Actors with the Most Oscars

The Most Oscars

It’s any actor’s aspiration and honor to be awarded with the famous gold-plated bronze statuette. First held on May 16, 1929, at a private dinner function at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, the Academy Awards will now be at its 91st later this month. Makes you wonder: Throughout history, which actors have the most Oscars to date? Read on to find out.

Actors Who Have the Most Oscars

10. Jack Lemmon

Jack Lemmon

Having starred in over 60 films, Jack Lemmon was also known for his voice and piano playing. After serving as an ensign on an aircraft carrier during World War II and graduating with a degree in war service sciences from Harvard, Lemmon studied acting under Uta Hagen. His acting career spanned over 50 years. Lemmon was an eight-time Academy  Award nominee and was awarded the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Mister Roberts (1955) and the Best Actor Oscar for Save the Tiger (1973)—all the while having produced and released 3 albums.

9. Marlon Brando

Marlon Brando

Marlon Brando is credited with helping to popularize the Stanislavski system of acting, having studied with Stella Adler in the 1940s. Ranked by the American Film Institute as the fourth-greatest male movie star in 1950, Brando’s acting career lasted for 60 years with 8 nominations and 2 Best Actor Oscar awards. The Godfather was then one of the most commercially successful films of all time, where he starred as Vito Corleone, a role critics consider among his greatest. Brando was also an activist for many causes, notably the civil rights movement and various Native American movements.

8. Spencer Tracy

Spencer Tracy

Spencer Tracy had a high reputation among his peers and received considerable praise from the film industry for his natural style and versatility. He remained largely unknown to audiences after 25 films with Fox despite playing main roles. His career only took a turn for the better after he joined Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, where he won consecutive Oscars for Captains Courageous (1937) and Boys Town (1938). By the 1940s, Tracy became one of the studio’s top stars. He was nominated 9 times for Academy Awards’ Best Actor.

7. Bette Davis

Bette Davis

Bette Davis was famous for playing unsympathetic, sardonic characters and was known for her roles in a wide range of film genres. With a career spanning 60 years, she is also regarded as one of the greatest actresses in Hollywood history. In 1962, Bette Davis became the first person to secure 10 Academy Award nominations for acting. Besides all the accolades from her career, she was the first female president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Davis has admitted that her success had often been at the expense of her personal relationships. Married four times, she was once widowed and three times divorced, raising her three children as a single parent.

6. Walter Brennan

Walter Brennan

Walter Brennan is one of only three male actors to win three Academy Awards. Brennan became interested in acting while he was in school and began performing in vaudeville when he was only 15. His career in film started off rather difficultly, taking parts as an extra in numerous films at Universal Studios in 1924 at $7.50 a day. He remained an extra until, ten years later, his part in The Wedding Night expanded during filming, resulting in Brennan getting a contract with Goldwyn. Brennan finally moved up to significant roles with a decent part in Goldwyn’s Barbary Coast, and his breakthrough  came when he was cast as Swan Bostrom in the period film Come and Get It (1936), which earned him the first-ever Best Supporting Actor Oscar in the history of the Academy Awards.

All in all, Brennan appeared in more than 230 film and television roles during a career that spanned nearly 5 decades with 3 Best Supporting Actor awards and 4 nominations under his belt. Talk about humility and persistence!

5. Ingrid Bergman

Ingrid Bergman

St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture hailed Ingrid Bergman as “the ideal of American womanhood” and a contender for Hollywood’s greatest leading actress. She was born, orphaned, and raised in Sweden, and because of this, she was unable to speak English and was uncertain about her acceptance by the American audience when she first arrived to the United States to play the English-language remake of her earlier Swedish film Intermezzo (1936). Intermezzo became an enormous success, and as a result, Bergman became a star. Bergman won three Academy Awards for acting for Gaslight (1945), Anastasia (1956), and Murder on the Orient Express (1974) and was nominated 7 times.

4. Daniel Day-Lewis

Daniel Day-Lewis

Known for his constant devotion to and research of his roles, Daniel Day-Lewis is considered a method actor. He would often remain completely in character throughout the shooting schedules of his films, even to the point of adversely affecting his health. He is one of the most selective actors in the film industry, having starred in only six films since the turn of the 21st century. But owing to his seriousness and dedication to each project, he earned nominations and awards for almost every film he worked on since 1989 till his retirement in 2017. One of the most acclaimed actors in film history, his three Academy Awards for Best Actor were for his performances in My Left Foot (1989), There Will Be Blood (2007), and Lincoln (2012), making him the only male actor in history to have three wins in the lead actor category and one of only three male actors to win three Oscars.

3. Jack Nicholson

Jack Nicholson

Jack Nicholson has been an actor for 60 years, retiring only last year. His shot from the memorable line “Here’s Johnny!” in the horror film The Shining is now an iconic meme in 21st century pop culture. Nicholson’s 12 Academy Award nominations make him the most nominated male actor in the Academy’s history. Nicholson has won the Academy Award for Best Actor twice—one for the drama One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975), and the other for the romantic comedy As Good as It Gets (1997). He also won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for the comedy-drama Terms of Endearment (1983). Nicholson is one of three male actors to win three Academy Awards.

2. Meryl Streep

Meryl Streep

Often described as the “best actress of her generation,” Meryl Streep has been nominated for 21 Academy Awards, the most nominations any actor has received in the Academy’s history. Streep demonstrated an early ability to mimic accents and to quickly memorize her lines. She received her BA cum laude from college in 1971 before applying for an MFA from the Yale School of Drama. At Yale, she supplemented her course fees by waitressing and typing and appeared in over a dozen stage productions a year. Streep went on to win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Kramer vs. Kramer (1979), and the Academy Award for Best Actress for Sophie’s Choice (1982) and The Iron Lady (2011). Despite her current success, she has always been modest about her own acting and achievements in cinema and has managed to maintain a relatively normal personal life.

1. Katharine Hepburn

Katharine Hepburn

Known for her fierceness and independent personality, Hepburn was a leading lady in Hollywood for more than 60 years. Hepburn famously refused to conform to society’s expectations of women. She helped make trousers acceptable for women, and fans began to imitate her clothing. Off screen, Hepburn’s lifestyle was ahead of her time, symbolizing the “modern woman” and playing a part in changing gender stereotypes. With a genuine passion for acting, she committed heavily to each role and insisted on learning any necessary skills and performing stunts herself. Hepburn currently holds the record of the most Oscars for Best Actress—Morning Glory (1933), Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967), The Lion in Winter (1968), and On Golden Pond (1981)—and has been nominated 12 times, which is second to Meryl Streep’s record.

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