Top 5 Classic Hollywood Actors You Should Know

These are the men that defined Classic Hollywood and held roles in some of the most popular and influential films. Here you’ll get classy, debonair, rugged, wholesome and manly.


Cary Grant

In 1933 Mae West saw Cary Grant and quickly thrust him into her latest film She Done Him Wrong. You will know Cary Grant, not for his numerous films in Forbidden Hollywood, but for his British American accent, dashing good looks and ability to command the screen. You will also know the name, potentially because so many reference it. Tony Curtis based his character in Some Like it Hot on Cary Grant and Alfred Hitchcock cast him in four films.

Defining Film: North by Northwest


Clark  Gable

Best known for his rugged good looks and rogue attitude Clark claimed the title of ” King of Hollywood” and was notorious for always being opposite the glamourous woman. Married to Carole Lombard before her early tragic death, he also had an affair and love child with Loretta Young. Notorious for actually “being” like Rhett Butler in real life, Clark mastered the role in Gone with the Wind and would solidify his reputation as the kind of man every woman wanted.

Defining Film: Gone with the Wind

Paul Newman

Paul Newman

The epitome of ruggedness with a side of morality Paul Newman took the sincerity of his characters to heart and led a most noble life. He created Newman’s Own, with all profits going to charity and was married to Joanne Woodward for 50 years. He worked alongside Robert Redford in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Elizabeth Taylor in Tennessee William’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. A true staple in Hollywood you know his face.

Defining Film: Cool Hand Luke


William Powell

You may or may not know William Powell if you’ve just been sipping the mainstream film Kool-Aid. William Powell was a regular cad in the films of Forbidden Hollywood, Nick from the original Nick and Nora pair up in the Thin Man series and the real-life, much older lover of Jean Harlow up until her tragic death. An extremely gifted actor, he was also responsible for making the mustache look like a good idea.

Defining Film: The Thin Man


Humphrey Bogart

Playing the gangster in many films during the heyday of Film Noir in the early 30’s Bogart soon graduated to films with a little more substance. Casablanca, Sabrina, and African Queen would all challenge his acting skills and gain him the #1 spot of the American Film Institutes (AFI) actor list. He would first work with his very young wife, Lauren Bacall, in To Have and Have Not; many will know this film because this is when Lauren teaches Humphrey how to whistle.

Defining Film: The Big Sleep


Much like our Top 5 Classic Hollywood Actresses list, this was practically impossible to limit to just 5 stars. However, if you’re just starting your Classic Hollywood education you no doubt have at least heard these names during modern times and can start here.

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