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CaveGirl

Most Intelligent Actors in Films

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A current post got me to thinking about this topic. And it reminds me of an interview I saw with Truman Capote on "The Dick Cavett Show" from way back. I could be wrong on some details but as I recall it, Dick was talking about intelligent actors and mentioned Laurence Olivier, and Truman stopped him and said something to the effect that Olivier was not that bright.

Well, of course Dick took up the discourse, acting as if he had to defend Olivier and Truman stopped him by saying something like "Hey, Larry is a friend of mine and would be the first to admit he is not that bright." Now of course, I am making that up since I can't totally remember what he said but it was something to that effect. And then, Truman stated that some actors believed that too much intellligence would interfere with their creative juices so all the better that they not have a high IQ, as it might ruin their acting skills.

Then Dick brought up someone, who he said had a high IQ, I'm thinking it might have been Jill St. John maybe, and Truman said something like "That's possible because she is not a good actress." I may be wrong on that part, but it was something like that.

My point being, that one does wonder if actors having high IQ's is good or bad for their profession. I would think not always, as I love James Woods and I think he has an incredibly high IQ and graduated from MIT maybe. Another person with a high IQ supposedly was Jayne Mansfield, not that she was the greatest actor, but Judy Holliday also had a high IQ and was an amazing actor in drama or comedy, so it varies.

This all started in my sick little brain, due to the post about George Clooney and his IQ, so if anyone knows it, please spill the beans, but I'm betting Jayne would have beaten him. I kind of feel sorry for him lately though, cuz he seems to have aged forty years since having those kiddies!

Please name the actors you think are really mentally gifted... and also good actors too.

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As we know now, Hedy Lamarr was highly intelligent, especially in the field of science, though it might not have helped her career at the time had this been widely known. Hedy wasn't the world's best actress, although there are films like H.M. Pulham, Esq. where she's actually pretty good.

I seem to remember hearing the film critic John Simon say on TV that he'd only known two actors who were truly intellectuals, and neither was a particularly good actor. One was Thayer David, and I can't recall who the other was.

Meryl Streep and Glenn Close have always struck me as being quite intelligent.

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32 minutes ago, kingrat said:

As we know now, Hedy Lamarr was highly intelligent, especially in the field of science, though it might not have helped her career at the time had this been widely known. Hedy wasn't the world's best actress, although there are films like H.M. Pulham, Esq. where she's actually pretty good.

I seem to remember hearing the film critic John Simon say on TV that he'd only known two actors who were truly intellectuals, and neither was a particularly good actor. One was Thayer David, and I can't recall who the other was.

Meryl Streep and Glenn Close have always struck me as being quite intelligent.

Thayer David? Yikes, there's a name I haven't heard for a long time. He was on "Dark Shadows" and I am racking [wracking?] my brain trying to remember if I thought he was a good actor. Will have to get out some of the boxed set episodes. I agree, Meryl and Glenn just seem most likely to be intelligent, but one can be fooled by the parts people play being deceptive. Thanks! Playing an intelligent person on screen does not always mean in real life the person is intelligent. Just like an actor spouting off Shakespearean dialogue could be a real dummy in real life.

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Maybe Paul Giammatti?  Father was a Yale professor and noted intellectual.  

Kirk Douglas spoke French.  Badly.

How about Christopher Lee.  Spoke a LOT of languages: https://www.daytranslations.com/blog/2015/06/sir-christopher-lee-this-legendary-multilingual-actors-legacy-lives-on-6365/

Rutger Hauer has a master's degree in mechanical engineering.

 

 

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I think successful actors (& comedians) generally are extremely intelligent. I most certainly "intellectualize" about the technical aspects of my job much more than just "going with the flow" with my "feelings". While acting is equally foreign a conception as brain surgeon as an everyday "job", it is a job after all.

Aren't the most successful in any field those who work hard at it?
Artists' jobs are seldom steady, and they have lots of time to think about and work at their craft.

I am always really impressed when reading stars' autobiographies. I know they are generally edited, but often they retain the person's "voice". I've often realized how literate, intelligent and sensitive many actors/comedians are.
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I don't think being particularly intelligent makes one a better actor or actress than any others in the "profession", but it might help somewhat.  

I don't think of myself as too much of an intellectual "slouch", but I took Drama classes in high school and found remembering several pages of dialog pretty challenging.  Remembering not only all those words, but my MARKS as well! 

But in mentioning those who were already established( and given the site, in the "classic" film arena) I'd say some of the more intelligent in the field were;

PAUL MUNI

EDWARD G. ROBINSON

ERROL FLYNN

LESLIE HOWARD

ORSON WELLES

OLIVIA DE HAVILLAND

KATHERINE HEPBURN

At least, that's the impression they seemed to give.  ;) 

Sepiatone

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12 hours ago, karlofffan said:

Maybe Paul Giammatti?  Father was a Yale professor and noted intellectual.  

Kirk Douglas spoke French.  Badly.

How about Christopher Lee.  Spoke a LOT of languages: https://www.daytranslations.com/blog/2015/06/sir-christopher-lee-this-legendary-multilingual-actors-legacy-lives-on-6365/

Rutger Hauer has a master's degree in mechanical engineering.

 

 

I love Christopher Lee but never really thought about his IQ. It would be nice to think he was as intelligent as he appeared to be infilms. Thanks for your entries!

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3 hours ago, Sepiatone said:

I don't think being particularly intelligent makes one a better actor or actress than any others in the "profession", but it might help somewhat.  

I don't think of myself as too much of an intellectual "slouch", but I took Drama classes in high school and found remembering several pages of dialog pretty challenging.  Remembering not only all those words, but my MARKS as well! 

But in mentioning those who were already established( and given the site, in the "classic" film arena) I'd say some of the more intelligent in the field were;

PAUL MUNI

EDWARD G. ROBINSON

ERROL FLYNN

LESLIE HOWARD

ORSON WELLES

OLIVIA DE HAVILLAND

KATHERINE HEPBURN

At least, that's the impression they seemed to give.  ;) 

Sepiatone

If I were to cast you in my upcoming film, called "Transubstantiation of the Fittest". Sepia what type of role fits you best or do you like most to attempt? 

You need not worry about forgetting your lines, as we will be happy to have cue cards stuck on the other actor's clothing you are facing, since if it is good enough for Marlon Brando to use in "The Godfather" why should you be ashamed of doing the same. Thanks, Sepia!

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PAUL MUNI

EDWARD G. ROBINSON

ERROL FLYNN

LESLIE HOWARD

ORSON WELLES

OLIVIA DE HAVILLAND

KATHERINE HEPBURN

At least, that's the impression they seemed to give.  ;) 

Sepiatone

I concur with these names

I will add Warren William, who was a chess master.

Bette Davis, whom I found extremely intelligent in her TV interviews

Richard Basehart

Spencer TRacy

Hedy Lamar

Barry Sullivan, who was in law school until got the acting bug

Audrey Totter

 

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Just wanna say here that I've always thought those IQ tests were greatly overrated in their importance in determining one's supposed "intelligence".

Of course then again, I must admit that I'm probably predisposed to feeling this way.

(...and ever since after taking one of those tests in high school, my guidance counselor handed me that pamphlet with the title: "How To Earn A Living As a Ditch Digger")

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Boris Karloff and Oscar Levant were regulars on INFORMATION PLEASE. John Carradine was a noted Shakespearean scholar.

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Tony Randall may have known more about Opera than any performer or musician at the Metropolitan Opera.

He was a perennial participant in the Texaco Metropolitan Opera Quiz during the Saturday afternoon radio broadcasts. There wasn't any kind of genre of Opera that Tony could not handle.  His profound knowledge of the subject was truly amazing.

Felix Unger's love for Opera was truly the real Tony Randall coming out through his sitcom character on television.

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One actor who often seems as dumb as a bag of hammers on screen is Dolph Lundgren. And yet he's multilingual and graduated with honors from university with a degree in chemical engineering. He was given a Fulbright scholarship to continue his studies at MIT, but instead became a bodyguard to Grace Jones, which led to his film career.

Tommy Lee Jones attended Harvard and is reportedly very intelligent, despite his rough cowboy demeanor.

TV and movie tough guy William Smith speaks 5 languages fluently, and taught classes at UCLA.

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Gene Kelly was an intellectual who spoke French and choreographed for the Paris Opera.

He discovered Leslie Caron in Roland Petit's Ballet in Paris.

Gene graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in economics.  He was admitted into the University of Pittsburgh School of Law with the idea of becoming a lawyer but he got sidetracked.

The general public is aware that he directed and choreographed his own musicals, often in tandem with Stanley Donen.

 But it is not so well-known that he directed non-musicals such as The Cheyenne Social Club starring Henry Fonda and James Stewart,  Gigot starring Jackie Gleason,  and The Tunnel of Love starring Doris Day and Richard Widmark.

In the 1950s he came up with the concept of "Invitation to the Dance" as a film with no speaking, Just Dance, so that the American audience could see the world's greatest dancers-- ballet dancers from all over the world.

Also in 1950s he came up with a concept for the TV show Omnibus of comparing the athleticism of famous athletes with the artistic physicality of Dance. For the show he demonstrated how dance moves are similar to athletic moves with the top athletes of the day-- Y A  Tittle for football, Mickey Mantle for baseball and Sugar Ray Robinson for boxing.

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2 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

Tommy Lee Jones attended Harvard and is reportedly very intelligent, despite his rough cowboy demeanor.

Tommy Lee Jones (a good Democrat who was formerly married to the daughter of Ring Lardner, Jr.) made his Broadway debut in 1970, in John Osborne's A Patriot for Me. He played many bit parts, including in the infamous drag ball scene, which got the play banned when it premiered in London in 1965. Here's a photo from the original Broadway production, which starred Maximilian Schell. Tommy Lee may very well be one of those ladies in the photo:

maximilian-schella-patriot-for-me.jpg

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1 hour ago, Swithin said:

Tommy Lee Jones (a good Democrat who was formerly married to the daughter of Ring Lardner, Jr.) made his Broadway debut in 1970, in John Osborne's A Patriot for Me. He played many bit parts, including in the infamous drag ball scene, which got the play banned when it premiered in London in 1965. Here's a photo from the original Broadway production, which starred Maximilian Schell. Tommy Lee may very well be one of those ladies in the photo:

maximilian-schella-patriot-for-me.jpg

Yowsa! If the blonde second from the left is a dude, then regardless their gender, I gotta say I've never EVER seen ANYBODY look more like Barbara Bain in my life!

(...and I always thought Barbara Bain was one hot lookin' lady) ;)

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19 hours ago, arpirose said:

PAUL MUNI

EDWARD G. ROBINSON

ERROL FLYNN

LESLIE HOWARD

ORSON WELLES

OLIVIA DE HAVILLAND

KATHERINE HEPBURN

At least, that's the impression they seemed to give.  ;) 

Sepiatone

I concur with these names

I will add Warren William, who was a chess master.

Bette Davis, whom I found extremely intelligent in her TV interviews

Richard Basehart

Spencer TRacy

Hedy Lamar

Barry Sullivan, who was in law school until got the acting bug

Audrey Totter

 

I thought of Spencer and Bette AFTER leaving the iNet( and posting my list), and of course LEVANT, and KARLOFF and CARRADINE should be there too.  AND Tommy Lee Jones( Harvard graduate) and maybe...

JAMES WHITMORE too.(Yale)

Sepiatone

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I have a two-hour interview that David Susskind did with Jackie Gleason. Talk about an erudite, intelligent guy who fought his way out of burlesque!

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Let's not forget Jimmy Stewart, who graduated from Princeton, where he studied architecture.  His work was sufficiently impressive to earn him a scholarship for graduate studies, but he decided to focus on acting instead.  Definitely an intelligent person and great actor.

Robert Vaughn (The Man From Uncle) had a Ph.D and a master's degree.  His Ph.D dissertation was published as a book, Only Victims: A Study of Show Business Blacklisting.

Sheila Kuehl, who played the very intelligent Zelda Gilroy on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, graduated from Harvard Law School and has had a very successful career in California local and state politics.

 

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On 6/9/2018 at 5:39 PM, Dargo said:

Just wanna say here that I've always thought those IQ tests were greatly overrated in their importance in determining one's supposed "intelligence".

Of course then again, I must admit that I'm probably predisposed to feeling this way.

(...and ever since after taking one of those tests in high school, my guidance counselor handed me that pamphlet with the title: "How To Earn A Living As a Ditch Digger")

I would have hired you immediately for the James Whale, "Frankenstein" flick, what with your grave digging skills, Dargo.

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I'm sorry, I apologize in advance, I don't mean to be obnoxious, but....

I was a member of MENSA since high school, just haven't paid my dues in a long time.  Gotta get back to doing that...

I do remember hearing of a few actors, however:

(for comparison, Stephen Hawking, I heard, was only around 160)

-- James Woods, 170  (yes, an MIT grad)

-- Gena Davis, 165  (grad of Boston University, my alma mater)

-- Emma Dumont, ??? (the actress on Aquarius, Bunheads, and The Gifted)

-- Asia Carrera, 161 (porn actress, and played Vince's girlfriend for a season on Entourage)

-- Theodore Bickel, ??? (appeared in The African Queen and My Fair Lady)

-- Nolan Gould, ??? (plays Luke on Modern Family)

 

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On 6/11/2018 at 9:22 PM, bheam888 said:

-- Theodore Bickel, ??? (appeared in The African Queen and My Fair Lady)

Theodore Bikel. Also appeared in the original Broadway cast of The Sound of Music. Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote "Edelweiss" for him. (Christopher Plummer played the role in the movie.)

5f486eb686878725e8d06c82857d941f.jpg

Mary Martin, Theodore Bikel in The Sound of Music

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John Astin, graduate of Johns Hopkins, my alma mater.

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1 hour ago, karlofffan said:

John Astin, graduate of Johns Hopkins, my alma mater.

And lemme guess here, Kf. You still follow the sport of intercollegiate Lacrosse to this very day, right?!  ;)

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On 6/9/2018 at 6:21 PM, Ray Faiola said:

Boris Karloff and Oscar Levant were regulars on INFORMATION PLEASE. John Carradine was a noted Shakespearean scholar.

Ahhh!  I just started a topic about amazing supporting cast members like Oscar Levant.  Loving to see him here too.

Wasn't Jayne Mansfield intellectually endowed also?  

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