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

Charlie Chaplin.
8
Famous As: Comic Actor
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 Buster Keaton

Buster Keaton.
5
Famous As: Actor, Director
Birthdate: October 4, 1895
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Piqua, Kansas, United States
Died: February 1, 1966

Buster Keaton was an American comedian, filmmaker, actor, and stunt performer. Regarded as one of the greatest actor-directors of all time, Keaton was renowned for his physical comedy. Counted among the greatest stars of classic Hollywood cinema by the American Film Institute, Buster Keaton's films remain highly regarded. His 1926 film The General was admired by actors like Orson Welles.

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 3 James Cagney

James Cagney.
4
Famous As: Actor, Dancer
Birthdate: July 17, 1899
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: New York City
Died: March 30, 1986

James Cagney was an American dancer and actor who won the Academy Award for his performance in the 1942 musical, Yankee Doodle Dandy. In 1984, he was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his contributions to the entertainment industry. In 1999, he was named in the American Film Institute's Greatest Male Stars of the Classical Hollywood Cinema list.

 4 Fred Astaire

Fred Astaire.
6
Famous As: Dancer
Birthdate: May 10, 1899
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Omaha
Died: June 22, 1987

Fred Astaire was an American actor, television presenter, dancer, choreographer, and singer. Widely regarded as the most influential dancer in film history, Astaire was known for his innovation, perfectionism, and an uncanny sense of rhythm. Also known for his fashion sense, Fred Astaire remained a male fashion icon throughout his career, which spanned more than seven decades.

 5 Charles Laughton

Charles Laughton.
3
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: July 1, 1899
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Scarborough, North Yorkshire
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.

 6 Bela Lugosi

Bela Lugosi.
3
Famous As: American actor
Birthdate: October 20, 1882
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Lugos, Austria-Hungary
Died: August 16, 1956
Hungarian-American actor Bela Lugosi is best remembered for his iconic performance as Dracula on Broadway and in the 1931 film of the same name, based on Bram Stoker’s novel. He also appeared in films such as The Black Cat, The Raven, and Son of Frankenstein, along with Boris Karloff.

 7 George Burns

George Burns.
3
Birthdate: January 20, 1896
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: New York City
Died: March 9, 1996

George Burns was an American actor, comedian, singer, and writer. Characterized by his cigar-smoke punctuation and arched eyebrow, which remained relevant for more than 75 years, Burns was one of the few entertainers to have achieved an equal amount of success in film, television, vaudeville, and radio. He has three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

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 8 John Barrymore

John Barrymore.
3
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: February 15, 1882
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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.

 9 Will Rogers

Will Rogers.
3
Famous As: Vaudeville Performer, Humorist
Birthdate: November 4, 1879
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Oologah, Indian Territory (now Oklahoma)
Died: August 15, 1935

 10 Lionel Barrymore

Lionel Barrymore.
3
Famous As: Actor
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.

 11 Al Jolson

Al Jolson.
3
Famous As: Actor, Singer
Birthdate: May 26, 1886
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Seredžius
Died: October 23, 1950

Singer, comedian, and actor Al Jolson was dubbed "The World's Greatest Entertainer" at the peak of his career. Known for his brash and extroverted performances, he is credited to have played a major role in defining the modern musical. He was the first star to entertain troops overseas during World War II and was posthumously awarded the Medal for Merit.

 12 Jimmy Durante

Jimmy Durante.
3
Famous As: Actor, Comedian, Singer, Pianist
Birthdate: February 10, 1893
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Brooklyn
Died: January 29, 1980

Jimmy Durante was an American comedian, actor, singer, and pianist. Widely regarded as one of America's most popular and familiar personalities of all time, Durante was often characterized by his Lower East Side accent, gravelly speech, and a prominent nose. Also known for his charitable work, Durante worked closely with Fraternal Order of Eagles, which raises money for abused children.

 13 Duke Kahanamoku

Duke Kahanamoku
3
Famous As: Swimmer, Surfer, Actor, Water polo player
Birthdate: August 24, 1890
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Honolulu
Died: January 22, 1968

 14 Harpo Marx

Harpo Marx.
3
Famous As: Comedian
Birthdate: November 23, 1888
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: New York City, United States
Died: September 28, 1964
Harpo Marx was the second-oldest of the Marx Brothers, namely Groucho and Chico Marx. Opposed to the verbal comedy of his brothers, Harpo focused on physical comedy and gained fame for his signature curly-haired wig. He used props such as canes and harps, and was always silent in his appearances.

 15 Basil Rathbone

Basil Rathbone
3
Famous As: Actor
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.

 16 Douglas Fairbanks

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

 17 W. C. Fields

W. C. Fields.
3
Birthdate: January 29, 1880
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Darby
Died: December 25, 1946

 18 Fredric March

Fredric March.
3
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: August 31, 1897
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Racine
Died: April 14, 1975

 19 Frank Morgan

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

 20 George M. Cohan

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

 21 Walter Pidgeon

Walter Pidgeon
3
Famous As: Actor, Singer, Stage actor, Television actor, Trade unionist
Birthdate: September 23, 1897
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Saint John
Died: September 25, 1984

 22 Chico Marx

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

 23 Charles Boyer

Charles Boyer.
2
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: August 28, 1899
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Figeac, France
Died: August 26, 1978

French-American actor Charles Boyer appeared in more than 80 films in a career that spanned over half a century. He pursued a theatrical career as a young man and eventually moved into films. He achieved extreme popularity with his roles in romantic movies like The Garden of Allah and Love Affair in the 1930s. He received four Academy Award nominations.

 24 Sessue Hayakawa

Sessue Hayakawa
3
Famous As: Actor, Novelist, Screenwriter, Film director
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.

 25 Wallace Beery

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

 26 Ronald Colman

Ronald Colman.
2
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: February 9, 1891
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Richmond, London
Died: May 19, 1958

 27 Maurice Chevalier

Maurice Chevalier.
2
Famous As: Actor, Singer
Birthdate: September 12, 1888
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: January 1, 1972
Best remembered for the song Valentine and the musical Gigi, French musician Maurice Chevalier not only fought in World War I, but was also injured and later imprisoned. During World War II, he reluctantly agreed to perform in exchange of the release of a few French prisoners. 

 28 Paul Muni

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

 29 Victor McLaglen

Victor McLaglen
2
Famous As: Actor, Boxer
Birthdate: December 10, 1886
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Royal Tunbridge Wells
Died: November 7, 1959

 30 Walter Huston

Walter Huston.
2
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: April 5, 1883
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Toronto, Canada
Died: April 7, 1950

 31 Jean Renoir

Jean Renoir.
2
Famous As: Film Director, Actor, Producer
Birthdate: September 15, 1894
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: February 12, 1979

Jean Renoir was a French film director, screenwriter, and producer. The son of the prominent painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Jean was one of the first filmmakers to be known as an auteur. He started working during the silent film era and made more than 40 silent films. In 1975, he received a Lifetime Achievement Academy Award.

 32 Hal Roach

Hal Roach
2
Famous As: Film producer, Actor, Film director, Screenwriter
Birthdate: January 14, 1892
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: New York City
Died: November 2, 1992

 33 Jesse E. James

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

 34 William Desmond Taylor

William Desmond Taylor.
2
Famous As: Actor, Director
Birthdate: April 26, 1872
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Carlow
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.

 35 Ted Healy

Ted Healy
2
Famous As: Actor, Screenwriter, Stage actor
Birthdate: October 1, 1896
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Kaufman
Died: December 21, 1937

 36 Ivor Novello

Ivor Novello
2
Famous As: Actor, Playwright, Composer, Writer, Screenwriter, Songwriter
Birthdate: January 15, 1893
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Cardiff
Died: March 6, 1951

 37 Cedric Hardwicke

Cedric Hardwicke
2
Famous As: Actor
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.

 38 Ernst Lubitsch

Ernst Lubitsch
2
Famous As: Film director, Actor, Screenwriter, Film producer, Writer, Film editor
Birthdate: January 29, 1892
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Berlin
Died: November 30, 1947

 39 Barry Ward

Barry Ward
2
Famous As: Film actor
Birthdate: 0000 AD
Birthplace: Blanchardstown, Dublin, Ireland

 40 Bert Williams

Bert Williams
2
Famous As: Actor, Screenwriter, Stage actor
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.

 41 Isaac Singer

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

 42 Robert Benchley

Robert Benchley.
2
Famous As: Humorist
Birthdate: October 15, 1889
Sun Sign: Libra
Died: September 21, 1945

 43 Oswald Chambers

Oswald Chambers
2
Famous As: Author, Theologian
Birthdate: July 24, 1874
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Aberdeen
Died: November 15, 1917

 44 Cecil Kellaway

Cecil Kellaway
2
Famous As: Screenwriter, Stage actor, Film actor, Television actor
Birthdate: August 22, 1890
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Cape Town
Died: February 28, 1973

 45 James Finlayson

James Finlayson
2
Famous As: actor, comedian, stage actor
Birthdate: August 27, 1887
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Falkirk
Died: October 9, 1953

 46 Agustín Lara

Agustín Lara
2
Famous As: Composer, Singer, Actor, Songwriter
Birthdate: October 30, 1897
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Tlatlauquitepec Municipality
Died: November 6, 1970

 47 Wyndham Lewis

Wyndham Lewis
2
Famous As: Painter, Writer, Journalist, Editor, Novelist
Birthdate: November 18, 1882
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Amherst
Died: March 7, 1957

 48 Henri Désiré Landru

Henri Désiré Landru
2
Famous As: Serial killer, Subdeacon, Accountant, Q3053339, Cartographer, Roofer, Plumber, Con artist
Birthdate: April 12, 1869
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Paris
Died: February 25, 1922

 49 George Arliss

George Arliss
1
Famous As: Writer, Playwright, Film director, Autobiographer, Screenwriter, Stage actor, Film actor
Birthdate: April 10, 1868
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: London
Died: February 5, 1946

 50 Ira Aldridge

Ira Aldridge
1
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: July 24, 1807
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Died: August 7, 1867