The following is a list of the twelve greatest athletes and sports figures who have appeared in Hollywood movies. This list is not for run of the mill players, but for the greatest players who ever played in sports who have also appeared in Hollywood movies.
All 12 of these athletes are known around the world because of their athletic feats. All 12 have also been in Hollywood movies, and most of the Hollywood movies are well known and are commercially successful.
None of these athlete actors have ever been nominated for an Academy Award as far as I know, and none are likely to ever win an Academy Award. One of films listed below, though, was nominated for 11 Academy Awards, and won an Academy Award. Can you guess which film? (Answer at end)
12 greatest athletes who appeared in Hollywood movies
Babe Ruth is generally considered the greatest baseball player of all time, and Babe Ruth is certainly the most well known baseball player in history. In 1942, Babe Ruth starred alongside Gregory Peck in "The Pride of the Yankees", playing himself. Babe Ruth also starred in a number of short films in the late 1920s and early 1930s.
- Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan is arguably the greatest basketball player in history. Michael Jordan starred in "Space Jam" in 1996, along with fellow NBA greats Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, and Larry Bird.
- Mohamed Ali
Mohamed Ali is probably the best known sports figure in the world today. In 1977, Mohamed Ali starred in "The Greatest", a dramatized Hollywood version of his life story. Mohamed Ali was also in "Freedom Road", but that was a made for TV movie and this list is for Hollywood movies.
- Wilt Chamberlain
Wilt Chamberlain once averaged over 50 points per game for an entire NBA season. In 1984, Wilt Chamberlain starred in "Conan the Destroyer" with another sports figure on this list. Wilt was also in "Any Given Sunday" as an uncredited locker room visitor in 1999, the year he passed away.
- Jim Brown
After he retired from the NFL as arguably the greatest player ever and certainly the greatest running back ever, Jim Brown has had a very successful run as a Hollywood actor. Jim Brown has starred in dozens of Hollywood movies, and is probably best known for his part in "The Dirty Dozen".
- Lawrence Taylor
Lawrence Taylor was the greatest defensive player in NFL history in my opinion. He was a one man wrecking crew. Since his NFL career ended, Lawrence Taylor has starred in a handful of Hollywood films, most notably as Shark Lavay in "Any Given Sunday" in 1999.
- Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson has won the Masters three times, and the British Open and PGA Championship once each, and finished second at the U.S. Open a record six times. In 1996, Phil Mickelson played a PGA tour golfer in "Tin Cup".
- Terry Bradshaw
NFL great Terry Bradshaw won four Super Bowls with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Terry Bradshaw was in "Hooper" in 1978, "The Cannonball Run" in 1981, and "Failure to Launch" in 2006.
- Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Schwarzenegger is probably better known as an action hero film star today from movies like "Terminator", "Predator", and "Total Recall", but before becoming a Hollywood star, Arnold Schwarzenegger was bodybuilding's Mr. Olympia seven times.
- Dwayne The Rock Johnson
After winning 10 world titles in the WWE, professional wrestler Dwayne Johnson, known as The Rock, went to Hollywood and has starred in feature films like "The Scorpion King", "The Rundown", and "Fast & Furious 6".
- Kareem Abdul Jabbar
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar holds the NBA record for most points scored, and he has been in movies like "Airplane" and "Forget Paris".
- Shaquille O'Neill
Four-time NBA champion Shaquille O'Neal, who is a mountain of a man, has starred in movies like "Kazaam" and "Steel".
Trivia Answer - "Pride of the Yankees" received 11 Academy Award nominations, and Daniel Mandell won the Academy Award for Best Film Editing for his work on the picture in 1943.