created a sensation in his film debut as a murderer who refuses
to divulge his identity or motive in The Valiant and was nominated
for the 1928/29 Best Actor Oscar (he repeated the role on
television in 1948 for The Chevrolet Tele-Theatre). He continued
playing tough guy roles through the early thirties (Scarface,
I am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang) before finally settling into a
of stagy though enjoyable performances in prestigious and pretentious
screen biographies like The Life of Emile Zola, The Story of Louis
(Oscar nominated for both and winning for the latter) and Juarez.
film career petered out in the 1940s and he returned to the Broadway stage
where he scored successes in a revival of his star-making role in Counsellor-at-Law,
Key Largo, and his greatest triumph Inherit the Wind (for which he won a Tony Award). He received
a final Best Actor nomination
for his farewell performance in The Last Angry Man, losing to Charlton Heston in Ben Hur.
actors to be nominated for the Best Actor Oscar for their film debut were
Tibbet in The Rogue Song (1929/30)
Orson Welles in Citizen Kane (1941)
Montgomery Clift in The Search* (1948)
James Dean in East of Eden** (1955)
Alan Arkin in The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming (1966)
debut is considered to be The Search because it was his
first film that appeared before the public, being released in March of
He actually filmed Red River prior to The Search, but it
until September of that year.
Dean made an uncredited appearance in Sailor, Beware in 1946,
East of Eden is considered his film debut. He shares the distinction
with Muni as
being the only actors nominated for their first and last movie, receiving
nomination the following year for his performance in Giant.