Top Movie Stars of the 1940s

Who were the Top Movie Stars of the 1940s statistically?  This page will attempt to answer that question.  Our main source of information was our massive Ultimate Movie Ranking (UMR) that looked at over 1,300 movies made from 1940 to 1949.  Granted this is far from all the movies made during that time frame….but it does cover most of the major movie releases in that decade.  To see that massive page…check out 1940s Box Office Grosses.

We have included four lists of information.  List one looks at the Top 15 stars by adjusted domestic box office (the Top Star might surprise you).  List two looks at the Top 15 stars by highest average rating per movie according to critics and audiences.   List three looks at the Top 15 Stars by highest average UMR score per movie.  List four shows our entire table of all the stars we looked at while complying these lists.

Top 15 Adjusted Domestic Box Office Leaders 1940 – 1949

  1. Van Johnson $4835.70 million in adjusted domestic gross
  2. Bing Crosby $4613.20 million in adjusted domestic gross
  3. Dorothy Lamour $4349.30 million in adjusted domestic gross
  4. Walter Brennan $4125.00 million in adjusted domestic gross
  5. Dana Andrews $4053.00 million in adjusted domestic gross
  6. John Wayne $3987.20 million in adjusted domestic gross
  7. Bob Hope $3978.00 million in adjusted domestic gross
  8. Ray Milland $3865.70 million in adjusted domestic gross
  9. Gary Cooper $3817.60 million in adjusted domestic gross
  10. Humphrey Bogart $3675.00 million in adjusted domestic gross
  11. Spencer Tracy $3606.20 million in adjusted domestic gross
  12. Judy Garland $3529.20 million in adjusted domestic gross
  13. Cary Grant $3502.00 million in adjusted domestic gross
  14. Fred MacMurray $3478.40 million in adjusted domestic gross
  15. Walter Pidgeon $3410.90 million in adjusted domestic gross

Top 15 Average Critic/Audience Rating Leaders 1940 – 1949

  1. Joseph Cotten 75.10% critic and audience voting
  2. Burt Lancaster 74.50% critic and audience voting
  3. Edward G. Robinson 74.30% critic and audience voting
  4. Humphrey Bogart 73.90% critic and audience voting
  5. Cary Grant 73.60% critic and audience voting
  6. Katharine Hepburn 73.20% critic and audience voting
  7. Ingrid Bergman 73.10% critic and audience voting
  8. Bing Crosby 73.00% critic and audience voting
  9. Gary Cooper 72.70% critic and audience voting
  10. Irene Dunne 72.60% critic and audience voting
  11. Judy Garland 72.60% critic and audience voting
  12. Bette Davis 72.50% critic and audience voting
  13. Gregory Peck 72.40% critic and audience voting
  14. Claude Rains 72.30% critic and audience voting
  15. Peter Lorre 71.90% critic and audience voting

Top 15 Average UMR Score Per Movie

  1. Katharine Hepburn 64.50
  2. Teresa Wright 64.48
  3. Gregory Peck 62.67
  4. Ingrid Bergman 62.19
  5. Gary Cooper 62.11
  6. Judy Garland 61.73
  7. Bing Crosby 61.22
  8. Greer Garson 60.30
  9. Bob Hope 60.08
  10. Cary Grant 59.60
  11. Clark Gable 59.15
  12. Olivia de Havilland  58.39
  13. Bette Davis 58.31
  14. Spencer Tracy 57.70
  15. Joseph Cotten 57.67

Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman in 1946’s Notorious

Top Movie Stars 1940-1949 Main Table

The really cool thing about this table is that it is “user-sortable”. Rank the movies anyway you want.

  • Sort by actor or actress
  • Sort by movies made between 1940 and 1949
  • Sort by average adjusted domestic box office per movie
  • Sort by total adjusted domestic box office from 1940 to 1949
  • Sort by how many Oscar® nominations and how many Oscar® wins each performers’ movies earned
  • Sort by average Ultimate Movie Rankings (UMR) Score.  UMR puts box office, reviews and awards into a mathematical equation and gives each movie a score.
RankActorMoviesB.O. Avg (mil) B.O. Total (mil)Avg RatingOscar Noms / WinsAvg UMR Score
Van Johnson27$ 179.1$4835.7066.3 %025 / 0454.09
Bing Crosby19$ 242.8$4613.2073.0 %032 / 0961.22
Dorothy Lamour31$ 140.3$4349.3063.9 %011 / 0049.17
Walter Brennan25$ 165.0$4125.0069.9 %042 / 0455.47
Dana Andrews30$ 135.1$4053.0066.8 %038 / 1150.29
John Wayne28$ 142.4$3987.2066.3 %029 / 0251.94
Bob Hope20$ 198.9$3978.0070.8 %011 / 0160.08
Ray Milland31$ 124.7$3865.7063.9 %024 / 0648.34
Gary Cooper16$ 238.6$3817.6072.7 %050 / 0662.11
Humphrey Bogart25$ 147.0$3675.0073.9 %021 / 0756.74
Spencer Tracy19$ 189.8$3606.2068.8 %016 / 0257.70
Judy Garland17$ 207.6$3529.2072.6 %013 / 0261.73
Cary Grant20$ 175.1$3502.0073.6 %036 / 0659.60
Fred MacMurray32$ 108.7$3478.4060.5 %018 / 0044.50
Walter Pidgeon23$ 148.3$3410.9064.7 %039 / 1251.58
Paulette Goddard26$ 127.4$3312.4061.5 %026 / 0245.86
Ingrid Bergman13$ 254.2$3304.6073.1 %051 / 1062.19
Betty Grable19$ 170.1$3231.9063.4 %012 / 0253.63
Maureen O'Hara23$ 140.5$3231.5064.1 %024 / 1051.71
Robert Young30$ 105.5$3166.3065.6 %010 / 0146.90
Mickey Rooney19$ 166.1$3155.9064.5 %014 / 0455.31
Barbara Stanwyck22$ 141.8$3119.6067.9 %016 / 0054.18
Sydney Greenstreet24$ 129.0$3096.0069.8 %016 / 0351.48
Anthony Quinn22$ 139.6$3071.2067.6 %009 / 0251.61
Lionel Barrymore20$ 152.5$3050.0067.6 %022 / 0249.69
Claude Rains24$ 126.9$3045.6072.3 %035 / 0852.68
Lana Turner16$ 188.1$3009.6065.9 %009 / 0256.61
Jane Wyman27$ 110.10$2973.2062.1 %027 / 0845.08
Alan Ladd21$ 140.2$2944.2066.2 %005 / 0051.86
Linda Darnell24$ 121.9$2925.6065.3 %017 / 0549.30
Errol Flynn20$ 145.1$2902.0064.8 %015 / 0152.91
John Garfield22$ 131.0$2882.0068.1 %022 / 0551.25
Gene Tierney20$ 143.9$2878.0067.1 %022 / 0352.44
Claudette Colbert17$ 169.0$2873.0069.4 %023 / 0254.32
Randolph Scott29$ 98.3$2850.7059.4 %010 / 0043.04
Donald Crisp19$ 148.1$2813.9070.4 %029 / 0754.87
Red Skelton20$ 139.9$2798.2061.4 %006 / 0249.07
Abbott & Costello25$ 109.3$2732.5069.0 %000 / 0049.33
Greer Garson13$ 206.0$2678.0068.3 %037 / 0860.30
Gene Kelly15$ 178.1$2671.5066.4 %018 / 0356.58
Peter Lorre21$ 125.6$2637.6071.9 %015 / 0352.07
Ronald Reagan22$ 118.9$2615.8059.6 %009 / 0142.85
Gregory Peck12$ 212.9$2554.8072.4 %035 / 0862.67
Donna Reed21$ 120.9$2538.9065.9 %022 / 0347.98
Virginia Mayo17$ 148.7$2527.9065.3 %018 / 0849.43
Tyrone Power15$ 167.4$2511.0066.4 %020 / 0554.95
Edward G. Robinson22$ 113.8$2503.6074.3 %012 / 0152.65
Ginger Rogers16$ 156.3$2500.8063.2 %011 / 0152.56
Joseph Cotten15$165.1$2476.5075.10%045 / 0757.67
Esther Williams12$ 205.5$2466.0063.7 %003 / 0156.89
Van Heflin19$ 127.4$2420.6069.0 %010 / 0250.92
Bette Davis17$ 139.0$2363.0072.5 %033 / 0358.31
Olivia de Havilland 16$ 146.8$2348.8070.7 %026 / 0758.39
Clark Gable11$ 209.3$2302.3069.3 %002 / 0059.15
Henry Fonda20$ 115.1$2302.0068.3 %010 / 0250.82
Vincent Price13$ 176.5$2294.5068.3 %036 / 1156.79
Susan Hayward22$ 104.0$2288.0062.7 %016 / 0145.22
Lucille Ball19$ 118.6$2253.4063.4 %003 / 0046.75
Teresa Wright10$ 223.60$2236.0068.4%044 / 1464.48
Robert Mitchum17$ 129.9$2208.3064.9 %011 / 0149.90
Rita Hayworth18$ 121.8$2192.4067.4 %020 / 0350.64
Betty Hutton14$ 152.6$2136.4063.9 %006 / 0052.56
Paul Henreid15$ 138.9$2083.5069.8 %014 / 0451.28
Gail Russell18$ 115.1$2071.8063.4 %007 / 0046.97
Glenn Ford23$ 89.8$2065.4062.9 %003 / 0042.99
Victor Mature17$120.8$2053.6063.6%012 / 0344.97
Kathryn Grayson12$ 170.3$2043.6060.9 %008 / 0150.81
Vincent Minnelli12$ 169.2$2030.4067.6 %007 / 0053.48
Joan Fontaine13$ 150.7$1959.1069.0 %023 / 0556.91
Rosalind Russell18$ 106.9$1924.2063.1 %012 / 0047.29
Don Ameche21$ 91.6$1923.6061.2 %011 / 0043.19
Katharine Hepburn10$ 191.6$1916.0073.2 %011 / 0364.50
Shirley Temple15$ 127.5$1912.5064.9 %012 / 0246.91
James Cagney12$ 159.2$1910.4068.5 %014 / 0455.68
Irene Dunne11$ 171.1$1882.1072.6 %020 / 0255.93
Myrna Loy12$ 155.8$1869.6071.5 %009 / 0852.70
Fred Astaire11$ 168.3$1851.3070.4 %016 / 0155.52
Robert Taylor14$ 128.3$1796.2061.3 %007 / 0149.22
Charles Laughton18$ 98.9$1780.2064.1 %006 / 0145.78
James Stewart15$ 118.1$1771.5071.4 %012 / 0353.58
Jennifer Jones8$ 208.5$1668.0072.6 %030 / 0659.35
Dick Powell18$ 91.8$1652.4062.1 %004 / 0043.19
Robert Ryan18$ 91.6$1648.8063.3 %013 / 0144.56
Elizabeth Taylor10$ 160.9$1609.0066.6 %012 / 0353.28
William Powell13$ 122.0$1586.0066.5 %004 / 0048.73
William Holden18$ 88.0$1584.0059.0 %000 / 0041.11
Joan Bennett21$ 74.5$1564.9062.5%002 / 0040.60
Joel McCrea16$ 93.2$1491.2068.3 %007 / 0146.77
Fredric March12$ 122.8$1473.6068.3 %014 / 0747.73
Victor Mature17$ 88.1$1409.6063.7 %007 / 0143.78
Deanna Durbin15$ 92.8$1392.0066.2 %011 / 0045.92
Joan Crawford12$ 115.4$1384.8065.8 %009 / 0149.81
Wallace Beery16$ 85.0$1360.0058.0 %000 / 0040.25
Dorothy McGuire7$177.9$1245.2071.3%012 / 0462.16
Danny Kaye6$ 205.5$1233.0073.0 %006 / 0161.81
Frank Sinatra8$ 144.5$1156.0063.4 %009 / 0250.96
Burt Lancaster9$ 123.2$1108.8074.5 %005 / 0054.33
Robert Montgomery12$ 89.0$1068.0065.2 %011 / 0245.27
Marlene Dietrich9$ 114.3$1028.7061.7 %008 / 0047.14
Ava Gardner12$ 84.2$1010.4062.4 %004 / 0042.24
Lauren Bacall5$ 196.9$984.5084.1 %001 / 0166.83
Jean Arthur8$ 121.9$975.2071.9 %018 / 0153.65
Clifton Webb5$ 192.4$962.0077.2 %010 / 0266.35
Ronald Colman7$ 134.1$938.7072.4 %022 / 0254.49
Laurence Olivier8$ 113.8$910.4075.8 %030 / 0958.58
Natalie Wood9$ 100.6$905.4065.7 %005 / 0346.93
Priscilla Lane11$ 78.9$867.9065.1 %003 / 0041.47
Kirk Douglas8$ 107.8$862.4071.4 %012 / 0351.64

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101 thoughts on “Top Movie Stars of the 1940s

  1. JOHN Response to point A of your 6.40 pm post on 16 May. Other posts to follow.
    ! I will be sending Bruce a post tomorrow which will illustrates why I think that Grable was the biggest box office star in the 1940s. Meanwhile here is what Wikipedia thinks on the subject.
    “Throughout her career, Grable was a celebrated sex symbol. Her bathing suit poster made her the number-one pin-up girl of World War II, surpassing Rita Hayworth. It was later included in the Life magazine project 100 Photographs that Changed the World. The U.S. Treasury Department in 1946 and 1947 listed her as the highest-salaried American woman; she earned more than $3 million [$45 million in 2017 dollars, enormous among movie star earnings at that time] during her career. Grable’s movies were immensely popular, and Fox regularly channelled the profits it received from Grable’s movies into their more prestigious movies.” All of that seems to support Arturo’s case and at the very least makes it a not unreasonable contention
    2 By now we are used to your love of sporting comparisons but if you won’t avoid them as a courtesy of those movie buffs who may not be familiar with the sport concerned and are therefore in no position to debate your contentions you might at least chose those comparisons that are the most suitable within the context of the subject under discussion.
    3 Hogan’s SKILL as a golfer is neither nor there when we are talking about audience TICKET SALES at the movies. The 20th best golfer in the world could have earned more money for himself and his sport than Ben by being more popular and drawing bigger audiences. For example Roger Federer’s immense popularity reportedly enables him to draw greater attendances than those currently ranked above him in terms of match winning achievements and although his prize money was less last year than that of the No 1 & 2 in tennis his earnings from sponsorship because of his popularity were greater than those of any other sportsman of any sport in the world.
    4 However things like trophies won and individual earnings can be measured if all the facts are known whereas box office stats because of the variables and unknowns involved can as Phil says often lead us in the wrong direction if taken only at face value, though earnings usually broadly reflect commercial returns and in that respect our snapshot of the US Treasury Dept’s lists certainly do not disprove Arturo’s case. So do you think we can we forgo sporting clichés and stick to the level playing field of movie analogies?

  2. Hi

    We’re back to lists again. As always, very subjective. It was interesting to see Van Johnson heading the list. Undoubtedly a big star in the 40’s but would mean very little to people today. I’m surprised Betty Grable wasn’t there. Grable’s career was one of incredible luck to be in the right place at the right time. She had a very likable personality, perfect girl next door who could sing and dance. Most of her movies, although not considered classics, are very enjoyable and actually hold up very well.
    If I was going for female stars of the 40’s, it would definitely have to be Bergman, a brilliant run of success from 1943 to 46. I didn’t like them all but Casablanca and Notorious are excellent.
    For a male star I would pick Bogart, the perfect anti hero film noir character. But like a ll lists, you can’t please everyone and is all down to personal tastes. But Bogart and Bergman stand out because their fame transcends their age.

  3. Thanks for the info. While the Quigley Poll is another interesting POV it is subjective and I prefer objective data such as actual “number of paid admissions”.

    Either way I agree it is highly unlikely A&C could be ranked so high in the Quigley Poll and NOT be in this list of Top 15. E.g. if every A&C movie released in the 40s was included in the 1,300 films used, and A&C were consistently top box office draws, the aggregate of all of their film’s box office take should put them in the Top 15.

    1. All 25 1940s Abbott and Costello movies are included. They were huge in the early 1940s…but pretty average by the end of the 1940s…..still 35th for the entire decade is pretty awesome.

      Ride ’em Cowboy (1942) $215.90 million in adjusted domestic gross
      Pardon My Sarong (1942) $207.60 million adjusted domestic gross
      Rio Rita (1942) $160.00 million in adjusted domestic gross
      Hold That Ghost (1941) $155.40 million in adjusted domestic gross
      The Wistful Widow of Wagon Gap (1947) $147.80 adjusted domestic gross
      Who Done It (1942) $145.30 million in adjusted domestic gross
      Hit The Ice (1943) $144.50 million in adjusted domestic gross
      It Ain’t Hay (1943) $128.50 million in adjusted domestic gross
      Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) $124.80 million
      Buck Privates Come Home (1947) $123.20 million in adjusted domestic gross
      Keep em’ Flying (1941) $120.70 million in adjusted domestic gross
      In The Navy (1941) $120.60 million in adjusted domestic gross
      Buck Privates (1941) $120.40 million in adjusted domestic gross
      Lost in a Harem (1944) $110.50 million in adjusted domestic gross
      In Society (1944) $93.50 million in adjusted domestic gross
      African Screams (1949) $81.70 million in adjusted domestic gross
      Abbott & Costello in Hollywood (1945) $75.80 million in adjusted domestic gross
      The Noose Hangs Loose (1948) $74.90 million in adjusted domestic gross
      Here Come The Co-Eds (1945) $68.90 million in adjusted domestic gross
      The Naughty Nineties (1945) $65.40 million in adjusted domestic gross
      Little Giant (1946) $65.20 million in adjusted domestic gross
      The Time of Their Lives (1946) $64.80 million in adjusted domestic gross
      Mexican Hayride (1948) $55.50 million in adjusted domestic gross
      Abbott & Costello Meet the Killer Boris Karloff (1949) $36.30 million
      One Night in the Tropics (1940) $25.80 million in adjusted domestic gross

  4. ARTURO Please accept my sincerest apologies for slipping an ext R into your name in my second spelling of your name in my previous post. BOB

  5. ARTURO AND JOHN – “A plague on both your houses!”
    1 AUTRURO I think you are being unfair to Bruce because whether or not one agrees with their presentation his stats themselves are not flawed as Betty made 19 films in the 1940s that grossed around $3.23 billion and that figure is accurately reflected in Bruce’s 1940s main table which ranks Grable in a high 18th position in terms of overall grosses in the decade. Whilst the figure is insufficient to place Betty in the Top 15 in Bruce’s 1940s Table A, Bruce has also shown that the 19 movies averaged around $170 million which is an awesome average that truly reflects Betty’s status as one of the great box office stars of the 1940s, especially as most of her 19 films were largely carried by her without the contribution of other major stars.

    2 Removing stars like Walter Brennan to please you might well improve presentation of the greater box office stars but would not alter the basic stats and for me as one who has greatly admired Betty’s box office career Bruce’s presentation methods are not inconsistent with Betty’s status as a great 1940s box office champ.

    3 JOHN The tagline on the posters for one of the latter-day King Kong films reads “Size DOES Count” and I was thinking of asking Steve to create a poster that we could send you for your next birthday which proclaims “A stand- alone star vehicle DOES have advantages!” Indeed not only does Betty Grable featuring for the most part alone among big stars in her movies during just one decade in 19 films with an average gross of $170 million and a total one of $3.23 million represent a magnificent box office record, but her not needing other major stars for the success of her movies will have helped the cost/profit ratios of her films for Fox by keeping down large salary and expenses bills for those movies.

    4 You are of course entitled to favour 1st tier prestige productions with performances from top star teams or multiple stars over 2nd tier projects with a single star if you chose to see it in that light but it’s disappointing that you are not more consistent in the matter as in our recent exchanges about your insistence on the commercial primacy of low budget productions with winning profit to cost ratios over expensive prestige presentations the Universal studios of the 1930/40s were your heroes because of the favourable profit margins from their large output of low budget features.

    5 Moreover in the round the options concerned do not necessarily have to be mutually exclusive because if you turn to Grable’s Wikipedia page you will see that in the late 1940s Fox announced to the press that the huge profits from Grable movies enabled it to fund some of its more costly prestige projects. Also a low budget stand-alone movie does not in itself preclude a “1st tier performance” whatever that really is. On the Waterfront was made for $800,000 [about $7 million in today’s money] and Brando was it’s only big star at that time but he won the Oscar for it and look at Cooper in High Noon before Grace became a star. Also whatever the validity of my arguments your in my view rather patronising rant about my being dismissive of the box office contribution of the stars of multi-star vehicles suggests that you have not fully understood those arguments. My point was in a way the reverse of what you are attributing to me as I was saying that the more big audience attracting stars there are in a film the greater should be its box office gross so that someone like Grable who produced a rash of big hits averaging $170 million in current dollars and who did that largely alone among stars in her films is unquestionably a major box office champ. I fail to see where there is rocket science in understanding those points..

    1. Bob & Cogerson

      “patronizing” “I fail to see where there is rocket science in understanding these points.”

      Speaking of patronizing.

      But I don’t mind. Go ahead. It is fun. The basic problem with your post is that it never addresses the issue mine raised. Mine was a rebuttal to Arturo’s claim that Betty Grable was the BIGGEST box office star of the 1940’s. So was she? Do you consider her a bigger box office star than Bergman? Than Garland. Than Lamour? If so, why exactly and what is your evidence?

      Here are the top five female stars at the box office according to Cogerson’s stats:

      Dorothy Lamour (31 films–$4343.30 total box office–$140.3 average–ranked #3
      Judy Garland (17 films–$3529.20 total box office–$207.6 average–ranked #12
      Paulette Goddard (26 films–$3312.40 total box office–$127.4 average–ranked #16
      Ingrid Bergman (13 films–$3,304.60 total box office–$254.60 average–ranked #17
      Betty Grable (19 films–$3231.90 total box office–$170.1 average–ranked #18

      A–my first point is that your post was simply a straw-man argument. I am not at all arguing that Betty Grable was not successful at the box office in the 1940’s. She obviously was. But what evidence exists that she was more successful than everyone else or any other actress? She is 5th in total box office, and among this group only 3rd in average. For me, nothing here indicates she should be considered #1.
      It is like a golfer being the 18th best golfer in 1953. That makes him a very good golfer and extremely successful. It doesn’t make him Ben Hogan though. The 18th best heavyweight in the world in 1938 was a very good heavyweight, but he wasn’t Joe Louis. Good doesn’t make you the best.

      B–profitability. Without budget information, how can anyone be certain of profit margins? Certainly Grable’s movies made money. But so did Bergman’s. The Bells of St. Mary’s with a PROFIT of $3,715,000 is, according to Wikipedia, the most profitable movie in the entire history of RKO (apparently even over King Kong). It doesn’t stand alone in her resume. Movies such as For Whom the Bell Tolls and Casablanca were immensely popular.

      C–on the budgets, I would say it is not a given that just because Bergman had bigger co-stars, her budgets averaged out higher. Grable was making mostly Technicolor films, and Technicolor in itself was extremely expensive, 2 and 1/2 times as expensive to shoot and reproduce as black and white. And I don’t think it outside of reason to maintain that Technicolor itself might have been the best of all co-stars at the box-office back in those days.

      D–The contradiction you see concerning the old debate about whether is was better for a studio to invest in several low-budget films or one blockbuster is not a contradiction. I was talking about the studio profits. You are talking about an individual star. Betty Grable only made a limited number of films. Saving money on her films didn’t do Zanuck any good unless he could match her profit margin on other films made by other stars. Interestingly, the workhorse actresses who ground out a lot of movies were Lamour and Goddard, not Grable. Hard to see how if you use the “she made a lot of films for the studio” argument, Lamour doesn’t come out as #1. She ended up with by far the highest total. While she did co-star with Crosby and Hope in the road pictures, she probably still made more “Lamour” films than Grable’s complete output.

      E–first tier performance–I am referring to box office results, not necessarily budgets. Psycho was a first tier box-office success on a low budget. Bergman simply had more first-tier hits than Grable, which is why she could finish ahead in total box office while making about 30% fewer films.

        “Is THAT one of them?” asked Jack Wilson incredulously.
        “Yes,” replied Rufus Ryker “but we’ve got to make it look good for Grafton. We can get] Stonewall Torrey] to draw anytime.”
        (1) Unfortunately for poor Torrey when he was ultimately provoked into drawing, his draw was not good enough just as possibly yours isn’t now!
        (2) Taking box office grosses/ticket sales solely at face value can as Phil has said often lead us in the wrong direction in assessing any star’s box office clout because of the qualifying considerations that exist and Bruce has acknowledged that his figures some of which you are quoting are just “best guess estimates”.
        (3) Therefore when it comes down to the fine tuning of ranking box office stars, determining who is precisely No 1 can in relation to at least the top half dozen or so be largely a matter of opinion and I feel Arturo’s opinion is as good as yours or mine though for what it’s worth I think it is right in opining that Grable was No 1 in the 1940s. She is one of a handful of stars whom I most admire in a box office content for her long run of mainly stand-alone hits
        (4) However I do also feel that it was superfluous for you to aggressively challenge Arturo’s opinion when whether Grable was no 1 or No 6 did not detract from Arturo’s central complaint that supporting actors like Brennan were being ranked above Betty.
        (5) Indeed if you persist in being dogmatic in the matter I think that fairness would dictate that there is now an onus on you to prove that Grable was NOT the biggest 1940s box office star taking account of counter –arguments such as those in this and my further posts.
        (6) In your so doing it might be helpful if for example you in future make crystal clear what type of performance you mean – such as box office or artistic -instead of bandying-about terms in an unqualified manner.
        (7) I think also that references such as “1st tier” are not just confusing but are maybe out of place when referring to cinematic box office takings and may even give the impression of snobbery . As Gordon Gekko of Wall Street might put it “Money is money and it does not care about tiers.” [Oh please! please! somebody give me a bucket load of Betty Grable’s 2nd tier box office takings to spend]
        (8) I like you love a good debate but we need to get the balance right by at the same time respecting the opinions of others, especially when figures from decades ago cannot be treated as an exact science today, and maybe if we we aggressively nit-pick every opinion that’s advanced we could intimidate some site users from venturing opinions at all. We should try to avoid throwing out the baby with the bath water.

        1. Bob & Cogerson & Arturo

          “it was superfluous for you to aggressively challenge Arturo’s opinion when whether Grable was no 1 or no 6 did not detract from Arturo’s central complaint that supporting actors like Brennan were being ranked above Betty.”

          Here is Arturo’s full post from May 14 at 8:12 AM which I responded to.

          “This list is misleading. First of all, the biggest box office star of the decade, Betty Grable, was nowhere to be found. Walter Brennan was usually a character actor in films; he carried almost none of the films he was in at the box office; the actual stars did. So to list him as one o the top box office leaders of the decade shows the data used to compile the list to be flawed for the conclusions it shows.”

          I can’t speak for Arturo about what was his central point, but I responded to his first of all point. As for Walter Brennan, I agree with Arturo’s complaint. Brennan was a character actor. Some folks probably bought tickets to see well-known character people, but I completely agree that we shouldn’t put them on a list with stars, and would advise Cogerson to do a separate character actor list.
          But I disagree with the conclusion Arturo draws from this that the data itself is inaccurate. Nothing points in that direction. I find nothing surprising that Brennan appeared in movies that sold a lot of tickets. The question arises only with lumping him with stars.
          But what does Brennan have to do with our debate. Do you question Ingrid Bergman was a star? Judy Garland? Dorothy Lamour? Paulette Goddard? If so, on what basis?

          “it might be helpful if for example you in the future made crystal clear what type of performance you mean–such as box office or artistic–instead of bandying about terms in an unqualified manner.”

          Frankly, I don’t what you are talking about. I have referred to anything artistic on this thread that I can recall or notice re-reading my posts. It might help if you brought over the quote that you are objecting to.


          “1st tier”–okay point that I didn’t define it, so let’s say $300 million or greater domestic box office in the 1940’s is a 1st tier. Taken from the site index:
          Ingrid Bergman:
          The Bells of St. Mary’s–$501.40
          For Whom the Bell Tolls–$485.00
          Saratoga Trunk–$335.70

          Judy Garland
          Meet Me in St Louis–$426.30
          Till the Clouds Roll By–$310.00

          Dorothy Lamour
          Road to Morrocco–$332.20
          Road to Utopia–$309.90

          Betty Grable
          had no $300 movies in the 1940’s
          How to Marry a Millionaire in 1953 at $310.00 was her only over $300 million grosser.

          The last paragraph is the straw-man argument again that Betty Grable did well at the box office. No one is denying it. She was obviously a big box office star in the 1940’s. The question raised which you are disputing is was she really number one? The stats don’t back it up.
          As you don’t like sports analogies, and into “money, money, money” allow me to use a money analogy. Averell Harriman was a very rich man. His assets included the Union Pacific, Central Pacific, Southern Pacific, and Central Illinois railroads, Pan American Airlines, The Wells Fargo Banks, shipping lines, mineral investments around the world, etc. For all this, he was never the richest American. John D. Rockefeller, Henry Ford, Andrew Mellon, and J. Paul Getty, among others, were richer. But no one denies Harriman was rich. Would I like to have his money? Sure. Hell, I would settle for just the Union Pacific. Or Wells Fargo. Or Pan Am.
          Bottom line–Why go back to Betty Grable being successful at the box office when no one is denying that. The only issue is was she the most successful.

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