Top 10 Matinee Idols of the 50s

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The roaring 50s was a period that redefined the scene of Philippine movies. While during the prewar period the main attraction was the story content of the movie, this had changed dramatically in the late 1940s when studios began building stars that will ultimately attract movie fans. Thus the star-studio system was born in the Philippines, with major studios (like Sampaguita Pictures, Filippine, LVN Pictures and Premiere) banking on the popularity of their contract stars to sell their movies. Certainly, these matinee idols' presence in Philippine cinema created a larger base of moviegoers in the 1950s.

The star-studio system created many dapper leading men in the tradition of Hollywood. These matinee idols were no less revered in the Philippines as their counterparts in Hollywood like Cary Grant, Gary Cooper or Rock Hudson.

Based on Philippine movie review books, journals, and magazines-- and endless fascination in watching re-runs of old black and white films, our Nostalgia editors compiled the Top 10 Matinee Idols of Philippine Cinema in the 1950s.

This list is an editorial choice and written only for entertainment and informative purposes. It does not necessarily reflect Wikipilipinas' policy of accuracy and methodology of research.

Although we believe that our list is strong and without bias, we don't pretend that this list authoritative, and we still welcome other suggestions and nominations in this category.

  • Leopoldo Salcedo-known as the "Great Profile", Leopoldo was a matinee idol as early as the 1940s. By the 1950s, he was already recognized as the "King of Philippine Movies", as well as the Filipino Rudolph Valentino.

  • Rogelio dela Rosa-the definitive dapper leading man of the 1950s. Wholesome and gentleman of the highest order, he later became the first movie star to be elected to the Senate.

  • Fernando Poe, Sr.-the original Fernando Poe was a movie favorite even during the 1930s. He had a striking resemblance to American "Tarzan" Johnny Weismuller.His tragic death in 1961 was a great loss to Philippine cinema

  • Oscar Moreno (actor)-Oscar was one of the 1950s most popular leading men in popular movies. His good Castillan-mestizo looks and gentlemanly manner made him one of Philippine movies greatest leading men.

  • Pancho Magalona-Pancho is the boy-next-door matinee idol. Son of a wealthy family, and possessing good and boyish looks, Pancho was the ultimate matinee idol for the younger women.

  • Ric Rodrigo-a versatile actor possessing one of the handsomest faces in Philippine movies, Ric was a debonair in the truest sense of the word. Ric also proved that he was a talented actor by wiining numerous awards, especially for the lead male role in Igorota, where he garnered the prestigious "Best Actor of Asia" among a panel of international judges.

  • Armando Goyena-one of the most successful leading men in Philippine movies, Armando played in many successful romance films of the 1950s.

  • Fred Montilla-Fred played almost every role one can think of in Philippine movies.

Honorable Mentions

  1. Nestor de Villa
  2. Mario Montenegro
  3. Ramon Revilla
  4. Jose Padilla
  5. Jaime dela Rosa
  6. Efren Reyes, Sr.
  7. Teody Belarmino
  8. Juancho Gutierrez
  9. Manuel Conde
  10. Teddy Benavidez
  11. Jose Marie Gonzales
  12. Eddie Arenas
  13. Carlos Salazar


  • CCP Encyclopedia of Arts Vol 7, 1993, Manila
  • Memorable Tagalog Movie Ads (1946-56) by R. Constantino 1995, Manila
  • Literary Song-Movie Magazine Collection (1948-68)



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