With the Academy Awards ceremony coming up this Sunday, February 22, we decided to take a look at some of the best actors and actresses who never won an Oscar for their acting talents. In this gallery, we’ve collected images of a number of actors who either were nominated but never managed to claim the coveted golden statuette, and those who weren’t even honored with a nomination.
There are exceptions, though.
We’ve listed several actors who were eventually given Honorary Oscars for various career achievements. Although this is significant, let’s be honest: it’s not the same as a competitive Academy Award. Also there are a few actors who never won a competitive Oscar for their work most likely due to the fact that the bulk of their careers happened before the first Academy Award ceremony in 1929 (which honored films made in 1927-28). You’ll also find there are some who won competitive Oscars in other areas, such as original screenplay and musical score, but not in the acting category. Every actor on this list except for two (Albert Finney and Kirk Douglas) are no longer in the acting business because they’re no longer with us.
Here are 32 actors who never won an Oscar…but should have. Stay tuned for Never Won an Oscar, Pt. II: The Actresses.
Charles Chaplin–Although he did win three Academy Awards (two Honorary and one for his original score in LIMELIGHT), Chaplin never won for acting. He received a total of four nominations, with only one being for his acting talents.
Maurice Chevalier–Nominated for two Academy Awards for performances in THE LOVE PARADE (1929) and THE BIG POND (1930). Received an Honorary Award in 1959 “For his contributions to the world of entertainment for more than half a century.”
James Mason–Nominated for three Academy Awards for performances in A STAR IS BORN (1954), GEORGY GIRL (1966), and THE VERDICT (1982).
Joel McCrea– Never nominated.
Fred Astaire–Nominated once for his performance in THE TOWERING INFERNO (1974). Recipient of an Honorary Award in 1950 “For his unique artistry and his contributions to the technique of musical pictures.”
Peter Sellers–Nominated for three Academy Awards for performances in THE RUNNING JUMPING & STANDING STILL FILM (1959), DR. STRANGELOVE (1964), and BEING THERE (1979).
Joseph Cotten–Never nominated.
Dana Andrews– Never nominated.
Peter Lorre– Never nominated.
Featured: Albert Finney, Cary Grant, Charles Boyer, Charles Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Maurice Chevalier, Arthur Kennedy, Douglas Fairbanks Sr., Edward G. Robinson, Buster Keaton, Fred MacMurray, James Garner, John Barrymore, Richard Burton, John Garfield, Kirk Douglas, Montgomery Clift, Orson Welles, Claude Rains, Leslie Howard, Mickey Rooney, Errol Flynn, James Mason, Peter O’Toole, Robert Mitchum, William Powell, Joel McCrea, Fred Astaire, Peter Sellers, Joseph Cotten, Dana Andrews, & Peter Lorre.
Jill Blake is a writer and researcher based in Atlanta, GA. She is the co-editor of The Retro Set and the co-host of the podcast DWT: Drinking While Talking. Jill has written for various outlets including Indicator, Netflix Film, Turner Classic Movies, and FilmStruck. She is currently writing a book on stage and screen actors Fredric March and Florence Eldridge.
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Some of those mentioned have received honorary Oscars. William Powell is so deserving of one. Just 1936 could be enough of a case for one, but his body of work really is amazing.