7 Non-Actors Who Have Won Awards for Acting

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Every actor worth his or her talent strives for an Oscar. Academy Awards symbolize the success of actors’ careers, ensuring they’ll be remembered for their skills on the big screen. Sometimes that success comes pretty easy. In fact, these five award-winners weren’t even professional actors when they received their Academy Awards. Here’s a look at seven non-actors who wowed Hollywood with their acting skills.

1. John Houseman

He won best supporting actor in The Paper Chase in 1974. Houseman first broke into theater after meeting opera composer Virgil Thompson at a cocktail party. Thompson hired Houseman to direct an off-Broadway stage version of his opera Four Saints in Three Acts. From there, Houseman co-founded the Mercury theater program with Orson Welles, which is how he broke into Hollywood and went on to produce nearly twenty films, according to a Mental Floss article. When Houseman retired from producing at 66, he supervised the acting program at Juilliard. One day, a call from James Bridges, who had been a stage manager in Houseman’s theater troupe at UCLA, eventually led to Houseman playing a hard-to-please professor at Harvard Law School in Bridges’movie. Houseman became Mr. Kingsfield in The Paper Chase, winning an Oscar for the part.

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