Winning the Academy Awards also known as the Oscars is a symbol and recognition of having the best theatrical skills and reaching the zenith of one’s career in film and movie making. The award is given annually for artistic and technical dexterity in the American film industry by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) to deserving recipients through a system of voting by the Academy’s voting members. The history of this award and its symbol, a golden male statue (made by George Stanley) dates back to 1929 when it was first presented at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.

The Oscars have grown over the years from when it was first broadcast on radio in 1930 to its debut on live TV in 1953 and down to its current stage where it can be streamed live online and watched by millions of people worldwide in more than 200 countries. Indeed, winning this award sets a recipient high above others.

While many actors work hard to win the Oscars or at least get a good shot at it by being nominated as a recipient, others have gone on to win it more than once. These special people, talented actors, and actresses will form the focus of this article as many people are not in the know of who have won the most Oscars.

Actors With The Most Oscars

Winning an Oscar comes with a lot of hard work, years of improvement and consistency in performing leading roles in movies. To be at this point, only the best make it this far and in turn, have won more than one Academy Award.

In the top of the most winners is an actress who had a total of 12 nominations and 4 Oscars while she lived. Her accomplishments are closely followed by 5 others who won 3 Academy Awards at various times. Of this 6 distinguished actors and actresses, only 2 are still living. A total of 40 actors and actresses have received more than 1 Oscars up to its 89th award ceremony that has seen a total of 3, 048 stars awarded.

Here are the top 15 actors and actresses with the most Oscars


Katharine Hepburn

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Katherine whose full name is Katharine Houghton Hepburn was born on the 12th day of May 1907 in Connecticut to a wealthy family. She began acting while studying at Bryn Mawr College and was active in the theatre for 4 years where she got favourable reviews for her role in the movie Broadway. 

She started off with success in Hollywood at the time and was known for her fiercely independent and spirited personality. She dominated the movie industry for over 60 years which saw her performing in different genres from comedy to literary drama etc. She was named by the American Film Institute as the greatest female star of classic Hollywood Cinema.

Best Actress AwardsBest Supporting Actress Award
1. Morning Glory (1933)
2. Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967)
3. The Lion in Winter (1968)
4. On Golden Pond (1981)
None

Meryl Streep

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Cited in the media as the “best actress of her generation” is Mary Louise Streep popularly known as Meryl Streep. She was born on June 22, 1949, in Summit, New Jersey to Mary Wilkinson and Harry William Streep Jr. as the eldest of 3 children in the family.

The American actress was known for her ability to adapt to different accents to suit a character and her versatility for any role she is taking up. She started her acting career in 1975 in a stage debut in Trelawny of the Wells and by 1977, she made her famous debut on TV with the film The Deadliest Season and Julia. Her career saw a total of 21 nominations for various Academy Awards categories out of which she has won 3. She has also won 8 Golden Globe Awards out of 32 nominations. This confers on her the title of the actor with the most nominations.

Best Actress AwardsBest Supporting Actress Award
1. Sophie’s Choice (1982)
2. The Iron Lady (2011)
1. Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)

Walter Brennan

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Walter Brennan is one out of only 3 male actors to have won the Oscars 3 times.

Brennan was born on July 25, 1894, in Lynn, Massachusetts as the second of three children born to Margaret Elizabeth Flanagan and William John Brennan. His parents were both of Irish descent and he studied engineering just like his father at Rindge Technical High School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

His acting interest became public at the age of 15 when he started performing at Vaudeville but didn’t make it a career up till the 1920’s. He started taking parts in film at the Universal Studios in 1924 as an extra and continued until the next 10 years. Brennan’s early appearances included The Calgary Stampede (1925), Watch Your Wife (1926), The Ballyhoo Buster (1928) and so many others.

Before his death on September 21, 1974, he starred in the second season of To Rome with Love (1969–71), a popular sitcom on CBS then. He was also part of the filming of Herbie Rides Again (1973) for Disney but was later replaced due to ill health. His last screen appearance was in Western Smoke in the Wind which was released in 1975.

Best Actor AwardsBest Supporting Actor Award
1. Come and Get It (1936)
2. Kentucky (1938)
3. The Westerner (1940)
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Marlon Brando

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Marlon is credited to have brought realism to acting. He was born on April 3, 1924, in Omaha, Nebraska, to Marlon Brando, Sr. and Dorothy Julia.

His mother Dorothy who was often referred to as Dodie was an actress in her time and was quite popular for doing unconventional things for women at that time like smoking, wearing trousers, driving, etc.

Brando took after his mum in acting and as a kid, he was very good at mimicking other people’s characters in plays. After his unsuccessful attempt to join the military, he moved over to New York to join his sister where he studied at the American Theatre Wing Professional School where he recorded good successes. His professionalism in films saw him win two Oscars.

Best Actor AwardsBest Supporting Actor Award
1. On the Waterfront (1954)
2. The Godfather (1972)
None

Denzel Washington

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One of America’s finest black-American actors certainly has to make the list. Denzel is a popular face on TV to both young and old movie watchers. He depicts his character so strongly in movies that one will get absorbed in the movie while watching it.

He was born on December 28, 1954, in  Mount Vernon, New York. Denzel’s career has seen him win 3 Golden Globe Awards, a Tony Award and Two Academy Awards for which we are listing him here for.

Best Actor AwardBest Supporting Actor Award
 1. Training Day (2001) 1. Glory (1989)

Cate Blanchett

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Cate is an Austrian actress and theatre director who was born on 14 May 1969. Her career has seen her receive many awards which include 2 Academy Awards, 3 Golden Globe Awards, 3 BAFTA Awards, 6 AACTA Awards with 3 other Screen Actors Guild Awards.

What made her popular in movies was playing the character of Elizabeth I of England in the 1998 film Elizabeth. Katherine Hepburn was another character which she played in the movie The Aviator of 2004 that got her endeared to a lot of people. She has won both categories of Academy Awards as Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress.

Best Actress AwardBest Supporting Actress Award
 1. Blue Jasmine (2013) 1. The Aviator (2004)

Robert De Niro

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From his name, one would know he has some part of Italy in him. He holds both American and Italian Citizenship.

Robert was born on August 17, 1943, in the Greenwich Village area of Manhattan, New York as a son to painters. His career started when he was 20 and has been successful since then. Robert has won the Oscars both as Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor.

Best Actor AwardBest Supporting Actor Award
 1. Raging Buli (1980)1. The Godfather Part II (1974)

Elizabeth Taylor

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Born in 1932, and lived to 23 March 2011 when she died is Dame Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor, DBE.

This British-American woman who was a successful actor, businesswoman and humanitarian was born on February 27, 1932, in Heathwood in her family’s home in Hampstead Garden Suburb, London. She has dual British-American citizenship. Her family was a wealthy one as her father was an art dealer while her mother was a stage actress.

Elizabeth took to acting in films as a way of assimilating American society after the outbreak of the war in Europe. She got her first movie role from Universal Studios and was cast in a small role in There’s One Born Every Minute (1942). She came to the peak of her career in the 60’s which saw her win two Oscars.

Best Actress AwardsBest Supporting Actress Award
  1. Butterfield 8 (1960)
  2. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
 None

Tom Hanks

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Tom is an American actor and filmmaker who was born on 9 July 1956 in Concord, California to an English man; Amos Mefford Hanks and a Portuguese woman; Janet Marylyn as one of 4 children born in the family.

He made his acting debut in 1979 in the film He Knows You’re Alone (1980) and also got a starring role in the television movie Mazes and Monsters. His career has spanned close to 40 years and for his hard work and dedication, Tom won two Oscars in 1993 and 94 precisely.

In recent times, he has seen himself involved with other things like political activism, writing and spending time for his interest in space science.

Best Actor AwardsBest Supporting Actor Award
 1. Philadelphia (1993)

2. Forrest Gump (1994)

None

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Glenda Jackson

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She was born on May 9, 1936, in Birkenhead as Glenda May Jackson into a simple family where her father was a builder and her mother a shop cleaner. Glenda was educated at the West Kirby County Grammar School for Girls and her talent for acting started showing when she performed the Townswomen’s Guild drama group during her teens.

She made her professional stage debut in Terence Rattigan’s Separate Tables in 1957 and performed in several others while her film debut was in This Sporting Life (1963). Her huge success came in the late 60’s when she acted in Women in Love which saw her win her first academy awards.

Later on in her life, she retired from making movies to pursue her political interest which proved to be quite successful with several political appointments and victories coming her way.

Best Actress AwardsBest Supporting Actress Award
  1. Women in Love (1970)
  2. A Touch of Class (1973)
None

Anthony Quinn

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Antonio Rodolfo Quinn Oaxaca popularly referred to as Anthony Quinn was born on April 21, 1915, while he died on June 3, 2001). He starred in many films which were hugely successful – the likes of The Guns of Navarone, Guns for San Sebastian etc.

Anthony was born in Chihuahua, Mexico to Manuela “Nellie” as his mother and “Frank” Quinn as his father. He started off with performing on stage before making his film debut in The Plainsman of 1936 which was later followed by The Milky Way, 1938. By the 1940’s he had appeared in over forty films, playing different characters and with all that work came his Oscars in the 50’s.

Best Actor AwardBest Supporting Actor Awards
 None
  1. Viva Zapata! (1952)
  2. Lust for Life (1956)

Sally Field

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Sally was born in Pasadena, California on November 6, 1946, to Margaret and Richard Dryden Field. She got her first acting career on a sitcom called Gidget which ran for just but a season.

The Flying Nun which ran from 1967 to 1970 brought her to the limelight and saw many roles in movies and television come to her. She is among the top 15 actresses with two Academy Awards.

Best Actress AwardsBest Supporting Actress Award
1. Norma Rae (1979)
2. Places in the Heart (1984)
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Kevin Spacey

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Kevin has won both categories of the Oscars as the best actor and best supporting actor in different movies within a space of 4 years.

The American actor, singer and producer was born on July 26, 1959, in South Orange, New Jersey to Thomas Geoffrey Fowler (father) and Kathleen Ann (mother). In his family, he has two other siblings with one being an actor like him while the other works in a normal office.

His career started in 1982 and have seen him do a lot of movies since then. He, however, battled sexual allegations in the line of his career in late 2017.

Best Actor AwardBest Supporting Actor Award
1. American Beauty (1999)1. The Usual Suspects (1995)

Hilary Swank

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A minor role she played in the movie Buffy the Vampire Slayer announced her to the world before her big appearances in Karate Kid of 1994. In 1999, she gathered critical acclaim for portraying Brandon Teena in the biographical film Boys Don’t Cry for which she won an Oscar for.

Hillary Ann Swank was born on 30 July 1974, in Lincoln, Nebraska to Judy Kay (née Clough) her mother and Stephen Michael Swank as her father. Her ancestry is a mix of all of German, English, Swiss-German, Scottish, Scots-Irish, Welsh, and Dutch. Her surname “Swank” was original “Schwenk” and is of German origin.

Best Actress AwardsBest Supporting Actress Award
1. Boys Don’t Cry (1999)
2. Million Dollar Baby (2004)
None

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Christoph Waltz

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Christoph is an Austrian-German born actor who is widely known for his spectacular work with famous filmmaker Quentin Tarantino. Christoph was born on 4th October 1965 in Vienna as the son of Johannes Waltz (German father) and Elisabeth Urbanic (Austrian mother). His maternal grandmother, step-grandfather and great-grandparents were all actors in their own times respectively. So, little wonder why Waltz took to acting.

Waltz studied acting at Max Reinhardt Seminar in Vienna in the early 70’s. He later studied method acting in New York and started off as a stage actor. By 10 years, he became a popular face on television from the 1980’s through the new millennium. One of his most popular films is Inglorious Bastards for which he got an Academy Award for.

Best Actor AwardBest Supporting Actor Awards
None1. Inglourious Basterds (2009)
2. Django Unchained (2012)

There goes the list of top 15 actors with the most Oscars.

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