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Oscar Is Not Strictly Made In Good Ol’ USA

While few foreign films have won Oscars for acting, thespians from outside the U.S. have had a lasting impact on Hollywood’s most coveted awards.

Easily the most visible contributions are those of the British. The combination of a renowned stage tradition and a common language with the U.S. has guaranteed English players a prominent place in Oscar history.

From 1933, when Charles Laughton won best actor for “The Private Life of Henry VIII,” to 1991, when Anthony Hopkins took the same award for “The Silence of the Lambs,” British actors and actresses have been second only to Americans in both nominations and awards.

Other British actors and actresses honored with an Oscar include Ronald Colman, Laurence Olivier, Alec Guinness, David Niven, Rex Harrison, Daniel Day-Lewis, Vivien Leigh, Glenda Jackson, Maggie Smith and Emma Thompson.

More surprising, though, is the number of Oscar winners whose native tongues were not English. While Sophia Loren remains the only non-American to win an Oscar for a role in a foreign-language film (Italy’s “Two Women,” 1961), more than a dozen others have been nominated.

Perhaps the best bit of foreign-language performance trivia in Oscar history is Robert De Niro’s supporting actor award for “The Godfather II.” Count that as the only American performer in an American film to win an Oscar for a performance spoken in a foreign language (Italian)!

Many foreign-born stars were nominated for, or won, Oscars for roles in English-language films. In fact, until 1985 there had never been a year in which all 10 nominees for the leading-role awards were born in the U.S.

Following is a partial list of Oscar nominees in the acting categories for whom English was a second-or third-language.

Marlene Dietrich, Germany, one nomination

Miliza Korjus, Poland, one nomination

Maria Ouspenskaya, Russia, two nominations

Ida Kaminska, Poland, one nomination Mako, Japan, one nomination Charles Boyer, France, three nominations

Ingrid Bergman, Sweden, three awards

Oscar Homolka, Austria, one nomination

Michael Chekhov, Russia, one nomination

Greta Garbo, Sweden, four nominations, one special award

Emil Jannings, Germany, two awards

Anouk Aimee, France, one nomination

Akim Tamiroff, Russia, two nominations

Katina Paxinou, Greece, one award

Marisa Pavan, Italy, one nomination

Erich von Stroheim, Austria, one nomination

Anna Magtiani, Italy, one award

Vittorio De Sica, Italy, one nomination

Sessue Hayakawa, Japan, one nomination

Simone Signoret, France, two nominations, one award

Melina Mercouri, Greece, one nomination

Isabelle Adjani, France, two nominations

Sophia Loren, Italy, two nominations, one award, one special award

Oskar Werner, Austria, one nomination

Liv Ullmann, Norway, two nominations

Maximilian Schell, Austria, three nominations, one award

Omar Sharif, Egypt, one award

Lila Kedrova, France, one award

Leslie Caron, France, two nominations

Topol, Israel, one nomination

MarcelloMastroianni, Italy, three nominations

Valentina Cortese, Italy, one nomination

Lotte Lenya, Austria, one nomination

Genevieve Bujold, Canada, one nomination

Giancarlo Giannini, Italy, one nomination

Marie-Christian Barrault, France, one nomination

Gerard Depardieu, France, one nomination

Mikhail Baryshnikov, Russia, one nomination

Norma Aleandro, Argentina, one nomination

Max von Sydow, Sweden, one nomination

Haing S. Ngor, Cambodia, one award

Lena Olin, Sweden, one nomination

Pat Morita, Japan, one nomination

Klaus Maria Brandauer, Austria, one nomination

Lilia Skala, Austria, one nomination

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