In the 1940s, there were few actors who personified the all-American look like Burt Lancaster, who set Hollywood ablaze quickly with performances in movies like The Killers, The Flame and the Arrow, and The Crimson Pirate. Indeed, his status as a heartthrob was cemented by 1953's From Here to Eternity, when he and Deborah Kerr shot a romantic scene on a Hawaiian beach that ensured the film's inclusion in the American Film Institute's Top 100 Romantic Films of the 20th century.
As it turned out, however, that was just the first phase in a critically acclaimed career that would span over 40 years. As Lancaster grew older, he wisely veered away from the early kinds of roles he had as a leading man and branched out into more distinguished roles that were also more challenging, earning him brand new levels of acclaim. In time, he would go on to be nominated for four Academy Awards for Best Actor, including a win for Elmer Gantry (1960) when he was in his late 40s. By the time he was finished, the American Film Institute named him 19th on its list of the 50 best actors of the 20th century.