10 Best Old Actors

Thursday, July 21 by Mason Kaho

The list of the 10 best old actors includes some of the most legendary screen figures in history. As Hollywood moved into its Golden Age in the early part of the twentieth century and people had more free time and disposable income, cinema became a more central part of the lives of Americans. Some of the best actors—and movies—to ever flicker on the silver screen come from that time, leaving huge legacies and impressive resumes.

  1. John Wayne Wayne was the ultimate proto-American, so convincingly a cowboy in the movies that it was hard to believe he could have been anything but (and hard to believe his given name was “Marion”). One of the best old actors, his defining role was perhaps in “True Grit,” which describes most of his characters.
  2. Jimmy Stewart Stewart, one of the best old actors, was a beloved actor, most of his appeal coming from his “everyman” nature. He acted in some of the most beloved films ever made, including “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” He was nominated for five Oscars.
  3. Humphrey Bogart Bogie was a classic, grizzled actor, a performer who showed toughness and sensitivity at the same time. One of the best old actors, he made such classics as “Casablanca” and the “Maltese Falcon” on his way to becoming one of Hollywood’s biggest icons.
  4. Fred Astaire Astaire is known for his ballroom moves, perhaps more synonymous with film dancing than anyone in history. Not just a dancer, he was a great actor, going on to be the first recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors and receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute in 1981.
  5. James Cagney Nominated for three Academy Awards and known for playing a tough guy and gangster, Cagney is certainly one of the best old actors. His movie “The Public Enemy,” released in 1931 to sometimes shocked audiences, was one of the most influential mob films of its time.
  6. Charlie Chaplin Chaplin is one of the few stars who made a successful transition from silent films to “talkies,” definitely one of the best old actors. His famous “tramp” character is still recognizable almost 100 years later and he went on to become one of the most famous men in the world.
  7. Cary Grant Grant was the epitome of the dashing leading man—suave, handsome, courageous, athletic and sexy—and was even someone author Ian Fleming had in mind when creating James Bond. His role in Hitchcock’s “North by Northwest” is perhaps his most memorable.
  8. Clark Gable Gable is perhaps best remembered—as he feared he would be—for his role as Rhett Butler in the classic epic “Gone With the Wind.” He made nearly 70 films and was lucky enough to star across from Marilyn Monroe, Joan Crawford and Lana Turner. He was nominated for three Oscars.
  9. Edward G. Robinson Robinson had a distinct speaking style, immediately recognizable and especially so for moviegoers in the '30s, '40s and '50s. He often played a gangster—most notably in “Little Caesar”—and also starred in the epic “The Ten Commandments.”
  10. Spencer Tracy Tracy was nominated for an impressive nine Oscars, winning two, and is perhaps best known for his roles opposite off-screen flame Katharine Hepburn. His most famous roles were in “Boys Town” and “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.”
Do you like this story?