Famous Actors Of The 19th Century

The Industrial Revolution of the 1800 witnessed a huge surge in the demand for art and entertainment. Theatre gradually became a dominant force in the world of entertainment as more and more people embarked to make a career in acting. Interestingly, acting style in the early 19th century was prone to exaggerated movement, gestures, grandiose effects, spectacular drama, physical comedy and gags and outlandish costumes. It was from the middle of the 19th century, theatre began to take on a new respectability and draw in more middle class audiences. Pictorial drama was most sought after for its great use of properties, carefully studied costume detail and a fashionable interest in archaeology and history. In America, theatre was fuelled by the spirit of nationalism. Probably this explains as to why most of the American theatre of the era revolved around themes of patriotism, optimism and idealism. Furthermore, it was in the mid-19th century that theatres worldwide became sharply influenced by the classic English tradition, as Shakespearean play and other Standard English plays dominated the scene. The century marked the rise of some of the most famed and respected actors including George Burns, Groucho Marx, Boris Karloff, Fred Astaire and so on. With this section, find out some of the most famous actors of the 19th century.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 
Charlie Chaplin
(Actor, Comedian)

Charlie Chaplin
18
Birthdate: April 16, 1889
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Walworth, London, England
Died: December 25, 1977

Cinema lovers around the world hold Charlie Chaplin in high esteem. One of the biggest stars of the silent film era and an icon, he left the audience in splits with his comedic performances. Even today, his performances in movies like Modern Times and The Gold Rush are considered classic. The legendary actor was also a writer, director and producer.

 2 

Charles Laughton
4
Birthdate: July 1, 1899
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Scarborough, North Yorkshire, England
Died: December 15, 1962
Charles Laughton is best known for his Academy Award-winning performance in The Private Life of Henry VIII and his Academy Award-nominated roles in Mutiny on the Bounty and Witness for the Prosecution. He played Quasimodo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. He was also a skilled Shakespearean theater actor.

 3 

Matthew Lewis
8
Birthdate: June 27, 1989
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Leeds, West Yorkshire, England
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 4 
Edward Burns
(Actor)

Edward Burns
4
Birthdate: September 21, 1879
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Glendive, Montana, United States
Died: July 4, 1954

 5 

John Barrymore
4
Birthdate: February 14, 1882
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: May 29, 1942
John Barrymore, father of actor Drew Barrymore, began his career as a stage actor, appearing in plays such as Hamlet. He was nicknamed “the Great Profile” and starred in films such as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Sherlock Holmes. He struggled with alcoholism throughout his life.

 6 
Will Rogers
(Vaudeville Performer, Humorist)

Will Rogers
4
Birthdate: November 4, 1879
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Oologah, Indian Territory (now Oklahoma)
Died: August 15, 1935

 7 

Lionel Barrymore
4
Birthdate: April 28, 1878
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Philadelphia
Died: November 15, 1954

One of the earliest members of the famous Barrymore family of actors, Lionel Barrymore remains best known for his portrayal of Mr. Potter in the 1946 film It's a Wonderful Life. Unlike many of his descendants, Barrymore also composed music. For his contribution to motion picture and radio, Barrymore was honored with two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

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 8 

Basil Rathbone
3
Birthdate: June 13, 1892
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Johannesburg, South Africa
Died: July 21, 1967

Basil Rathbone was an English actor best remembered for playing private detective Sherlock Holmes in 14 movies made between 1939 and 1946. Renowned for playing morally ambiguous characters, Rathbone won the prestigious Tony Award for his portrayal of Dr. Austin Sloper in The Heiress. Basil Rathbone has been honored with three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

 9 

Douglas Fairbanks
3
Birthdate: May 23, 1883
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Denver, Colorado, United States
Died: December 12, 1939

 10 
Jack Haley
(Vaudevillian)

Jack Haley
3
Birthdate: August 10, 1897
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Died: June 6, 1979

 11 
Ed Wynn
(Actor)

Ed Wynn
3
Birthdate: November 9, 1886
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Died: June 19, 1966

 12 
Georges Méliès
(One of the First Filmmakers to Use Storyboards & Fictional Narratives in Movies)

Georges Méliès
3
Birthdate: December 8, 1861
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: January 21, 1938

Initially a professional illusionist and later a film director, Georges Méliès became interested in motion pictures after watching the first real film made by Lumière brothers. Realizing the potential of film-making as an art, he soon started experimenting, making technical and narrative developments. Among the 400 films he made were Christ Walking on Water, A Trip to the Moon etc

 13 

Frank Morgan
3
Birthdate: June 1, 1890
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: New York City, New York, USA
Died: September 18, 1949

 14 
Bud Abbott
(Comedian)

Bud Abbott
3
Birthdate: October 2, 1897
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Asbury Park, New Jersey, United States
Died: April 24, 1974

 15 
Bert Lahr
(Actor)

Bert Lahr
3
Birthdate: August 13, 1895
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: New York City, New York, USA
Died: December 4, 1967

 16 
George M. Cohan
(American playwright)

George M. Cohan
3
Birthdate: July 3, 1878
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Providence, Rhode Island, U.S.
Died: November 5, 1942

 17 
Chico Marx
(American comedian)

Chico Marx
3
Birthdate: March 22, 1887
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: New York City, New York
Died: October 11, 1961

 18 
Walter Pidgeon
(Former Actor who starred in The Bad and the Beautiful and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea)

Walter Pidgeon
3
Birthdate: September 23, 1897
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Saint John, Canada
Died: September 25, 1984

Konstantin Stanislavski
4
Birthdate: January 17, 1863
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: August 7, 1938

 20 
Sessue Hayakawa
(Actor, Novelist, Screenwriter, Film director)

Sessue Hayakawa
5
Birthdate: June 10, 1889
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Chiba
Died: November 23, 1973

Sessue Hayakawa was a Japanese actor who became a popular Hollywood star during the silent film era. He was the first Asian actor to achieve stardom in Europe and the United States of America. Renowned for portraying sexually dominant villains, Sessue Hayakawa became a heartthrob among American women; he was also one of Hollywood's first male sex symbols.

 21 
John Rogan
(Second tallest person in history)

John Rogan
5
Birthdate: February 16, 1868
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Hendersonville, Tennessee, United States
Died: September 12, 1905

 22 

Sydney Greenstreet
2
Birthdate: December 27, 1879
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Sandwich, Kent, England
Died: January 18, 1954

 23 

Wallace Beery
2
Birthdate: April 1, 1885
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Clay County
Died: April 15, 1949

 24 
Tom Mix
(Actor)

Tom Mix
2
Birthdate: January 6, 1880
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Mix Run, Pennsylvania, USA
Died: October 12, 1940

 25 

Ronald Colman
2
Birthdate: February 9, 1891
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Richmond, Surrey, England
Died: May 19, 1958

 26 

Max Schreck
2
Birthdate: September 6, 1879
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: February 20, 1936

 27 

Arnold Ridley
3
Birthdate: January 7, 1896
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Bath, Somerset, England, UK [now Bath and North East Somerset, England, UK]
Died: March 12, 1984

 28 
Tom Dempsey
(Actor)

Tom Dempsey
2
Birthdate: January 20, 1868
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: October 6, 1947

 29 
Paul Muni
(Actor)

Paul Muni
2
Birthdate: September 22, 1895
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Lviv
Died: August 25, 1967

Paul Muni was an Austro-Hungarian American actor best remembered for his portrayal of Louis Pasteur in the 1936 biographical film The Story of Louis Pasteur, which earned him the Academy Award for Best Actor. Muni is also remembered for his performance in the play Inherit the Wind, which earned him the prestigious Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play.

 30 
Bill James
(Actor)

Bill James
2
Birthdate: March 6, 1886
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: London, England
Died: November 25, 1947

 31 
Eddie Cantor
(comedian)

Eddie Cantor
2
Birthdate: January 31, 1892
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: New York City, New York, USA
Died: October 10, 1964

 32 

Harry Carey
2
Birthdate: January 16, 1878
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: The Bronx, New York, United States
Died: September 21, 1947

 33 
Hal Roach
(Film producer, Actor, Film director, Screenwriter)

Hal Roach
2
Birthdate: January 14, 1892
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: New York City
Died: November 2, 1992

 34 

John Laurie
2
Birthdate: March 25, 1897
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Dumfries, Dumfriesshire, Scotland, UK
Died: June 23, 1980

 35 

John Gilbert
2
Birthdate: July 10, 1897
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Logan, Utah, United States
Died: January 9, 1936

 36 

William Desmond Taylor
2
Birthdate: April 26, 1872
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Carlow, Ireland
Died: February 1, 1922
Actor-director William Desmond Taylor, a popular figure from the silent era of Hollywood, made headlines when he was found murdered in his LA bungalow. The case, which initiated a media frenzy, remains unsolved to date due to lack of evidence, in spite of a deathbed confession from actor Patricia Palmer.

 37 

Henry Travers
2
Birthdate: March 5, 1874
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Prudhoe, Northumberland, England
Died: October 18, 1965
Travers John Heagerty, better known as Henry Travers, is best remembered as Clarence Odbody from It's a Wonderful Life. He had started his career as a stage actor and appeared frequently on Broadway. He won an Academy Award for Mrs. Miniver and was known for playing friendly old men.

 38 
Jesse E. James
(Lawyer, Actor)

Jesse E. James
2
Birthdate: August 31, 1875
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Nashville
Died: March 26, 1951

 39 

Barry Fitzgerald
2
Birthdate: March 10, 1888
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland
Died: January 14, 1961

 40 
Ted Healy
(Actor, Screenwriter, Stage actor)

Ted Healy
2
Birthdate: October 1, 1896
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Kaufman
Died: December 21, 1937

 41 
James Whale
(Director, Actor)

James Whale
2
Birthdate: July 22, 1889
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Worcestershire, England
Died: May 29, 1957

 42 
Ivor Novello
(Actor, Playwright, Composer, Writer, Screenwriter, Songwriter)

Ivor Novello
2
Birthdate: January 15, 1893
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Cardiff
Died: March 6, 1951

 43 
Thomas H. Ince
(Film Producer)

Thomas H. Ince
2
Birthdate: November 16, 1880
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Newport, Rhode Island, United States
Died: November 19, 1924

 44 

Cedric Hardwicke
2
Birthdate: February 19, 1893
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Lye, England
Died: August 6, 1964

English actor Cedric Hardwicke is mostly remembered for his roles in the plays of Shakespeare and Shaw. Nicknamed Butch and Badger, he was one of the finest character actors of the initial days of talkies. He was also known for his baritone voice and later moved to the US permanently.

 45 

Emil Jannings
2
Birthdate: July 23, 1884
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Rorschach, Switzerland
Died: January 2, 1950

Emil Jannings was a German actor who became the first recipient of the Academy Award for Best Actor. He was born in Switzerland but moved to Germany as a young child. He began his career as a theater actor and enjoyed tremendous success. He later ventured into films and became a popular figure in Hollywood in the 1920s.   

 46 

Mack Sennett
2
Birthdate: January 17, 1880
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Richmond, Canada
Died: November 5, 1960

Mack Sennett was a film actor, director, and producer. He specialized in comedy and was known as the 'King of Comedy'. Born in Canada in 1880, he moved to USA as a young man and entered the fledgling film industry as an actor. He found considerable success and went on to open Keystone Studios in Edendale. 

 47 
Isaac Singer
(Actor, Inventor)

Isaac Singer
2
Birthdate: October 27, 1811
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: New York
Died: July 23, 1875

 48 
Bert Williams
(Actor, Screenwriter, Stage actor)

Bert Williams
2
Birthdate: November 12, 1874
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Nassau
Died: March 4, 1922

Bert Williams was an American entertainer and comedian. One of the greatest entertainers of the Vaudeville era, Bert Williams was also regarded as one of the most famous comedians of his time. In 1914, he was cast to play the leading role in Darktown Jubilee, making him the first Black man to play the main role in a film.

 49 
Barry Ward
(Film actor)

Barry Ward
2
Birthdate: 0000 AD
Birthplace: Blanchardstown, Dublin, Ireland

 50 
Bill Pickett
(Cowboy)

Bill Pickett
1
Birthdate: December 5, 1870
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Williamson County, Texas, United States
Died: April 2, 1932