Top Box Office Actors of the 1950's

Posted on 30 May 00:00


The Film industry went through a transition in 1950s, where not only melodic or comedy motion pictures became prevalent, but tension filled thrillers and dark dramatizations were also drawing audiences to the cinema. The decade from 1950 to 1959 gave boost to the blonde bombshells. A few popular performing artists and on-screen characters flourished in the 1950's with their emblematic looks and flimsy voices. Therefore, below is the list of top on-screen characters and performing artists who were at the top during the decade from 1950 to 1959.

1)  John Wayne

Marion Robert Morrison also known as John Wayne born on 26 May 1907 assumed one of the most prevalent stars of the film industry of the 20th century. His first leading part was within the movie “The Big Trail” (1930). His career took a jump forward when he worked with Howard Hawks in “Red River” (1948). Among his most popular movies of the 1950's were “The Searchers” (1956), “Rio Bravo” (1959) and “The Quiet Man” (1952). He also worked behind the scenes as a producer, and his career began as filmmaker with “Angel and The Bad Man” (1947).

Wayne won an academy award for his acting in 1969, after winning many accolades and awards. John Wayne became controversial in an interview in which he stated that he believes in white supremacy. Wayne left seven children behind after his death of stomach cancer on June 11, 1979, at the age of 72 years. Later in 1985,  the John Wayne Cancer foundation was founded in his honor because of his continued fight against cancer until his death.

2)  William Holden

William Holden was born on April 17, 1918 in Illinois, U.S. He was born William Franklin Beedle. He got his first break by Paramount Pictures and became famous as William “Holden”.  He starred as a boxer in one of his his early movies due to his great looks and solid body, the film, “Golden Boy” (1939).  His career went through a few difficulties prior to World War II after which he received the excellent opportunity to work in “Sunset Boulevard” (1950) with the great actress, Gloria Swanson, directed by Billy Wilder. For his role in that film, Holden has also nominated for the academy award for the leading actor.

He won the best on-screen character Oscar award for the movie “Stalag 17” (1953). Among his other most successful movies were “Sabrina” (1954), “The Bridge on the River Kwai” (1957) and “Picnic” (1955). William died at the age of 63, on 12 November 1981, after drinking heavilly; he fell his home and badly injured his head. Not aware of the the seriousness of damage, he did not inform anyone of his injury, and later died of it. His body was found four days of his death.

3)  Rock Hudson

Rock Hudson with original name Roy Harold Scherer was born on November 17, 1925. Hudson significantly regarded for his fascinating looks and appealing comedy performances. Rock acted in several bit-sized roles before becoming part of Douglas Sirk's “Magnificent Obsession” (1954) which made him a luminary and boosted his career. He received an Oscar for “Giant” (1956) starring Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean alongside Rock Hudson. His further Hollywood successes had been “Pillow Talk” (1959), “Written on the Wind” (1956), and “All that Heaven Allows” (1955).
He was one of the first celebrities, diagnosed with AIDS. Unfortunately, Hudson died of AIDS at the age of 59, on October 2, 1985.

4)  Marilyn Monroe

Born Norma Jeane Mortenson, Marilyn Monroe was one of the most memorable sex symbol icon of the 1950s.  She was born on August 5, 1926, in the United States. She started her career by modeling and inconsequential acting roles in movies, her first appearances were in “All about Eve” (1950) and “The Asphalt Jungle” (1950) which won her a huge fan following. She became a major star with movies such as “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” (1953), “The Seven Year Itch” (1955), “Niagara” (1953), and “There is No Business like Show Business” (1954).

Near the end of her life, Marilyn Monroe, was clearly stressed for many reasons, including her ill fated affairs with the Kennedy's. She died at age 36, August 5, 1962 after overdosing on sleeping pills. Still today, it is not known if her death was a suicide or homicide.

5)  Doris Day

Born Doris Mary Anne Kappelhoff, she was also among the top performers of the 1950s, born in April 3, 1922 in United States. Doris thrived the decade of the 50's with her amiable looks and enchanting voice. Doris Day started her career with music bands ultimately appearing in her debut film “Romance on High Seas” (1948). Her most prevalent movies were those in which her co-star was Rock Hudson. Her most famous movies include “Calamity Jane” (1953), “The Pajama Game” (1957), and “Pillow Talk” (1959). She was also nominated for the best actor academy award in 1959 for her film “Pillow Talk” (1959).

She was not only an actor but was also an animal activist. From 1975, she devoted her life to animals. She also earned three Hall of fame awards in 1998, 1999, and 2012. On May 13, 2019, her charity Doris Day Animal Foundation announced her death caused by contracted Pneumonia.

6)  Marlon Brando

Marlon Brando was a famous American actor and director,  born in the United States on April 3, 1924. He made his motion picture debut in “The Men” (1950). For “A Streetcar Named Desire” (1951), he won an academy award nomination of best actor, and received nominations for the movies “Viva Zapata” (1952) and “Julius Caesar” (1953). He has also won an Oscar  for best actor for the movie “On the Waterfront” (1954).  His other notable movies include “The Wild One” (1953), “Guys and Dolls” (1955) and “The Young Lions” (1958), The Godfather (1972).

Marlon Brando devoted more than fifty years of excellence to Hollywood and won numerous honors, though the decade of the 1950s. On July 1, 2004, Brando died of a heart attack at the age of 80 years.

7)  Frank Sinatra

Born Francis, Frank Sinatra was a prominent actor and singer of the 20th century. Born on December 12, 1915, in New Jersey, Frank made his film debut in “Reveille with Beverley and Higher and Higher” (1943). He received Academy Award nomination for the movie “The Man with The Golden Arm” (1955). He also won an Oscar for best-supporting actor for his film from “Here to Eternity” (1953). His other popular movies include “Pal Joey” (1957), “Guys and Dolls” (1955), Meet Danny Wilson (1951), The Naked Runner (1967) and “Some Came Running” (1958).

Frank Sinatra had a career spanning over 5O years in which he entertained the audiences with his incredible melodies and outstanding acting. Frank Sinatra had very close relationships throughout his life. He was married four times, notably the very tempestuous marriage to the impossibly beautiful actress, Ava Gardner. On May 14, 1998, Frank died of a heart attack in Los Angeles, at the age of 82 years.


The golden epoch of Hollywood produced hundreds of performing artists, who with their skills and amazing acting kept the audiences intact to cinemas. Consequently, it was tough to make a list of limited superstars who were at the top in the 1950s.

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