34 Actors Who Were Oscar-Nominated for Playing Real Musicians & Singers

34 Actors Who Were Oscar-Nominated for Playing Real Musicians & Singers

Music

Two actresses have been nominated for portraying the same legendary singer.

With his Oscar nomination, announced Tuesday (Jan. 23), for playing composer/conductor Leonard Bernstein in Maestro, Bradley Cooper joins an impressive list of actors who have been nominated for playing real-life music personalities.

Cooper is the first of these actors who is nominated for a film that he or she directed. Cooper not only starred in and directed Maestro, he also co-produced it and co-wrote the screenplay (with Josh Singer).

Twelve actors have won Oscars for playing real-life music personalities. The first to do so was James Cagney for playing entertainer George M. Cohan in Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942). The most recent was Jessica Chastain for playing televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker (who frequently sang on her TV programs and released at least 15 studio albums) in The Eyes of Tammy Faye (2021).

We’ll find out if Cooper joins their ranks when the 96th Academy Awards are presented on March 10.

The first woman to win an Oscar for playing a real-life music personality was Barbra Streisand for playing comedian, singer and actress Fanny Brice in Funny Girl (1968).

Two actresses have been nominated for best actress for portraying legendary jazz singer Billie Holiday: Diana Ross was nominated for the 1972 film Lady Sings the Blues; Andra Day for the 2020 film The United States vs. Billie Holiday.

Here are 34 actors who have been nominated for Oscars for playing real-life music personalities. The list doesn’t include fictional characters inspired by real-life stars, such as Rose in The Rose (1979), which was loosely based on the life of Janis Joplin, or Effie White in Dreamgirls (2006), which drew on the life story of Florence Ballard of The Supremes.

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