Famous Film & Theater Personalities Of The 19th Century

The 19th century, especially the later part, saw the development of several exciting aspects in the theater industry. A wide range of movements—Romanticism, melodrama, Naturalism, and Realism, among others—swept across Europe and the US. Playwright Alexandre Dumas and dramatist Augustin Eugène Scribe were among the pioneers who greatly influenced theatrical productions in the 19th century. English stage actor Henry Irving was a prominent figure in European theater and became the first actor to be awarded a knighthood, indicating full acceptance into the higher circles of British society. Several innovations were introduced in theatrical productions during this era, and William Charles Macready was one of the main innovators. The later part of the 19th century saw the development of photography and films, with the inventor Thomas Edison playing a major role in the progress of early cinema. An associate of Edison, Alfred Clark was the first to make moving pictures with innovations like continuity, plot, trained actors and special effects in the later years of the century. Another film pioneer, William Kennedy-Laurie Dickson—also associated with Edison—devised an early motion picture camera. This section provides you information about the life and works of Famous Film & Theater Personalities 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.

Vote for Your Favourite Film & Theater Personalities Of The 19th Century

 1 
Charlie Chaplin
(Actor, Comedian)

Charlie Chaplin
15
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 
Richard Wagner
(Composer, conductor, theatre director)

Richard Wagner
5
Birthdate: May 22, 1813
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Leipzig, Germany
Died: February 13, 1883
German composer and conductor Richard Wagner is best remembered for his operas and music dramas. He explored the concept of Gesamtkunstwerk, which combined many forms of art, including the visual, poetic, and musical. He also established the opera house Bayreuth Festspielhaus, which hosted his works The Ring and Parsifal.

 3 
Jesse James
(Reality Television Star)

Jesse James
4
Birthdate: April 19, 1969
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Long Beach, California, United States
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 4 

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.
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 5 
D. W. Griffith
(American director)

D. W. Griffith
4
Birthdate: January 22, 1875
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Crestwood, Kentucky, United States
Died: July 23, 1948

 6 

Matthew Lewis
6
Birthdate: June 27, 1989
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Leeds, West Yorkshire, England
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 7 

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.
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 8 
Edward Burns
(Actor)

Edward Burns
3
Birthdate: September 21, 1879
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Glendive, Montana, United States
Died: July 4, 1954

 9 

Esme Creed-Miles
5
Birthdate: February 5, 2000
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: London Borough of Barnet Barnet, England

 10 
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

 11 

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.

 12 
Henrik Ibsen
(Playwright)

Henrik Ibsen
3
Birthdate: March 20, 1828
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Skien Municipality, Norway
Died: May 23, 1906

Henrik Ibsen was a Norwegian theatre director and playwright. One of the most influential and popular playwrights of his generation, Ibsen is credited with co-founding modernism in theatre, for which he is often called the father of realism. After William Shakespeare, Henrik Ibsen is the world's most often performed dramatist. His works have influenced other playwrights like George Bernard Shaw.

 13 

Ethel Barrymore
2
Birthdate: August 15, 1879
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: June 18, 1959

 14 
Billie Burke
(Actress)

Billie Burke
3
Birthdate: August 7, 1884
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Washington, District of Columbia, USA
Died: May 14, 1970

 15 
George Cukor
(Film Director)

George Cukor
2
Birthdate: July 7, 1899
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Manhattan, New York, U.S.
Died: January 24, 1983

 16 
Samuel Goldwyn
(Film Producer)

Samuel Goldwyn
2
Birthdate: August 17, 1879
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Warsaw
Died: January 31, 1974

 17 

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

 18 

L. Frank Baum
3
Birthdate: May 15, 1856
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Chittenango, New York, United States
Died: May 6, 1919

L. Frank Baum was an author remembered for writing children's books including The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, which inspired the 1902 Broadway musical and the 1939 live-action film of the same name. His works anticipated the invention of gadgets like TV that would be invented later. In 2013, Baum was made an inductee of the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame.

 19 
Theodore Roosevelt Jr.
(Military Leader)

Theodore Roosevelt Jr.
3
Birthdate: September 13, 1887
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Oyster Bay, Long Island, New York, USA
Died: July 12, 1944

 20 

Basil Rathbone
4
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.

 21 
Jack Haley
(Vaudevillian)

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

 22 
Prescott Bush
(Politician)

Prescott Bush
3
Birthdate: May 15, 1895
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Columbus, Ohio, USA
Died: October 8, 1972

 23 
F. W. Murnau
(Film director)

F. W. Murnau
2
Birthdate: December 28, 1888
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Bielefeld, Germany
Died: March 11, 1931

F. W. Murnau was a German film director best remembered for directing the 1922 silent horror film Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror, which is widely regarded as a masterpiece of German Expressionist cinema. He also made Hollywood films like Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans, which is often counted among the best movies ever made by critics and film directors.

 24 
Duke of Windsor
(Former King of the United Kingdom)

Duke of Windsor
3
Birthdate: June 23, 1894
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Richmond Park, England
Died: May 28, 1972

 25 

Sarah Bernhardt
4
Birthdate: October 22, 1844
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: March 26, 1923

Sarah Bernhardt was a French actress known for playing important roles in popular French plays of the early-20th century.  Her decision to play Hamlet inspired Theresa Rebeck's play Bernhardt/Hamlet, in which Janet McTeer portrayed Sarah Bernhardt. In 1960, Bernhardt became the earliest born person to be honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

 26 
Bud Abbott
(Comedian)

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

 27 
Louis B. Mayer
(Film Producer)

Louis B. Mayer
3
Birthdate: July 12, 1884
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Dymer, Kiev Governorate, Russian Empire [now Vyshhorod Raion, Kiev Oblast, Ukraine]
Died: October 29, 1957

 28 
Georges Méliès
(Illusionist)

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

 29 
George Halas
(American football player)

George Halas
3
Birthdate: February 2, 1895
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, USA
Died: October 31, 1983

 30 
Ed Wynn
(Actor)

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

 31 
Bert Lahr
(Actor)

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

 32 
Preston Sturges
(Playwright, Director)

Preston Sturges
2
Birthdate: August 29, 1898
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died: August 6, 1959

 33 
Vinayak Damodar Savarkar
(Independence Activist, Reformer)

Vinayak Damodar Savarkar
3
Birthdate: May 28, 1883
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Bhagur
Died: February 26, 1966

Vinayak Damodar Savarkar was an Indian politician and independence activist. He formulated the Hindu nationalist philosophy of Hindutva and was a leading figure in the Hindu Mahasabha. He was known for his strong oratory skills and was an eloquent writer. He was initially charged as a co-conspirator in the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi but was later acquitted.

 34 
Ben Hecht
(Screenwriter)

Ben Hecht
2
Birthdate: February 28, 1893
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: New York City, U.S.
Died: April 18, 1964

 35 

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

 36 
Rose Wilder Lane
(Journalists)

Rose Wilder Lane
3
Birthdate: December 5, 1886
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: De Smet, South Dakota, USA
Died: October 30, 1968

 37 
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

 38 
Chico Marx
(American comedian)

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

 39 
Jack Frost
(Composer)

Jack Frost
3
Birthdate: November 25, 1893
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Died: October 21, 1959

 40 

Philip John Schuyler
3
Birthdate: November 20, 1733
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Albany, New York, United States
Died: November 18, 1804

 41 
Honus Wagner
(Baseballer)

Honus Wagner
3
Birthdate: February 24, 1874
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Chartiers, Pennsylvania, USA
Died: December 6, 1955

 42 
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

 43 

Kathrine Narducci
4
Birthdate: November 22, 1965
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States

 44 
Maria Goretti
(Regarded as a Roman Catholic saint and martyr)

Maria Goretti
3
Birthdate: October 16, 1890
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Corinaldo, Italy
Died: July 6, 1902

Konstantin Stanislavski
5
Birthdate: January 17, 1863
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: August 7, 1938

 46 
James Wong Howe
(Cinematographer)

James Wong Howe
3
Birthdate: August 28, 1899
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Taishan, Guangdong, China
Died: July 12, 1976
Chinese-American James Wong Howe Known, known as The Poet of the Camera, had aspired to be a boxer but then earned his living as a bellboy and a cleaner, before stepping into cinematography. The Oscar-winning cinematographer used innovative techniques with the camera, such as roller-skating to film fighting scenes.

 47 

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

 48 
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.

 49 
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

 50 

Raymond Massey
2
Birthdate: August 30, 1896
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Died: July 29, 1983