AFI RECOGNIZES THE 50 GREATEST AMERICAN SCREEN LEGENDS
Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart named top legends among the women and
AFI list to raise awareness of American film history and spark renewed interest
in the classics
LOS ANGELES, June 16, 1999 — As part of its ongoing national effort
to lead the nation to discover and rediscover the classics, the American Film
Institute (AFI) has announced the 50 greatest American screen legends
the top 25 women and top 25 men naming Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey
Bogart the number one legends among the women and men.
The preeminent national organization dedicated to advancing and preserving the
moving image arts, AFI revealed the list on a three-hour CBS television special
last night hosted by Shirley Temple Black, who was named among the greatest
Following Hepburn in the top 10 among the female legends, in order, were: Bette
Davis (#2), Audrey Hepburn (#3), Ingrid Bergman (#4), Greta Garbo (#5), Marilyn
Monroe (#6), Elizabeth Taylor (#7), Judy Garland (#8), Marlene Dietrich (#9)
and Joan Crawford (#10). Following Bogart in the top 10 among the male legends,
in order, were: Cary Grant (#2), James Stewart (#3), Marlon Brando (#4), Fred
Astaire (#5), Henry Fonda (#6), Clark Gable (#7), James Cagney (#8), Spencer
Tracy (#9) and Charlie Chaplin (#10). Shirley Temple Black was #18.
AFI defines an "American screen legend" as an actor or a team of
actors with a significant screen presence in American feature-length films
whose screen debut occurred in or before 1950, or whose screen debut occurred
after 1950 but whose death has marked a completed body of work. The list was
selected by leaders from the American film community, including artists,
historians, critics and other cultural leaders, who chose from a list of 250
nominees in each gender category, as compiled by AFI historians.
The list is the centerpiece of AFI's 100 Years...100 Stars, part
of AFI's continuing celebration of 100 years of American movies, which
began last year with AFI's list of the 100 greatest films. Last
year's AFI list led to a national dialogue about American film history, a
1,600 percent rise in video rentals of the number one film, CITIZEN KANE and
the theatrical re-release of many films on the list.
"AFI hopes this list will spark a renewed interest in the screen icons and
classic movies that create America's great film heritage," said AFI's President Emerita Jean Picker Firstenberg. "AFI certainly expects this list
to ignite passions, spark debate and invite criticism, all of which we welcome
as a means of engaging the nation in a discussion of American movie history and
bringing movie fans back to the classics."
The full list of the 25 top male and 25 top female legends is:
The list of legends was presented by 50 stars of today:
Kevin Bacon, Alec Baldwin, Jacqueline Bisset , Ernest Borgnine, James Caan, Jim Carrey, Chevy Chase, Cher, Kevin Costner, Billy Crystal, Claire Danes, Geena Davis, Laura Dern, Matt Dillon, Richard Dreyfuss, Clint Eastwood, Mia Farrow, Bridget Fonda, Peter Fonda, Morgan Freeman, Teri Garr, Whoopi Goldberg, Jeff Goldblum, Woody Harrelson, Richard Harris, Goldie Hawn, Gregory Hines, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Michael Keaton, Martin Landau, Jessica Lange, Shirley MacLaine, Marsha Mason, Marlee Matlin, Mike Myers, Edward Norton, Edward James Olmos, Miss Piggy, Lynn Redgrave, Julia Roberts, Gena Rowlands, Kevin Spacey, Sylvester Stallone, Rod Steiger, Sharon Stone, Billy Bob Thornton, Lily Tomlin, Emily Watson and James Woods.
In an effort to encourage movie fans to discover and rediscover each
legend's body of work, AFI has organized a major video program in video
stores across America that highlights one film, selected by AFI, from the
careers of each of the 50 legends. AFI has also selected one film to highlight
the careers of each of the 50 stars that took part in the AFI television
special on CBS.
AFI's 100 Years...100 Stars is sponsored, in part, by General
Motors, Blockbuster, the United States Postal Service, AT&T, Pepsi, Warner
Bros. Home Video, Warner Bros. Pictures, Disney/Buena Vista, Buena Vista Home
Video, Paramount Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Best Buy, New Line Pictures,
Miramax, Schering-Plough, Gateway, Universal Pictures, P&G/Max Factor,
Oldsmobile and Sony Electronics.
AFI's 100 Years...100 Stars
Facts about some of the 25 greatest men and 25 greatest women screen legends
Lillian Gish has the longest screen career of any legend, male or female
Laurence Olivier has the longest career span of any male legend 59
There are three female living legends:
Shirley Temple, Lauren Bacall and Sophia Loren.
There are two male living legends: Kirk Douglas
and Sidney Poitier.
Legends Marlon Brando, Sidney Poitier and Sophia Loren all had screen debuts in
the cut-off year of 1950. Stars whose screen debuts occurred just after 1950,
and therefore did not qualify as legends, include Jack Lemmon, Paul Newman,
Shirley MacLaine and Clint Eastwood.
Ten of the screen legends also comprised five legendary duos: Katharine Hepburn
and Spencer Tracy, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, Fred Astaire and Ginger
Rogers, and Clark Gable and Carole Lombard. The Marx Brothers are the sole
There are 13 legends that made the transition from silent pictures to the
"talkies." They are: Joan Crawford, Greta Garbo, Barbara Stanwyck, Lillian Gish,
Carole Lombard, Mary Pickford, Clark Gable, Charlie Chaplin, Gary Cooper, John
Wayne, the Marx Brothers, Buster Keaton and Edward G. Robinson.
Thirteen screen legends were born outside the United States: Audrey Hepburn,
Belgium; Elizabeth Taylor, England; Ingrid Bergman, Sweden; Greta Garbo,
Sweden; Marlene Dietrich, Germany; Claudette Colbert, France; Vivian Leigh,
India; Sophia Loren, Italy; Mary Pickford, Canada; Cary Grant, England; Charlie
Chaplin, England; Laurence Olivier, England; and, Edward G. Robinson, Romania.
Eight screen legends were born in New York City: Barbara Stanwyck, Mae West,
Rita Hayworth, Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, Burt Lancaster and
the Marx Brothers.
TALES OF MANHATTAN (1942) is the feature film that boasts the largest
collection of screen legends: Henry Fonda, Ginger Rogers, Rita Hayworth and
Edward G. Robinson. A 20-minute short film to benefit a Tuberculosis sanitarium
entitled SLIPPERY PEARLS (or STOLEN JOOLS) from 1931 contains five AFI screen
legends: Joan Crawford, Barbara Stanwyck, Gary Cooper, Buster Keaton and Edward
AFI's 100 YEARS...100 STARS (1999)
List of the 500 nominated star legends
List of the 50 winning legends
Click here to go to the list downloads page