Best Movie Gangsters

by karljhickey14 | created - 05 Jun 2014 | updated - 20 Dec 2015 | Public

1. James Cagney

Actor | Angels with Dirty Faces

One of Hollywood's preeminent male stars of all time, James Cagney was also an accomplished dancer and easily played light comedy. James Francis Cagney was born on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in New York City, to Carolyn (Nelson) and James Francis Cagney, Sr., who was a bartender and amateur ...

2. Edward G. Robinson

Actor | Key Largo

Emanuel Goldenberg arrived in the United States from Romania at age ten, and his family moved into New York's Lower East Side. He took up acting while attending City College, abandoning plans to become a rabbi or lawyer. The American Academy of Dramatic Arts awarded him a scholarship, and he began ...

3. Humphrey Bogart

Actor | Casablanca

Humphrey DeForest Bogart was born in New York City, New York, to Maud Humphrey, a famed magazine illustrator and suffragette, and Belmont DeForest Bogart, a moderately wealthy surgeon (who was secretly addicted to opium). Bogart was educated at Trinity School, NYC, and was sent to Phillips Academy ...

4. John Garfield

Actor | Four Daughters

John Garfield was born Jacob Julius Garfinkle on the Lower East Side of New York City, to Hannah Basia (Margolis) and David Garfinkle, who were Jewish immigrants from Zhytomyr (now in Ukraine). Jules was raised by his father, a clothes presser and part-time cantor, after his mother's death in 1920,...

5. Paul Muni

Actor | Scarface

Paul Muni was born Sept. 22, 1895, in Lemberg, Austro-Hungarian Empire, to Salli and Phillip Weisenfreund, who were both professionals. His family was Jewish, and spoke Yiddish. Paul was educated in New York and Cleveland public schools. He was described as 5 feet 10 inches, with black hair and ...

6. George Raft

Actor | Some Like It Hot

George Raft was born and grew up in a poor family in Hell's Kitchen, at the time one of the roughest, meanest areas of New York City. He was born George Ranft, and was the son of Eva (Glockner) and Conrad Ranft, a department store deliveryman. His parents were both of German descent. In his youth, ...

7. Jean Gabin

Actor | La grande illusion

Jean-Alexis Moncorge started his career with 15 years at the theatre and debuted at the "Moulin Rouge" in Paris in 1929. Despite of his rude aspect he knew to be the gentleman of the French cinema in the time between the two World Wars. One of his most popular personalities was inspector Maigret. ...

8. Al Pacino

Actor | Serpico

Alfredo James "Al" 'Pacino established himself as a film actor during one of cinema's most vibrant decades, the 1970s, and has become an enduring and iconic figure in the world of American movies.

He was born April 25, 1940 in Manhattan, New York City, to Italian-American parents, Rose (nee Gerardi)...

9. Robert De Niro

Actor | Raging Bull

One of the greatest actors of all time, Robert De Niro was born on August 17, 1943 in Manhattan, New York City, to artists Virginia (Admiral) and Robert De Niro Sr. His paternal grandfather was of Italian descent, and his other ancestry is English, Dutch, German, French and Irish. He was trained at...

10. Takeshi Kitano

Actor | Zatôichi

Takeshi Kitano originally studied to become an engineer, but was thrown out of school for rebellious behavior. He learned comedy, singing and dancing from famed comedian Senzaburô Fukami. Working as a lift boy on a nightclub with such features as comic sketches and striptease dancing, Kitano saw ...

11. Alain Delon

Actor | Le samouraï

Alain Fabien Maurice Marcel Delon was born in Sceaux, Hauts-de-Seine, France, to Édith (Arnold) and Fabien Delon. His father was of French and Corsican Italian descent, and his mother was of French and German ancestry. His parents divorced early on, and Delon had a stormy childhood, being ...

12. Lino Ventura

Actor | L'armée des ombres

One of France's most beloved character stars from the 1950s through and including the 1980s was the Italian-born Lino Ventura. Born Angiolino Joseph Pascal Ventura to Giovanni Ventura and Luisa Borrini, on July 14, 1919, in Parma (northern) Italy, young Lino moved with his family at a young age to ...

13. Joe Pesci

Actor | Goodfellas

Compact Italian-American actor Joe Pesci was born February 9, 1943 in Newark, New Jersey, to Mary (Mesce), a part-time barber, and Angelo Pesci, a bartender and forklift driver. Pesci first broke into entertainment as a child actor, and by the mid-1950s, was starring on the series "Star Time Kids"....

14. Harvey Keitel

Actor | Reservoir Dogs

American actor and producer Harvey Keitel was born on May 13, 1939 in Brooklyn, New York City, to Miriam (Klein) and Harry Keitel. An Oscar and Golden Globe Award nominee, he has appeared in films such as Martin Scorsese's Mean Streets (1973) and Taxi Driver (1976), Ridley Scott's The Duellists (...

15. Jean-Paul Belmondo

Actor | Pierrot le fou

The son of the renowned French sculptor Paul Belmondo, he studied at Conservatoire National Superieur d'Art Dramatique (CNSAD); after the minor stage performances he made his screen debut in À pied, à cheval et en voiture (1957) but the episodes with his participation were cut before ...

16. Richard Conte

Actor | The Godfather

Richard Conte was born Nicholas Richard Conte on March 24, 1910, in Jersey City, New Jersey, the son of an Italian-American barber. The young Conte held a variety of jobs before becoming a professional actor, including truck driver, Wall Street clerk and singing waiter at a Connecticut resort. The ...

17. Joseph Calleia

Actor | Touch of Evil

His full name was Joseph Alexander Caesar Herstall Vincent Calleja - but he was better known as Joseph or Joe Calleia, one of Hollywood's most recognized bad guys. But Calleia's roots and talents ran much deeper than character actor. He was Maltese, born on that barren but historically important ...

18. Marc Lawrence

Actor | The Man with the Golden Gun

American character actor who specialized in underworld types, despite a far greater range. A native of the Bronx, Lawrence participated in plays in school, then attended the City College of New York. In 1930, he was accepted into Eva Le Gallienne's company, where he became friendly with another ...

19. Mickey Rooney

Actor | It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World

Mickey Rooney was born Joe Yule Jr. on September 23, 1920 in Brooklyn, New York. He first took the stage as a toddler in his parents vaudeville act at 17 months old. He made his first film appearance in 1926. The following year, he played the lead character in the first Mickey McGuire short film. ...

20. Robert Ryan

Actor | The Wild Bunch

Distinguished U.S. actor and longtime civil rights campaigner Robert Bushnell Ryan was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Mable Arbutus (Bushnell), a secretary, and Timothy Aloysius Ryan, whose wealthy family owned a real estate firm. His father was of Irish ancestry, and his mother was of English and ...

21. Lee Marvin

Actor | The Dirty Dozen

Prematurely white-haired character star who began as a supporting player of generally vicious demeanor, then metamorphosed into a star of both action and drama projects, Lee Marvin was born in New York City, the son of Courtenay Washington (Davidge), a fashion writer, and Lamont Waltman Marvin, an ...

22. Pat O'Brien

Actor | Some Like It Hot

Although he came to be called "Hollywood's Irishman in Residence"--and, along with good friends James Cagney, Allen Jenkins, Frank McHugh and a few others were called "The Irish Mafia"--and he often played Irish immigrants, Pat O'Brien was US-born and -bred. As a young boy the devoutly Roman ...

23. Brian Donlevy

Actor | Beau Geste

It seems that Brian Donlevy started out life as colorfully as any character he ever played on the stage or screen. He lied about his age (he was actually 14) in 1916 so he could join the army. When Gen. John J. Pershing sent American troops to invade Mexico in pursuit of Pancho Villa--Mexican ...

24. Bruce Gordon

Actor | Piranha

Bruce Gordon was born on February 1, 1916 in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, USA as Boris Benjamin Grabowsky. He was an actor, known for Piranha (1978), Tower of London (1962) and The Buccaneer (1958). He was married to Marla and Mary Jane Farrar Falvey. He died on January 20, 2011 in Santa Fe, New ...

25. Barton MacLane

Actor | The Maltese Falcon

Barton MacLane graduated from Wesleyan University, where he displayed a notable aptitude for sports, in particular football and basketball. Not surprisingly, his physical prowess led to an early role in The Quarterback (1926) with Richard Dix. MacLane once commented that, as an actor, he needed to ...

26. Stanley Baker

Actor | Zulu

Stanley Baker was unusual star material to emerge during the Fifties - when impossibly handsome and engagingly romantic leading men were almost de rigueur. Baker was forged from a rougher mould. His was good-looking, but his features were angular, taut, austere and unwelcoming. His screen persona ...

27. Howard Da Silva

Actor | 1776

Howard da Silva was one of 324 actors, writers and directors who fell victim to the Hollywood blacklisting of the early 1950s, and had his career halted in the blink of an eye. Originally was a steelworker before making his stage debut at age 20 in New York. He made a name for himself on Broadway ...

28. Henry Silva

Actor | The Manchurian Candidate

Henry Silva was born on September 15, 1928 in Brooklyn, New York City. He quit public school to attend drama classes at age 13, supporting himself as a dishwasher in a Manhattan hotel. By 1955, Silva had moved up from dishwasher to waiter, and felt ready to audition for the Actors Studio. He was ...

29. Frank Silvera

Actor | Killer's Kiss

He was a highly successful black actor/director in the 1950s and 1960s who - because of his light-skinned appearance - transcended race and ethnicity in his performances. In motion pictures, Frank Silvera was cast as black, Latino, Polynesian and "white"/racially indeterminate (due to black + white...

30. Lee J. Cobb

Actor | 12 Angry Men

Lee J. Cobb, one of the premier character actors in American film for three decades in the post-World War II period, was born Leo Jacoby in New York City's Lower East Side on December 8, 1911. The son of a Jewish newspaper editor, young Leo was a child prodigy in music, mastering the violin and the...

31. Luther Adler

Actor | D.O.A.

The actor and Broadway director Luther Adler was born into a Yiddish theatrical dynasty. One of the six children born to Jacob P. and Sara Adler, he made his debut in the world in New York City on May 4, 1903, originally billed as Lutha J. Adler. His full siblings Charles, Jay, Julia, and Stella (...

32. Jô Shishido

Actor | Yajû no seishun

Jô Shishido or Joe Shishido a.k.a. Joe The Ace (esu no Jô) owing to his role in 1961's Fast-Draw Guy entered acting following an audition for the Nikkatsu Studio and being one of the few to be picked and offered a contract via its New Face contest. Having signed with Nikkatsu in 1954 he began ...

33. Bob Hoskins

Actor | The Long Good Friday

Bob Hoskins was described by the director John Mackenzie as "an actor from the British tradition but with an almost American approach, an instinctive approach to acting and knowing how to work with the camera". He was born on October 26, 1942, in Bury St. Edmund's, Suffolk, where his mother was ...

34. Michael Caine

Actor | The Dark Knight

Michael Caine was born Maurice Joseph Micklewhite in London, to Ellen Frances Marie (Burchell), a charlady, and Maurice Joseph Micklewhite, a fish-market porter. He left school at age 15 and took a series of working-class jobs before joining the British army and serving in Korea during the Korean ...

35. Jack La Rue

Actor | The Fighting Rookie

Discovered on Broadway by director Howard Hawks, La Rue was originally brought to Hollywood to play a gangster in Scarface (1932). He lost that role to George Raft, and similarly was replaced by Humphrey Bogart in the film version of The Petrified Forest (1936). Eventually, he became well-known to ...

36. Richard Burton

Actor | Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Probably best-remembered for his turbulent personal life with Elizabeth Taylor (whom he married twice), Richard Burton was nonetheless also regarded as an often brilliant British actor of the post-WWII period.

Burton was born Richard Walter Jenkins in 1925 into a Welsh (Cymraeg)-speaking family in ...

37. Ted de Corsia

Actor | 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

A big, brawny villain of many 1940s and 1950s films, Ted de Corsia was an actor in touring companies and on radio before making a memorable film debut as the killer in The Lady from Shanghai (1947). Although he occasionally played such sympathetic roles as a judge or prison warden, de Corsia's ...

38. Steve Cochran

Actor | White Heat

Born Robert Alexander Cochran, son of a California lumberman, he worked mostly in the theatre before landing a contract with Samuel Goldwyn in 1945. His debut was Wonder Man (1945) with Virginia Mayo and Danny Kaye. From 1949 to 1952, he was signed to Warner Brothers, then started up his own ...

39. David Brian

Actor | Intruder in the Dust

David Brian was born Brian James David on August 5, 1914 in New York City. After graduating from City College, he found work as a doorman before entering show business with a song-and-dance routine in vaudeville and in nightclubs. He did a wartime stint with the United States Coast Guard and ...

40. Lloyd Gough

Actor | Sunset Blvd.

Lloyd Gough was born on September 21, 1907 in New York City, New York, USA. He was an actor, known for Sunset Blvd. (1950), All My Sons (1948) and The Green Hornet (1966). He was married to Karen Morley and Mildred Munson. He died on July 23, 1984 in Los Angeles, California, USA.

41. Sheldon Leonard

Producer | Make Room for Daddy

Sheldon Leonard was born in New York City's lower Manhattan, the son of Jewish parents. He studied acting at Syracuse University and, after graduating, landed a job on Wall Street. Following the Wall Street crash of 1929, he found himself unemployed and resolved to become a professional actor on ...

42. Joe Downing

Actor | A Slight Case of Murder

Joe Downing was born on June 26, 1903 in New York City, New York, USA. He was an actor, known for A Slight Case of Murder (1938), Danger on the Air (1938) and Torchy Runs for Mayor (1939). He died on October 16, 1975 in Canoga Park, California, USA.

43. Ben Welden

Actor | The Desert Hawk

Character actor of distinctly American persona who nevertheless made several films in Britain before returning to the U.S. to carve out a career as a familiar face in American movies. Short, bald and built like a tank with a streetwise character and a Damon Runyan accent, Welden played countless ...

44. Abner Biberman

Actor | His Girl Friday

Abner Biberman was born on April 1, 1909 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA as Abner Warren Biberman. He was a director and actor, known for His Girl Friday (1940), Winchester '73 (1950) and The Golden Mistress (1954). He was married to Sibil Kamban (editor), Helen Churchill Dalby and Tolbie Snyderman. ...

45. Paul Stewart

Actor | Citizen Kane

Esteemed character actor Paul Stewart had a pair of the coldest orbs in town and made his living for decades playing dark, callous, shiftless villains, including a vast number of mobsters. Not a well-known name per se, he was nevertheless a reliable actor who seemed to have been born for the film ...

46. Joe Sawyer

Actor | The Petrified Forest

Joe Sawyer's familiar mug appeared everywhere during the 1930s and 1940s, particularly as a stock player for Warner Bros. in its more standard college musicals, comedies and crime yarns. He could play both sides of the fence, street cops and mob gunmen, with equal ease. He was born Joseph Sauers in...

47. Ricardo Cortez

Actor | The Maltese Falcon

Ricardo Cortez was born Jacob Krantz in New York City, New York, the son of Sarah (Lefkowitz) and Moses/Morris Krantz, Austrian Jewish immigrants who moved to New York just before he was born. His brother was cinematographer Stanley Cortez, who also changed his surname. Cortez worked a number of ...

48. Cesar Romero

Actor | Batman: The Movie

Tall, suave and sophisticated Cesar Romero actually had two claims to fame in Hollywood. To one generation, he was the distinguished Latin lover of numerous musicals and romantic comedies, and the rogue bandit The Cisco Kid in a string of low-budget westerns. However, to a younger generation weaned...

49. Bruce Cabot

Actor | King Kong

Hollywood stalwart Bruce Cabot's main claim to fame, other than rescuing Fay Wray from King Kong (1933), is that he tested for the lead role of The Ringo Kid in John Ford's Western masterpiece Stagecoach (1939). John Wayne got the role and became the most durable star in Hollywood history, while ...



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