The Best Actresses Ever - 1940s

by dziwnytenswiat | created - 31 Aug 2018 | updated - 2 weeks ago | Public

Points from my "The Best Films Ever Made"-Lists. Only Actresses in films from 1940s. Vol. 1 = 100%, Vol. 2 = 50%, Vol. 3 = 33%, Vol. 4 = 25%, Vol. 5 = 20 %, Vol. 6 = 17%

1. Bette Davis

Actress | All About Eve

Ruth Elizabeth Davis was born April 5, 1908, in Lowell, Massachusetts, to Ruth Augusta (Favor) and Harlow Morrell Davis, a patent attorney. Her parents divorced when she was 10. She and her sister were raised by their mother. Her early interest was dance. To Bette, dancers led a glamorous life, but...

4716 points

2. Barbara Stanwyck

Actress | Double Indemnity

Today Barbara Stanwyck is remembered primarily as the matriarch of the family known as the Barkleys on the TV western The Big Valley (1965), wherein she played Victoria, and from the hit drama The Colbys (1985). But she was known to millions of other fans for her movie career, which spanned the ...

3342 points

3. Agnes Moorehead

Actress | Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte

Of Irish/English ancestry, Agnes was born near Boston, the daughter of a Presbyterian minister (her mother was a mezzo-soprano) who encouraged her to perform in church pageants. Aged three, she sang 'The Lord is my Shepherd' on a public stage and seven years later joined the St. Louis Municipal ...

3245 points

4. Teresa Wright

Actress | Shadow of a Doubt

A natural and lovely talent who was discovered for films by Samuel Goldwyn, the always likable Teresa Wright distinguished herself early on in high-caliber, Oscar-worthy form -- the only performer ever to be nominated for Oscars for her first three films. Always true to herself, she was able to ...

3047 points

5. Ingrid Bergman

Actress | Notorious

Ingrid Bergman was one of the greatest actresses from Hollywood's lamented Golden Era. Her natural and unpretentious beauty and her immense acting talent made her one of the most celebrated figures in the history of American cinema. Bergman is also one of the most Oscar-awarded actresses, tied with ...

2904 points

6. Judith Anderson

Actress | Rebecca

Dame Judith Anderson was born Frances Margaret Anderson on February 10, 1897 in Adelaide, South Australia. She began her acting career in Australia before moving to New York in 1918. There she established herself as one of the greatest theatrical actresses and was a major star on Broadway ...

2279 points

7. Lauren Bacall

Actress | To Have and Have Not

Lauren Bacall was born Betty Joan Perske on September 16, 1924, in New York City. She was the daughter of Natalie Weinstein-Bacal, a Romanian Jewish immigrant, and William Perske, who was born in New Jersey, to Polish Jewish parents. Her family was middle-class, with her father working as a ...

2186 points

8. Joan Bennett

Actress | Suspiria

Joan Geraldine Bennett was born on February 27, 1910, in Palisades, New Jersey. Her parents were both successful stage actors, especially her father, Richard Bennett, and often toured the country for weeks at a time. In fact, Joan came from a long line of actors, dating back to the 18th century. ...

2134 points

9. Gladys Cooper

Actress | My Fair Lady

Gladys Cooper was the daughter of journalist William Frederick Cooper and his wife Mabel Barnett. As a child she was very striking and was used as a photographic model beginning at six years old. She wanted to become an actress and started on that road in 1905 after being discovered by Seymour ...

2119 points

10. Elsa Lanchester

Actress | Witness for the Prosecution

Elsa Sullivan Lanchester was born into an unconventional a family at the turn of the 20th century. Her parents, James "Shamus" Sullivan and Edith "Biddy" Lanchester, were socialists - very active members of the Social Democratic Federation (SDF) in a rather broad sense and did not believe in the ...

2094 points

11. Jane Wyman

Actress | Falcon Crest

Jane Wyman was born Sarah Jane Mayfield on January 5, 1917, in St. Joseph, Missouri (she was also known later as Sarah Jane Fulks). When she was only eight years old, and after her parents filed for divorce, she lost her father prematurely. After graduating high school she attempted, with the help ...

2057 points

12. Lucile Watson

Actress | The Razor's Edge

Unsmiling character player Lucile Watson was one of Hollywood's most indomitable mothers of the 1930s and 1940s...and you can take that both ways. The archetypal matriarch who enhanced scores of plush, soapy, Victorian-styled drama, her prickly pears could be insufferable indeed and heaven help ...

2027 points

13. Sara Allgood

Actress | How Green Was My Valley

Dublin-born Sara Allgood started her acting career in her native country with the famed Abbey Theatre. From there she traveled to the English stage, where she played for many years before making her film debut in 1918. Her warm, open Irish face meant that she spent a lot of time playing Irish ...

2007 points

14. Mary Astor

Actress | The Maltese Falcon

Mary Astor was born, Lucile Vasconcellos Langhanke, on May 3, 1906 in Quincy, Illinois to a German immigrant father, Otto Ludwig Langhanke, and an American mother from Illinois, Helen Marie Vasconcellos, of Portuguese and Irish ancestry. Her parents were very ambitious for her as they recognized ...

1947 points

15. Myrna Loy

Actress | The Best Years of Our Lives

Myrna Loy was born Myrna Adele Williams on August 2, 1905 in Helena, Montana, to Adelle Mae (Johnson) and David Franklin Williams. Her paternal grandparents were Welsh, and her mother was of Scottish and Swedish descent. Myrna was raised in Helena and nearby Radersburg. Her father, a rancher, was ...

1882 points

16. Gladys George

Actress | The Roaring Twenties

One of the fine if relatively short-lived character actresses of Hollywood heydays of the 1930s and 1940s, Gladys George came into an acting family while literally on the road. Her parents were actually English and touring with a Shakespearean theater company in Patten, Maine when she was born (...

1870 points

17. Virginia Mayo

Actress | White Heat

Virginia Clara Jones was born on November 30, 1920 in St. Louis, Missouri, the daughter of a newspaper reporter and his wife. The family had a rich heritage in the St. Louis area: her great-great-great-grandfather served in the American Revolution and later founded the city of East Saint Louis, ...

1782 points

18. Joan Fontaine

Actress | Rebecca

Born Joan de Beauvoir de Havilland on October 22, 1917, in Tokyo, Japan, in what was known as the International Settlement. Her father was a British patent attorney with a lucrative practice in Japan, but due to Joan and older sister Olivia de Havilland's recurring ailments the family moved to ...

1777 points

19. Margaret Wycherly

Actress | White Heat

Margaret Wycherly was born in London, England on October 26, 1881. She was predominately a stage actress, continuing stage work even after performing in films. Her first film role came when she appeared in The Fight (1915) at 34 years old. It was not until 1929 that audiences got another glimpse of...

1777 points

20. Rita Hayworth

Actress | Gilda

Rita Hayworth was born Margarita Carmen Cansino on October 17, 1918, in Brooklyn, New York, into a family of dancers. Her father, Eduardo Cansino Reina, was a dancer as was his father before him. He emigrated from Spain in 1913. Rita's American mother, Volga Margaret (Hayworth), who was of mostly ...

1741 points

21. Gene Tierney

Actress | Laura

With prominent cheekbones, luminous skin and the most crystalline green eyes of her day, Gene Tierney's striking good looks helped propel her to stardom. Her best known role is the enigmatic murder victim in Laura (1944). She was also Oscar-nominated for Leave Her to Heaven (1945). Her acting ...

1740 points

22. Gail Patrick

Actress | My Man Godfrey

Cold, calculating and hard-as-nails is probably the best definition of Gail Patrick's femmes on the 30s and 40s silver screen, and the actress herself was no softie in real life. The tall, slender, patrician beauty was born with the equally stately-sounding name Margaret LaVelle Fitzpatrick in ...

1730 points

23. Beulah Bondi

Actress | It's a Wonderful Life

Character actress Beulah Bondi was a favorite of directors and audiences and is one of the reasons so many films from the 1930s and 1940s remain so enjoyable, as she was an integral part of many of the ensemble casts (a hallmark of the studio system) of major and/or great films, including The Trail...

1718 points

24. Rita Johnson

Actress | The Big Clock

Rita Johnson was born on 8/13/13 in Worcester Ma. She attended the New England Conservatory of Music, did summer stock, then moved on to Broadway in 1935. She was an extremely versatile actress, who played virtually every type of role. Unfortunately, her career came to a halt in 1948 when a hair ...

1684 points

25. Paulette Goddard

Actress | Modern Times

Paulette Goddard was a child model who debuted in "The Ziegfeld Follies" at the age of 13. She gained fame with the show as the girl on the crescent moon, and was married to a wealthy man by the time she was 16. After her divorce she went to Hollywood in 1931, where she appeared in small roles in ...

1654 points

26. Spring Byington

Actress | You Can't Take It with You

The possessor of one of Hollywood's gentlest faces and warmest voices, and about as sweet as Tupelo honey both on-and-off camera, character actress Spring Byington was seldom called upon to play callous or unsympathetic (she did once play a half-crazed housekeeper in Dragonwyck (1946)). Although ...

1647 points

27. Dorothy McGuire

Actress | Gentleman's Agreement

A genuine model of sincerity, practicality and dignity in most of the roles she inhabited, actress Dorothy McGuire offered Tinseltown more talent than it probably knew what to do with. A quiet, passive beauty, she had a soothing quality to her open-faced looks and voice. She was a natural when he ...

1635 points

28. May Whitty

Actress | Night Must Fall

Born Mary Whitty on June 19, 1865 to a Liverpool newspaper editor and his wife, she became known as May Whitty to the world.

She first stepped on the London stage in 1882. She worked as an understudy at the St. James Theatre, and then, began playing leading roles when she joined a traveling stock ...

1635 points

29. Jane Darwell

Actress | The Grapes of Wrath

Missouri-born Jane Darwell was born Patti Woodard, the daughter of William Robert Woodard, president of the Louisville Southern Railroad, and Ellen (Booth) Woodard, in Palmyra, Missouri, where she grew up on a ranch . She nursed ambitions to be an opera singer, but put it off because of her ...

1631 points

30. Angela Lansbury

Actress | The Manchurian Candidate

The daughter of an actress and the granddaughter of a high-ranking politician, Angela Brigid Lansbury studied acting from her youth, departing for the United States in 1940 during the Battle of Britain. She was contracted by MGM while still a teenager and nominated for an Academy Award for her ...

1609 points

31. Ella Raines

Actress | Phantom Lady

Ella Raines was born in Snoqualmie Falls, Washington, in 1920. After graduating from high school, she enrolled at the University of Washington as a drama student and participated in many plays. Following graduation, she traveled to New York and the lights of Broadway. She was eventually signed by ...

1594 points

32. Ethel Barrymore

Actress | None But the Lonely Heart

Ethel Barrymore was the second of three children seemingly destined for the actor's life of their parents Maurice and Georgiana. Maurice Barrymore had emigrated from England in 1875, and after graduating from Cambridge in law had shocked his family by becoming an actor. Georgiana Drew of ...

1593 points

33. Anne Baxter

Actress | All About Eve

Anne Baxter was born in Michigan City, Indiana, on May 7, 1923. She was the daughter of a salesman and his wife, Catherine, who herself was the daughter of Frank Lloyd Wright, the world-renowned architect. Anne was a young girl of 11 when her parents moved to New York City, which at that time was ...

1579 points

34. Olivia de Havilland

Actress | The Heiress

Olivia Mary de Havilland was born July 1, 1916, in Tokyo, Japan, to British parents Lilian Augusta (Ruse), a former actress, and Walter Augustus de Havilland, an English professor and patent attorney. Her sister, Joan, later to become famous as Joan Fontaine, was born the following year. Her ...

1555 points

35. Ida Lupino

Actress | High Sierra

Ida was born in London to a show business family. In 1933, her mother brought Ida with her to an audition and Ida got the part her mother wanted. The picture was Her First Affaire (1932). Ida, a bleached blonde, came to Hollywood in 1934 and played small and insignificant parts. Peter Ibbetson (...

1448 points

36. Bonita Granville

Actress | Now, Voyager

Daughter of Bernard Granville, Bonita Granville was born into an acting family. It's not surprising that she herself became a child actor, first on the stage and, at the age of 9, debuting in movies in Westward Passage (1932). She was regularly cast as a naughty little girl, as in These Three (1936)...

1432 points

37. Una O'Connor

Actress | Bride of Frankenstein

Delightful character actress who held her own against such acting heavyweights as Charles Laughton, Boris Karloff, Tyrone Power, Barbara Stanwyck, and Sydney Greenstreet. Often cast by studio heads as comic relief thanks to her thick Irish accent and rubber-faced expressions, most notably in ...

1404 points

38. Sara Haden

Actress | The Bishop's Wife

Sara Haden was the daughter of silent screen star Charlotte Walker who was also a celebrated beauty in her day. Alas, Sara did not inherit her mother's good looks. She was actually born Catherine Haden in Center Point, Texas, on November 17 1898. There was nothing particularly outstanding about her...

1371 points

39. Helen Walker

Actress | Call Northside 777

Helen Walker was a beautiful and bright actress whose career never reached its full potential, in spite of her evident talent. She was a successful actress on Broadway, and in 1942 her performance in the play "Jason" was so impressive that she was signed up to act in films. She immediately earned ...

1349 points

40. Ginger Rogers

Actress | The Major and the Minor

Ginger Rogers was born Virginia Katherine McMath in Independence, Missouri on July 16, 1911. Her mother, known as Lelee, went to Independence to have Ginger away from her husband. She had a baby earlier in their marriage and he allowed the doctor to use forceps and the baby died. She was kidnapped ...

1319 points

41. Jennifer Jones

Actress | The Towering Inferno

One of the world's most underrated Academy Award-winning actresses, Jennifer Jones was born Phylis Lee Isley on 2 March 1919 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to Flora Mae (Suber) and Phillip Ross Isley, who ran a travelling stage show. As a young aspiring actress, she met and fell for young, handsome, aspiring ...

1286 points

42. Claudette Colbert

Actress | It Happened One Night

One of the brightest film stars to grace the screen was born Emilie Claudette Chauchoin on September 13, 1903, in Saint Mandé, France where her father owned a bakery at 57, rue de la République (now Avenue Général de Gaulle). The family moved to the United States when she was three. As Claudette ...

1286 points

43. Veronica Lake

Actress | Sullivan's Travels

Veronica Lake was born as Constance Frances Marie Ockleman on November 14, 1922, in Brooklyn, New York. She was the daughter of Constance Charlotta (Trimble) and Harry Eugene Ockelman, who worked for an oil company as a ship employee. Her father was of half German and half Irish descent, and her ...

1275 points

44. Heather Angel

Actress | Alice in Wonderland

Heather Grace Angel was born in Oxford, England, on February 9, 1909. She dabbled on the stage for a time before coming to California to try her luck on the screen. Heather was 20 years old when she landed a bit part for the 1929 film, Bulldog Drummond (1929). Although she didn't know it at the ...

1260 points

45. Ann Sheridan

Actress | Kings Row

Ann Sheridan won the "Search for Beauty" contest which carried with it a Paramount screen test. Signed to a contract at 18, she was put into a number of small roles under her real name of Clara Lou Sheridan. As she got better, her name was changed to Ann. In 1936, after two dozen films, she went to...

1237 points

46. Margaret Sullavan

Actress | The Shop Around the Corner

Born in Norfolk, Virginia to wealthy stockbroker Cornelius Hancock Sullavan and heiress Garland Council Sullavan, Margaret Brooke overcame a muscle weakness in her childhood to go on to become a rebellious teenager at posh private schools. She went on to perform with the University Players at ...

1225 points

47. Maria Ouspenskaya

Actress | The Wolf Man

The daughter of a lawyer, Ouspenskaya studied singing at the Warsaw Conservatory and acting at Adasheff's School of the Drama in Moscow. She received her practical training as an actress touring in the Russian provinces. She later joined the Moscow Art Theatre. It was here that she first worked ...

1222 points

48. Donna Reed

Actress | It's a Wonderful Life

Donna Reed was born in the midwestern town of Denison, Iowa, on January 27, 1921, as Donna Belle Mullenger. A small town - a population of less than 3,000 people - Denison was located by the Boyer River, and was the county seat of Crawford County. Donna grew up as a farm girl, much like many young ...

1218 points

49. Mary Anderson

Actress | Lifeboat

Mary Anderson was born on April 3, 1918 in Birmingham, Alabama, USA. She was an actress, known for Lifeboat (1944), Gone with the Wind (1939) and Henry and Dizzy (1942). She was married to Leon Shamroy and Leonard Marion Behrens. She died on April 6, 2014 in Burbank, California, USA.

1210 points

50. Irene Dunne

Actress | The Awful Truth

Irene Marie Dunne was born on December 20, 1898, in Louisville, Kentucky. She was the daughter of Joseph Dunne, who inspected steamships, and Adelaide Henry, a musician who prompted Irene in the arts. Her first production was in Louisville when she appeared in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" at the age...

1199 points

51. Peggy Ann Garner

Actress | A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Actress Peggy Ann Garner was was born Feb. 3, 1932, in Canton, Ohio. Her father was an English-born attorney, William H. Garner, who served as a U.S. Army officer during World War II. Virginia, her determined mother, got Peggy into summer stock and modeling before she was six. Estranged from her ...

1199 points

52. Rhonda Fleming

Actress | Out of the Past

A native-born Californian, Rhonda Fleming attended Beverly Hills public and private schools. Her father was Harold Cheverton Louis (1896-1951). Her mother, Effie Olivia Graham (1891-1985), was a famous model and actress in New York. She has a son (Kent Lane), two granddaughters (Kimberly and Kelly)...

1182 points

53. Margaret O'Brien

Actress | Meet Me in St. Louis

Born Angela Maxine O'Brien on January 15, 1937 in San Diego, California. Her film debut was one-minute shot in MGM's Babes on Broadway (1941). Her big moment came when she was cast in Journey for Margaret (1942). This film shot her into instant stardom and also resulted in Angela changing her name ...

1168 points

54. Katharine Hepburn

Actress | The Lion in Winter

Born May 12, 1907 in Hartford, Connecticut, she was the daughter of a doctor and a suffragette, both of whom always encouraged her to speak her mind, develop it fully, and exercise her body to its full potential. An athletic tomboy as a child, she was also very close to her brother, Tom, and was ...

1163 points

55. Ruth Warrick

Actress | Citizen Kane

Reedy and regal actress Ruth Warrick will be remembered for two names and two names alone. In films, she will indelibly be referred to as the castoff first "Mrs. Citizen Kane," and on TV she will forever be synonymous with her character of Phoebe Tyler Wallingford, the obnoxiously wealthy, ...

1141 points

56. Doris Lloyd

Actress | The Time Machine

Doris Lloyd was born on July 3, 1896 in Walton, Liverpool, England as Hessy Doris Lloyd. She was an actress, known for The Time Machine (1960), Alice in Wonderland (1951) and The Sound of Music (1965). She died on May 21, 1968 in Santa Barbara, California, USA.

1106 points

57. Heather Thatcher

Actress | Beau Geste

Heather Thatcher was born on September 3, 1896 in London, England as Heather Mary Thatcher. She is known for her work on Beau Geste (1939), -But the Flesh Is Weak (1932) and Gaslight (1944). She died in January 1987 in Hillingdon, Hillingdon, London.

1095 points

58. Deborah Kerr

Actress | The King and I

Deborah Kerr was born on 30 September 1921 in Helensburgh, Scotland, the daughter of Captain Arthur Kerr-Trimmer. She was educated at Northumberland House, Clifton, Bristol. She first performed at the Open Air Theatre in Regent's Park, London. She subsequently performed with the Oxford Repertory ...

1081 points

59. Gloria Grahame

Actress | The Bad and the Beautiful

Gloria Hallward, an acting pupil of her mother (stage actress and teacher Jean Grahame), acted professionally while still in high school. In 1944 Louis B. Mayer saw her on Broadway and gave her an MGM contract under the name Gloria Grahame. Her debut in the title role of Blonde Fever (1944) was ...

1072 points

60. Cathy O'Donnell

Actress | The Best Years of Our Lives

Born and raised in Alabama as Ann Steely, O'Donnell attended high school and college in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, then worked as a stenographer to finance a trip to Hollywood, where she was spotted by a talent scout, leading to her being signed to a contract by producer Samuel Goldwyn.

Samuel Goldwyn...

1066 points

61. Joan Blondell

Actress | Grease

With blonde hair, big blue eyes and a big smile, Joan was usually cast as the wisecracking working girl who was the lead's best friend. Born into vaudeville to a comic named Eddie, Joan was on the stage when she was three years old. For years, she toured the circuit with her parents and joined a ...

1059 points

62. Mary Wickes

Actress | Sister Act

From the grand old school of wisecracking, loud and lanky Mary Wickes had few peers while forging a career as a salty scene-stealer. Her abrupt, tell-it-like-it-is demeanor made her a consistent audience favorite on every medium for over six decades. She was particularly adroit in film parts that ...

1056 points

63. Dolores Moran

Actress | To Have and Have Not

Better known for her scandalous private life than for her mild film input, the story goes that blonde, extremely well-endowed Dolores Moran was checked out at an annual Sacramento Elks Lodge picnic in 1941 by a Warner Brothers talent scout in the early 40s and a starlet was born.

Born in Stockton, ...

1056 points

64. Ann Blyth

Actress | Mildred Pierce

The dark, petulant beauty of this petite American film and musical star worked to her advantage, especially in her early dramatic career. Anne Marie Blythe was born of Irish stock to Harry and Nan Blyth on August 16, 1927, in Mt. Kisco, New York. Her parents split while she was young and she, her ...

1051 points

65. Audrey Totter

Actress | Lady in the Lake

One is certainly hard-pressed to think of another true "bad girl" representative so closely identifiable with film noir than hard-looking blonde actress Audrey Totter. While she remained a "B"-tier actress for most her career, she was an "A" quality actress and one of filmdom's most intriguing ...

1018 points

66. Jean Arthur

Actress | Shane

This marvelous screen comedienne's best asset was only muffled during her seven years' stint in silent films. That asset? It was, of course, her squeaky, frog-like voice, which silent-era cinema audiences had simply no way of perceiving, much less appreciating. Jean Arthur, born Gladys Georgianna ...

1016 points

67. Martha Raye

Actress | Waikiki Wedding

Known as "The Big Mouth" and considered the female equivalent to Bob Hope, Martha Raye was an American icon in her own right.

She was born Margy Reed in Butte, Montana, to Maybelle Hazel (Hooper) and Peter Reed, Jr., vaudeville performers. She had Irish, German, and English ancestry. Raye made her ...

1006 points

68. Lizabeth Scott

Actress | Too Late for Tears

Lizabeth Scott was born Emma Matzo on September 29, 1922 in Scranton, Pennsylvania, the oldest of six children of Mary (Pennock) and John Matzo, who were Slovak immigrants. Scott attended Marywood Seminary and the Alvienne School of the Theatre in New York City, where she adopted the stage name of ...

1001 points

69. Jean Heather

Actress | Double Indemnity

Jean Heather was born on February 21, 1921 in Omaha, Nebraska, USA as Jeanne Ellen Hetherington. She was an actress, known for Double Indemnity (1944), Going My Way (1944) and National Barn Dance (1944). She was married to Arthur Ferdinand Meier (John Stockton). She died on October 29, 1995 in Los ...

993 points

70. Anne Revere

Actress | Gentleman's Agreement

Veteran character actress Anne Revere became another in the long line of talented artists whose careers would crash under the weight of the "Red Scare" hysteria that tore through Hollywood in the 1940s and 1950s. Born in Manhattan and a direct descendant of Revolutionary War figure Paul Revere, ...

992 points

71. Betty Garde

Actress | Caged

Betty Garde was a versatile actress, who began in show business after winning a playwriting competition at high school. Joining Actor's Equity in 1922, she became a noted performer on stage in Boston and Philadelphia, eventually making her debut on Broadway in 1925. Betty, at least early in her ...

990 points

72. Valerie Hobson

Actress | Bride of Frankenstein

Elegant, quintessentially English (although born in Northern Ireland) Valerie Hobson was the daughter of a British army officer. She studied dancing at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA) and appeared on the stage for the first time at age 16, but she contracted a case of scarlet fever and ...

975 points

73. Michèle Morgan

Actress | La symphonie pastorale

A classic beauty, blonde French actress Michèle Morgan has been one of her country's most popular leading ladies for over five decades. Born in 1920, she studied acting under René Simon and began her career at 15 working as a film extra to pay for drama classes. The young actress soon caught the ...

974 points

74. Martha O'Driscoll

Actress | Blonde Alibi

Another gorgeous "B" movie blonde who came and went uneventfully in the 1940s, the beautiful Tulsa-born Martha O'Driscoll started off modeling as a child. Her parents were nonprofessionals. Trained in singing and dancing, Martha was discovered by choreographer Hermes Pan in a local theater ...

964 points

75. Evelyn Keyes

Actress | The Seven Year Itch

No shrinking violet this one, but despite her talent, vivacity and sheer drive, lovely and alluring blonde Evelyn Keyes would remain for the most part typed as a "B" girl on the silver screen. In spite of her ripe contributions to such superior pictures as Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941), The Jolson ...

963 points

76. Tallulah Bankhead

Actress | Lifeboat

Tallulah Brockman Bankhead was born on January 31, 1902 in Huntsville, Alabama. Her father was a mover and shaker in the Democratic Party who served as Speaker of the United States House of Representatives from June 4, 1936, to September 16, 1940. Tallulah had been interested in acting and, at age ...

957 points

77. Margaret Lindsay

Actress | Scarlet Street

Picture-pretty brunette Margaret Lindsay was one of a number of pleasant, sweet-natured ingénues who could do no wrong in a score of 1930s stylish Hollywood pictures. Such altruistic love interests were often overlooked in pictures that were carried by the flashy histrionics of a jaunty James Cagney...

957 points

78. Hope Emerson

Actress | Caged

Although there may have been "bigger" actresses in Hollywood's history, there were few "larger" than Hope Emerson. At 6' 2" and 230 pounds, she towered over many of her male co-stars, and her size, brusque voice and stern demeanor typed her for a career in villainous roles, such as her star turn as...

954 points

79. Esther Dale

Actress | Ten Gentlemen from West Point

Esther Dale was born on November 10, 1885 in Beaufort, South Carolina. She attended Leland and Gray Seminary in Townsend, Vermont, and then studied music in Berlin, Germany, and had a successful career as a lieder singer. Later, she became an actress in summer stock. She had the title role on ...

953 points

80. Dorothy Peterson

Actress | Saboteur

Dorothy Peterson was born on December 25, 1897 in Hector, Minnesota, USA as Bergetta Peterson. She was an actress, known for Saboteur (1942), Too Many Husbands (1940) and The Beast of the City (1932). She died on October 3, 1979 in New York City, New York, USA.

949 points

81. Linda Darnell

Actress | No Way Out

Linda Darnell, one of five children of a postal clerk, grew up fast. At 11, she was modeling clothes, giving her age as 16. At 13, she was appearing on the stage with little theater groups. Her mother encouraged her to audition when Hollywood talent scouts came to Dallas. She went to California and...

948 points

82. Yvonne De Carlo

Actress | The Ten Commandments

Yvonne De Carlo was born Margaret Yvonne Middleton on September 1, 1922 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. She was three when her father abandoned the family. Her mother turned to waitressing in a restaurant to make ends meet--a rough beginning for an actress who would, one day, be one of ...

919 points

83. Claire Trevor

Actress | Key Largo

Claire Trevor was born Claire Wemlinger in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn, New York, the only child of Fifth Avenue merchant-tailor Noel Wemlinger, an immigrant Frenchman from Paris who lost his business during the Depression, and his Belfast-born wife, Benjamina, known as "Betty". Young ...

910 points

84. Coleen Gray

Actress | The Killing

Coleen Gray was born in Staplehurst, Nebraska, in 1922. After graduating from high school she studied dramatics at Hamline University, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree. She then decided to see America and traveled to California, stopping off at La Jolla where she worked as a waitress. ...

909 points

85. Natalie Wood

Actress | Rebel Without a Cause

Natalie Wood was born on July 20, 1938, in San Francisco, California, as Natalia Nikolaevna Zakharenko. Her parents, Maria Stepanovna (Zudilov) and Nikolai Stepanovich Zakharenko, were Russian-born émigrés, of Ukrainian and Russian descent, who spoke barely comprehensible English; they changed the ...

906 points

86. Hattie McDaniel

Actress | Gone with the Wind

After working as early as the 1910s as a band vocalist, Hattie McDaniel debuted as a maid in The Golden West (1932). Her maid-mammy characters became steadily more assertive, showing up first in Judge Priest (1934) and becoming pronounced in Alice Adams (1935). In this one, directed by George ...

903 points

87. Anna Lee

Actress | The Sound of Music

The daughter of a clergyman, Anna Lee was born Joan Boniface Winnifrith and encouraged to pursue an acting career by her father. After training at London's Royal Albert Hall, she took to the boards and later began appearing in English films, first as an extra, then working her way up to featured ...

881 points

88. Alida Valli

Actress | The Third Man

Enigmatic, dark-haired foreign import Alida Valli was dubbed "The Next Garbo" but didn't live up to postwar expectations despite her cool, patrician beauty, remote allure and significant talent. Born in Pola, Italy (now Croatia), on May 3, 1921, the daughter of a Tridentine journalist and professor...

870 points

89. Dorris Bowdon

Actress | The Grapes of Wrath

Dorris Bowdon was discovered by a scout from 20th Century Fox, after she had just won the Miss Memphis 1937 title. She went west to Hollywood, along with two other ingénues, Linda Darnell and Mary Healy, who to this day has remained her closest friend. A friend in the publicity department arranged ...

857 points

90. Arletty

Actress | Les enfants du paradis

Before Arlette-Leonie Bathiat went to the movies she was a secretary and had posed several times as a model for different painters and photographers. In 1920 she debuted on stage at a theatre. She only began to work in movies after 1930. After World War II she was condemned to prison for having ...

854 points

91. Dorothy Comingore

Actress | Citizen Kane

Dorothy Comingore earned a place in motion picture history for her role as the second Mrs. Kane (the Marion Davies to Orson Welles's William Randolph Hearst) in Citizen Kane (1941). It was an extraordinary performance, justifiably praised by critics and public alike. She was apparently slated to be...

853 points

92. Carole Lombard

Actress | My Man Godfrey

Carole Lombard was born Jane Alice Peters in Fort Wayne, Indiana, on October 6, 1908. Her parents divorced in 1916 and her mother took the family on a trip out West. While there they decided to settle down in the Los Angeles area. After being spotted playing baseball in the street with the ...

847 points

93. Mitsuko Mito

Actress | Miyamoto Musashi

Mitsuko Mito was born on March 23, 1919 in Fukushima, Japan as Mitsuko Sekiba. She was an actress, known for Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto (1954), Samurai III: Duel at Ganryu Island (1956) and Samurai II: Duel at Ichijoji Temple (1955). She died on April 5, 1981.

842 points

94. Mitsuko Yoshikawa

Actress | Nagaya shinshiroku

Mitsuko Yoshikawa was born on June 21, 1901 in Tokyo, Japan. She is an actress, known for Record of a Tenement Gentleman (1947), Apart from You (1933) and Aizen katsura (1938).

839 points

95. Celia Johnson

Actress | Brief Encounter

Celia Johnson was an English actress, once nominated for an Academy Award. Johnson was born in the town of Richmond, Surrey in 1908. Richmond was incorporated into Greater London in 1965, as part of an administrative reform. Celia's parents were John Robert Johnson and Ethel Griffiths. Neither of ...

837 points

96. Joan Leslie

Actress | Yankee Doodle Dandy

She was born of Irish ancestry as Joan Agnes Theresa Brodel, the daughter of an accountant and a pianist. She was educated at Catholic schools in Toronto, Montreal and Detroit. There were three sisters, her older siblings being Mary and Betty. Together, they made up a successful vaudeville act, the...

833 points

97. Hildegard Knef

Actress | Jeder stirbt für sich allein

Hildegard Frieda Albertine Knef was born on December 28, 1925 in Ulm, Germany. In 1940, she began studying acting. Even before the fall of the Third Reich, she appeared in several films, but most of them were only released after the war. To avoid being raped by Soviet soldiers, she dressed like a ...

832 points

98. Clara Calamai

Actress | Profondo rosso

Clara Calamai was born on September 7, 1909 in Prato, Tuscany, Italy. She was an actress, known for Deep Red (1975), The Adulteress (1946) and Ossessione (1943). She was married to Leonardo Bonzi. She died on September 21, 1998 in Rimini, Emilia-Romagna, Italy.

828 points

99. Ursula Jeans

Actress | Dark Journey

Fair-haired, blue-eyed British actress with a long career on the London stage. She was born Ursula Jean McMinn in India, schooled in London and trained for acting at RADA. Ursula made her theatrical debut at the Criterion Theatre in 1922. From the 1930's, she specialised in classical plays by ...

823 points

100. Jeanette Nolan

Actress | The Fox and the Hound

Jeanette Nolan began her acting career in the Pasadena Community Playhouse and, while a student at Los Angeles City College, made her radio debut in 1932 in "Omar Khayyam", the first transcontinental broadcast from station KHJ. Her film debut was probably also her best part, Lady Macbeth opposite ...

816 points



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