5 Best ’50s Movie Stars

The 5 best '50s movie stars have all passed away, but their acting legacy lives on through the memorable roles they portrayed. Every movie star on this top 5 list has earned at least an Oscar nomination. Two actors on the list only starred in movies during the '50s because one movie star retired, and the other suddenly passed away.

  1. Cary Grant. Named Archibald Leach but going by Cary Grant, this star was born January 18, 1904, in England and started his film career in 1932. He was in thirteen movies in the '50s, including two directed by Alfred Hitchcock, titled, "To Catch a Thief" and "North by Northwest." Cary Grant was nominated for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy Golden Globes for the 1958 movie "Indiscreet" and his 1959 movie "Operation Petticoat." The American Film Institute recently named Cary Grant as the number two male actor, behind Humphrey Bogart.
  2. Katharine Hepburn. This female '50s movie star is number one on the American Film Institute's greatest movie star list. Katharine Hepburn was born May 12, 1907, in Hartford, Connecticut. Throughout Katharine Hepburn's movie star career she received twelve Oscar nominations, including four during the '50s for "The African Queen" in 1951, "Summertime" in 1955, "The Rainmaker" in 1956, and "Suddenly, Last Summer" in 1959. Hepburn did not win any Oscars in the '50s, but she holds the record for Best Actress wins with four.
  3. Grace Kelly. Born November 12, 1929, she is often referred to as Princess Grace of Monaco and was a high profile movie star in the '50s that married Rainier III, Prince of Monaco in 1956. Making her film debut in the 1951 movie "Fourteen Hours," Grace Kelly's role was small and only led her back into television acting. In 1953 Grace Kelly caught her big break with a supporting role in "Mogambo," which also starred Clark Gable and Ava Gardner. Grace Kelly earned a Best Supporting Actress Golden Globe and a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for her acting in "Mogambo." In 1954 Grace Kelly won her first and only Oscar for Best Actress in "The Country Girl," because after filming eleven movies in the '50s, she retired from acting at 26 to become the Princess of Monaco. 
  4. Marlon Brando. Two-time Oscar winner Marlon Brando was born April 3, 1924 in Omaha, Nebraska, and his movie career started with a role in the 1950 movie "The Men." Marlon Brando quickly rose to movie star status in the '50s with a leading role in 1953's "Julius Caesar," which earned him a Best Actor in a Leading Role Oscar nomination. He won his first Oscar in 1954 for playing the lead character, Terry Malloy, in "On the Waterfront." Brando starred in thirteen films and earned five Oscar nominations in the '50s.
  5. James Dean. Born September 30, 1955, in Cholame, California, James Dean lived fast and died young while becoming one of the best movie stars of the '50s. James Dean's entire acting career played out in the '50s, starting in television in 1951 before leaping to movie stardom in 1955 with "East of Eden," which earned him a Best Actor in a Leading Role Oscar nomination. James Dean only starred in two more movies after that, "Rebel Without a Cause" in 1955 and "Giant," which was released in 1956, and he was named the eighteenth Greatest American Screen Legend by the American Film Institute. James Dean only starred in three credited movie roles, but he is one of the best '50s movie stars because two of those movies earned him Best Leading Actor Oscar nominations before his untimely death in 1955.


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