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The 10 Most Famous Actors Who Never Won Oscars

When it comes to the Academy Awards, there are winners and losers.  It may be an honor to be nominated, but the fact of the matter is they only hand out so many statues every year.  Over the course of a career in showbiz, there are a limited number of opportunities to win an Oscar.  For varying reasons, some of the most famous actors and actresses in Hollywood history never took home the prize.  In the April 2002 issue of Movieline magazine, they compiled a list of the ten most famous actors who never won.

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April 16: Happy Birthday Charlie Chaplin and Peter Ustinov


Our two headliners today were photographed together in 1965 when Chaplin was honored with the Erasmus Prize.

Sir Charles Chaplin (1889-1977) was one of the most influential filmmakers ever.  He grew up in poverty in England and with a father who died when he was about eleven, and a mother who had to be committed to an insane asylum, he had to largely support himself beginning in his early teens.  Fortunately, his natural talent for acting quickly became apparent and he was able to find work with a variety of theater groups.  In 1910, theater impresario Fred Karno selected Chaplin as part of a troupe that went on an American tour that lasted nearly 2 years.  By 1913, Chaplin had been invited to join an American film company, and relocated to the US.

Chaplin soon developed his most famous screen persona, the Little Tramp, a somewhat bumbling but good-hearted man, frequently a vagrant, who struggles against adversity with varying degrees of success.  The Tramp featured in dozens of short films beginning in 1914.  In 1919, Chaplin was one of the co-founders of United Artists, and soon began making the string of silent features that are his biggest claim to fame.  The Little Tramp was featured in most of them—The Kid, The Gold Rush, City Lights, Modern Times, etc.

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Quest for Failure

murphy - harlem nights

“What I really want to do is direct.”

In the nineties, it seemed like every movie star wanted to take a turn in the director’s chair.  A couple of them were highly successful in that endeavor.  Most weren’t so lucky.  Just before Kevin Costner hit the jackpot with Dances With Wolves and before Mel Gibson scored Oscar gold with Braveheart, F.X. Feeney examined the phenomenon of actors who try to direct.  In this article from the July 1990 issue of Movieline magazine, Feeney asks why movie stars keep stepping behind the camera.

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