Famous American Theater Personalities

What is that one thing that binds legendary actors like Bruce Willis, Daniel Radcliffe, Jon Hamm and Kevin Spacey together? No, it’s not just Hollywood and films, but their penchant for theatre and love for stage. Over the centuries, since the first time theatre rumblings took America by a storm in the Eighteenth Century, it has remained close to the country’s heart. History says that drama was first introduced in this country by the Hallams in the year 1752 when they brought over a company from London and presented The Merchant of Venice at Williamsburg, then the capital of Virginia, in a building arranged for that purpose. However, the truth of this is debatable. Never mind when theatre spread its wings in the nation, what is important is the wad of well authenticated dramatic performances that have been performed in the American soil ever since. Explore this collection of biographies to know the timelines, life stories and interesting trivia & facts related to the lives of some of the most famous and successful American theatre personalities.

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 Leonard Nimoy

Leonard Nimoy
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: March 26, 1931
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: American
Died: February 27, 2015
Three-time Emmy nominee Leonard Nimoy is best known for playing the iconic character Spock in the Star Trek franchise, for almost 50 years. Spock became a cult, and even Nimoy’s autobiographies were named after the character. He also appeared in Zombies of the Stratosphere and hosted a documentary series.

 2 Fran Drescher

Fran Drescher
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: September 30, 1957
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: American

Fran Drescher is an American actress and comedian. Characterized by her thick New York accent and nasal voice, Fran Drescher serves as an inspiration to many cancer patients as she successfully fought off the disease after suffering from uterine cancer. She is also an outspoken LGBT rights activist and healthcare advocate.

 3 Lee Pace

Lee Pace
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: March 25, 1979
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: American
Lee Pace is best known for his Emmy-nominated role in Pushing Daisies and his Golden Globe-nominated performance in Soldier's Girl. Fans also loved him as Garrett in the Twilight franchise and as Thranduil in The Hobbit trilogy. The queer actor has won the Berlinale Silver Bear for The Good Shepherd

 4 Bob Hope

Bob Hope
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Famous As: Comedian
Birthdate: May 29, 1903
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: American
Died: July 27, 2003
Bob Hope began his career with vaudeville and Broadway, before plunging into radio and films. He is remembered for his comedy timing and trademark self-deprecating humor. He hosted the Academy Awards 19 times and authored 14 books, apart from performing for the U.S. military in 57 USO tours.

 5 Jane Lynch

Jane Lynch (Jane Marie Lynch)
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: July 14, 1960
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: American
Best known for her Emmy-winning performance as Sue Sylvester in Glee, Jane Lynch has also played major roles in the series Two and a Half Men and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and the film The 40-Year-Old Virgin. She has also voiced characters in animated films such as Wreck-It Ralph

 6 Maggie Siff

Maggie Siff
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: June 21, 1974
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: American

Maggie Siff is best known as Tara Knowles from Sons of Anarchy and Rachel Katz from Mad Men. She was also part of the film The 5th Wave and the series Billions. She has promoted Betterment, a robo-advising service, and was part of the podcast You Must Remember This.

 7 Skylar Astin

Skylar Astin
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: September 23, 1987
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: American

Skylar Astin Lipstein is a sort of ‘pitch-perfect’ combination of acting and singing skills. He caught the attention of movie lovers with his success in the comedy film Pitch Perfect and its sequel Pitch Perfect 2, followed by 21 and Over. He also acted in a number of television series and featured in panel game show Match Game.

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 8 Jack Nicholson

jack nicholson
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Famous As: Actor, Filmmaker
Birthdate: April 22, 1937
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: American

From being a stage and B movie actor, Jack Nicholson went on to become one of Hollywood’s most versatile actors and a huge star. The three time Academy award winning legendary actor has, in his six decades career, delivered performances that have become iconic. His notable performances include One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and As Good as It Gets.

 9 Vanessa Marcil

Vanessa Marcil
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: October 15, 1968
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: American

Vanessa Marcil is an American actress. Over the years, Vanessa Marcil has contributed to the success of TV series, such as Beverly Hills, 90210, Las Vegas, and General Hospital. Also known for her good looks, Vanessa Marcil has been honored with awards, such as the Hottest Female Star award at Soap Opera Digest Awards.

 10 Doris Roberts

Doris Roberts
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: November 4, 1925
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: American
Died: April 17, 2016

Five-time Emmy Award-winning actor Doris Roberts is best remembered as Marie Barone from the sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond and as Mildred Krebs from Remington Steele. She also appeared on various talk/game shows and in films such as The Honeymoon Killers. She was a prominent animal rights activist, too.

 11 Marisa Tomei

Marisa Tomei
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: December 4, 1964
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: American

American actress, Marisa Tomei, gained fame when she starred in the 1992 film My Cousin Vinny. She received an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for the film. She was also appreciated for in the movies In the Bedroom and The Wrestler. What Women Want, Anger Management, The Ides of March, Cyrus, The Big Short and Avengers: Endgame are some of her other notable films.

 12 Cybill Lynne Shepherd

Cybill Lynne Shepherd
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: February 18, 1950
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: American
Cybill Shepherd is best known for her roles in films such as The Heartbreak Kid, Taxi Driver, and Alice. Fans also loved her for her Golden Globe-winning portrayals of Madelyn 'Maddie' Hayes in the series Moonlighting and Cybill Sheridan in the sitcom Cybill. She is a follower of goddess-worshipping Paganism.

 13 Stockard Channing

Stockard Channing
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: February 13, 1944
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: American

Stockard Channing is an American actress best known for playing Abbey Bartlet on the political drama TV series The West Wing. Over the years, Channing has been contributing to the success of many TV series as an actress, for which she has received 13 Primetime Emmy Award nominations. A seven-time Tony Award nominee, Channing is also an important stage actress.

 14 David Hyde Pierce

David Hyde Pierce
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: April 3, 1959
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: American

Actor David Hyde Pierce is best known for his role as psychiatrist Dr. Niles Crane in the NBC sitcom Frasier, for which he received four Primetime Emmy Awards. Active in the entertainment industry for almost four decades, he has acted in many stage productions, TV shows, and films. He is openly gay and is married to producer Brian Hargrove.

 15 Montgomery Clift

Montgomery Clift
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: October 17, 1920
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: American
Died: July 23, 1966

Montgomery Clift was an American actor whose decision not to sign a contract in Hollywood for the first couple of films went on to help establish the structure of the star-studio relationship from the 1950s to the '80s. One of the original American method actors, Clift was the subject of a documentary named Making Montgomery Clift, which released in 2018.

 16 Bob Fosse

Bob Fosse
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Famous As: Dancer
Birthdate: June 23, 1927
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: American
Died: September 23, 1987
Legendary dancer, choreographer, and director Bob Fosse is best remembered for his Academy Award-winning direction in the musical film Cabaret. Renowned for his signature “jazz hands” style, he also earned the Palme D'Or for All That Jazz and nine Tony Awards for various stage productions, eight of them for choreography. 

 17 Jeffrey Jones

Jeffrey Jones
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: September 28, 1946
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: American

Jeffrey Jones is an American actor known for his deadpan portrayal of film characters, often to comic effect. For an actor who claims to value anonymity, Jeffrey Jones has attracted unnecessary public attention as a sex offender. In 2002, he was arrested for possessing child pornography and was subsequently accused by an underage boy of solicitation to pose nude.

 18 Michael Ealy

Michael Ealy
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: August 3, 1973
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: American

Actor, Michael Ealy, is best known for his role in the drama film, For Colored Girls. An alumnus of the University of Maryland, he began his acting career in the late 1990s. Initially, he appeared in many off-Broadway stage productions. He transitioned to films soon and didn’t take long to establish himself as a sought-out actor.

 19 Morris Chestnut

Morris Chestnut
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: January 1, 1969
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: American

Actor Morris Chestnut is best known for his role in the film Boyz n the Hood. Beginning his career as a young man, he appeared in a few TV shows before venturing into films. He steadily evolved as an actor and went on to co-star alongside major actors in big-budget films. He has co-authored a book on health and fitness.

 20 John Astin

John Astin
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: March 30, 1930
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: American
John Astin is best known as Gomez Addams from the 1960s’ series The Addams Family. He was a known face in movies of the horror-comedy/parody genre, such as the Killer Tomatoes films. Some of his other notable films were West Side Story, Freaky Friday, and National Lampoon's European Vacation.

 21 Titus Welliver

Titus Welliver
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: March 12, 1962
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: American
Titus Welliver, son of painter Neil Welliver, is best known for his roles of Jimmy O’Phelan in Sons of Anarchy, Silas Adams in Deadwood, and Hieronymus "Harry" Bosch in Bosch. He has also appeared in films such as Argo and Transformers: Age of Extinction and has narrated several audiobooks.  

 22 Cara Buono

Cara Buono
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: March 1, 1971
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: American
Cara Buono is best known for her Emmy-nominated role of Faye Miller in Mad Men and as Karen Wheeler from Netflix’s Stranger Things. Fans also loved her as Kelli Moltisanti in The Sopranos. She has also appeared in Broadway and off-Broadway productions and in movies such as Let Me In.

 23 Valerie Harper

Valerie Harper
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: August 22, 1939
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: American
Valerie Harper is best remembered as Rhoda Morgenstern from The Mary Tyler Moore Show and its spin-off, Rhoda, with the role winning her four Emmys. She also hosted Nova and was seen as Valerie Hogan in the sitcom Valerie. She also earned a Tony nomination for the play Looped.

 24 Samantha Mathis

Samantha Mathis
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: May 12, 1970
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: American
Samantha Mathis, VP of SAG-AFTRA, is best known for Young Artist Award-nominated role in This Is My Life and her Saturn Award-nominated performance in Salem's Lot. Fans also loved her in Broken Arrow and American Psycho. She dated actor River Phoenix before he died of a drug overdose.

 25 Rhea Seehorn

Rhea Seehorn
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: May 12, 1972
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: American
First seen in independent comedy films, Rhea Seehorn gained prominence with her performance in Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul. Her works also include a number of supporting roles and short-lived comedy series. 

 26 Chris Sarandon

Chris Sarandon
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: July 24, 1942
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: American

Chris Sarandon is an American actor best known for voicing the popular Disney character Jack Skellington in the film The Nightmare Before Christmas. Apart from voicing the character in the movie, Sarandon has also voiced Skellington for many Disneyland Halloween attractions, such as Halloween Screams and Haunted Mansion Holiday. He has also voiced Skellington in many video games.

 27 Richard Thomas

Richard Thomas
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: July 3, 1951
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: American
Richard Thomas is best known for his Emmy-winning and Golden Globe-nominated portrayal of John-Boy Walton in The Waltons. He also played significant roles in the 1990s’ miniseries It and the spy thriller series The Americans. A talented stage actor, he played Ebenezer Scrooge in A Musical Christmas Carol.

 28 Gary Burghoff

Gary Burghoff
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: May 24, 1943
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: American

Gary Burghoff is an American actor who is credited with originating the popular role of Charlie Brown in the 1967 Broadway musical You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown. He is also known for originating the role of Walter Eugene O'Reilly in the 1970 black comedy war movie MASH and the popular TV series of the same name.

 29 Vic Morrow

Vic Morrow
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: February 14, 1929
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: American
Died: July 23, 1982
Victor Morrow, father of actor Jennifer Jason Leigh, gained fame with the ABC series Combat! He also appeared in movies such as Blackboard Jungle and King Creole. A stunt helicopter crashed on top of Morrow and two child actors, during the filming of Twilight Zone: The Movie, and killed them.

 30 Jeffrey Wright

Jeffrey Wright
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: December 7, 1965
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: American

Jeffrey Wright is a popular American actor. A self-made man, Jeffrey Wright overcame many childhood problems, including the demise of his father, to become an award-winning actor. Jeffrey Wright serves as an inspiration to many black Americans. In 2011, he established a gold exploration company called Taia Lion Resources, which provided employment to several Americans.

 31 Rosemarie DeWitt

Rosemarie DeWitt
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: October 26, 1971
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: American
Rosemarie DeWitt is best known for her award-winning portrayal of Rachel in Rachel Getting Married. She also appeared as Emily Lehman in the series Standoff and was seen in the 2015 remake of The Poltergeist. Fans also loved her as Charmaine Craine in United States of Tara.

 32 Annabella Sciorra

Annabella Sciorra
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: March 29, 1960
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: American

Actress, Annabella Sciorra, is known for her roles in films like Cadillac Man and Jungle Fever. The daughter of a fashion stylist, she was introduced to the world of glamour as a child. She studied dance and received training at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts before making her professional debut. She acts in both films and TV shows.

 33 Loretta Swit

Loretta Swit
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: November 4, 1937
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: American

Loretta Swit is a veteran American stage and small screen actress who became a household name with her award-winning portrayal of Major Margaret ‘Hot Lips’ Houlihan in M*A*S*H, a comedy-drama series on CBS television. Apart from playing a wide range of character roles on television and stage, she also appeared in movies and hosted a documentary on the Korean war.

 34 Conchata Ferrell

Conchata Ferrell
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: March 28, 1943
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: American
Emmy-nominated actor Conchata Ferrell was best known for her portrayal of housekeeper Berta in Two and a Half Men. She began her career with the off-Broadway show The Sea Horse, which won her a Drama Desk and an Obie award. She had also appeared in Krampus and Erin Brockovich.

 35 Jill St. John

Jill St. John
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: August 19, 1940
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: American

Jill St. John is an American actress best known for portraying the first American Bond girl Tiffany Case in the 1971 film Diamonds Are Forever. Jill St. John is also credited with founding the Aunts Club, a group of women who provide financial support for children.

 36 Brian Keith

Brian Keith
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: November 14, 1921
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: American
Died: June 24, 1997
Brian Keith is best remembered for playing Bill Davis in the sitcom Family Affair and Judge Milton C. Hardcastle in Hardcastle and McCormick. He also starred in the 1961 movie The Parent Trap and played President Theodore Roosevelt in The Wind and the Lion. He died of suicide by gunshot.

 37 Ethan Embry

Ethan Embry
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: June 13, 1978
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: American

Ethan Embry is an American actor known for playing important roles in TV series like Sneaky Pete, Once Upon a Time, and Brotherhood. After starting his acting career at the age of 12, Ethan Embry went on to establish himself as a successful adult actor, appearing in films like Sweet Home Alabama and Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle.

 38 Brent Spiner

Brent Spiner
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: February 2, 1949
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: American

 39 John C McGinley

John C McGinley
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: August 3, 1959
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: American
John C. McGinley is best known as Perry Cox from Scrubs and as Bob Slydell from Office Space. He has also been part of films such as Two Tickets to Paradise. His son Max’s battle with Down syndrome inspired him to work with organizations that spread awareness about the condition.

 40 Charisma Carpenter

Charisma Carpenter
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: July 23, 1970
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: American
Charisma Carpenter is best known as Cordelia Chase from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spin-off, Angel; Lacy from The Expendables film franchise; and Beth Sullivan from the Josh Kirby... Time Warrior! movie series. She has also posed for Playboy and appeared in the series Charmed and Veronica Mars.

 41 Jake Lacy

Jake Lacy
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: February 14, 1985
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: American
Jake Lacy is best known for his portrayal of Pete Miller in The Office and as Casey Marion Davenport in Better with You. He co-starred with Rooney Mara in the movie Carol. He had started his career as a theater actor, appearing in plays such as A Midsummer Night's Dream.

 42 Nicole Ari Parker

Nicole Ari Parker
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: October 7, 1970
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: American

Nicole Ari Parker is best known for her role as Becky Barnett in the movie Boogie Nights. Fans also loved her as Teri Joseph in Soul Food and as Giselle Barker in the soap Empire. She also plays Samantha Miller in Chicago P.D. Nicole is an active Democrat.

 43 Pernell Roberts

Pernell Roberts
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: May 18, 1928
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: American
Died: January 24, 2010
Pernell Roberts is best known as Adam Cartwright from the Western series Bonanza and Dr. John McIntyre from Trapper John, MD. He was also a prominent social activist and had participated in protests such as the Selma to Montgomery marches. He also narrated documentaries and experimented as a singer.

 44 Mike Nichols

Mike Nichols
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Famous As: Film Director, Theater Director, Film Producer
Birthdate: November 6, 1931
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: American
Died: November 19, 2014

Mike Nichols started as a comedian with the troupe The Compass Players and then performed as part of the Grammy-winning duo Nichols and May. Nichols then delivered Tony-winning directorial stage ventures such as Luv and Death of a Salesman and won the Academy Award for his direction in The Graduate

 45 Phyllis Smith

Phyllis Smith
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: July 10, 1951
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: American

Phyllis Smith is an American actress best known for portraying Phyllis Vance in the popular mockumentary TV series, The Office, for which she received a couple of Screen Actors Guild Awards. Also known for her skills as a voice actress, Smith was honored with the prestigious Annie Award for voicing Sadness in the 2015 computer-animated comedy film, Inside Out.

 46 Christopher Abbott

Christopher Abbott
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: January 31, 1986
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: American
Christopher Abbott is best known as Charlie Dattolo from Girls and as Mason Tannetti from The Sinner. He also had significant roles in the miniseries Catch-22 and the films First Man and James White. He is also a talented stage actor and has appeared in both Broadway and off-Broadway plays.

 47 Steve Kazee

Steve Kazee
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: October 30, 1975
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: American

Steve Kazee is an American singer and actor. Best known for his work in theatre, Steve Kazee received a Tony Award in 2012 under the Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical category for his performance in the musical, Once. For his work in Once, Steve Kazee also won the 2013 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album.

 48 Rene Auberjonois

Rene Auberjonois
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Famous As: Actor, Singer
Birthdate: June 1, 1940
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: American

René Auberjonois is best remembered as Odo from the series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. He also delivered a Tony-winning performance in the play Coco. He had voiced many video-game characters, such as Karl Schafer in the Uncharted video games. He had also narrated many books, including several Pendergast novels

 49 Gwen Verdon

Gwen Verdon
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: January 13, 1925
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: American
Died: October 18, 2000

Four-time Tony-winning actor Gwen Verdon is remembered for her SAG-nominated performance in Marvin’s Room. She was known for her signature red hair and her love for cats. She was nominated for Emmys for the series Magnum, P.I., Dream On, and Homicide: Life on the Street. She inspired the series Fosse/Verdon.

 50 Dennis Weaver

Dennis Weaver
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: June 4, 1924
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: American
Died: February 24, 2006
Dennis Weaver is best known as Chester Goode/Proudfoot from Gunsmoke and as Deputy Marshal Sam McCloud from McCloud. He initially ran track and field, but his failure to qualify for the U.S. Olympic decathlon team made him join films. He had also been the president of the Screen Actors Guild.