Actors With The Most Oscar Nods, Fewest Wins


Posted on February 18, 2016 by Dustin Clendenen

Sometimes, even the biggest A-list celebrities in the world can’t catch a break. An Oscar is considered one of the highest honors a creative can receive in Hollywood, but there’s a long list of demonstrably talented actors who still haven’t received the award. Many think that every notable actor has an Oscar on his mantle, or, if she’s been nominated more than few times, that surely she’s won by now.

Unfortunately, as our numbers show, you can be an Academy Award nominee more than half a dozen times and still lack a golden statue.

PrettyFamous compiled data from Gracenote to find actors who have (unbelievably) never won an Oscar, sorted by how many times they’ve been nominated. In the event of a tie, we ordered the list by the number of Wikipedia page views for each celebrity. Fortunately, for many of these talents, there’s still time to break the curse, including at this year’s 88th Annual Academy Awards ceremony on Feb. 28.

Charles Boyer

Nominations: 4

  • Actor – 1938 – Conquest
  • Actor – 1939 – Algiers
  • Actor – 1945 – Gaslight
  • Actor – 1962 – Fanny

Charles Boyer had female audiences swooning from his heartthrob roles throughout the ’30s and ’40s, but in real life he was a more reserved man than the Don Juans he played onscreen. He elevated his status as a character actor in the 1950s on Broadway and in television, staring in shows like The Rogues and The Dick Powell Show. Boyer retired from acting in 1970 to care for his ailing wife.

Marsha Mason

Nominations: 4

  • Actress – 1974 – Cinderella Liberty
  • Actress in a Leading Role – 1978 – The Goodbye Girl
  • Actress in a Leading Role – 1980 – Chapter Two
  • Actress in a Leading Role – 1982 – Only When I Laugh

Born in St. Louis, Mo., Marsha Mason was a prolific stage actress, acting in the daytime CBS drama Love of Life before really beginning her film career in 1973 in Blume in Love.

Over the next few decades she had career-defining roles in The Goodbye Girl, Heartbreak Ridge and Drop Dead Fred. Since 2004, she has resurged in television as a guest star on series like The Good Wife and The Middle.

Jane Alexander

Nominations: 4

  • Actress – 1971 – The Great White Hope
  • Actress in a Supporting Role – 1977 – All the President’s Men
  • Actress in a Supporting Role – 1980 – Kramer vs. Kramer
  • Actress in a Leading Role – 1984 – Testament

Though she never won an Academy Award, Jane Alexander was nominated for numerous Tony Awards, winning one. She was most known for her period pieces and biopics, delving into subjects such as Watergate in All the President’s Men and playing the iconic Eleanor Roosevelt in several ABC movies about FDR’s life and presidency.

Throughout her life she was an active philanthropist and activist, serving on the boards of Women’s Action Against Nuclear Disarmament and Wildlife Conservation International.

Claude Rains

Nominations: 4

  • Actor in a Supporting Role – 1940 – Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
  • Actor in a Supporting Role – 1944 – Casablanca
  • Actor in a Supporting Role – 1945 – Mr. Skeffington
  • Actor in a Supporting Role – 1947 – Notorious

Claude Rains was one of old Hollywood’s most prolific and memorable character actors of the ’30s and ’40s, and delivered some of the most iconic roles in Hollywood history, including Renault in “Casablanca.”

In the latter part of his life he landed fewer prolific roles, but his career ended on a high-note with supporting roles in Lawrence of Arabia and The Greatest Story Ever Told.

Rosalind Russell

Nominations: 4

  • Actress – 1943 – My Sister Eileen
  • Actress – 1947 – Sister Kenny
  • Actress – 1948 – Mourning Becomes Electra
  • Actress – 1959 – Auntie Mame

After nearly every other A-list actress in Hollywood turned down the female lead role in His Girl Friday, Rosalind Russell took the part and propelled herself into fame for subsequent films like Gypsy and Auntie Mame. Though she continued to enjoy success on film, she found even-greater reward on Broadway, winning a Tony for Wonderful Town.

After being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, Russell all but abandoned acting to focus on charity work, for which she won the 1972 Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.

Agnes Moorehead

Nominations: 4

  • Actress in a Supporting Role – 1943 – The Magnificent Ambersons
  • Actress in a Supporting Role – 1945 – Mrs. Parkington
  • Actress in a Supporting Role – 1949 – Johnny Belinda
  • Actress in a Supporting Role – 1965 – Hush … Hush, Sweet Charlotte

Agnes Moorehead made the transition from radio to cinema as the titular character’s mother in Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane, establishing the cruel nature of many of the characters she would subsequently play.

She was naturally a comedian, however, and it wasn’t until being cast in the role of Glendora on Bewitched that she was able to return to her roots. She died of lung cancer in 1974.

Barbara Stanwyck

Nominations: 4

  • Actress – 1938 – Stella Dallas
  • Actress – 1942 – Ball of Fire
  • Actress – 1945 – Double Indemnity
  • Actress – 1949 – Sorry, Wrong Number

Born Ruby Catherine Stevens, Barbara Stanwyck was as unique in life as she was in her professional reputation. Known as one of the most versatile actresses in Hollywood’s golden era, and for playing some of the most memorable roles in cinema history (like Phyllis Dietrichson in Double Indemnity and Jean in Lady Eve), she became even more successful in television during the ’50s and ’60s.

After choosing some incredibly wise avenues to invest her earnings, Stanwyck became one of the richest women in the U.S. before her death in 1990.

Annette Bening

Nominations: 4

  • Actress in a Supporting Role – 1991 – The Grifters
  • Actress in a Leading Role – 2000 – American Beauty
  • Actress in a Leading Role – 2005 – Being Julia
  • Actress in a Leading Role – 2011 – The Kids Are All Right

Annette Bening was a Tony-nominated stage actress before ever stepping in front of the camera. Once in Hollywood, quickly established a reputation for delving into unexpected, emotional places with her characters, as seen in American Beauty and The Kids Are All Right.

As a rule, she never took on more than one project per year, allowing her to choose her films wisely and also balance her work with her family life. Bening sits on the Board of Governors for the Oscars.

Montgomery Clift

Nominations: 4

  • Actor – 1949 – The Search
  • Actor – 1952 – A Place in the Sun
  • Actor – 1954 – From Here to Eternity
  • Actor in a Supporting Role – 1962 – Judgment at Nuremberg

Montgomery Clift was one of the first method actors to meet success in Hollywood. He avoided committing to any studio for nearly a decade, holding out for the right project — which would eventually become a starring role opposite film legend John Wayne in Red River.

Mickey Rooney

Nominations: 4

  • Actor – 1940 – Babes in Arms
  • Actor – 1944 – The Human Comedy
  • Actor in a Supporting Role – 1957 – The Bold and the Brave
  • Actor in a Supporting Role – 1980 – The Black Stallion

Mickey Rooney’s career began in the golden age of Hollywood, and was almost as long as his 94-year life. Born into a family of vaudeville performers, he worked prolifically for his entire life in an unbelievable array of films (from Breakfast at Tiffany’s to Night at the Museum) until his death in 2014.

Ed Harris

Nominations: 4

  • Actor in a Supporting Role – 1996 – Apollo 13
  • Actor in a Supporting Role – 1999 – The Truman Show
  • Actor in a Leading Role – 2001 – Pollock
  • Actor in a Supporting Role – 2003 – The Hours

Ed Harris rose to A-list status at the end of the ’80s and has enjoyed an incredibly versatile career, from deep character studies to big-budget blockbusters like The Abyss, raucous auctioneers like The Rock and even comedies. He starred in and directed the critically acclaimed Pollock. Harris has sat in the directing chair once more since for the sweeping Western film Appaloosa.

Ethan Hawke

Nominations: 4

  • Actor in a Supporting Role – 2002 – Training Day
  • Writing (Adapted Screenplay) – 2005 – Before Sunset
  • Writing (Adapted Screenplay) – 2014 – Before Midnight
  • Actor in a Supporting Role – 2015 – Boyhood

Ethan Hawke is considered by some the quintessential Gen-X actor, starring in the generation-defining Reality Bites and favoring his own artistic explorations in small indie films, writing novels and founding his own theater company instead of going after big Hollywood paydays (though he occasionally went into this territory for films like Gattaca and Training Day). He is a frequent collaborator with director Richard Linklater.

Bradley Cooper

Nominations: 4

  • Actor in a Leading Role – 2013 – Silver Linings Playbook
  • Actor in a Supporting Role – 2014 – American Hustle
  • Actor in a Leading Role – 2015 – American Sniper
  • Best Picture – 2015 – American Sniper

Bradley Cooper has had an undeniable rise through the ranks in Hollywood, starting out as a commercial actor and working his way up through TV guest spots to memorable film roles like The Hangover. And even in that arena, he’s progressed from the leading man in a number of romantic comedies to serious, award-winning dramatic roles, including leads in Silver Linings Playbook and American Sniper. He’s been named one of People magazine’s Sexiest Men Alive, and is now expanding his role to be a formidable film and TV producer in his own right.

Note: Bradley Cooper was a producer for American Sniper. Producers are the recipients of the best picture Oscar.

Arthur Kennedy

Nominations: 5

  • Actor in a Supporting Role – 1950 – Champion
  • Actor – 1952 – Bright Victory
  • Actor in a Supporting Role – 1956 – Trial
  • Actor in a Supporting Role – 1958 – Peyton Place
  • Actor in a Supporting Role – 1959 – Some Came Running

Originally discovered by James Cagney, Arthur Kennedy went on to perform in over 60 films throughout his illustrious career, including Lawrence of Arabia, Elmer Gantry and The Man From Laramie. Though he won a Tony Award for his work on the stage in Death of a Salesman, he never won an Oscar. He died on Jan. 5, 1990.

Irene Dunne

Nominations: 5

  • Actress – 1932 – Cimarron
  • Actress – 1937 – Theodora Goes Wild
  • Actress – 1938 – The Awful Truth
  • Actress – 1940 – Love Affair
  • Actress – 1949 – I Remember Mama

Though she hoped to become a famous opera singer, Irene Dunne’s singing, dancing and flair for comedy led her to a successful career on Broadway and the silver screen. She excelled in dramatic films like Penny Serenade, as well as musicals and comedies like The Awful Truth, making her one of the most multi-faceted performers of the ’30s and ’40s. Dunne is considered one of the finest American actresses never to have won an Academy Award.

Albert Finney

Nominations: 5

  • Actor – 1964 – Tom Jones
  • Actor – 1975 – Murder on the Orient Express
  • Actor in a Leading Role – 1984 – The Dresser
  • Actor in a Leading Role – 1985 – Under the Volcano
  • Actor in a Supporting Role – 2001 – Erin Brockovich

Albert Finney has been nominated for Academy Awards at every stage of his long and steady career. Originally known for being a sex symbol, the classically trained actor re-established himself as a serious performer when he transformed himself for the titular role for Scrooge in 1970. His career reached new heights at the turn of the Millennium, and led to roles in major studio films like Erin Brockovich and Big Fish, plus major roles in the Jason Bourne franchise with Matt Damon.

Kenneth Branagh

Nominations: 5

  • Actor in a Leading Role – 1990 – Henry V
  • Directing – 1990 – Henry V
  • Short Film (Live Action) – 1993 – Swan Song
  • Writing (Screenplay Based On Material Previously Produced or Published) – 1997 – Hamlet
  • Actor in a Supporting Role – 2012 – My Week With Marilyn

A true talent, Kenneth Branagh has had a great number of successes — as well as failures — both in front of and behind the camera. Once considered the new Laurence Olivier,” whom he got to play in My Week With Marilyn, Branagh had a rocky early career as a director, his award-worthy projects equally matched with his unsuccessful turns.

His entire career rebounded after playing President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in HBO’s Warm Springs. His directing career has soared to new heights as well after directing the big-budget live-action adaptation of Disney’s Cinderella.

Amy Adams

Nominations: 5

  • Actress in a Supporting Role – 2006 – Junebug
  • Actress in a Supporting Role – 2009 – Doubt
  • Actress in a Supporting Role – 2011 – The Fighter
  • Actress in a Supporting Role – 2013 – The Master
  • Actress in a Leading Role – 2014 – American Hustle

Hailing from Italy in a family of seven kids, Amy Adams first came to prominence for her work with fellow frequent Oscar nominee Leonardo DiCaprio in Spielberg’s Catch Me if You Can. Since then, she’s shined in a wide array of roles spread between dramatic, award-buzzy indies and big-budget studio blockbusters. She is currently playing the iconic Lois Lane in DC’s Extended Universe.

Thelma Ritter

Nominations: 6

  • Actress in a Supporting Role – 1951 – All About Eve
  • Actress in a Supporting Role – 1952 – The Mating Season
  • Actress in a Supporting Role – 1953 – With a Song in My Heart
  • Actress in a Supporting Role – 1954 – Pickup on South Street
  • Actress in a Supporting Role – 1960 – Pillow Talk
  • Actress in a Supporting Role – 1963 – Birdman of Alcatraz

Thelma Ritter enjoyed a long career as a supporting and memorable character actress in the golden age of Hollywood, especially for her performances in Rear Window and All About Eve. After enduring years onstage completely unrecognized for her work, she immediately shot to fame and success after her first onscreen role in Miracle on 34th Street. Far ahead of her time, she was a natural comedian and regarded as one of the best character actors to ever grace the screen.

Deborah Kerr

Nominations: 6

  • Actress – 1950 – Edward, My Son
  • Actress – 1954 – From Here to Eternity
  • Actress – 1957 – The King and I
  • Actress – 1958 – Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison
  • Actress – 1959 – Separate Tables
  • Actress – 1961 – The Sundowners

Deborah Kerr‘s career in performance began as a ballet dancer, but she was drawn to Hollywood early in her career. It rhymes with star! is how MGM introduced this ingénue to America. Originally from Scotland, Kerr’s beautiful red hair made for a stunning feature in director Michael Powell’s many Technicolor masterpieces, such as The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp and Black Narcissus. Her most enduring role was her work in The King And I.

Note: Deborah Kerr was awarded with an honorary Oscar by the academy.

Glenn Close

Nominations: 6

  • Actress in a Supporting Role – 1983 – The World According to Garp
  • Actress in a Supporting Role – 1984 – The Big Chill
  • Actress in a Supporting Role – 1985 – The Natural
  • Actress in a Leading Role – 1988 – Fatal Attraction
  • Actress in a Leading Role – 1989 – Dangerous Liaisons
  • Actress in a Leading Role – 2012 – Albert Nobbs

After her role in The World According to Garp, Glenn Close has spent her entire career at the top of Hollywood’s A-list, seamlessly moving from major film roles to Broadway, and even winning Emmys and Golden Globes for her roles in television series like The Shield and Damages. Close intensely embodies the unusual characters she portrays, drawing from her own life to flesh out her performances.

Leonardo DiCaprio

Nominations: 6

  • Actor in a Supporting Role – 1994 – What’s Eating Gilbert Grape
  • Actor in a Leading Role – 2005 – The Aviator
  • Actor in a Leading Role – 2007 – Blood Diamond
  • Actor in a Leading Role – 2014 – The Wolf of Wall Street
  • Best Picture – 2014 – The Wolf of Wall Street
  • Actor in a Leading Role – 2016 – The Revenant

Leonardo DiCaprio’s career has gone through many phases, seeing him as a child actor destined for greatness in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, a bonafide teen heartthrob, and now one of the boldest actors of our time who’s led the cast of some stellar films like Catch Me If You Can, J. Edgar and The Wolf of Wall Street.

Though he’s been nominated for six Oscars, he still hasn’t taken home an award from the academy. Given that he got a Golden Globe and SAG Award this year, many expect this curse to finally pass with his role in The Revenant.

Note: Leonardo DiCaprio was a producer for The Wolf of Wall Street. Producers are the recipients of the best picture Oscar.

Richard Burton

Nominations: 7

  • Actor in a Supporting Role – 1953 – My Cousin Rachel
  • Actor – 1954 – The Robe
  • Actor – 1965 – Becket
  • Actor – 1966 – The Spy Who Came in From the Cold
  • Actor – 1967 – Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
  • Actor – 1970 – Anne of the Thousand Days
  • Actor in a Leading Role – 1978 – Equus

Classic literature provided much solace for Richard Burton during his rough start in Wales, and is what eventually propelled him into fame and fortune. Burton became known as one of the world’s foremost Shakespearean interpreters, a skill set that informed his work in other films like Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? His reputation as a dramatic actor was matched only by his notoriously stormy marriages to Elizabeth Taylor.

Peter O’Toole

Nominations: 8

  • Actor – 1963 – Lawrence of Arabia
  • Actor – 1965 – Becket
  • Actor – 1969 – The Lion in Winter
  • Actor – 1970 – Goodbye, Mr. Chips
  • Actor – 1973 – The Ruling Class
  • Actor in a Leading Role – 1981 – “he Stunt Man
  • Actor in a Leading Role – 1983 – My Favorite Year
  • Actor in a Leading Role – 2007 – Venus

Peter O’Toole rose to stardom in one of the most legendary movies of all time, Lawrence of Arabia. Throughout his career, many of his roles were in stunning period pieces, and he most recently took this propensity to the small screen in Showtime’s The Tudors.

Note: Peter O’Toole was awarded with an honorary Oscar by the academy.

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