i never thought much of him, until i heard what a groundbreaking actor (and role-model) he actually was. he was originally british working class but he built up the image we have of american middle or upper class. lots of directors used his weird drawling singsong manner of speaking to create the image of upper (upper upper..) class, e.g. billy wilder in some like it hot? (i'm not sure, if i remember it correctly.)
i was searching for the picture that shows him sitting on a table with a smile on his face and one of his feet on the desk. such thing was regarded as really rude and bad manners at that time but he did it with such nonchalance that it was regarded as just laid-back and cool..
and so on. he was great.