Special Report

Actors Who Won an Oscar in Their Debut Role

Source: Hulton Archive / Moviepix via Getty Images

16. Gale Sondergaard
>Film: Anthony Adverse (1936)
>Role: Faith Paleologue
>Award category: Actress in a Supporting Role

If you’re an old-movie buff, you may remember Gale Sondergaard from a number of films in the 1930s and 1940s, some of them in the Sherlock Holmes series, usually playing a cunning schemer. She won her first and only Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in her debut film, “Anthony Adverse,” a sweeping period love story based on a novel by Hervey Allen. Sondergaard would be nominated for one other Oscar but did not win.

Source: Hulton Archive / Moviepix via Getty Images

15. Katina Paxinou
>Film: For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943)
>Role: Pilar
>Award category: Actress in a Supporting Role

Greek-born Katina Paxinou was a founding member of the National Theatre of Greece. She didn’t gain a starring role in films until she was 42, when she was cast as Pilar in the movie version of the Ernest Hemingway novel “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and won for Best Supporting Actress for her performance. It was Paxinou’s only Oscar nomination. She has 23 other acting credits, including appearances on television series.

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14. Harold Russell
>Film: The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
>Role: Homer Parrish
>Award category: Actor in a Supporting Role

“The Best Years of Our Lives” told the story of American servicemen adjusting to civilian life after World War II. One of the characters, Homer Parrish, was played by Harold Russell, a real veteran who had lost his hands in an accident during the war. Russell was the first non-professional actor to win an Academy Award for acting.

Source: Hulton Archive / Moviepix via Getty Images

13. Mercedes McCambridge
>Film: All the King’s Men (1949)
>Role: Sadie Burke
>Award category: Actress in a Supporting Role

Mercedes McCambridge had crafted a career in radio before she turned to the big screen playing strong, willful women. In 1949 she appeared as Sadie Burke in the political drama “All the King’s Men” and won for Best Supporting Actress in her screen debut. McCambridge was also nominated for Best Supporting Actress for the film “Giant.” Among her other credits: She was the voice of the demon in “The Exorcist.”

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12. Shirley Booth
>Film: Come Back, Little Sheba (1952)
>Role: Lola Delaney
>Award category: Actress

Baby boomers may remember Shirley Booth as the spirited and acerbic maid in the 1960s sitcom “Hazel.” Booth was an accomplished stage actress before she appeared as the put-upon character Lola Delaney in “Come Back, Little Sheba,” for which she won a Best Actress Academy Award.

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