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A leading man is the actor who is the protagonist or plays a love interest to the leading actress in a film or play. A leading man is sometimes an all-rounder; capable of singing, dancing, and acting at a professional level.
A leading man can also be an actor who is often seen in romantic roles. An example of this would be Bruce Cabot's role in King Kong. Less frequently, the epithet has been applied to an actor who is often associated with one particular actress; for example, Spencer Tracy had a similar association with Katharine Hepburn. However, used in this sense, the woman is usually described as the leading lady of the man. The term is also used collectively, as in "Hollywood's leading men" to refer to a group of notable, famous, or popular actors.
Leading men of the silent era included Francis X Bushman, Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, Ramon Novarro, John Barrymore, John Gilbert, Wallace Beery, Conrad Nagel, Conrad Veidt, Rudolph Valentino, Sessue Hayakawa and Henry B. Walthall.
Leading men of the 1930s included Clark Gable, Ronald Colman, Maurice Chevalier, Warren William, Robert Young, William Powell, Fredric March, Paul Muni, Gary Cooper, Edward G. Robinson, Cary Grant, Spencer Tracy, Robert Montgomery, Bing Crosby, James Cagney, Errol Flynn, Burgess Meredith, George Brent, Robert Taylor, and Charles Boyer.
In the 1940s, leading men included James Stewart, Humphrey Bogart, Tyrone Power, John Wayne, Joel McCrea, Ray Milland, Ronald Reagan, Bob Hope, Dana Andrews, Joseph Cotten, Gregory Peck, William Holden, Fred MacMurray, Burt Lancaster, Victor Mature, Laurence Olivier and Robert Mitchum.
The 1950s included Charlton Heston, Michael Rennie, Gene Kelly, Montgomery Clift, Rock Hudson, Tony Curtis, Ricardo Montalban, Jeff Chandler, Marlon Brando, Yul Brynner, James Dean, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Jack Lemmon, and Paul Newman
The 1990s included Johnny Depp, Bruce Willis, Keanu Reeves, Nicolas Cage, George Clooney, Val Kilmer, Leonardo DiCaprio, Robin Williams, Brad Pitt, Richard Gere, Hugh Grant, Will Smith, Denzel Washington and Jim Carrey.
Some examples of non-aforementioned modern-day leading men include Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Russell Crowe, Bradley Cooper, Robert Downey Jr., Christian Bale, Mark Wahlberg, Joaquin Phoenix, Matthew McConaughey, Ryan Gosling, Daniel Craig, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal and Ryan Reynolds.
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