Bette Makes The A-List!

Photo Scan: Darrell Redmond

Trust me on this: They all really wanted to direct …
By David Elliott

October 24, 2004

Actors often portray singers – as in the upcoming “Ray” (Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles) and “Beyond the Sea” (Kevin Spacey as Bobby Darin) – but movie history is also littered with singers who, more or less, acted in movies.

Excluding operas, here’s our list of the best to the bottom, with one film for each emotive warbler:

The A List (talent beyond pipes)

Fred Astaire (“Top Hat”), Maurice Chevalier (“Love Me Tonight”), Bing Crosby (“Going My Way,”), Doris Day (“Love Me or Leave Me”), Judy Garland (“A Star Is Born”), Bette Midler (“The Rose”), Yves Montand (“The Confession”), Diana Ross (“Lady Sings the Blues”), Tupac Shakur (“Gridlock’d”), Frank Sinatra (“The Man With the Golden Arm”), Barbra Streisand (“Funny Girl”), Ethel Waters (“The Member of the Wedding”).

The El List (seldom elevated)

Elvis Presley (“Jailhouse Rock”)

The OK List (not bad, sings better)

Julie Andrews (“Mary Poppins”), Louis Armstrong (“A Man Called Adam”), Charles Aznavour (“Shoot the Piano Player”), Pearl Bailey (“The Landlord”), the Beatles (“A Hard Day’s Night”), Harry Belafonte (“Buck and the Preacher”), David Bowie (“Man Who Fell to Earth”), Johnny Cash (“A Gunfight”), Bobby Darin (“Pressure Point”), Sammy Davis Jr. (“Porgy and Bess”), Georges Guetary (“An American in Paris”), Johnny Hallyday (“Man on the Train”), Whitney Houston (“The Bodyguard”), Mick Jagger (“Man From Elysian Fields”), Al Jolson (“Hallelujah, I’m a Bum”), Eartha Kitt (“Anna Lucasta”), Kris Kristofferson (“Lone Star”), Steve Lawrence (“The Yards”), Little Richard (“Down and Out in Beverly Hills”), Gordon
MacRae (“Oklahoma!”), Dean Martin (“Rio Bravo”), Tony Martin (“Casbah”), Jeanette MacDonald (“The Love Parade”), Ethel Merman (“Call Me Madam”), Rick Nelson (“Rio Bravo”), Patti Page (“Elmer Gantry”), Paul Robeson (“Show Boat”), Sting (“Plenty”), Tom Waits (“Short Cuts”).

The F List (forget it)

Tony Bennett (“The Oscar”), Björk (“Dancer in the Dark”), Glen Campbell (“True Grit”), Nat King Cole (“St. Louis Blues”), Bob Dylan (“Renaldo and Clara”), Johnny Desmond (“Calypso Heat Wave”), Tom Jones (“Wild Child 2”), Mario Lanza (“The Great Caruso”), Donovan Leitch (“Aliens From Spaceship Earth”), Julie London (“The Great Man”), Al Martino (“The Godfather”), Grace Moore (“One Night of Love”), Luciano Pavarotti (“Yes, Giorgio”), Prince (“Purple Rain”), Johnnie Ray (“There’s No Business Like Show Business”), Tommy Sands (“Ensign Pulver”), Nancy Sinatra (“Speedway”), Rick Springfield (“Hard to Hold”), Tommy Steele (“Half a Sixpence”), Mel Torme (“Girls Town”), Rudy Vallee (“The Palm Beach Story”), Frankie Vaughn (“Let’s Make Love”).

The X? List (returns still coming in)

Eminem (“8 Mile”), Ice Cube (“Boyz N the Hood”), Beyoncé Knowles (“Austin Powers in Goldmember”), Madonna (“Evita”), Queen Latifah (“Chicago”), Snoop Dogg (“Bones”), Mark Wahlberg (“Boogie Nights”).

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