I thought during the holidays it would be fun to do a followup post to my 20 Favorite Actresses. (Click the title of this post for the link to that list.)
I found this list somewhat easier...at least up to No. 18 or so! Then it became very difficult deciding who to include and who will have to linger just outside the Top 20.
Generally speaking, these are movie actors whose primary work was done up through the early '60s. As with the Favorite Actresses list, I'm willing to try watching them in the majority of their films, even if it's a bad one...but I exclude from that movies made after the mid-'60s. For instance, as much as I love Charlton Heston, you couldn't pay me to watch PLANET OF THE APES or SOYLENT GREEN.
Virtually all the actors on the list worked primarily as leading men, sometimes moving into supporting roles later in their careers, but there's one longtime character actor I enjoy so much I had to include him on my list.
The list is in no particular order, although the first two names are my favorites, and the list is very roughly divided into the Top 10 and then the next 10 names.
My Favorite Top 20 Actors:
I didn't list one of my all-time favorite actors, James Garner, as most of his movies were made after the early '60s...while I love several of his movies, I most appreciate his TV work.
Other names lingering just outside the Top 20: Robert Ryan, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., George Brent, Franchot Tone, Howard Keel, Errol Flynn, Dennis Morgan, Dick Powell, Walter Pidgeon, Robert Young, Claude Rains, Ricardo Montalban, James Cagney, Van Heflin, Gregory Peck, Joseph Cotten, and Van Johnson.
If anyone else would like to put together a Top 20 Actors list or post, be sure to let us know about it in the comments!
Monday Update: Here's a list from the Classic Maiden.
Monday Night Update: And here's Anne's list at Just Muttering -- which seems to have been recently renamed Still Muttering.
Update: David has made a list at Classic Flix, which includes interesting choices such as Harold Lloyd and Thomas Mitchell. He also includes Mickey Rooney; a few days ago my dad mentioned that Cary Grant was once quoted as saying Rooney was the finest actor he knew.
January 11th Update: Here's a brand-new list by Lauren at The Life Cinematic.
January 13th Update: Here's an interesting list posted by Campaspe at Self-Styled Siren.
January 21st Update: Here is Raquelle's list at Out of the Past.
January 27th Update: Here is Jacqueline's interesting list at Another Old Movie Blog.
January 30th Update: And here's a great list from The Shelf.
New 2015 Post: 20 More Favorite Actors.