The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Actors of all time. This list of famous Actors is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Actors.
With an HPI of 71.90, Leslie Nielsen is the most famous Actor. His biography has been translated into 70 different languages on wikipedia.
Leslie William Nielsen (11 February 1926 – 28 November 2010) was a Canadian-American dramatic and comedic actor. With a career spanning 60 years, he appeared in more than 100 films and 150 television programs, portraying more than 220 characters.Nielsen was born in Regina, Saskatchewan. After high school, he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1943 and served until the end of World War II. Upon his discharge, Nielsen worked as a disc jockey before receiving a scholarship to study theatre at the Neighborhood Playhouse. He made his acting debut in 1950, appearing in 46 live television programs a year. Nielsen made his film debut in 1956, with supporting roles in several dramas and western and romance films produced between the 1950s and the 1970s. Although his notable performances in the films Forbidden Planet and The Poseidon Adventure gave him standing as a serious actor, Nielsen later gained enduring recognition for his deadpan comedy roles during the 1980s, after being cast for the Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker comedy film Airplane!. In his comedy roles, Nielsen specialized in portraying characters oblivious to and complicit in their absurd surroundings. Nielsen's performance in Airplane! marked his turning point, which made him "the Olivier of spoofs" according to film critic Roger Ebert, and leading to further success in the genre with The Naked Gun film series, based on the earlier short-lived television series Police Squad!, in which Nielsen also starred. Nielsen received a variety of awards and was inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame and the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
With an HPI of 70.99, Donald Sutherland is the 2nd most famous Actor. His biography has been translated into 77 different languages.
Donald McNichol Sutherland (born 17 July 1935) is a Canadian actor whose film career spans over six decades. He has been nominated for nine Golden Globe Awards, winning two for his performances in the television films Citizen X (1995) and Path to War (2002); the former also earned him a Primetime Emmy Award. An inductee of the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Canadian Walk of Fame, he also received a Canadian Academy Award for the drama film Threshold (1981). Multiple film critics and media outlets have cited him as one of the best actors never to have received an Academy Award nomination. In 2017, he received an Academy Honorary Award for his contributions to cinema. In 2021, he won the Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Movie/Miniseries for his work in the HBO miniseries The Undoing (2020). Sutherland rose to fame after starring in films including The Dirty Dozen (1967), M*A*S*H (1970), Kelly's Heroes (1970), Klute (1971), Don't Look Now (1973), Fellini's Casanova (1976), 1900 (1976), The Eagle Has Landed (1976), Animal House (1978), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), Ordinary People (1980), and Eye of the Needle (1981). He later went on to star in many other films where he appeared either in leading or supporting roles such as A Dry White Season (1989), JFK (1991), Outbreak (1995), A Time to Kill (1996), The Assignment (1997), Without Limits (1998), Space Cowboys (2000), Big Shot's Funeral (2001), The Italian Job (2003), Cold Mountain (2003), Pride & Prejudice (2005), Aurora Borealis (2006), The Mechanic (2011) and The Hunger Games franchise (2012–2015). He is the father of actors Kiefer Sutherland, Rossif Sutherland, and Angus Sutherland.
With an HPI of 70.14, Jim Carrey is the 3rd most famous Actor. His biography has been translated into 105 different languages.
James Eugene Carrey (; born January 17, 1962) is a Canadian-American actor and comedian. Known for his energetic slapstick performances, Carrey first gained recognition in 1990, after landing a role in the American sketch comedy television series In Living Color (1990–1994). He broke out as a star in motion pictures with Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Mask and Dumb and Dumber (all 1994). This was followed up with Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, Batman Forever (both 1995) and Liar Liar (1997). In the 2000s, he gained further notice for his portrayal of the Grinch in How the Grinch Stole Christmas and for the comedy Me, Myself & Irene (both in 2000), as well as Bruce Almighty (2003), Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004), Fun with Dick and Jane (2005), Yes Man, Horton Hears a Who! (both 2008), and A Christmas Carol (2009). In the 2010s, Carrey appeared in the films Mr. Popper's Penguins (2011), The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, Kick-Ass 2 (both 2013), Dumb and Dumber To (2014), and portrayed Leap Day William in the sitcom 30 Rock (2012). In 2020, he portrayed Dr. Robotnik in Sonic the Hedgehog and its 2022 sequel and Joe Biden in six episodes of Saturday Night Live in the leadup to the 2020 United States presidential election. Although largely typecast as a comedic actor, Carrey has had success in dramatic roles. His first dramatic success was for starring in the Emmy-nominated made-for-television film Doing Time on Maple Drive (1992). Carrey gained attention for his leading roles in The Truman Show (1998) and Man on the Moon (1999), earning Golden Globe Awards for each film. He later starred in the psychological science fiction romantic drama film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004); this performance is repeatedly lauded as the seminal in Carrey's career and for which he was nominated for both the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role and another Golden Globe Award. He was also praised for his dramatic role of Jeff Piccirillo in the Showtime tragicomedy series Kidding, for which he was nominated for another Golden Globe. The Guardian named him one of the best actors never to have received an Academy Award nomination.In 2006, Carrey received a Grammy award nomination for Best Spoken Word Album for Children. In 2013, Carrey published his first book, a children's story titled How Roland Rolls, which was awarded a 2013 Gelett Burgess Children's Book Award. In 2020, Carrey published his first novel, Memoirs and Misinformation, which he co-authored with Dana Vachon.
With an HPI of 69.74, Christopher Plummer is the 4th most famous Actor. His biography has been translated into 94 different languages.
Arthur Christopher Orme Plummer (December 13, 1929 – February 5, 2021) was a Canadian actor. His career spanned seven decades, gaining him recognition for his performances in film, stage, and television. He received multiple accolades, including an Academy Award, two Tony Awards, two Primetime Emmy Awards and a Grammy Award nomination―making him the only Canadian recipient of the "Triple Crown of Acting" to also acquire a Grammy nomination. He made his Broadway debut in 1954 and continued to act in leading roles on stage, playing Cyrano de Bergerac in Cyrano (1974), Iago in Othello, as well as playing the titular roles in Hamlet at Elsinore (1964), Macbeth, King Lear, and Barrymore. Plummer performed in stage productions, including J.B., No Man's Land, and Inherit the Wind. Plummer was born in Toronto, Ontario, and grew up in Senneville, Quebec. After appearing on stage, he made his film debut in Stage Struck (1958), landed his first starring role that same year in Wind Across the Everglades, and won widespread acclaim for his performance as Captain Georg von Trapp in the musical film The Sound of Music (1965) alongside Julie Andrews.Plummer played numerous major historical figures, including Commodus in The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964), Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington in Waterloo (1970), Rudyard Kipling in The Man Who Would Be King (1975), Mike Wallace in The Insider (1999), Leo Tolstoy in The Last Station (2009), Kaiser Wilhelm II in The Exception (2016), and J. Paul Getty in All the Money in the World (2017). His film credits also include Malcolm X (1992), A Beautiful Mind (2001), The New World (2005), Inside Man (2006), The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011), Knives Out (2019), and The Last Full Measure (2019). Plummer received various awards for his work, including an Academy Award, two Primetime Emmy Awards, two Tony Awards, a Golden Globe Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and a British Academy Film Award. He is one of the few performers to have received the Triple Crown of Acting, and the only Canadian to accomplish this feat. In 2011, he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor at the age of 82 for Beginners (2010), becoming the oldest person to win an acting award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (a distinction he held until being supplanted by 83-year-old Anthony Hopkins in 2021), and he also received an Oscar nomination at the age of 88 for All the Money in the World, making him the oldest person to be nominated in any acting category at the Academy Awards.
With an HPI of 66.94, Michael J. Fox is the 5th most famous Actor. His biography has been translated into 80 different languages.
Michael Andrew Fox (born June 9, 1961), known professionally as Michael J. Fox, is a Canadian-American retired actor. Beginning his career in the 1970s, he rose to prominence portraying Alex P. Keaton on the NBC sitcom Family Ties (1982–1989). Fox is famous for his role as protagonist Marty McFly in the Back to the Future film trilogy (1985–1990), a critical and commercial success. He went on to headline several films throughout the 1980s and 1990s, including Teen Wolf (1985), The Secret of My Success (1987), Casualties of War (1989), Doc Hollywood (1991), and The Frighteners (1996). Fox returned to television on the ABC sitcom Spin City in the lead role of Mike Flaherty from 1996 to 2000. In 1998, Fox disclosed his 1991 diagnosis of Parkinson's disease. He subsequently became an advocate for finding a cure and founded the Michael J. Fox Foundation in 2000 to help fund research. Worsening symptoms forced Fox to reduce his activities and led to his return to television in Spin City when he was still a major movie star. He continued to make guest appearances on television, including recurring roles on the FX comedy-drama Rescue Me (2009) and the CBS legal drama The Good Wife (2010–2016) that garnered him critical acclaim. He also worked voicing the title character in the Stuart Little films (1999–2005) and the lead of the animated film Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001). His final major role was on the NBC sitcom The Michael J. Fox Show (2013–2014). Fox retired from acting in 2020 due to his declining health.Fox won five Primetime Emmy Awards, four Golden Globe Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, and a Grammy Award. He was also appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2010, along with being inducted to Canada's Walk of Fame in 2000 and the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2002. For his advocacy of a cure for Parkinson's disease, he received an honorary doctorate in 2010 from the Karolinska Institute.
With an HPI of 66.13, William Shatner is the 6th most famous Actor. His biography has been translated into 69 different languages.
William Shatner (born March 22, 1931) is a Canadian actor. In a career spanning seven decades, he is best known for his portrayal of James T. Kirk in the Star Trek franchise, from his 1965 debut as the captain of the starship Enterprise in the second pilot of the first Star Trek television series to his final appearance as Captain Kirk in the seventh Star Trek feature film, Star Trek Generations (1994). Shatner began his screen acting career in Canadian films and television productions before moving into guest-starring roles in various US television shows. He appeared as James Kirk in all the episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series, 21 of the 22 episodes of Star Trek: The Animated Series, and the first seven Star Trek movies. He has written a series of books chronicling his experiences before, during and after his time in a Starfleet uniform. He has also co-written several novels set in the Star Trek universe and a series of science fiction novels, the TekWar sequence, that were adapted for television. Outside Star Trek, Shatner played the eponymous veteran police sergeant in T. J. Hooker (1982–1986) and hosted the reality-based television series Rescue 911 (1989–1996), which won a People's Choice Award for Favorite New TV Dramatic Series. His appearances as a guest star in two episodes of the television detective series Columbo, almost two decades apart, were among his many such contributions to television shows from the 1970s to the 2010s. Shatner's television career after his last appearance as James Kirk embraced comedy, drama and reality shows. In seasons 4 and 5 of the NBC series 3rd Rock from the Sun, he played the alien "Big Giant Head" to which the main characters reported. From 2004 until 2008, he starred as attorney Denny Crane in the final season of the legal show The Practice and in its spinoff Boston Legal, a role that earned him two Emmy Awards, one for his contribution to each series. In 2016, 2017 and 2018, he starred in both seasons of NBC's Better Late Than Never, a comical travel series in which a band of elderly celebrities toured east Asia and Europe.Aside from acting, Shatner has had a career as a recording artist, beginning in 1968 with his album The Transformed Man. His cover versions of songs are dramatic recitations of their lyrics rather than musical performances: the most notable of them are his versions of The Beatles' "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" and Bob Dylan's "Mr Tambourine Man". The rendition of Elton John's "Rocket Man" that he essayed when he hosted the 5th Saturn Awards in 1978 has often been parodied by comedians. His most successful album was his third, Seeking Major Tom (2011), which includes covers of Pink Floyd's "Learning to Fly", David Bowie's "Space Oddity" and Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody".In 2021, Shatner flew into space aboard a Blue Origin sub-orbital capsule. At the age of 90, he became the oldest person to fly in space and one of the first 600 to do so. Minutes after the flight, he described experiencing the overview effect.
With an HPI of 64.98, Dan Aykroyd is the 7th most famous Actor. His biography has been translated into 51 different languages.
Daniel Edward Aykroyd ( AK-royd; born July 1, 1952) is a Canadian actor, comedian, producer, musician and writer. He was an original member of the "Not Ready for Prime Time Players" on Saturday Night Live (1975–1979). During his tenure on SNL, Aykroyd appeared in a recurring series of sketches about the Coneheads, and the Blues Brothers. For his work on the show he received five Primetime Emmy Award nominations winning for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series in 1977. After his departure, he has since returned in guest roles. Aykroyd gained prominence for writing, and starring as Dr. Raymond Stantz in, Ghostbusters (1984), which spawned a sequel and eventually an entire media franchise. He also is known for his comedic roles in Blues Brothers (1980), Trading Places (1983), Spies Like Us (1985), Dragnet (1987), The Great Outdoors (1988), and Coneheads (1993), In 1990, he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Driving Miss Daisy (1989). He continued his dramatic roles in My Girl (1991), Chaplin, and Sneakers (both 1992). Aykroyd has done supporting roles in Tommy Boy (1995), Grosse Pointe Blank (1997), 50 First Dates (2004), The Campaign (2012), and Behind the Candelabra (2013). He starred as Reverend Mike Weber in his own sitcom, Soul Man (1997–1998). He has since appeared on various television shows including It's Garry Shandling's Show (1990), Home Improvement (1997), Family Guy (2009), The Simpsons (2021) and The Conners (2019). Aykroyd is also a businessman, having co-founded the House of Blues chain of music venues and the Crystal Head Vodka brand.
With an HPI of 61.77, Mary Pickford is the 8th most famous Actor. Her biography has been translated into 82 different languages.
Gladys Louise Smith (April 8, 1892 – May 29, 1979), known professionally as Mary Pickford, was a Canadian-American stage and screen actress and producer with a career that spanned five decades. A pioneer in the US film industry, she co-founded Pickford–Fairbanks Studios and United Artists, and was one of the 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Pickford is considered to be one of the most recognisable women in history.Cited as "America's Sweetheart" during the silent film era, and the "girl with the curls", she was one of the Canadian pioneers in early Hollywood and a significant figure in the development of film acting. She was one of the earliest stars to be billed under her own name, and was one of the most popular actresses of the 1910s and 1920s, earning the nickname "Queen of the Movies". She is credited with having defined the ingénue type in cinema.She was awarded the second Academy Award for Best Actress for her first sound film role in Coquette (1929). By the late 1920s Pickford's career went into decline. She received an Academy Honorary Award in 1976 in consideration of her contributions to American cinema.
With an HPI of 61.51, Lois Maxwell is the 9th most famous Actor. Her biography has been translated into 31 different languages.
Lois Ruth Maxwell (born Lois Ruth Hooker; 14 February 1927 – 29 September 2007) was a Canadian actress who portrayed Miss Moneypenny in the first fourteen Eon-produced James Bond films (1962–1985). She was the first actress to play the part. The films in which she played Miss Moneypenny were Dr. No (1962), From Russia with Love (1963), Goldfinger (1964), Thunderball (1965), You Only Live Twice (1967), On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969), Diamonds Are Forever (1971), Live and Let Die (1973), The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), Moonraker (1979), For Your Eyes Only (1981), Octopussy (1983), and A View to a Kill (1985). She did not appear in the 1967 adaptation of Casino Royale, nor in the 1983 remake of Thunderball, Never Say Never Again, as the production was not Eon's, though she did, as a similar character, in the spoof O.K. Connery. She began her film career in the late 1940s, and won the Golden Globe Award for Most Promising Newcomer for her performance in That Hagen Girl (1947). Following a number of small film roles, she became dissatisfied and travelled to Italy, where she worked in film from 1951 to 1955. After her marriage, she moved to the United Kingdom, where she appeared in several television productions. As Maxwell's career declined, she lived in Canada, Switzerland, and the UK. In 2001, she was diagnosed with bowel cancer and moved to Western Australia, where she lived with her son until her death, aged 80, in 2007.
With an HPI of 61.48, Ryan Reynolds is the 10th most famous Actor. His biography has been translated into 73 different languages.
Ryan Rodney Reynolds (born October 23, 1976) is a Canadian and American actor, best known for playing the Marvel Comics character Deadpool. He is one of the highest-grossing film actors of all time, with a worldwide box-office gross of over $5 billion. He began his career starring in the Canadian teen soap opera Hillside (1991–1993), and had minor roles before landing the lead role on the sitcom Two Guys and a Girl between 1998 and 2001. Reynolds then starred in a range of films, including comedies such as National Lampoon's Van Wilder (2002), Waiting... (2005), and The Proposal (2009). He also performed in dramatic roles in Buried (2010), Woman in Gold (2015), and Life (2017), starred in action films such as Blade: Trinity (2004), Green Lantern (2011), 6 Underground (2019) and Free Guy (2021), and provided voice acting in the animated features The Croods film series (2013–2020), Turbo (2013) and Pokémon: Detective Pikachu (2019). Reynolds's biggest commercial success came with the 20th Century Fox X-Men films Deadpool (2016) and Deadpool 2 (2018), in which he played the title character. The former set numerous records at the time of its release for an R-rated comedy and his performance earned him nominations at the Critics' Choice Movie Awards and the Golden Globe Awards. Reynolds was named People's Sexiest Man Alive in 2010 and was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2017. He has been married twice: to actress Scarlett Johansson from 2008 to 2011, and since 2012 to actress Blake Lively, with whom he has three daughters. In 2020, Reynolds became a co-owner of Welsh Football club Wrexham A.F.C., as documented in the TV series Welcome to Wrexham.
Pantheon has 442 people classified as actors born between 1859 and 2006. Of these 442, 372 (84.16%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living actors include Donald Sutherland, Jim Carrey, and Michael J. Fox. The most famous deceased actors include Leslie Nielsen, Christopher Plummer, and Mary Pickford. As of April 2022, 62 new actors have been added to Pantheon including Joanna Shimkus, Katherine DeMille, and Mort Sahl.
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Which Actors were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 25 most globally memorable Actors since 1700.