POLL SUGGESTION: All time Greatest 'Famous Characters' Actor?

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Many actors have played multiple famous characters, which is your favorite and who earns the most credit by volume and quality? https://www.imdb.com/list/ls022426421/
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Nathan Carlier

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Posted 3 months ago

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rocky-o

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i think your use of the term 'character actor' is being misused...

this list isn't a list of character actors at all, no less 'greatest'...this is a list of 'lead actors' who played different characters...that is completely something else all together....

when i read your question, my first thought was burgess meredith...he and others, like joe e. brown, elisha cook jr., etc...those are names that should be on this list... 
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Nathan Carlier

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It is totally a mistake of mine, I meant to write- All time Greatest 'Characters' Actor?
and as above- burgess meredith could be on it, as he played- Penguin x multiple and Mickey x3.
the idea was originally superhero characters, but I expanded that to famous pulp fictional characters. I appreciate your reply and all the others below, and sorry for the confusion. 
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Jeorj Euler

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Anthony Hopkins is probably the number one actor in that regard. He is Zorro, Odin, Methuselah, Van Helsing, Lecter, Titus, Bligh, Picasso, Kellogg, Heineken, JQA and other legendary (or infamous) characters, fictional or biopic.
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Jeorj Euler

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...and...

Ian McKellen is of course Magneto, Gandalf, Holmes, Copperfield, the Grim Reaper and other legendary (or infamous) characters, fictional or biopic. Never mind the Shakespearean parts, because anybody who happens to have skill and a passion for William Shakespeare's work, will play every leading part adopted/created by the playwright. Tons of actors do it, and often do it fairly decently.

(I feel myself dancing around the fact that Hopkins and McKellen portrayed Hitler.)

Patrick Steward is of course Ahab, Scrooge, Xavier, Halleck, Leondegrance, Sejanus, Seti, the Lionheart and other legendary (or infamous) characters, fictional or biopic. He is Picard too notably, but that is a role that is, so to speak, original to him rather than derivative. He is not only the first actor to portray Picard, but also the first published rendition of the character and thus far the only actor to officially regularly portray adult Picard. That counts for more, but the idea is askew from the idea of playing the other grand characters.

(In addition, Steward portrayed Lenin: not quite the same as portraying Hitler but nigh. Notably, Hopkins is Nixon, and McKellen is Tzar Nicholas II.)

Gary Oldman is of course Gordon, Black, Smith, Dracula, Pilate, Beethoven, Churchill, "Sid Vicious" and other legendary (or mostly infamous) characters, fictional or biopic. (LHO was an infamous one.) His many "non-derivative" characters, however, stand out incredibly: Stansfield, Zorg and Verger! Some of the most disgustingly evil characters the world has ever known. "Carnegie" and Korshunov perhaps deserve honorable mentions.

I intend to continue this exploration of characters, which would invariably involve mentioning actors who aren't on the PS list.
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Jeorj Euler

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Come to think of it, Verger is a derivative character, since he was in the novel before Oldman portrayed him in the film adaptation.
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Jeorj Euler

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...Rather: Oldman's portrayal of Verger is a derivative, since the screen debut of the character is in a film adaptation of the novel. (The post received a star before I had a chance to correct it.)
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don0don

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I agree with rocky-o. This list is not of character actors in the accepted sense of the term.

I also agree that Burgess Meredith should be on any list of the greatest true character actors. Three other names: Donald Pleasance, Claude Rains (who played moved between leading and character roles) and Strother Martin.
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rocky-o

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strother martin...definitely yes
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Jeorj Euler

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A character actor is an actor who only or nearly only plays named or unnamed characters who interact with a main character (or a supporting character) but have a much more limited presence on screen than basic supporting characters, as in not having a their own background, to the point that the same actor may play different characters (yet who may all lack any character-defining makeup/attire) in different installments belonging to the same chronology/universe. The characters that a character actor plays are generic, in other words. A number of stars are former character actors, including some of the ones on the PS pertinent list here.
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don0don

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Jeorj, all of that is is fundamentally wrong. Major supporting parts are often played by character actors, and those parts are characters with a rich background and inner life. It is ludicrous to assert that character actors play only "generic," stereotypical characters. Think of the characters that Claude Rains played in Errol Flynn's great swashbuckling adventures like "The Adventures of Robin Hood" and "The Sea Hawk." He most definitely would be accurately described as a "character actor" in those roles, yet they are hardly "generic," two-dimensional characters. as you describe "character actor" parts.
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Jeorj Euler

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O? Well, I don't know what you mean, don0don. The subject material I have in mind is covered in the documentaries Starz Inside: The Face Is Familiar, That Guy ... Who Was in That Thing and That Guy Dick Miller, for examples.
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Jeorj Euler

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Come to think of it, I see what you mean.

From the IMDb Movie Terminology Glossary - C:
An actor who specializes in playing a particular style of character, often stereotypical, offbeat, or humorous.

On the web: Search IMDb for Character Actors.
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Dan Dassow, Champion

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Hi Nathan Carlier (AKA nate-car),

Thank you for your poll suggestion.

1. Once someone responds to a post, only an admin can edit that post.

2. Please read:
FAQ: So You Want to Make an IMDb Poll? Here's How...
Please note: Polls are limited to a maximum of 35 choices.

3. As rocky-o, don0don and Jeorj Euler point out, the people on your list are leading actors who play multiple characters. They are not character actors. Please see this Wikipedia article for additional clarification: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Character_actor

4. For your poll suggestion to be considered, you list must link back to this thread. Please edit your list (https://www.imdb.com/list/ls022426421/) to add this text:
After voting, [link=https://getsatisfaction.com/imdb/topics/poll-suggestion-all-time-greatest-character-actorplease discuss here.[/link]
Once you save your edit, this will appear as:
After voting, please discuss here.
5. Other poll authors and users may offer suggestions. Please read their suggestion carefully and respond respectfully.
6. If you have questions regarding creating and suggesting polls, please post them in this thread.
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rubyfruit76, Champion

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3. As rocky-odon0don and Jeorj Euler point out, the people on your list are leading actors who play multiple characters. They are not character actors. Please see this Wikipedia article for additional clarification: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Character_actor

That's true, of course, but I think Nathan's intent was not to make a list of character actors but a list of actors who have played several famous characters. His title on his list clarifies that, I think, so could you or Peter edit the title and intro on this discussion thread so that the confusion doesn't continue? 

Thank you! :)

(Nathan, do I have this right?)
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Jeorj Euler

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I'm guessing PS would want to change the description to something like "All-time Greatest Actors of Great Characters". I'm still trying to wrap my head around the emphasis the PS places on how many times an actor has played a "great" character. I find more interesting to look at how many "great" characters have been played or how high the quality or "greatness" levels of a few "great" characters played are. Naturally I gravitate toward Anthony Hopkins' characters. It is as though he always gets the best parts.
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Stephen N Russell

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Hugh Jackman, Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr,Stallone, Patrick Stewart
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don0don

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Not one of these guys is a character actor. They are all leading actors.
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Breumaster

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Charles Chaplin
James Stewart
Henry Fonda
Spencer Tracy
Kirk Douglas (still living! >100 y.o.)
Douglas Fairbanks
Robert Mitchum
Anthony Quinn
Paul Newman
Gregory Peck
Katherine Hepburn
Audrey Hepburn
James Dean
Humphrey Bogart
Marlene Dietrich
Robin Williams
Heath Ledger
Toshiro Mifune
Tatsuya Nakadai
Jack Klugman
Lee J. Cobb
Eli Wallach
Harold Lloyd

Meryl Streep,   Kathy Bates   F. Murray Abraham, Glenn Close,   Robert Redford,    Sir Michael Caine,  Bill Murray, Ralph Fiennes,  Jeff Bridges,  Kenneth Branagh, J.K. Simmons, Gerard Departieu, Pierre Richard, Clint Eastwood,  Sean Penn, Tim Curry, Tim Robbins, John Malkovich,
Sean Connery, Morgan Freeman, Max von Sydow, Christopher Plummer, Jessica Lange, Gene Hackman, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Forest Withaker, Denzel Washington, Edward Norton, Johnny Depp Donald Sutherland, Michael Douglas, Leonard Nimoy, Woody Harrelson, Robert Duval, Julianne Moore, Anette Bening, Tom Cruise, Faye Dunnaway, Jean Gabin, Jean Reno, Dan O'Herlihy, Kurtwood Smith, Sidney Poitier, Tom Hanks, Christoph Waltz, Matthew McConaughey, etc.

It's not easy to decide, who should be on such alist. But the ones on top of the list, standing alone - they are the ones, who I would consider the most. ;)  I'm sure, I forgot some!
(Edited)
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Jeorj Euler

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Actors who have never played the same character more than once are at least germane to this notion.
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don0don

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Breumaster: With very few exceptions, this is NOT a list of character actors. It is 98% leading actors.

Jeorj: Not playing the same character twice has nothing whatever to do with whether one is a character actor or not.

Neither of you really seem to grasp what the term "character actor" means. Granted, it is a term that can't be pinned down exactly, but neither of you is even within 10 miles of the concept. Please read the Wikipedia article that Dan linked to.
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Breumaster

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Sorry, but all german explanations I found do not exclude my list. There are obviously different perceptions of the character-acting-thing  in different countrys. To my defense: I'm no pro and will try to understand the english definition. But not today. ;)  98% might not be a proper number. There are many people in my text, that often took supporting charaters:

Michael Caine, Laurence Fishburn, Heath Ledger, Robert Duval, Eli Wallach, Julianne Moore, Woody Harrelson, Dan O'Herlihy, Kurtwood Smith, Jack Klugman, Lee J. Cobb, Kathy Bates, Max von Sydow, F. Murray Abraham, J.K. Simmons, etc.

Maybe Pete Postlethwaite would have been a better pick.
(Edited)
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Jeorj Euler

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You're helping, don0don, but only just a minuscule amount.
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rubyfruit76, Champion

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don0don, I believe Nathan explained (and the title of his list on the actual list page clarifies) that his intent was not to make a poll about character actors but actors who have played several famous characters. 
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Jeorj Euler

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HI, rubyfruit76. That explanation was provided way after we were evaluating what it means to be a character actor.
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Abi

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The thread starter lacks an understanding of "character actor", which is a technical term in the film industry. I think of people like Stellan Skarsgard or James Cromwell in the context of "character actor"

This is a good poll suggestion but the title and description needs revision.
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Jeorj Euler

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Hi, Abi. Do you happen to know how Glenn Morshower fits into all this?
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Jeorj Euler

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"Maybe Pete Postlethwaite would have been a better pick." Indeed.
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Breumaster

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https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000638/
William Shatner 7x Captain Kirk
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Breumaster

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Schwarzenegger 5xTerminator (including additional planed movie), Hauser/Quaid in 'Total Recall' and Trench in 'The Expendables' Part I, II & III - Not to forget Harry Tasker in 'True Lies', directed by James Cameron. And Ben Richards from Richard Bachman's aka Stephen King's 'Running Man'.
(Edited)
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Breumaster

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Sean Connery - 7x James Bond, 1x Marko Ramius, 1x William of Baskerville, 1x Forrester, 1x Dr. John connor, 1x Paul Armstrong, 1x Barley 1x Marshall William T. O'Niel, 1x Mark Rutland, 1x Dr. Robert Campbell.
(Edited)
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තරිඳු ධනංජය/Thorin

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Ryan Reynolds doesn't appear as Deadpool x3. Just Twice. He went back in time and shot old deadpool. :P
Maybe  your title could go like greatest actors in movie sequels or something. :/
(Edited)
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Breumaster

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Please don't forget: Deadpool apeared first time in 'X-Men Origins: Wolverine'.
Wade Wilson = Wade Wilson = Deadpool. :D
(Edited)
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Breumaster

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By the way: 'Green Lantern' really was a poor movie. With $200,000,000.00 plus 30 Millions to correct the CGI scenes. (Easy to speak:) I guess I would have made a better movie on this ammount. And I have no experience in filmbiz. 'Green Lantern' was ridicuosly overpayed. It was a boxoffice bomb. And that's not Ryan Reynolds fault as we see on the 'Deadpool'-movies. Reynolds can do a wide amount of characters in other movies, too. 'Green Lantern' was a tremendous missmanagement on Warner's side.
(Edited)
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තරිඳු ධනංජය/Thorin

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In deadpool 2 post credit scenes deadpool goes back in time to kill that old deadpool in X-Men Origins. :/
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vhavnal

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reminds me of a list i created 5 years ago "The Best Multiple Franchise actor/actress in history" could use some names from there..
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Breumaster

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Similar, but not exactly the same.
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Jeorj Euler

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Liam Neeson belongs on the list, and probably more so than some of the other actors included. Neeson is Zeus, Gawain, Valjean, Frome, Al Ghul, Aslan, Roy, Kinsey, Schindler and other legendary (or infamous) characters, fictional or biopic.
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Jeorj Euler

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So, I've covered Hopkins, McKellen, Stewart, Oldman and Neeson. Who is next? Samuel L. Jackson perhaps? He has played tons of great non-derivative characters (ones whose original rendition was a portrayal by him), so it would be hard to express an outline of his work in the same way as the others. Nevertheless, he is Fury, Octopus, Harris, Hailey, Council, Cox and maybe a few others, many of who are not exactly legendary (or infamous) characters, fictional or biopic. The aforementioned characters respectively come from the print materials Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos, Spirit, Uncle Tom's Cabin, A Time to Kill, Freedomland and Jumper.
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Nathan Carlier

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This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled Poll Suggestion: All time Greatest 'Famous Characters' Actor?.

Many actors have played multiple famous characters, which is your favorite and who earns the most credit by volume and quality? https://www.imdb.com/list/ls022426421/edit?ref_=nmls_edt
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SeventhAr7

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What about Harvey Keytel?
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Nathan Carlier

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he played Satan and Elvis in pretty small forgettable roles? Val Kilmers- 'Elvis' in True Romance was better!
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CliffJ

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Gary Oldman
How many characters did he play "AS A" character in the 5th Element?
Same for Tatiana Maslany in Orphan Black...8 alone I think!
Also liked her in a Movie with Richard Dreyfus Cas & Dylan
Will John Leguizamo be on the list?
Cate Blanchett maybe
Tilda Swinton Maybe too
(Edited)
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Nathan Carlier

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I guess John Leguizamo was the Violator and the antagonist in Romeo & Juliet?

Cate Blanchett I will add for sure immediately, Galadriel and Hela! (Bob Dylan?)

Thanks,


 
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Jeorj Euler

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Yes, and biopic-wise, Cate Blanchett also played middle age Queen Elizabeth I, one of the most well-remembered monarchs of England.
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Nathan Carlier

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great suggestion! I added her yesterday for Elizabeth x2, Galadriel x6 and Hela
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Stephen N Russell

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R Downey Jr, Oldman, Stewart P, Hugh Jackman, Arnold S.
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CliffJ

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Character Actors That should have been Given at least One big Starring Role
Karl Malden
Roberts Blossom
Bob Balaban
John Carradine
Powers Boothe
Floyd 'Red Crow' Westerman
Ian Holm
Brion James
John Neville
Tommy 'Tiny' Lister
Sterling Hayden
Al Lettieri
Abe Vigoda
Simon Oakland
Tony Lo Bianco
Bill Hickman   Greatest Stunt Driver/Actor of his time. Drove the black Charger in Bullit
Lloyd Bochner
Sergio Fantoni
Edward Mulhare
Vito Scotti
Victor Buono
Mike Mazurki
Jack Elam
Henry Silva
James Gregory
John McGiver
Khigh Dhiegh  Who? Hawaii Five-O's Wo Fat. Trivia: Born in The USA
Thelma Ritter
Keenan Wynn

This brings up so many of the people we all know but don't remember the name.
I could go on, but I'd be at this until next Tuesday, when I'll gladly pay you for that hamburger I ate Today!
(Edited)
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Nathan Carlier

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is that Wimpy from Popeye? LOL
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Nathan Carlier

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I loved Powers Boothe so much! (and miss him)

Ian Holm rocks too (the original Bad Robot!)
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CliffJ

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I'm strong to the finnich cuz eye eats me spinnich! (Sic)
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rocky-o

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brilliant list cliff...you get the definition of 'character actor'...

james gregory...loved him so much, one of my favorites...vito scotti...would have been a soprano had he been around just a little later, but still, what a career...

(and anyone who would paraphrase wimpy is alright with me...)...
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CliffJ

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There are 57 card carrying members of the ..........
Manchurian Candidate...James Gregory.
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Stephen N Russell

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so many guest stars from TV: Tarzan, Ironside, Wild Wild West, Peter Gunn, Mission Impossible, Gunsmoke, Rawhjide, etc