AFI's top 10 stars: the top 5 male and female "Screen Legends"
Nine years ago, the American Film Institute presented their second "100 Years" list, AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Stars. Actually, it was only 50 stars (52, if you count all three Marx Brothers), comprised of 25 actors and 25 actresses labeled "American Screen Legends" (50 "stars of today" presented the program, so the "100 Stars" of the title wasn't entirely erroneous). The criterion for recognition was the actor (or team of actors) made their screen debut in or before 1950, or that the person had passed away (thereby "completing their body of work") at the time of the original poll. I suspect that "part 2", featuring actors from 1951 to the present, will be presented next year, ten years after the original program.
In the meantime, here is the "facts and figures" for the "50 Greatest American Screen Legends" from 1999 (see the comments section below for the full list):
- At the time of the original presentation, nine of the stars were still living: Lauren Bacall, Marlon Brando, Kirk Douglas, Katharine Hepburn, Sophia Loren, Gregory Peck, Sidney Poitier, Elizabeth Taylor and Shirley Temple. Hepburn and Peck passed away in 2003, Brando in 2004.
- Lillian Gish and Laurence Olivier had the longest career spans; Grace Kelly and James Dean had the shortest.
- Three pairs on the list were married to each other: Bacall and Humphrey Bogart, Vivien Leigh and Olivier, and Carole Lombard and Clark Gable.
- 13 Legends were also honored with the AFI Lifetime Achievement award: Fred Astaire, Bette Davis, Douglas, James Cagney, Henry Fonda, Gish, Gene Kelly, Peck, Poitier, Barbara Stanwyck, James Stewart, Taylor and Orson Welles.
- Cary Grant stars in the most films honored elsewhere in the "AFI 100 Years" series, with 13 movies total. The most represented female legends are Davis, Katharine Hepburn and Taylor, with 7 films each. Three legends -- Ava Gardner, Loren and Mary Pickford -- appear in none.
- All of the top 10 Legends (5 male/5 female) won at least one Academy Award, for a total of 19 (5 were Honorary Awards). The Legends who did not win competitive Oscars: Astaire, Greta Garbo and Grant.
- Bogart really was the top male Legend: he wooed each of the top four female legends onscreen: Katharine Hepburn in The African Queen, Davis in Dark Victory, Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina and Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca.
- Three films from the "AFI's 100 Years" filmography feature the most Screen Legends, with three each: The Philadelphia Story (Grant, Katharine Hepburn and Stewart), Sabrina (Bogart, Audrey Hepburn and William Holden) and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (Katharine Hepburn, Poitier and Spencer Tracy).
- 13 of the "American Screen Legends" were actually from other countries; with 6 stars, England is the most represented foreign country.
- Four on the list were "gone before their time": Dean, Jean Harlow, Carole Lombard and Marilyn Monroe.
- Brando, Loren and Poitier all made their film debuts in the cut-off year, 1950. Dean, Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly all made their film debuts after 1950.