Top Actors of the 1940's

Posted on 23 May 00:00


Good looking and talented actors induce the audience to head towards cinemas and watch the entertainment produced by them. In this article, we will try to recollect some of the amazing actors/actresses who enthralled the world with their amazing acting skills and striking looks in the golden epoch of the classic movies of the 1940s. Here is the list of some prominent and top actors of the film industry that got on top in the 1940s.

1)  Bing Crosby (May 3, 1903 - October 14, 1977)

Bing Crosby, born Harry Lillis Crosby was an actor, singer, and songwriter who was born in Washington on 3 May 1903. Bing (refers to his pet name) got into the industry with “King of Jazz” (1931) an early sound film. He became a star with the film “Holiday Inn” (1942) in which he sang the popular song “White Christmas”.

Bing won his first academy award for the best actor in the film “Going My Way” (1944) for the role of Father O’Malley. After that, he got numerous Oscar and academy awards nominations.  Crosby led a successful life and continued to work for the industry until the 1970s; he last appeared in a television film “Dr. Cook’s Garden” (1971).

Bing Crosby died of a heart attack while playing golf in Spain on the 14th of October 1977.

2)  Bob Hope (May 20, 1903 - July 27, 2003)

Bob Hope, born as Leslie Townes Hope in England, was one of the top actors of the 1940s. Bob Hope was a comedian, entertainer, and humanitarian who won hundreds of honors, awards and, medals for his acting and human services.   He came to the United States in 1907 and spent his early life in deficiency where he also worked as a shoe salesman to bring up his large family.

Hope’s first feature film was “The First Broadcast” (1938). Prior to which he was involved in CBC radio. Bob and Bing Crosby appeared together in “The Road to Singapore” (1940) and the twosome proved to be the box office gold for decades.

As a result of his services, the American President George Bush hailed Bob as “a great citizen” who served our nation to entertain the troops. He received a lifetime achievement award in 1985 followed by the medal of the arts in 1995 by Bill Clinton.

Hope led an honorary life of a hundred years in which he entertained millions of people with his thousands of one-liner and amazing comic skills. He died of pneumonia on the 27th of July 2003.

3.  Betty Grable (December 18, 1916 – July 2, 1973)

Elizabeth Ruth Grable was an American model, actress, and dancer. She started her film career at the age of 12, where she faced numerous ups and downs. Her first major role was in 'Down Argentine Way' (1940) which made her one of the biggest stars of the industry of the decade. In 1943 she was the number one box office actress of the world, and in 1947 she was the highest-paid entertainer of the world. “How to marry a millionaire” (1953) and “Mother Wore Tights” (1947) were the most successful films of her career. She left the industry in 1955 though she continued to do work for the small screen. On 2nd July 1973, Betty Grable died of lung cancer at the age of 56 in Los Angeles.

4.  Clark Gable (February 1, 1901 – November 16, 1960)

William Clark Gable also known as 'The King of Hollywood' started his film career as an extra in silent films from 1924 to 1926. His first major role along with Jean Harlow in “Red Rust” (1932) made him one of the biggest superstars of that time. Later Gable along with another popular actor at the time, Claudette Colbert starred in “It Happened One Night” (1934) and won the academy award for the best actor.

During his filming career, though married, he had numerous affairs with his fellow actresses including Nancy Davis, Lana Turner, and Joan Crawford.

He joined the American Air force in World War II in 1945, but on his return to civilian life, his popularity had waned. On November 16, 1960, he suffered a heart attack and died. Although he faced major ups and downs in his entire career yet with his most popular movies like “Strange Interlude” (1932), "Across the Wide Missouri (1951", “Dancing Lady” (1933) and “Men in White” (1934) made an enduring icon at top of the list of Hollywood actors of 1940s.

5)  James Cagney (July 17, 1899 – March 30, 1986)

James Francis Cagney was an adaptable actor known for his best comedy, musical and crime drama performances. His debut film, Sinner’s Holiday (1930) won him success and a contract with Warner Bros Studios. He was nominated for the Oscar awards in the film 'Angels With Dirty Faces' (1938). Cagney was professed to be the dedicated 'criminal' character throughout his career, but he astounded the audiences with his alluring performances as a dancer in 'Yankee Doodle Dandy' (1942).

James Cagney won numerous awards and honors in his career and entertained the troops during the World War II. James continued his success in the late 1950s with his impressive performances in movies like “Mister Roberts” (1955), "Shake Hands With The Devil (1959), “A man of thousand faces” (1957), “The Gallant Hours” (1960) and many more.

Cagney won a lifetime achievement award from the American film Institute in 1974. He died a natural death on 30 March 1986, at age 87.

6)  Greer Garson (29 September 1904 – 6 April 1996)

Eileen Evelyn Greer Garson was born in England. She was nominated as the best actress at the Oscar awards seven times. She was consecutively nominated for Oscars 1941 to 1945 and also won the best Oscar actress award for her most popular film “Mrs. Miniver” (1942). Her first major appearance in “Blossom in the Dust” (1941) gained her an Oscar nomination for best actress.

“Random Harvest” (1942), “Goodbye Mr. Chips” (1939) and “Madame Curie” (1943) were among the most popular films in which Greer Garson Impressed the audiences with her captivating performances. During her career she won numerous awards and honors, the most prominent of those are honorary doctorate degree of arts from Southern Methodist University, Dallas in 1991 and Commander of Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth in 1993. On April 6, 1996, Garson died of a heart attack at the age of 91.

7)  Mickey Rooney (September 23, 1920 – April 6, 2014)

Born Joseph Yule Jr., Mickey Rooney was an American actor, comedian, and producer. Rooney started his career at age 6 in vaudeville. He was a major box office draw in Hollywood and was nominated for an Oscar for the film “Babes in Arms” (1938). His other popular movies include “Boys Town” (1938), “National Velvet” (1944) and “The Human Comedy” (1943).

Rooney won numerous awards for his entertainment and died of complications from diabetes at the age of 93 on the 6th of April 2014.


The golden era of the film industry has observed many legendary Hollywood stars who kept the audiences allured with their majestic performances. Many stars have been through ups and downs in their entire career. But it is the passion with which they continued to work and their performances which kept audiences flocking to the theaters.  

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