best actress in a leading role

by onelastwish108 | created - 16 Jun 2017 | updated - 1 day ago | Public

1. Janet Gaynor

Actress | A Star Is Born

Janet Gaynor was born Laura Gainor on October 6, 1906, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. As a child, she & her parents moved to San Francisco, California, where she graduated from high school in 1923. She then moved to Los Angeles where she enrolled in a secretarial school. She got a job at a shoe ...

2. Norma Shearer

Actress | The Divorcee

She won a beauty contest at age fourteen. In 1920 her mother, Edith Shearer, took Norma and her sister Athole Shearer (Mrs. Howard Hawks) to New York. Ziegfeld rejected her for his "Follies," but she got work as an extra in several movies. She spent much money on eye doctor's services trying to ...

3. Marie Dressler

Actress | Min and Bill

Once you saw her, you would not forget her. Despite her age and weight, she became one of the top box office draws of the sound era. She was 14 when she joined a theater group and she went on to work on stage and in light opera. By 1892, she was on Broadway and she later became a star comedienne on...

4. Helen Hayes

Actress | Airport

Known as "The First lady of the American Theater", Helen Hayes had a legendary career on stage and in films and television that spanned over eighty years. Hayes was born in Washington, D.C., to Catherine Estelle "Essie" Hayes, an actress who worked in touring companies, and Francis van Arnum Brown,...

5. 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 ...

6. 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 ...

7. 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 ...

8. Greer Garson

Actress | Mrs. Miniver

Eileen Evelyn Greer Garson was born on September 29, 1904 in London, England, to Nancy Sophia (Greer) and George Garson, a commercial clerk. She was of Scottish and Ulster-Scots descent. Her childhood was a normal if not non-descript life. Greer showed no early signs of interest in becoming an ...

9. 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 ...

10. 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 ...

11. Judy Holliday

Actress | Born Yesterday

Judy Holliday was born Judith Tuvim in New York City on June 21, 1921. Her mother, a piano teacher, was attending a play when she went into labor and made it to the hospital just in time. Judy was an only child. By the age of four, her mother had her enrolled in ballet school which fostered a ...

12. Shirley Booth

Actress | Come Back, Little Sheba

Character actress Shirley Booth could play everything in all facets of show business, whether it was Miss Duffy the Tavern Owner's Man Crazy Daughter on "Duffy's Tavern", the sassy maid on TV's Hazel (1961) or the pathetic woman in Come Back, Little Sheba (1952). For those who only know her through...

13. Audrey Hepburn

Actress | Breakfast at Tiffany's

Audrey Hepburn was born on May 4, 1929 in Ixelles, Brussels, Belgium. She was a blue-blood and a cosmopolitan from birth. Her mother, Baroness Ella Van Heemstra, was of a Dutch descent, and her father, Joseph Victor Anthony Hepburn-Ruston, was born in Úzice, Bohemia, and of an English and Austrian ...

14. Grace Kelly

Actress | Rear Window

On November 12, 1929, Grace Patricia Kelly was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to wealthy parents. Her girlhood was uneventful for the most part, but one of the things she desired was to become an actress which she had decided on at an early age. After her high school graduation in 1947, Grace ...

15. Joanne Woodward

Actress | Rachel, Rachel

Joanne Gignilliat Trimmier Woodward was born on February 27, 1930, in Thomasville, Georgia, to Wade Woodward and Elinor Gignilliat Trimmier Woodward in a modest household. Her one older brother, Wade Jr., who was the favorite of her father, eventually became an architect. Elinor Woodward was a ...

16. Susan Hayward

Actress | I Want to Live!

Susan Hayward was born Edythe Marrener in Brooklyn, New York, on June 30, 1917. Her father was a transportation worker, and Susan lived a fairly comfortable life as a child, but the precocious little redhead had no idea of the life that awaited her. She attended public school in Brooklyn, where she...

17. Simone Signoret

Actress | Les diaboliques

The face of Simone Signoret on the Paris Metro movie posters in March 1982 looked even older than her 61 years. She was still a box office draw, but the film, L'étoile du Nord (1982), would be her last theatrical release. She played the landlady. Signoret had a long film apprenticeship ...

18. Julie Andrews

Actress | The Sound of Music

Julia Elizabeth Wells was born on October 1, 1935, in England. Her mother, Barbara Ward (Morris), and stepfather, both vaudeville performers, discovered her freakish but undeniably lovely four-octave singing voice and immediately got her a singing career. She performed in music halls throughout her...

19. Julie Christie

Actress | Doctor Zhivago

Julie Christie, the British movie legend whom Al Pacino called "the most poetic of all actresses," was born in Chabua, Assam, India, on April 14, 1940, the daughter of Rosemary (Ramsden), a painter, and Francis St. John "Frank" Christie, a tea planter. The young Christie grew up on her father's ...

20. Maggie Smith

Actress | Gosford Park

One of the world's most famous and distinguished actresses, Dame Maggie Smith was born Margaret Natalie Smith in Essex. Her Scottish mother, Margaret (Hutton), worked as a secretary, and her English father, Nathaniel Smith, was a teacher at Oxford University. Smith has been married twice: to actor ...

21. Liza Minnelli

Soundtrack | Cabaret

Liza Minnelli was born on March 12, 1946, the daughter of Judy Garland and movie director Vincente Minnelli. She was practically raised at MGM studios while her parents worked long hours there and she made her film debut at fourteen months of age in the movie In the Good Old Summertime (1949). Her ...

22. Louise Fletcher

Actress | One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Born in Birmingham, Alabama, to Episcopal minister Robert Fletcher and his wife Estelle, both of whom were deaf, Louise Fletcher was introduced to performing at a young age by the aunt who taught her to speak. After graduating from the University of North Carolina, she took a trip out west with her...

23. Faye Dunaway

Actress | Network

An icy, elegant blonde with a knack for playing complex and strong-willed female leads, enormously popular actress Faye Dunaway starred in several films which defined what many would come to call Hollywood's "second Golden Age." During her tenure at the top of the box office, she was a more than ...

24. Diane Keaton

Actress | Annie Hall

Diane Keaton was born Diane Hall in Los Angeles, California, to Dorothy Deanne (Keaton), an amateur photographer, and John Newton Ignatius "Jack" Hall, a civil engineer and real estate broker. She studied Drama at Santa Ana College, before dropping out in favor of the Neighborhood Playhouse in New ...

25. Shirley MacLaine

Actress | Terms of Endearment

Shirley MacLaine was born Shirley MacLean Beaty in Richmond, Virginia. Her mother, Kathlyn Corinne (MacLean), was a drama teacher from Nova Scotia, Canada, and her father, Ira Owens Beaty, a professor of psychology and real estate agent, was from Virginia. Her brother, Warren Beatty, was born on ...

26. Marlee Matlin

Actress | Children of a Lesser God

Marlee Beth Matlin was in Morton Grove, Illinois, to Libby (Hammer) and Donald Matlin, an automobile dealer. She has two older brothers. Her family is of Russian Jewish and Polish Jewish descent.

Marlee lost much of her hearing at the age of eighteen months. That did not stop her from acting in a ...

27. Cher

Actress | Moonstruck

The beat goes on ... and on ... and as strong as ever for this superstar entertainer who has well surpassed the four-decade mark while improbably transforming herself from an artificial, glossy "flashionplate" singer into a serious, Oscar-worthy, dramatic actress ... and back again! With more ups ...

28. Jessica Tandy

Actress | Driving Miss Daisy

A beloved, twinkly blue-eyed doyenne of stage and screen, actress Jessica Tandy's career spanned nearly six and a half decades. In that span of time, she enjoyed an amazing film renaissance at age 80, something unheard of in a town that worships youth and nubile beauty. She was born Jessie Alice ...

29. Holly Hunter

Actress | The Piano

Holly Hunter was born in Conyers, Georgia, to Opal Marguerite (Catledge), a homemaker, and Charles Edwin Hunter, a part-time sporting goods company representative and farmer with a 250 acre farm. She is the youngest of seven children. Her parents encouraged her talent at an early age, and her first...

30. Helen Hunt

Actress | As Good as It Gets

Helen Hunt began studying acting at the age of eight with her father, respected director and acting coach Gordon Hunt. A year later she made her professional debut and afterwards worked steadily in films, theatre and television.

31. Gwyneth Paltrow

Actress | Shakespeare in Love

A tall, wafer thin, delicate beauty, Gwyneth Kate Paltrow was born in Los Angeles, the daughter of noted producer and director Bruce Paltrow and Tony Award-winning actress Blythe Danner. Her father was from a Jewish family, while her mother is of mostly German descent. When Gwyneth was eleven, the ...

32. Julia Roberts

Actress | Pretty Woman

Julia Fiona Roberts never dreamed she would become the most popular actress in America. She was born in Smyrna, Georgia, to Betty Lou (Bredemus) and Walter Grady Roberts, one-time actors and playwrights, and is of English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, German, and Swedish descent. As a child, due to her ...

33. Charlize Theron

Producer | Monster

Charlize Theron was born in Benoni, a city in the greater Johannesburg area, in South Africa, the only child of Gerda Theron (née Maritz) and Charles Theron. She was raised on a farm outside the city. Theron is of Afrikaner (Dutch, with some French Huguenot and German) descent, and Afrikaner ...

34. Reese Witherspoon

Actress | Wild

Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon was born on March 22, 1976 at Southern Baptist Hospital (now Memorial Medical Center) in New Orleans, Louisiana. She is the second child of Mary Elizabeth "Betty" (Reese) and Dr. John Draper Witherspoon, Sr. Her father was a military surgeon specializing in ear, nose ...

35. Marion Cotillard

Actress | La môme

Academy Award-winning actress Marion Cotillard was born on September 30, 1975 in Paris. Cotillard is the daughter of Jean-Claude Cotillard, an actor, playwright and director, and Niseema Theillaud, an actress and drama teacher. Her father's family is Breton.

Raised in Orléans, France, she made her ...

36. Kate Winslet

Actress | Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Ask Kate Winslet what she likes about any of her characters, and the word "ballsy" is bound to pop up at least once. The British actress has made a point of eschewing straightforward pretty-girl parts in favor of more devilish damsels; as a result, she's built an eclectic resume that runs the gamut...

37. Sandra Bullock

Producer | The Proposal

Sandra Annette Bullock was born in Arlington, a Virginia suburb of Washington, D.C. Her mother, Helga Bullock (née Helga Mathilde Meyer), was a German opera singer. Her father, John W. Bullock, was an American voice teacher, who was born in Alabama, of German descent. Sandra grew up on the road ...

38. Natalie Portman

Actress | Black Swan

Natalie Portman is the first person born in the 1980s to have won the Academy Award for Best Actress (for Black Swan (2010)).

Natalie was born Natalie Hershlag on June 9, 1981, in Jerusalem, Israel. She is the only child of Avner Hershlag, a Israeli-born doctor, and Shelley Stevens, an American-born...

39. Jennifer Lawrence

Actress | The Hunger Games

Was the highest-paid actress in the world in 2015 and 2016. With her films grossing over $5.5 billion worldwide, Jennifer Lawrence is often cited as the most successful actor of her generation. She is also thus far the only person born in the 1990s to have won an acting Oscar.

Jennifer Shrader ...

40. Cate Blanchett

Actress | Carol

Cate Blanchett was born on May 14, 1969 in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, to June (Gamble), an Australian teacher and property developer, and Robert DeWitt Blanchett, Jr., an American advertising executive, originally from Texas. She has an older brother and a younger sister. When she was ten ...

41. Julianne Moore

Actress | Still Alice

Julianne Moore was born Julie Anne Smith in Fort Bragg, North Carolina on December 3, 1960, the daughter of Anne (Love), a social worker, and Peter Moore Smith, a paratrooper, colonel, and later military judge. Her mother moved to the U.S. in 1951, from Greenock, Scotland. Her father, from ...

42. Brie Larson

Actress | Room

Brie Larson has built an impressive career as an acclaimed television actress, rising feature film star and emerging recording artist. A native of Sacramento, Brie started studying drama at the early age of 6, as the youngest student ever to attend the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco...

43. Emma Stone

Actress | La La Land

Emily Jean "Emma" Stone was born in Scottsdale, Arizona, to Krista (Yeager), a homemaker, and Jeffrey Charles Stone, a contracting company founder and CEO. She is of Swedish, German, and British Isles descent. Stone began acting as a child as a member of the Valley Youth Theatre in Phoenix, Arizona...

44. Olivia Colman

Actress | The Favourite

Olivia Colman was born on January 30, 1974 in Norwich, Norfolk, England as Sarah Caroline Olivia Colman. She is an actress, known for The Favourite (2018), Tyrannosaur (2011) and The Lobster (2015). She has been married to Ed Sinclair since August 2001. They have three children.



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