Jared Leto is all but certain to join a very exclusive Oscar club. How exclusive? He would be just the fourth member. When the Academy Awards are presented on March 2, look for Leto to become the fourth actor or actress who rose to fame as a singer to win an Oscar for a non-singing role. The first three: Frank Sinatra, Shirley Jones and Cher.
Leto, who fronts the band Thirty Seconds To Mars, has won nearly every award leading up to the Oscars for his touching portrayal of the transgender character, Rayon. This is Leto's 23rd film role. He made his film debut in 1995's "How To Make An American Quilt."
Leto, 42, is also doing well in his music career. Thirty Seconds To Mars landed its first top 10 album, "Love, Lust, Faith And Dreams," last spring. The band has yet to land a breakthrough top 40 single, but has cracked the Hot 100 with such songs as "The Kill (Bury Me) and "This Is War."
Frank Sinatra was the first singer to win an Oscar for a non-singing role. Sinatra, whose hits date back to 1940's "I'll Never Smile Again" (when he was the featured singer with Tommy Dorsey and his Orchestra) won Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his performance as Pvt. Angelo Maggio in 1953's "From Here To Eternity." Sinatra was nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role two years later for his role as the recovering heroin addict Frankie in "The Man With The Golden Arm."
Shirley Jones, who is best known as the mom on TV's "The Partridge Family," won Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her role as prostitute Lulu Bains in 1960's "Elmer Gantry." She first became known in the 1950s as the wholesome star of the Rodgers & Hammerstein musicals "Oklahoma!" and "Carousel" and as Pat Boone's co-star in "April Love." Jones never had a chart hit of her own, but the Partridge Family reached #1 in 1970 with "I Think I Love You."
Cher took Best Actress in a Leading Role for her role as Loretta Castorini in 1987's "Moonstruck." Four years earlier, she had been nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her role as Dolly Pelliker in "Silkwood." Cher first hit the Hot 100 in July 1965 with Bob Dylan's "All I Really Want To Do." Sonny & Cher charted the very next week with "I Got You Babe," which reached #1.
Eight other performers who first became famous for their music have been nominated for (but didn't win) Oscars for non-singing roles.