Top Era Defining Actresses of All-Time

by BatBanks | created - 2 months ago | updated - 2 months ago | Public

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...

2. Meryl Streep

Actress | Out of Africa

Considered by many critics to be the greatest living actress, Meryl Streep has been nominated for the Academy Award an astonishing 21 times, and has won it three times. Meryl was born Mary Louise Streep in 1949 in Summit, New Jersey, to Mary Wolf (Wilkinson), a commercial artist, and Harry William ...

3. Angelina Jolie

Actress | Maleficent

Angelina Jolie is an Academy Award-winning actress who became popular after playing the title role in the "Lara Croft" blockbuster movies, as well as Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005), Wanted (2008), Salt (2010) and Maleficent (2014). Off-screen, Jolie has become prominently involved in international ...

4. Joan Crawford

Actress | What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

Joan Crawford was born Lucille Fay LeSueur on March 23, 1905, in San Antonio, Texas, to Anna Belle (Johnson) and Thomas E. LeSueur, a laundry laborer. By the time she was born, her parents had separated, and by the time she was a teenager, she'd had three stepfathers. It wasn't an easy life; ...

5. Glenn Close

Actress | Fatal Attraction

Six time Academy Award-nominated actress Glenn Close was born and raised in Greenwich, Connecticut. She is the daughter of Bettine (Moore) and William Taliaferro Close (William Close), a prominent doctor. Both of her parents were from upper-class northeastern families.

Glenn was often seen on ...

6. 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 ...

7. 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 ...

8. 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 ...

9. Melissa McCarthy

Actress | The Heat

Melissa McCarthy was born in Plainfield, Illinois, to Sandra and Michael McCarthy, and was raised on her family's corn and soybean farm. She began her performing career as a stand-up comedian in New York where she appeared at the famous clubs, Stand Up New York and The Improv. She worked on her ...

10. 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 ...

11. Susan Sarandon

Actress | Thelma & Louise

Susan Sarandon was born Susan Abigail Tomalin in New York City, NY, to Lenora Marie (Criscione), no profession, and Phillip Leslie Tomalin, an advertising executive. She is of Italian (mother) and English, Irish, Welsh, and German (father) descent.

It was after the 1968 Democratic convention and ...

12. Charlize Theron

Actress | 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 ...

13. Sally Field

Actress | Forrest Gump

Sally Margaret Field was born in 1946 in Pasadena, California, to actress Margaret Field (née Morlan) and salesman Richard Dryden Field. Her parents divorced in 1950 and her mother then married stuntman Jock Mahoney, and they had a daughter, Princess O'Mahoney. She also has a brother, Richard Field...

14. Emma Thompson

Actress | Sense and Sensibility

Emma Thompson was born in London on April 15, 1959, into a family of actors - her father was Eric Thompson, who has passed away, and her mother, Phyllida Law, has co-starred with Thompson in several films (her sister, Sophie Thompson, is an actor as well). Her father was English-born and her mother...

15. 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 ...

16. Barbra Streisand

Soundtrack | Funny Girl

Barbra Streisand is an American singer, actress, director and producer and one of the most successful personalities in show business. She is the only person ever to receive all of the following: Oscar, Tony, Emmy, Grammy, Golden Globe, Cable Ace, National Endowment for the Arts, and Peabody awards,...

17. Clara Bow

Actress | Wings

Clara Gordon Bow, destined to become THE flapper of the 1920's, was born on July 29, 1905 and raised in poverty and violence in Brooklyn, New York. Her mother tried to slit Clara's throat when she attempted to enter the film industry. She won a photo beauty contest which launched her movie career ...

18. Faye Dunaway

Actress | Network

Faye Dunaway was one of the hottest actresses in the 1970s playing neurotic, highly driven women with sex appeal. Life in the 1990s has not been as good. In a much-publicized incident, she was dropped as the lead in the Broadway musical "Sunset Boulevard", and her attempt at starring in a ...

19. Mary Pickford

Actress | Coquette

Mary Pickford was born Gladys Louise Smith in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, to Elsie Charlotte (Hennessy) and John Charles Smith. She was of English and Irish descent. Pickford began in the theater at age seven. Then known as "Baby Gladys Smith", she toured with her family in a number of theater ...

20. Jessica Lange

Actress | Tootsie

Jessica Lange was born in 1949, in Cloquet, Minnesota, USA, where her father worked as a traveling salesman. She obtained a scholarship to study art at the University of Minnesota, but instead went to Paris to study drama. She moved to New York, working as a model, until producer Dino De Laurentiis...

21. Lillian Gish

Actress | The Night of the Hunter

Lillian Diana Gish was born on October 14, 1893 in Springfield, Ohio. Her father James Lee Gish was an alcoholic who caroused around, was rarely at home and left the family to more or less to fend for themselves. To help make ends meet, Lillian, her sister Dorothy Gish and their mother Mary Gish ...

22. 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 ...

23. Judy Garland

Actress | The Wizard of Oz

One of the brightest, most tragic movie stars of Hollywood's Golden Era, Judy Garland was a much-loved character whose warmth and spirit, along with her rich and exuberant voice, kept theatre-goers entertained with an array of delightful musicals.

She was born Frances Ethel Gumm on 10 June 1922 in ...

24. Sandra Bullock

Producer | Miss Congeniality

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 ...

25. 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 ...

26. 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...

27. 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 ...

28. 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 ...

29. Elizabeth Taylor

Actress | Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor was considered one of the last, if not the last, major star to have come out of the old Hollywood studio system. She was known internationally for her beauty, especially for her violet eyes, with which she captured audiences early on in her youth and kept the world hooked ...



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