Name at birth: Burton Stephen Lancaster
Burt Lancaster was one of Hollywood's biggest stars in the 1950s, when he blossomed into a square-jawed but sensitive he-man. Burt Lancaster started out as an acrobat in the circus, and served in the U.S. Army in North Africa and Italy during World War II. He didn't get into the movie business until he was 32, quickly establishing himself as a tough guy in such movies as The Killers (1946, with Ava Gardner). His natural athleticism helped him in adventure movies such as The Crimson Pirate (1952), and in the 1950s and 1960s he proved his acting ability as the cynical sergeant in From Here to Eternity (1953, with Frank Sinatra). He followed that hit with movies like The Sweet Smell of Success (1957) and Elmer Gantry (1960, co-starring Shirley Jones). Lancaster continued acting in his later years, earning his fourth Oscar nomination for his role opposite Susan Sarandon in 1980's Atlantic City and appearing with fellow movie icon Kirk Douglas for a last hurrah in Tough Guys (1986).