Oscars have always welcomed the world
This year's Oscars numbered only one foreign-born winner -- Austria's Christoph Waltz ("Inglorious Basterds") -- among the four acting champs. However, that does not mean the Oscars are guilty of any homegrown bias. After all, six of the 20 acting nominees were from other countries, including "Nine" supporting actress contender Penelope Cruz, who is from Spain. She won that same category last year for her performance in "Vicky Cristina Barcelona."
Indeed, at last year's Oscars, Cruz was one of just three foreign-born folk among the acting nominees but they all won, including lead actress Kate Winslet ("The Reader") and supporting actor Heath Ledger ("The Dark Knight"). Winslet was the latest of 37 English actors to win Oscars, Ledger was the sixth champ from Down Under and Cruz was the second winner in a row for Spain.
Two years ago, all four acting winners came from foreign shores: Daniel Day-Lewis ("There Will Be Blood") and Tilda Swinton ("Michael Clayton") from England, Marion Cotillard ("La Vie en Rose") -- who made Oscars history by giving the first French-language performance to be so honored -- from France, and Javier Bardem ("No Country for Old Men"), who was the first Spanish performer to win an Oscar.
That marked the second time in Oscars history that all four acting champs hailed from outside the United States. The first was back in 1964 when the winners were three Brits -- Rex Harrison ("My Fair Lady"), Julie Andrews ("Mary Poppins"), and Peter Ustinov ("Topkapi") -- and Russian born Lila Kedrova ("Zorba the Greek").
The Oscars rolled out the welcome mat at the very first ceremony in 1929 when Swiss-born Emil Jannings won lead actor for his performances in "The Last Command" and "The Way of All Flesh." And three of the first four lead actresses came from Canada -- Mary Pickford ("Coquette"), Norma Shearer ("The Divorcee"), and Marie Dressler ("Min and Bill").
One of our most prolific forum posters, the aptly named Academy Awards Guru, has compiled a list of the nationalities of all 273 Oscar winners for acting. During the course of 82 ceremonies, they have won 314 Oscars (there has been one tie in each of lead actor and lead actress). Of these, 81 winners came from outside the U.S. to take home 91 Oscars. While 22 other countries have produced Oscar winners, it is not surprising that England leads with 37 of her citizens winning 43 Oscars.
Over the last 82 years at the Oscars, lead actor has gone to a non-American 24 times and lead actress 26 times while in the 73-year history of the supporting awards, non-Americans won supporting actor 22 times and supporting actress 19 times.
In the following list, the Oscar-winning performers are listed under the country with which they are most associated and their birthplace is given when it differs. In addition, those actors who were born elsewhere but raised primarily in the U.S. are not included, such as Elizabeth Taylor, born in England, Claudette Colbert in France, sisters Joan Fontaine and Olivia DeHavilland in Japan, Anthony Quinn in Mexico, and Paul Muni in the Ukraine.
Russell Crowe (born in New Zealand; family emigrated when he was 4)
Peter Finch (born in England; family returned to Australia when he was 7)
Nicole Kidman (born in the U.S.; family returned to Australia when she was 4)
Haing S. Ngor
Julie Christie (born in India; family returned to England when she was 7)
Vivien Leigh (born in India; family returned to England when she was 6)
George Sanders (born in Russia; family returned to England when he was 11)
Simone Signoret (born in Germany; family emigrated when she was 3)
Anna Paquin (born in Canada; family emigrated when she was 4)
Benicio Del Toro
Maximilian Schell (born in Austria; family emigrated when he was 8)
Photos: Emil Jannings (left); Miyoshi Umeki and Red Buttons (right). Credit: AMPAS