AFI's 100 Years...100 Stars
|2003||100 Heroes & Villains|
|2005||100 Movie Quotes|
|2007||100 Movies (Updated)|
|2008||AFI's 10 Top 10|
AFI's 100 Years...100 Stars is the American Film Institute's list ranking the top 25 male and 25 female greatest screen legends of American film history and is the second list of the AFI 100 Years... series. The list was unveiled on June 15, 1999, through a CBS special hosted by Shirley Temple (who is herself honored on the Female Legends list), with 50 current actors making the presentations.
AFI defines an “American screen legend” as "an actor or a team of actors with a significant screen presence in American feature-length films [films of 40 minutes or more] 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." In other words, the list generally honors actors recognized for their contributions to classical Hollywood cinema.
The top stars of their respective genders are Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn. The two starred together in the classic adventure 1951 film The African Queen, for which Bogart won his only Academy Award. The full-length film that includes the most stars from this list is Tales of Manhattan (1942), which includes four: Henry Fonda, Ginger Rogers, Rita Hayworth, and Edward G. Robinson. Four stars from this list appeared in How the West Was Won (film) (1962), Henry Fonda, Gregory Peck, James Stewart, and John Wayne, although none of them shared any screen time. Spencer Tracy provided the narration for the film. Five AFI legends are included in a 1931 short film titled The Stolen Jools (or The Slippery Pearls), which was made to benefit a Tuberculosis sanitarium. That film contains: Joan Crawford, Barbara Stanwyck, Gary Cooper, Buster Keaton, and Edward G. Robinson.
List of 50 greatest screen legends
This AFI list consisted of 50 greatest screen legends, including 25 male and 25 female stars.
|No||Female legends||Male legends|
|Edward G. Robinson
Lillian Gish had the longest career span of all the legends (75 years). Starting in 1912, she was usually regarded as "The First Lady of America Cinema". Lillian Gish was awarded the AFI Lifetime Achievement Award at the age of 90 in 1984. Laurence Olivier had the longest of the male legends (59 years). James Dean and Grace Kelly are the only legends to have their screen debut after 1950. Marlon Brando, Sidney Poitier, and Sophia Loren all had screen debuts in the cut-off year of 1950; in contrast, stars who did not qualify due to their screen debuts occurring just after 1950, include Jack Lemmon, Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Shirley MacLaine, and Clint Eastwood.
There are 13 legends that made the transition from silent film to the 'talkies': 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. The Marx Brothers are the sole legendary 'team' among the legends, while 10 of the screen legends comprised 5 legendary duos: Katharine Hepburn & Spencer Tracy, Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers, Humphrey Bogart & Lauren Bacall, and Clark Gable & Jean Harlow.
A majority of the legends were born in the 20th century. The legends born in the 19th century were Fred Astaire, Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, Charlie Chaplin, Lillian Gish, Buster Keaton, Mary Pickford, Edward G. Robinson, Mae West and all four Marx Brothers. (Gish was the last survivor among all those born in the 19th century.)
Thirteen legends were born outside the United States: Charlie Chaplin, Cary Grant, Elizabeth Taylor, and Laurence Olivier were from England; Ingrid Bergman and Greta Garbo from Sweden; Audrey Hepburn, Belgium; Marlene Dietrich, Germany; Claudette Colbert, France; Vivien Leigh, British India; Sophia Loren, Italy; Mary Pickford, Canada; and Edward G. Robinson, Romania.
At the time of the polling, there were five living female legends: Katharine Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Shirley Temple, Lauren Bacall and Sophia Loren, and there were four living male legends: Marlon Brando, Gregory Peck, Kirk Douglas and Sidney Poitier.
As of 2021, Poitier and Loren are the list's only living honorees. The earliest female death was Jean Harlow in 1937, and earliest male death was James Dean in 1955. The most recent death was in 2020 with Kirk Douglas, who died at the age of 103. As of 2021, he remains the legend to have lived the longest. To surpass Douglas, Poitier would have to live until at least 2030 and Loren 2037.
The top 50 stars (25 males, 25 females) where chosen out of a list of a total of 500 stars who were nominated "Greatest Screen Legends" status, including 250 male and 250 female stars. The adjoining reference gives the lists of the original selection
- "AFI's 100 Years...100 Stars: The 50 Greatest American Screen Legends". American Film Institute. Retrieved November 10, 2019.
- "How the West Was Won". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 5 March 2021.
- List of the 500 nominated star legends (Archive)