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.
Albert Finney– Has received five nominations over the course of his career, including TOM JONES (1964), MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS (1974), THE DRESSER (1983), UNDER THE VOLCANO (1984), and most recently in ERIN BROCKOVICH (2000)
Cary Grant– Nominated twice for performances in PENNY SERENADE (1942) and NONE BUT THE LONELY HEART (1945). Was given an Honorary Award “For his unique mastery of the art of screen acting with the respect and affection of his colleagues.”
Charle Boyer–Nominated four times for performances in CONQUEST (1937), ALGIERS (1938), GASLIGHT (1944), and FANNY (1961). He received an Honorary Award certificate “For his progressive cultural achievement in establishing the French Research Foundation in Los Angeles as a source of reference.”
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.
Douglas Fairbanks Jr.– Never nominated.
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.”
Arthur Kennedy– Received five total nominations for performances in CHAMPION (1949), BRIGHT VICTORY (1951), TRIAL (1955), PEYTON PLACE (1957), and SOME CAME RUNNING (1958).
Douglas Fairbanks Sr.– Never nominated. Recipient of an Honorary Award in 1940 for “Recognizing the unique and outstanding contribution of Douglas Fairbanks, first president of the Academy, to the international development of the motion picture.”
Edward G. Robinson– Never nominated. Received a posthumous Honorary Award in 1973.
Buster Keaton–Never nominated for the Academy Award, but was the recipient of an Honorary Oscar in 1960 “For his unique talents which brought immortal comedies to the screen.”
Fred MacMurray–Never nominated.
James Garner–Nominated once for his performance in MURPHY’S ROMANCE (1985).
John Barrymore–Never nominated.
Richard Burton– Nominated for performances in MY COUSIN RACHEL (1952), THE ROBE (1953), BECKET (1964), THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD (1965), WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRIGINA WOOLF? (1966), ANNE OF THE THOUSAND DAYS (1969), and EQUUS (1977).
John Garfield–Nominated for two Academy Awards for performances in FOUR DAUGHTERS (1938) and BODY AND SOUL (1947)
Kirk Douglas– Nominated three times for performances in CHAMPION (1949), THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL (1952), and LUST FOR LIFE (1956). Received an Honorary Award in 1996 “For 50 years as a creative and moral force in the motion picture community.”
Montgomery Clift–Nominated four times. for performances in THE SEARCH (1948), A PLACE IN THE SUN (1951), FROM HERE TO ETERNITY (1953), and JUDGEMENT AT NUREMBERG (1961).
Orson Welles– Never won an Academy Award for his acting talents. A total of three nominations, including one win for his original screenplay for CITIZEN KANE (1941) and an Honorary Oscar in 1971 “For superlative artistry and versatility in the creation of motion pictures.”
Claude Rains– Nominated four times for performances in MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON (1939), CASABLANCA (1942), MR. SKEFFINGTON (1944), and NOTORIOUS (1946).
Leslie Howard– Nominated for two Academy Awards for performances in BERKELEY SQUARE (1933) and PYGMALION (1938) .
Mickey Rooney–Nominated four times and won two Honorary Awards. The first, a special Juvenile Award in 1939 and an Honorary Award in 1983 “In recognition of his 50 years of versatility in a variety of memorable film performances.”
Errol Flynn–Never nominated.
James Mason–Nominated for three Academy Awards for performances in A STAR IS BORN (1954), GEORGY GIRL (1966), and THE VERDICT (1982).
Peter O’Toole–Nominated eight times, including LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (1963), BECKET (1964), THE LION IN WINTER (1968), GOODBYE MR. CHIPS (1969), THE RULING CLASS (1972), THE STUNT MAN (1980), MY FAVORITE YEAR (1982), VENUS (2006). Received an Honorary Award in 2003 “Whose remarkable talents have provided cinema history with some of its most memorable characters.”
Robert Mitchum– Nominated once for his performance in STORY OF G.I. JOE (1945).
William Powell–Nominated for three Academy Awards for performances in THE THIN MAN (1933), MY MAN GODFREY (1936), and LIFE WITH FATHER (1947).
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.