History’s Greatest Theater Actors

Of all theater actors that have trodden the boards, which are the greatest? Ten of them are listed below.

  • Thespis (6th century BC) is regarded as the first stage actor to play the role of another character.
  • William Shakespeare (1564-1616) was an actor and part-owner in a playing company. He became the world’s greatest playwright.
  • Henry Condell (c1576-1627) was one of the earliest Shakespearean actors, playing in the company for which Shakespeare directly wrote.
  • Susanna Centlivre (c1667-1723) was an actor before becoming the 18th century’s most successful female playwright.
  • Margaret “Peg” Woffington (1720-1760) was a dancer and actor who performed at several Dublin theaters before finding fame in London.
  • Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923) was a successful, skilful French theater actress who toured widely and became universally famous.
  • Judi Dench (1934) is a distinguished English actress of theater and film. She has performed in several Shakespeare plays.
  • Laurence Olivier (1907-1989) was the most revered British stage actor of the 20th century and acted in many films.
  • John Gielgud (1904-2000) was a hugely successful English actor of stage and film as well as a theater director.
  • Elia Kazan (1909-2003) was a professional actor before becoming a director of stage and film.