Pre-Oscars Coverage: The Biggest Movie Star of (Most of Our) Lives

Lite Rock 105's Stephen Donovan did a little research to find out which actor comes out on top.

In advance of the eighty-eighth Academy Awards presentation on Sunday, Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. on ABC, guest blogger Stephen Donovan of Lite Rock 105 tells us the greatest actor of all time.


It’s Oscar time! Who will win? Who is the best actor? The best actress? We’ll soon find out!


The whole pageant is more sizzle than steak and they have to do it all over again next year. So, is anything ever decided?

I have a much better question: Who is the biggest movie star?

Isn’t that a much more fun argument to have? You could probably rattle off thirty movie stars right now, but could you name every Actor nominee from this or any year? Besides, being a movie star sounds much more fun than an actor. And, lucky for us, there’s an easily quantifiable way to answer the question.

For years, movie theater owners would have to submit a list of the biggest stars by way of box office draws, for example, the money people actually spent going to the movies that year. From 1932 to 2013, the good people at Quigley would publish their top ten list and their numbers tell a very interesting story.

Bing Crosby (he of White Christmas fame) dominated the Hollywood box office in the ‘40s in a way only one other person in history ever has. Der Bingle was number one on the list five consecutive years in a row, from 1944 to 1948. That’s rarefied air, because since then, every other movie star – except one – has failed to be number one at the box office five years in a row.

Who would you guess was the one that did it? Who, by doing so, would have to be considered the greatest movie star of our lifetimes? (Well, most of ours, anyways.)

It’s gotta be John Wayne, the very archetype of the strong, silent type. After all, he was in the top ten twenty-five times between 1949 and 1974!

Sadly, though, he only reached number one a scant four times, with only two of them consecutive. That’s what my dad would call “N.G.” – no good.

What about Clint Eastwood? He was in the top ten at the box office every year from 1968 to 1986! Dirty Harry! Unforgiven! Heck, Gran Torino! That’s gotta be him right? Who else made hit movies with orangutans?

Nope, Clint made it to the number one slot five times, sure, but remember, we’re looking for five consecutive years. Close, but no cigar.

Of course, Tom Cruise! Box office gold! Maverick has twenty top-ten finishes and, even more impressive than that, he has the most years ranked number one, with seven.

Now maybe I’m splitting hairs here, but I seem to recall the bar being set at five consecutive years. Now, Tom has had a nice career for himself, much more so when you take into consideration his career resurrection after picking fights with Brooke Shields, jumping on couches and being the poster boy for the world’s most controversial religion. But, you can flash that smile and do all your own stunts you want, my good man, it still won’t change the fact that you have yet to reign supreme from the number one box office ranking for five years in a row.

But one man has. A man you may be surprised to learn. A man whose love life was tabloid fodder for years. A man who was number one at the box office from 1978 to 1982, and was responsible for Alfred Hitchcock’s favorite movie, Smokey and the Bandit. I humbly submit to you a belated Happy eightieth birthday and a hearty congratulations for being the Biggest Movie Star of (Most of Our) Lives, Mister Burt Reynolds. Thank you.