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10 Great Actors you have forgotten or may never have heard of!

Updated on March 2, 2012

William Holden

George Raft

The Good The Bad and The Ugly

Alan Ladd

Too good to be forgotten

Actors are not in short supply and every generation produces great stars. But what about those stars of the past whose names have sunk into obscurity? Here we look at just 10 of the best who we think are truly too good to go unnoticed.

1. William Holden.

William Holden was nominated for 3 Oscars and won 1. A massive star in his day, today he remains largely forgotten by the public at large. Watch his performances in The Bridge on the river Kwai or Network and find out what you have been missing.

2. George Raft.

When George Raft died in 1980 he was already all but forgotten not having done any notable work in more than a decade. But look back and little further and you will find a CV full of movie gems including the original scarface. Undone by perhaps an association with the mafia Joe Mantegna character in Warren Beattys Bugsy was apparently based on Raft.

3. Ray Milland.

When Ray Milland won an oscar in 1945 he was already perhaps past his days as a big star arguably reaching his peak in the 1930s. He continued to work until the 1980s when he was a guest star in Hart to Hart.

4. Warren Oates.

Oates was never a star but his body of work speaks for itself, including movies such as The Wild Bunch, in the heat of the night, Dillinger and Badlands. A character actor sure it improve any movie he appeared in with his presence alone. He sadly passed away at the age of 53 denying us what was sure to be many more great performances. Check out The Wild Bunch for a definitive performance where he stars alongside several fellow list members.

5. Alan Ladd

It often amazes me how few of my friends and family are familiar with Alan Ladd. Diminutive in size he made up for it with a stellar screen presence at once both engaging. He starred as the Great Gatsby a role soon to be filled by Leonardo Di Caprio. But his most famous role remains Shane, a classic of the genre and not to be missed by fans of the Western.

6. Shelley Winters

Shelley Winters is a member of an elite club of actors who have won two academy awards yet for those under 30 her name remains unknown. Must see's on her Resume include Night of the Hunter and Lolita. Don't remain ignorant of this great actress.

7. Ben Johnson

Ben Jonhson is a face fans of westerns will almost certainly know. Often in supporting roles he came into his own and won much deserved recognition opposite a young Jeff Bridges in The Last Picture show for which he won a best supporting actor academy award. Also check out The Getaway and The Wild Bunch which features a lot on this list.

8. Robert Ryan

The final of four actors on this short list to feature in The Wild Bunch but by no means the list. Almost 40 years since he died his body of work speaks for itself, The Dirty Dozen, Bad Day at Black Rock and the great underrated western The Professionals starring Burt Lancaster and Lee Marvin. An actor of class and substance.

9. Norma Shearer

When Norma Shearer won an oscar in 1930 it is interesting to note one of those she was competing against was herself such was her stature. Although she lived till 1983 her last film role was 70 years ago in 1942. Not many members of the modern audience watch films that are 70 years + old, but check out some Shearers back catalogue and you will find a formidable actress.

10. Lee Van Cleef

Is Lee Van Cleef forgotten and unknown? Certainly very few seem to recall the name but any who saw him as the eponymous "Bad" in Sergio Leone's The Good, The Bad and The Ugly will remember the face. A career made up largely of B Movie westerns his body work included High Noon and Escape to New York.


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    • Robwrite profile image

      Rob 5 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY

      These are all excellent actors. I don't think they're forgotten or onscure. Old movie fans still remember and love them.


    • MrsSusanEstes profile image

      MrsSusanEstes 5 years ago

      Ben Johnson could certainly ride a horse! In a comment John Wayne said about Johnson and Director John Ford, "Ben loved to ride and Ford liked to film him riding." Johnson did a lot of stunt work before he acted. He moved into the speaking role easily and well too.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

      A great hub and thanks for sharing;I had never heard of Warren Oats or Norma Shearer.

      Here's to so many more to share on here.

      Take care and enjoy your day.


    • ThoughtMonkey profile image

      ThoughtMonkey 5 years ago from United Kingdon

      Me too cloverleaffarm. I wanted to write much more about each one but wanted to keep short enough to peoples attention. It amazes me that my friends have never heard of most of them.

    • cloverleaffarm profile image

      Healing Herbalist 5 years ago from The Hamlet of Effingham

      Love them all, but I think I like William Holden the best. He was great. Loved him in Sunset Blvd. Big old movie fan.