Daniel Massey as Noel Coward in Star! (1968)
Jane Fonda as Lillian Hellman in Julia (1977)
Jason Robards as Dashiell Hammett in Julia (1977)
Jason Robards as Howard Hughes in Melvin and Howard (1980)
Robert Downey, Jr. as Charles Chaplin in Chaplin (1992)
Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes in The Aviator (2004)
Cate Blanchett as Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator (2004)*
Kenneth Branagh as Laurence Olivier in My Week with Marilyn (2011)
Bryan Cranston as Dalton Trumbo in Trumbo (2015)

Massey was the son of actor Raymond Massey and Coward's godson, and his performance was considered one of the few high points of a box office disaster that single-handedly almost bankrupted 20th Century Fox. Coward was best known for his stage work but his occasional ventures into film often received Academy recognition. The 1932/33 Best Picture winner Cavalcade was based upon his stage extravaganza of the same name and his talkie debut in The Scoundrel (1935) (his first film appearance since playing a minor role in D.W. Griffith's Hearts of the World in 1918) won the Oscar for Best Writing, Original Story for Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur. Coward personally received Oscar nominations for Best Screenplay and as producer of the Best Picture In Which We Serve (1943). He also received a Special Oscar in 1942 for "his outstanding production achievement for In Which We Serve." He received the Special Oscar and the nominations in different years because the film opened in early January of 1943, not in time to be considered for that year's competitive categories but in time to resonate enough with the voters to receive the special honor.

Hellman came to Hollywood in 1935 following the sucess of her play The Children's Hour and was usually kept busy adapting her plays to the screen. She was credited as a screenwriter for These Three (the highly diluted 1935 film version of The Children's Hour) and The Little Foxes (1941), and for additional scenes and dialogue for the screen version of her play Watch on the Rhine (1943), for which the screenplay was written by her longtime companion Dashiell Hammell. She was nominated for Best Screenplay for The Little Foxes (1941) as well as The North Star (1943) but hadn't worked on a movie in over ten years when the story for Julia, based on Hellman's 1973 memoir Pentimento: A Book of Portraits, was brought to the screen. Hellman claimed that Julia was a factual account of her undercover work fighting the Nazis with her life-long friend Julia during World War II. After the film was released, the producers discovered that the story was a complete work of fiction. Julia director Fred Zinnemann admitted that by the time the picture had finished filming, he had come to hate her.

Hammett had a 30 year love affair with Hellman and spent most of his life devoting himself to left wing causes. While the movies are most indebted to him for creating the characters of Sam Spade and Nick & Nora Charles in his novels The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man, he received an Academy Award nomination for his only credited screenplay (in collaboration with Hellman), Watch on the Rhine. He had essentially given up writing fiction by then and had re-enlisted in the army during World War II at the age of 48 and was posted to the Aleutian Islands off of Alaska, where he edited The Adakianat. He returned to civil rights activism after the war and was blacklisted in the 1950s and served time in a West Virginia pentitentary for contempt of court for refusing to testify about the radical Civil Rights Congress, for which he served as president in 1946.

By the time the Academy Awards came into being, Chaplin was the most famous name in movies based on the astonishing popularity of such masterpieces as Shoulder Arms (1918; the most popular film of the World War I era), The Kid (1920), and The Gold Rush (1925). He was nominated at the very first Oscar ceremony for Best Actor and Best Comedy Direction for The Circus (1928) and would later be nominated for Best Actor, Best Screenplay and as the producer of the Best Picture The Great Dictator (1940), and for Best Screenplay for Monsieur Verdoux (1947). He won the Best Original Dramatic Score Oscar for Limelight (1972) and two Special Oscars: for "versatility and genius for writing, acting and directing The Circus" (1927/28) and for lifetime achievement (1971). Some sources do not list Chaplin's nominations for The Circus after the Academy did some housekeeping in the 1990s and declared that those nominations were nullified by the Special Award, but madbeast.com still recognizes the honors.

The Aviator suggested that Howard Hughes was a Hollywood neophyte when he made Hell's Angels, but he was in fact already a successful producer who had made films that were honored at the very first Oscar ceremony in 1927/28. His production of Two Arabian Knights won the only award ever given for Comedy Direction to Lewis Milestone, and Hughes' production of The Racket was nominated for Best Picture (he lost to Lucien Hubbard for Wings). Hughes was nominated again in 1930/31 for producing the Best Picture nominee The Front Page. Some references do not list Hughes as a nominee because while he did produce the films nominated for Best Picture, he is not listed on the film's credits (much like Irving G. Thalberg, winner for Grand Hotel and Mutiny on the Bounty). The individual who actually received the nomination for the Best Picture award has frequently been confused, especially in those years when studio heads accepted the award for Best Picture instead of the actual producer of the film (such as when Jack Warner raced to the stage to accept the award for Casablanca ahead of producer Hal B. Wallis, which prompted Wallis to leave the studio later that year, or when Paramount head Buddy DeSylva accepted the Going My Way Best Picture Oscar instead of producer Leo McCarey). Madbeast.com does acknowledge Hughes' nominations.

The Aviator includes Hepburn's romantic relationship with Howard Hughes which lasted from 1936 until 1938, when she turned down his proposal of marriage. She had already won an Oscar for Morning Glory (1933) and had been nominated for Alice Adams (1935) when she was with Hughes and she was labeled as "box office poison" by film distributors, prompting her to return to Broadway in The Philadelphia Story and shrewdly buy the film rights to the play as a means of orchestrating her triumphant film comeback. She would go on to become one of the most honored actress in Oscar history, winning additional nominations for Best Actress forThe Philadelphia Story (1940), Woman of the Year (1942), The African Queen (1951), Summertime (1955), The Rainmaker (1956), Suddenly, Last Summer (1959), Long Day's Journey Into Night (1962), Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967), The Lion in Winter (1968) and On Golden Pond (1981). She is the only performer to win four acting Oscars, for Morning Glory (1933), Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967), The Lion in Winter (1968) and On Golden Pond (1981).

Olivier is the co-holder of the record for the most Best Actor nominations (9, tied with Spencer Tracy) in addition to a Best Supporting Actor nod for Marathon Man and a Best Director nomination for Hamlet. He won the Best Actor Oscar for Hamlet (1948) as well as Best Picture for his production and Special Awards for his landmark film adaptation of Henry V (1946) and for lifetime achievement. Branagh's career paralleled Olivier in several interesting ways, with both actors having starred in and directed films of Henry V (1946/1989) (for which Branagh received Best Actor and Best Director nominations) and Hamlet (1948/1996) (a curious Best Adapted Screenplay nod for Branagh, who filmed Shakespeare's play almost uncut), and acted in films of Othello (1965/1995) (with Olivier as Othello and Branagh as Iago). Branagh also directed film remakes of two of Olivier's acting successes, As You Like It (2006) (in which Olivier played the juvenile lead Orlando in 1937 in what is arguably the first completely successful film of a Shakespearean play) and Sleuth (2007) (for which Olivier received a Best Actor nomination in addition to the New York Film Critics Award for the 1972 original).

Trumbo received one Oscar nomination in his own name, for Best Screenplay for Kitty Foyle in 1940, before he was famously imprisoned and later blacklisted for his refusal to testify to congress as one of the Hollywood 10 in 1947. After his release, he did his best to continue his career, taking uncredited work on low-budget hack work with titles like Gun Crazy (1950) and Rocketship X-M (1950). He still managed to get occasional jobs on major studio films like Carnival Story (1954) and The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell (1955), always crediting his work to writers with "clean" names as a front. He won his only two Oscars during this period, for Motion Picture Story for Roman Holiday (1953) (using his friend Ian McLellan Hunter as his front, who would later be blacklisted himself) and The Brave One (1956) (using the name Robert Rich, a nephew of one of the producers). Trumbo ultimately broke the blacklist when he was credited for the screenplays on two 1960 blockbusters, Spartacus and Exodus, and he was finally awarded his Oscar for The Brave One in 1975, a year before his death. His Oscar for Roman Holiday was presented to his window in 1993.

* Blanchett was also nominated for playing folk singer Jude Quinn in I'm Not There in 2007, one of the film's depictions of Bob Dylan. Dylan won the 2000 Oscar for Best Song for "Things Have Changed" from Wonder Boys.

Nominated performers who have played fictional nominees include:
Janet Gaynor as Vicki Lester in A Star is Born (1937)
Fredric March as Norman Maine in A Star is Born (1937)**
Bette Davis as Margaret Elliot in The Star (1952)
Judy Garland as Vicki Lester in A Star is Born (1954)
Maggie Smith as Diana Barrie in California Suite (1978)

**In the 1937 version of A Star is Born, Norman Maine (March) drunkenly storms the stage while his wife is accepting an Oscar and mentions winning the award himself a few years previously. In the 1954 remake in which James Mason played the role, there is no reference to Maine being an Oscar winner.

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