woodwardWho are the best actors with Southern roots?

This list is troublesome because I keep getting back to that “Southern Thing.” Here’s what I mean: Shirley MacLaine and Warren Beatty were born in Virginia. That qualifies them, I suppose, but no one thinks “The South” when they talk or perform. George Hamilton was born in Memphis, but … . Therefore, I’ll limit my list to those I just know damn well are Southern.

Joanne Woodward (Thomasville, Georgia). Sure she was sensational in “The Three Faces of Eve,” but she was at her sexy Southern girl best in “The Long Hot Summer” opposite hubby Paul Newman.

Rip Torn (Temple, Texas). He’s collected a bunch of Emmy nominations for his television work during the past few years — I think he won once — but if you want to see him at his best, go rent “Sweet Bird of Youth.”

Tallulah Bankhead (Huntsville, Alabama). OK, so she was not a great actress. But you knew damned well she was Southern, and anyone who describes themselves as being “pure as the driven slush” is a friend of mine.

Bert Reynolds (Waycross, Georgia). Admit it: You laughed your ass off at “Smokey and the Bandit.” He’s done some of his best work in indie films after his big star dimmed: “Mystery, Alaska” and “Boogie Nights.” And don’t forget “Deliverance.”

Thelma “Butterfly” McQueen (Tampa, Florida). Not only “Gone With the Wind” but “Cabin in the Sky” later. Did you know that she was not even invited to the premiere of GWTW?

Andy Griffith (Mount Airy, North Carolina). Forget those endless “Mayberry” re-runs. Watch “No Time for Sergeants” and “A Face in the Crowd.” At one time, he was a real actor—and a good one.

Cliff Green

Cliff Green

Cliff Green is a former writer for The Atlanta Journal. He worked there when it was a real newspaper. His accomplishments since include the fact that he has never watched a minute of reality TV, and he has never been inside a Starbuck's. He owns no device onto which he can download music, nor does he know how to record a television show. He is not sure what an iPhone is. He is proud of all the above.

  1. Charles Seabrook

    How ’bout Julia Roberts, born in Atlanta? And Faye Dunaway, born in Bascom, Fla., and Dolly Parton?

  2. And Kim Bassinger/Athens – so great in LA Confidential… not so great in stuff like Cellular… if the greatest all-time batting average is Ted Williams @ around .400, well then, hey, 4 out of 10 ain’t so bad.

  3. Chrys B. Graham

    Joanne Woodward is our finest home grown Georgian. What about Holly Hunter?

  4. Tim Oliver

    Ray McKinnon, Adel, Ga., actor and film maker, ‘The Accountant”, “Chrystal”, and “Randy & the Mob”. Ray was the insane preacher on the HBO series “Deadwood”, too. We share a favorite rock band, the Driveby Truckers. Ray, like myself, even lived some lyrics : ” I thought “Bullit” was the coolest movie I’d ever seen / I totalled-out my go-kart trying to recreate that scene ! ” Driveby Truckers “Steve McQueen”

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