials from the age of 10. Notable roles are Wolfgang Müller from Explorers, Chris Chambers from Stand By Me, Charlie Fox from The Mosquito Coast, Jeff Grant from Little Nikita, Danny Pope / Michael Manfield from Running on Empty, Devo Nod from I Love You to Death, Eddie Birdlace from Dogfight, Mike Waters from My Own Private Idaho, and James Wright from The Thing Called Love.
Nominated for: Phoenix was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in 1988 for Running on Empty.
Most Crushing Loss: I’m not really sure because I’m not very familiar with his performances. Yet his status as a promising teen idol and his subsequent premature death is basically what made him so famous in pop culture today. Of course, many would say losing the Oscar to Kevin Kline in the 1988 Best Supporting Actor race, but I’m not sure if I’d go that far since A Fish Called Wanda actually is very funny and that the Academy usually ignores great comic performances.
Reasons: Well, most likely burned by the competition by much more experienced actors. Not to mention, at this point most people thought he’d probably get his chance someday but died young.
Trivia: Brother of Joaquin, Rain, Liberty, and Summer Phoenix. Was an environmental and animal rights activist as well as spokesman for PETA.
186. Stewart Granger
Personal Life: (1913-1993) Born James Stewart in London. Dad was a major. Attended the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art. Obviously advised to change his name since the name “James Stewart” was already taken in the movie business. Served in the Gordon Highlanders and Black Watch, rising to the rank of Second Lieutenant until he was invalidated out of the British Army for stomach ulcers. Made his first film in 1933. Married 3 times with his second wife being Jean Simmons and had 4 children. Became a US citizen in 1956. Retired to southern Spain in the 1970s but returned to acting in 1981 mostly appearing on television. Died of prostate and bone cancer at 80.
Famous for: British actor mainly associated with heroic and romantic leading roles. Popular leading man from the 1940s to 1960s. Notable roles are Peter Rokeby from The Man in Grey, Harry Somerford from Man of Evil, Apollodorus from Caesar and Cleopatra, Richard Darrell from Caravan, Nicolo Paganini from The Magic Bow, Adam Black from Adam and Evalyn, Allan Quartermain from King Solomon’s Mines, Andre Moreau from Scaramouche,
Rudolf Rassendyll / King Rudolf V from The Prisoner of Zenda, Commander Claudius from Salome, Thomas Seymour from Young Bess, Beau Brummell, Stephen Lowry from Footsteps in the Fog, George Pratt from North to Alaska, Maj. Richard Mace from The Secret Invasion,
Old Surehand from The Oil Prince, Jimmy Merrill from Requiem for a Secret Agent, and Matherson / Sir Edward Matherson from The Wild Geese.
Nominated for: Granger was never nominated for an Oscar (yet he was for a bunch of Bambis from Germany).
Most Crushing Loss: Not receiving an honorary Oscar for his lifetime achievements.
Reasons: Well, despite being a very popular star at the box office with his British performances attracting Hollywood attention, Granger wasn’t a darling to American and British critics. However, this was a very different story in Continental Europe, particularly in Germany.
Trivia: Second great grandfather was an opera singer. Was friends with Michael Wilding who’s best known as Elizabeth Taylor’s second husband and father of her 2 sons. Married Jean Simmons in a bizarre wedding ceremony in Tucson, organized by Howard Hughes. Was a successful cattle rancher but gave it up during his divorce from Jean Simmons. Did his own stunt work. Was a notable fencer.
187. Carroll Baker
Personal Life: (1931-present) Born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Father was a traveling salesman. Parents divorced at 8 and she grew up in Turtle Creek and Greensburg before attending St. Pete Junior College in St. Petersburg, Florida. Worked as a magician’s assistant and joined a dance company. Later moved to New York City where she studied under Lee Strasberg and was part of the Actors Studio. Was discovered by Elia Kazan while on Broadway and in TV commercials. Made her first film in 1953. Married 3 times and had 2 children to second husband Jack Garfein. Married to third husband Donald Barton for 29 years.
Famous for: American actress who has enjoyed popularity as a serious dramatic actress and as a sex symbol. Was cast in a wide range of roles during the 1960s and was especially memorable playing brash and flamboyant women due to her beautiful features, striking blonde hair, and distinctive drawl. Career spanned 50 years and made 80 films. Notable roles are Luz Benedict II from Giant, Baby Doll Meighan from Baby Doll, Patricia Terrill from The Big Country, Mary Ann Robinson from Something Wild, Rina Marlowe Cord from The Carpetbaggers, Deborah Wright from Cheyenne Autumn, Sylvia: West (Karoki, Kay, Carlyle) from Sylvia, Veronica from The Greatest Story Ever Told, Julie Anderson from Mister Moses, Jean Harlow from Harlow, Kathryn West from Paranoia, Baba Yaga, Hazel Aiken from Andy Warhol’s Bad, Helen Curtis from The Watcher in the Woods, Nelly Hoogstraten from Star 80, Annie Phelan from Ironweed, Eleanor Crisp from Kindergarten Cop, Madame from Jackpot, and Ilsa from The Game.
Nominated for: Baker was nominated for Best Actress in 1956 for Baby Doll.
Most Crushing Loss: Losing to Ingrid Bergman in 1956. Seriously, Baker should’ve at least lost to Deborah Kerr. Also, her loss may have been a bit unfair and due to the Moral Police if you get my drift.
Reasons: Well, she was a seen as a sex symbol and the fact that her movie Baby Doll was condemned by the Roman Catholic National Legion of Decency. Also was said to be blackballed later in her career for turning down parts and being viciously attacked by the press as well as protracted legal battles with Paramount. Not to mention, her European career consisted of hard-edged giallo thrillers, exploitation, and horror films which included sensual nude scenes.
Trivia: Converted to Judaism for her second husband who was a Holocaust survivor. Was friends with Marilyn Monroe and James Dean. Was fluent in Italian. Wrote 4 books. Son is composer and faculty member at the Steinhardt School of Music at New York University.
188. Fay Wray
Personal Life: (1907-2004) Born in Cardston, Alberta in Canada to Mormon parents. Family moved to Salt Lake City shortly after she was born and later to Lark and eventually Los Angeles. Made her first film in 1926 at 16 and soon secured a contract with Paramount Pictures. Married 3 times with second husband being screenwriter Robert Riskin and had 3 children. Married to third husband neurosurgeon Dr. Sanford Rothenberg for 20 years. Became a US citizen in 1933. Retired in 1980. Died of natural causes at her Manhattan apartment at 96.
Famous for: Canadian-American actress most noted for playing the female lead in King Kong. Career spanned 57 years and attained fame as an in horror movie roles. One of the first, “scream queens.” Notable roles are Mitzi / Mitzerl Schrammell from The Wedding March, Ethne Eustace from The Four Feathers, Joan Randall from The Border Legion, Lee Carleton from Three Rogues, Helen Pierce from Dirigible, Eve from The Most Dangerous Game, Ann Darrow from King Kong, Marcia Collins from The Finger Points, Charlotte Duncan from Mystery of the Wax Museum, Diana from Below the Sea, Marie Franck from Madame Spy, Teresa from Viva Villa!, Gail Hamilton from Black Moon, Angela from The Affairs of Cellini, Sue McKinnon from Queen Bee, and Beth Daley from Summer Love.
Nominated for: Wray was never nominated for an Oscar.
Most Crushing Loss: Not being nominated for Best Actress in 1933 for King Kong. Then again, this isn’t surprising.
Reasons: Wray was best known as a scream queen in horror movies and is best known for playing love interest to a giant mutant gorilla with a white woman fixation. Yeah, it’s easy to see why she didn’t get one.
Trivia: Despite her role in King Kong, she was actually a brunette and wore wig during the filming. Was cast in a sitcom during the 1950s. Two days after her death the lights of the Empire State Building dimmed for 15 minutes in her memory. Has a park named after her at her birthplace.
189. Ann Sheridan
Personal Life: (1915-1967) Born Clara Lou Sheridan in Denton, Texas. Was a student at the University of Texas when her sister sent a photo of her to Paramount. This led to entering a beauty contest she won with her prize having a bit part in a Paramount film. She’d play bits for the next 2 years before signing with Warner Bros. and changing her stage name Ann Sheridan. Married 3 times with her one year second marriage being to George Brent. Died of esophageal and liver cancer at 51.
Famous for: American actress whose career spanned for 33 years and known for her versatility. Notable roles are Nurse from The Glass Key, Judy Nolan from The Great O’Malley, May from San Quentin, Flo Allen from Alcatraz Island, Ruby Gilman from Dodge City, Cassie Hartley from They Drive by Night, Lorraine Sheldon from The Man Who Came to Dinner, Randy Monaghan from Kings Row, Connie Fuller from George Washington Slept Here,
Karen Stensgard from Edge of Darkness, Nora Prentiss, Chris Hunter from The Unfaithful, Pretty woman walking past barbershop from The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Laury Ferguson from The Angels with Dirty Faces, Goldie from They Made Me a Criminal, Lt. Catherine Gates from I Was a Male War Bride, Nora Bayes from Shine on Harvest Moon, and Amanda from The Opposite Sex.
Nominated for: Sheridan was never nominated for an Oscar.
Most Crushing Loss: Not being nominated for Best Supporting Actress in 1942 for The Man Who Came to Dinner, in which she acts like a 1940s version of Jenna Maroney.
Reasons: Despite her undeniable talent and versatility, she was seen as a sex symbol due to her pin-up days in the 1940s. Also, her career was in decline in the 1950s. Still, she had to fight to be taken seriously by Hollywood.
Trivia: Was called, “The Oomph Girl,” a nickname she loathed during her 1940s pin-up days. Said to receive 250 marriage proposals in a single week. Was a heroine of a 1943 novel that was probably aimed at teenage girls.
190. Billie Burke
Personal Life: (1884-1970) Born Mary William Ethelbert Appleton Burke in Washington D. C. Father was a singer and clown who worked for Barnum & Bailey Circus. Grew up in London and made her stage debut in 1903 but eventually returned to the US to conquer Broadway. Made her first film in 1915. Married to Florenz Ziegfeld and had a daughter Patricia. Retired in 1960 due to failing memory and trouble remembering her lines. Died of natural causes at 85.
Famous for: American actress acclaimed and famous on Broadway and early silent film with a career spanning 57 years from the early 1900s to the 1960s. Best known as Glinda from The Wizard of Oz. Voice was unique in intonation, which she accentuated in her later character roles as dim-witted, spoiled society types. Notable roles are Peggy Cameron from Peggy, Margaret from A Bill of Divorcement, Millicent Jordan from Dinner at Eight, Mrs. Topper from Topper and other films, Mrs. Kilbourne from Merrily We Live, Marmy Carleton from The Young in Heart, Clara from Parnell, Glinda from The Wizard of Oz, Mrs. Ernest Stanley from The Man Who Came to Dinner, Mrs. Rowland from Girl Crazy, Mrs. Livingston Belney from The Barkleys of Broadway, and Doris Dunstan from Father of the Bride and Father’s Little Dividend.
Nominated for: Burke was nominated for Best Supporting Actress in 1938 for Merrily We Live.
Most Crushing Loss: Not being nominated for Best Supporting Actress in 1939 for The Wizard of Oz.
Reasons: She was just burned by the competition when she was nominated. Still, she was also typecast as dim-witted spoiled society types in her later years. Not to mention, she was always seen as Glinda from The Wizard of Oz.
Trivia: Wrote 2 autobiographies. Had her own show on radio and TV.