AFI's 100 YEARS...100 STARS

Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart named top legends among the women and men

AFI list to raise awareness of American film history and spark renewed interest in the classics

LOS ANGELES (Wed., June 16, 1999) – As part of its ongoing national effort to lead the nation to discover and rediscover the classics, the American Film Institute (AFI) has announced the 50 greatest American screen legends — the top 25 women and top 25 men — naming Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart the number one legends among the women and men.

The preeminent national organization dedicated to advancing and preserving the moving image arts, AFI revealed the list on a three-hour CBS television special last night hosted by Shirley Temple Black, who was named among the greatest legends.

Following Hepburn in the top 10 among the female legends, in order, were: Bette Davis (#2), Audrey Hepburn (#3), Ingrid Bergman (#4), Greta Garbo (#5), Marilyn Monroe (#6), Elizabeth Taylor (#7), Judy Garland (#8), Marlene Dietrich (#9) and Joan Crawford (#10). Following Bogart in the top 10 among the male legends, in order, were: Cary Grant (#2), James Stewart (#3), Marlon Brando (#4), Fred Astaire (#5), Henry Fonda (#6), Clark Gable (#7), James Cagney (#8), Spencer Tracy (#9) and Charlie Chaplin (#10). Shirley Temple Black was #18.

AFI defines an "American screen legend" as an actor or a team of actors with a significant screen presence in American feature-length films whose screen debut occurred in or before 1950, or whose screen debut occurred after 1950 but whose death has marked a completed body of work. The list was selected by leaders from the American film community, including artists, historians, critics and other cultural leaders, who chose from a list of 250 nominees in each gender category, as compiled by AFI historians.

The list is the centerpiece of AFI’s 100 Years…100 Stars, part of AFI’s continuing celebration of 100 years of American movies, which began last year with AFI’s list of the 100 greatest films. Last year’s AFI list led to a national dialogue about American film history, a 1,600 percent rise in video rentals of the number one film, CITIZEN KANE and the theatrical re-release of many films on the list.

"AFI hopes this list will spark a renewed interest in the screen icons and classic movies that create America’s great film heritage," said AFI Director and CEO Jean Picker Firstenberg. "AFI certainly expects this list to ignite passions, spark debate and invite criticism, all of which we welcome as a means of engaging the nation in a discussion of American movie history and bringing movie fans back to the classics."

The list of legends was presented by 50 stars of today:

Kevin Bacon, Alec Baldwin, Jacqueline Bisset , Ernest Borgnine, James Caan, Jim Carrey, Chevy Chase, Cher, Kevin Costner, Billy Crystal, Claire Danes, Geena Davis, Laura Dern, Matt Dillon, Richard Dreyfuss, Clint Eastwood, Mia Farrow, Bridget Fonda, Peter Fonda, Morgan Freeman, Teri Garr, Whoopi Goldberg, Jeff Goldblum, Woody Harrelson, Richard Harris, Goldie Hawn, Gregory Hines, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Michael Keaton, Martin Landau, Jessica Lange, Shirley MacLaine, Marsha Mason, Marlee Matlin, Mike Myers, Edward Norton, Edward James Olmos, Miss Piggy, Lynn Redgrave, Julia Roberts, Gena Rowlands, Kevin Spacey, Sylvester Stallone, Rod Steiger, Sharon Stone, Billy Bob Thornton, Lily Tomlin, Emily Watson and James Woods.

In an effort to encourage movie fans to discover and rediscover each legend’s body of work, AFI has organized a major video program in video stores across America that highlights one film, selected by AFI, from the careers of each of the 50 legends. AFI has also selected one film to highlight the careers of each of the 50 stars that took part in the AFI television special on CBS.

AFI’s 100 Years…100 Stars is sponsored, in part, by General Motors, Blockbuster, the United States Postal Service, AT&T, Pepsi, Warner Bros. Home Video, Warner Bros. Pictures, Disney/Buena Vista, Buena Vista Home Video, Paramount Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Best Buy, New Line Pictures, Miramax, Schering-Plough, Gateway, Universal Pictures, P&G/Max Factor, Oldsmobile and Sony Electronics.

AFI’s 100 Years…100 Stars
Facts about some of the 25 greatest men and 25 greatest women screen legends

  • Lillian Gish has the longest screen career of any legend, male or female – 75 years.

  • Laurence Olivier has the longest career span of any male legend – 59 years.

  • There are four female living legends: Elizabeth Taylor, Shirley Temple, Lauren Bacall and Sophia Loren.

  • There are two male living legends: Kirk Douglas and Sidney Poitier.

  • Legends Marlon Brando, Sidney Poitier and Sophia Loren all had screen debuts in the cut-off year of 1950. Stars whose screen debuts occurred just after 1950, and therefore did not qualify as legends, include Jack Lemmon, Paul Newman, Shirley MacLaine and Clint Eastwood.

  • Ten of the screen legends also comprised five legendary duos: Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, and Clark Gable and Carole Lombard. The Marx Brothers are the sole legendary team.

  • There are 13 legends that made the transition from silent pictures to the "talkies." They are: Joan Crawford, Greta Garbo, Barbara Stanwyck, Lillian Gish, Carole Lombard, Mary Pickford, Clark Gable, Charlie Chaplin, Gary Cooper, John Wayne, the Marx Brothers, Buster Keaton and Edward G. Robinson.

  • Thirteen screen legends were born outside the United States: Audrey Hepburn, Belgium; Elizabeth Taylor, England; Ingrid Bergman, Sweden; Greta Garbo, Sweden; Marlene Dietrich, Germany; Claudette Colbert, France; Vivian Leigh, India; Sophia Loren, Italy; Mary Pickford, Canada; Cary Grant, England; Charlie Chaplin, England; Laurence Olivier, England; and, Edward G. Robinson, Romania.

  • Eight screen legends were born in New York City: Barbara Stanwyck, Mae West, Rita Hayworth, Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, Burt Lancaster and the Marx Brothers.

  • TALES OF MANHATTAN (1942) is the feature film that boasts the largest collection of screen legends: Henry Fonda, Ginger Rogers, Rita Hayworth and Edward G. Robinson. A 20-minute short film to benefit a Tuberculosis sanitarium entitled SLIPPERY PEARLS (or STOLEN JOOLS) from 1931 contains five AFI screen legends: Joan Crawford, Barbara Stanwyck, Gary Cooper, Buster Keaton and Edward G. Robinson.


AFI's 100 YEARS...100 STARS (1999)
List of the 500 nominated star legends
List of the 50 winning legends

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