Bogart and Hepburn `greatest film stars'

Paul McCann Media News Editor
Wednesday 16 June 1999 23:02

THE ARCHETYPE of the dapper Englishman was named yesterday as the second most important film star of all time by the venerable American Film Institute, in a list of stars that is causing controversy across the United States.

Cary Grant, known as Archie Leach when he left Britain aged 16 in 1920, comes second to Humphrey Bogart in a list that the institute says it hopes will cause many a dinner party debate.

Other Britons to make the top 50 list - divided into 25 men and 25 women - include Charlie Chaplin, who also left these shores as a child, at number 10, and Laurence Olivier, who was deemed the 14th greatest star of all time.

On the women's list Britons fared even worse, with just Elizabeth Taylor, at number 7, and Vivien Leigh, at 16, on the list. Katherine Hepburn makes the top slot on the women's star chart.

Nominees for the list were compiled by institute historians, who suggested 250 names to 1,800 members of what the institute describes as the American "film community" for them to vote on. But the only names eligible were actors who made their screen debut before 1950 or died after 1950.

Names such as Montgomery Clift did not make it and while Marilyn Monroe is on there, Louise Brooks is not. Charlie Chaplin is there; John Huston is not. Absent also are Peter Sellers, Steve McQueen and Laurel & Hardy. But the institute says it wants people to argue about its selection.

"There's no better result for AFI in terms of what it wanted to accomplish than controversy," said a spokesman, Seth Oster. "We embrace any controversy about this year's list because it shows people are passionate about the movies."

But much of the passion across the Atlantic is to do with the institute's collaboration with CBS Television to make the list and to make money from a television programme based on it, which was shown on Tuesday night. The institute was a highly respected, publicly funded arts body. It encouraged and supported the study of film as an art form until its government grant was cut two years ago.

Then it collaborated with CBS last year to make a programme based on the top 100 films of all time - won by Orson Welles' Citizen Kane.

This was a ratings success and CBS asked it to make more capital from its name with another list. The shows have been estimated to be worth $2m (pounds 1.2m) each to the institute. Corporate Sponsors such as Pepsi and General Motors have linked up with the institute and critics say its lists are both meaningless and a way of selling its soul. The institute says its lists do the job they have always done - raising the profile of movies as art. "The week before we released our top 100 films list, Citizen Kane was not among the 1,000 most-rented videos," says Mr Oster. "The week after, and subsequently, rentals of the movie soared by more than 1,600 per cent."

The Top 50 Screen Actors


1. Humphrey Bogart

2. Cary Grant

3. James Stewart

4. Marlon Brando

5. Fred Astaire

6. Henry Fonda

7. Clark Gable

8. Jimmy Cagney

9. Spencer Tracy

10. Charlie Chaplin

11. Gary Cooper

12. Gregory Peck

13. John Wayne

14. Laurence Olivier

15. Gene Kelly

16. Orson Welles

17. Kirk Douglas

18. James Dean

19. Burt Lancaster

20. The Marx Brothers

21. Buster Keaton

22. Sidney Poitier

23. Robert Mitchum

24. Edward G Robinson

25. William Holden


1. Katharine Hepburn

2. Bette Davis

3. Audrey Hepburn

4. Ingrid Bergman

5. Greta Garbo

6. Marilyn Monroe

7. Elizabeth Taylor

8. Judy Garland

9. Marlene Dietrich

10. Joan Crawford

11. Barbara Stanwyck

12. Claudette Colbert

13. Grace Kelly

14. Ginger Rogers

15. Mae West

16. Vivien Leigh

17. Lillian Gish

18. Shirley Temple

19. Rita Hayworth

20. Lauren Bacall

21. Sophia Loren

22. Jean Harlow

23. Carole Lombard

24. Mary Pickford

25. Ava Gardner

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