During the early years, 1952 to 1955, he acted in the following films: "Rail ka Dibba" with Madhubala. "Laila Majnu" with Nutan. "Thokar" with Shyama. "Shama Parvana" with Suraiya. "Hum Sab Chor Hain" with Nalini Jaiwant. Sahil, Tangewali, Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Miss Coca Cola, Mohar, Rangeen Raten, Gul Sanobar, Daku, Coffee House, Naqab, Mirza Sahiban, Chor Bazaar, Sipah Salar and some more nondescript films followed,
His first big success came with Tumsa Nahin Dekha which was released in 1957. Between 1957 and 1959 he acted in Dil Deke Dekho, Mujrim, Ujala, Singapore, College Girl, Boy Friend, Basant, Preet Na Jane Reet. He became a Star with the release of Junglee in 1961.
Between 1960 & 1964 he acted in Professor, China Town, Char Dil Char Rahen, Raat ke Raahi, Dil Tera Diwana, Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya, Kashmir Ki Kali, Bluff Master, Janwar, Rajkumar.
From 1966 onwards his releases were Teesri Manzil, Budtameez, Laat Saheb, An Evening In Paris, Tumse Achha Kaun Hai, Jawan Mohabbat, Prince, Brahmachari, Pagla Kahin Ka, Andaaz, Sachai, Pritam, Chote Sarkar, Jaane Anjaane. He got the 1968 Filmfare Award for the best actor for the film Brahmchari.
Shammi Kapoor made his last appearance in Imitiaz Ali's directorial venture called Rockstar in which he has acted along with his Grandnephew Ranbir Kapoor.