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Your top ten character actresses and actors


TopBilled
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Who are your favorites? 

Character actresses

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1. May Whitty
2. Thelma Ritter
3. May Robson
4. ZaSu Pitts
5. Spring Byington
6. Elizabeth Patterson
7. Mary Wickes
8. Esther Dale
9. Margaret Hamilton
10. Eve Arden

Honorable mentions: Patsy Kelly, Barbara Jo Allen, Joan Davis and Sara Allgood

Character actors

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1. Charles Coburn
2. Harry Davenport
3. Edgar Buchanan
4. Sydney Greenstreet
5. Jack Oakie
6. Gabby Hayes
7. Percy Kilbride
8. Barry Fitzgerald
9. Roland Young
10. Alan Hale Sr.

Honorable mentions: S.Z. Sakall, Jimmy Durante, Eugene Pallette and Akim Tamiroff

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9 minutes ago, TopBilled said:

Who are your favorites? 

Character actresse

Screen Shot 2018-08-14 at 10.24.55 AM.jpg
1. May Whitty
2. Thelma Ritter
3. May Robson
4. ZaSu Pitts
5. Spring Byington
6. Elizabeth Patterson
7. Mary Wickes
8. Esther Dale
9. Margaret Hamilton
10. Eve Arden

Honorable mentions: Patsy Kelly, Barbara Jo Allen, Joan Davis and Sara Allgood

Character actors

Screen Shot 2018-08-14 at 10.39.23 AM.jpg
1. Charles Coburn
2. Harry Davenport
3. Edgar Buchanan
4. Sydney Greenstreet
5. Jack Oakie
6. Gabby Hayes
7. Percy Kilbride
8. Barry Fitzgerald
9. Roland Young
10. Alan Hale Sr.

Honorable mentions: S.Z. Sakall, Jimmy Durante, Eugene Pallette and Akim Tamiroff

You took a bunch of good ones I would always mention like Harry Davenport, but here goes, TB:

1. Beulah Bondi
2. Clara Blandick
3. Ann Doran
4. Norma Varden
5. Marion Lorne
6. Mercedes McCambridge
7. Isabel Jewell
8. Eve Arden
9. Mary Boland
10. Kathleen Howard

1. Eric Blore

2. Dick Elliott
3. H.B. Warner
4. Samuel S. Hinds
5. Charles Halton
6. William Demarest
7. Charles Bickford
8. Frank Faylen
9. Louis-Jean Heydt
10. Frank Albertson

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Favorite character actresses:

1. Thelma Ritter

2. Fay Bainter

3. Judith Anderson

4. Jane Darwell

5. Gladys Cooper

6. Gladys George

7. Eve Arden

8. Margaret Hamilton

9. Celeste Holm

10. May Robson

Favorite character actors:

1. George Sanders

2. Alan Hale

3. Frank McHugh

4. Harry Davenport

5. Edward Everett Horton

6. Ward Bond

7. Barton MacLane

8. Sydney Greenstreet

9. Wallace Ford

10. Cecil Kellaway

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I could go on and on, but I will just add two more.


I never think of May Robson without also thinking of Jessie Ralph, since I love both. She's most famous to any who don't remember here, as Peggotty in "David Copperfield".

I also dig John Anderson, a much later player but probably most famous as the used car dealer in "Psycho" who sells Janet Leigh her car in trade. He is always wonderful in everything, with a style of veracity which can't be beat.

Oops, thinking of him made me also think of Charles Middleton, who played Ming the Merciless. He was a former carnival worker and could anyone be meaner in a rural drama than he. I also loved him in "Strangler of the Swamp".

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6 hours ago, Bethluvsfilms said:

2. Fay Bainter

An obscure sort of category would be Best Entrance By A Character Actor, since after all they are not generally afforded the opportunity to have one, but I've always remember Fay Bainter opening the door in Jezebel. She greets the guests with a a number of quick-silver facial expressions which include a realistic glance at a child who happens to be among them. Nothing special here in that many will not be necessarily impressed but I've always admired her right then, not to mention that she is great throughout. I think she won that year too, most deserved Miss Bainter.

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It's so hard to limit the list to 10, but I'd like to list some that haven't already been mentioned.

In no particular order:

Character Actresses

1. Mary Wickes

2. Edna May Oliver

3. Billie Burke

4. Louise Closser Hale

5. May Robson

6. Jane Darwell

7. Esther Dale

8. Spring Byington

9. Fay Bainter

10. Elisabeth Risdon

Character Actors

1. Edward Arnold

2. Guy Kibbee

3. Walter Connolly

4. Frank Morgan

5. Ray Collins

6. Clarence Kolb

7. Gene Lockhart

8. Thomas Mitchell

9. William Frawley

10. Jack Carson

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So many lists already. I think if I posted a Top 10 in each gender, I'd largely be repeating a lot of people who are on here already. I feel like I must mention Thomas Mitchell, who was probably the first character actor I really became aware of in my early classic film fan days. In the vaunted year of 1939 alone, he was in Gone With the WindMr. Smith Goes to WashingtonOnly Angels Have Wings and Stagecoach, the last for which he won an Oscar. That has to be the single greatest year in character actor history!

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I think the reason I put May Whitty at the top of my list is because of her dramatic range. Look at her delicate Miss Froy, kidnapped in THE LADY VANISHES and compare it to her Mrs. Hughes, the ruthless killer in MY NAME IS JULIA ROSS. It's hard to believe one person can be so sincere and so brutal in two such different roles. She was an extraordinary actress.

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I can't come up with ten for each, so here is a total of 10. 5 actors, 5 actresses. These are instantly recognizable, no matter how small the role.

1. Victor Buono

2. Laird Cregar

3. James Gleason

4. Percy Helton

5. Henry Travers

6. Gladys George

7. Marjorie Bennett

8. Sylvia Miles

9. Elsa Lanchester

10. Jane Darwell

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12 hours ago, TopBilled said:

I'm a fan of Robert Emhardt. Anyone else like his performances? He was in a lot of those Alfred Hitchcock TV show episodes.

I do. He seemed to be best at creepy, sleazy characters. I remember him as neighborhood loan shark in Elvis Presley's last film "Change Of Habit". 

One of the Alfred Hitchcock TV shows I recall was one called "Crack Pot" where he played this seemingly insane weirdo but it has the usual twist ending.

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23 minutes ago, Det Jim McLeod said:

I do. He seemed to be best at creepy, sleazy characters. I remember him as neighborhood loan shark in Elvis Presley's last film "Change Of Habit". 

One of the Alfred Hitchcock TV shows I recall was one called "Crack Pot" where he played this seemingly insane weirdo but it has the usual twist ending.

Yeah, that's a good way to describe a lot of Emhardt's characters. He was certainly typecast as the crackpot. Or the sleaze ball. And he was so good at it. His voice was perfect for those roles.

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15 hours ago, TopBilled said:

I'm a fan of Robert Emhardt. Anyone else like his performances? He was in a lot of those Alfred Hitchcock TV show episodes.

Screen Shot 2018-08-14 at 7.23.08 PM.jpg

Robert Emhardt was a fine actor.     My favorite performance of his is in the Sam Fuller film,  Underworld USA where he plays a very caviler mob boss.      Love the ending where Cliff Robertson gives him swimming lessons!

 

 

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I'm unsure why a nine-month-old thread with a similar concept is suddenly back above this thread. Possibly a TCM administrator will merge the threads at some point (if they ever see them under all the Korean spam). But I'll stay loyal to this newer thread since I already posted here.

How about Felix Bressart? I haven't seen him on anybody's list so far. Three Smart Girls Grow UpNinotchkaEdison the ManComrade XZiegfeld GirlThe Shop Around the CornerBlossoms in the DustTo Be or Not to Be and a one-scene appearance in Portrait of Jennie, which turned out to be his next to last film. He died relatively young at 57 (which, as every year passes, seems younger and younger to me!).

That scene with Jimmy Stewart in Shop Around the Corner in which he realizes Stewart is going to walk away from approaching his true love now that they've discovered her identity, and he has both a sadness but a steadfast commitment to his friend, is truly great acting on the part of both men. That's one of the greatest scenes in move history, in my opinion.

Here he is getting the center of the screen with Hepburn and Tracy standing on the margins, no less.

 Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, and Felix Bressart in Without Love (1945)

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Oh, I am all over this thread! Not in any particular order:

Top 10 Character Actresses

1. Edna May Oliver

2.  Aline MacMahon

3.  Fay Bainter

4. Thelma Ritter

5. May Robson

6. Eve Arden

7. Una Merkel 

8. Mary Wickes

9.  Agnes Moorehead

10.  (Tie) Alma Kruger/Billie Burke

Top 10 Character Actors

1. Roland Young 

2. C. Aubrey Smith 

3. Lewis Stone

4. Sydney Greenstreet

5. Charles Coburn

6. James Gleason

7. Edward Arnold

8. Dean Jagger

9. Thomas Mitchell

10.  (Tie)Fred Clark/William Demarest

And, I could go on and on and on . . . 

 

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I am not going to list a top ten character actors or actresses because most of them have been listed.  I will speak of two character actors who I noticed as a young lad watching TV and later as an adult when I became a Classic Movie fan.

Charles Lane seem to be on every television show I ever watched on television growing up in the 60's, 70's, 80's, and 90's.  He was everywhere and he did everything well.  When I started watching classic movies there was Charles Lane.  He acted in westerns, comedies, musicals, dramas always giving a guaranteed reliable performance.  I guess he was Hollywood's character actor version of "Mr. Reliable".    

My second character actor is a gentleman who did not start receiving acting roles until he was well into his late 50'sBurt Mustin.   He was a versatile character actor playing different senior character roles on television and the movies.     

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8 minutes ago, thomasterryjr said:

I am not going to list a top ten character actors or actresses because most of them have been listed.  I will speak of two character actors who I noticed as a young lad watching TV and later as an adult when I became a Classic Movie fan.

Charles Lane seem to be on every television show I ever watched on television growing up in the 60's, 70's, 80's, and 90's.  He was everywhere and he did everything well.  When I started watching classic movies there was Charles Lane.  He acted in westerns, comedies, musicals, dramas always giving a guaranteed reliable performance.  I guess he was Hollywood's character actor version of "Mr. Reliable".    

My second character actor is a gentleman who did not start receiving acting roles until he was well into his late 50'sBurt Mustin.   He was a versatile character actor playing different senior character roles on television and the movies.     

Oh yeah, Burt Mustin-- such a unique character actor, glad you mentioned him. He had a recurring role on Leave It To Beaver. But he was even better on several episodes of Dragnet. I think Jack Webb got a kick out of him, since their scenes together were usually uproarious.

Screen Shot 2018-08-16 at 2.00.50 PM.jpg

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13 hours ago, sewhite2000 said:

I'm unsure why a nine-month-old thread with a similar concept is suddenly back above this thread. Possibly a TCM administrator will merge the threads at some point (if they ever see them under all the Korean spam). But I'll stay loyal to this newer thread since I already posted here.

How about Felix Bressart? I haven't seen him on anybody's list so far. Three Smart Girls Grow UpNinotchkaEdison the ManComrade XZiegfeld GirlThe Shop Around the CornerBlossoms in the DustTo Be or Not to Be and a one-scene appearance in Portrait of Jennie, which turned out to be his next to last film. He died relatively young at 57 (which, as every year passes, seems younger and younger to me!).

That scene with Jimmy Stewart in Shop Around the Corner in which he realizes Stewart is going to walk away from approaching his true love now that they've discovered her identity, and he has both a sadness but a steadfast commitment to his friend, is truly great acting on the part of both men. That's one of the greatest scenes in move history, in my opinion.

Here he is getting the center of the screen with Hepburn and Tracy standing on the margins, no less.

 Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, and Felix Bressart in Without Love (1945)

I love Bressart so much! He was so adorable in that film and "Ninotchka". The way he would be seen running up the metal staircase in the shop, every time Frank Morgan would bark out some orders, was hilarious. I too like the scene where he says something like "You must admit that Clara is a good looking young woman" and has to break it to Jimmy that it is Clara. Great choice!

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