The greatest actresses of all time

by TruPretender | created - 28 Nov 2010 | updated - 01 Dec 2010 | Public

1. 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 ...

2. Helen Slater

Actress | Supergirl

Helen Slater was born in Bethpage, New York, to Alice Joan (Citrin), a lawyer and peace activist, and Gerald Slater, a television executive. She was raised in Massapequa, Long Island, New York, and is of Eastern European Jewish descent. Appearing in many shows as a child, she attended the New York ...

3. JoBeth Williams

Actress | Poltergeist

The product of a musical family, Margaret JoBeth Williams was born in Houston, Texas, to Frances Faye (Adams), a dietitian, and Fredric Roger Williams, a wire/cable company manager and opera singer. Her father encouraged her early interest in theater during high school. She made her professional ...

4. 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 ...

5. Sigourney Weaver

Actress | Avatar

Sigourney Weaver was born Susan Alexandra Weaver in Leroy Hospital in Manhattan, New York City. Her father, TV producer Sylvester L. Weaver Jr., originally wanted to name her Flavia, because of his passion for Roman history (he had already named her elder brother Trajan). Her mother, Elizabeth ...

6. Jacqueline Bisset

Actress | Bullitt

Jacqueline Bisset has been an international film star since the late 1960s. She received her first roles mainly because of her stunning beauty, but over time she has become a fine actress respected by fans and critics alike. Bisset has worked with directors John Huston, François Truffaut, George ...

7. Diana Rigg

Actress | On Her Majesty's Secret Service

British actress Dame Diana Rigg was born on July 20, 1938 in Doncaster, Yorkshire, England. She has had an extensive career in film and theatre, including playing the title role in "Medea", both in London and New York, for which she won the 1994 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play.

Rigg made her ...

8. Brenda Vaccaro

Actress | Midnight Cowboy

A leading lady on screen, stage and sometimes television, Brenda Vaccaro, was born in Brooklyn but was actually raised in Dallas, Texas.

Her appetite for acting increased following several appearances in high school productions, and she finally started a professional career in the 1960s. Memorable ...

9. Brooke Adams

Actress | Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Brooke Adams was born on February 8, 1949 in New York City, to Rosalind (Gould), an actress, and Robert K. Adams, a former CBS vice president. She is of English and German descent, and is said to be related to President John Adams. She was educated at the prestigious High School for the Performing ...

10. 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 ...

11. Sissy Spacek

Actress | In the Bedroom

As a kid, Sissy Spacek climbed trees, rode horses, swam, and played in the woods. She was born Mary Elizabeth Spacek on December 25, 1949, in Quitman, Texas, to Virginia Frances (Spilman) and Edwin Arnold Spacek, Sr., a county agricultural agent. Her father's family was of Czech and German origin.

...

12. Michelle Pfeiffer

Actress | Hairspray

Michelle Pfeiffer was born in Santa Ana, California, to Donna Jean (Taverna) and Richard Pfeiffer, a heating and air-conditioning contractor. She has an older brother and two younger sisters - Dedee Pfeiffer and Lori Pfeiffer, who both dabbled in acting and modeling but decided against making it ...

13. Susan Sarandon

Actress | Thelma & Louise

Susan Sarandon was born Susan Abigail Tomalin in New York City, NY, to homemaker Lenora Marie (Criscione) and Phillip Leslie Tomalin, an advertising executive. She is of Italian descent on her mother's side and English, Irish, Welsh, and German on her father's.

After the 1968 Democratic convention ...

14. Geena Davis

Actress | Thelma & Louise

As a child, Geena dreamed of being an actress. While in high school, she felt left out and had low self-esteem because, at 6 feet, she was the tallest girl in school. After high school graduation, Geena entered New England College in New Hampshire and then transferred the next year to Boston ...

15. Geneviève Bujold

Actress | Dead Ringers

Genevieve Bujold spent her first twelve school years in Montreal's oppressive Hochelaga Convent, where opportunities for self-expression were limited to making welcoming speeches for visiting clerics. As a child she felt 'as if I were in a long dark tunnel trying to convince myself that if I could ...

16. Jamie Lee Curtis

Actress | True Lies

Jamie Lee Curtis was born on November 22, 1958 in Los Angeles, California, the daughter of legendary actors Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis. She got her big break at acting in 1978 when she won the role of Laurie Strode in Halloween (1978). After that, she became famous for roles in movies like Trading...

17. Maureen O'Hara

Actress | The Quiet Man

In America, the early performing arts accomplishments of young Maureen FitzSimons (who we know as Maureen O'Hara) would definitely have put her in the child prodigy category. However, for a child of Irish heritage surrounded by gifted parents and family, these were very natural traits. Maureen made...

18. 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 ...

19. 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...

20. Sharon Stone

Actress | Basic Instinct

Sharon Stone was born and raised in Meadville, a small town in Pennsylvania. Her strict father was a factory worker, and her mother was a homemaker. She was the second of four children. At the age of 15, she studied in Saegertown High School, Pennsylvania, and at that same age, entered Edinboro ...

21. Katharine Ross

Actress | The Graduate

Katharine Juliet Ross was born on January 29, 1940 in Hollywood, California, to Katharine W. (Hall) and Dudley T. Ross. Her father, who also worked for the Associated Press, was away in the US Navy when she was born. His navy career shuttled the family around to Virginia, then Palo Alto, and ...

22. 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 ...

23. Jennifer Connelly

Actress | A Beautiful Mind

Jennifer Connelly was born in the Catskill Mountains, New York, to Ilene (Schuman), a dealer of antiques, and Gerard Connelly, a clothing manufacturer. Her father had Irish and Norwegian ancestry, and her mother was from a Jewish immigrant family. Jennifer grew up in Brooklyn Heights, just across ...

24. Margot Kidder

Actress | Superman

Margot Kidder was born Margaret Ruth Kidder in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada, to Jocelyn Mary "Jill" (Wilson), a history teacher from British Columbia, and Kendall Kidder, a New Mexico-born mining engineer and explosives expert. Margot was a delightful child who took pride in ...

25. Winona Ryder

Actress | Little Women

Winona Ryder was born Winona Laura Horowitz in Olmsted County, Minnesota, and was named after a nearby town, Winona, Minnesota. She is the daughter of Cynthia (Istas), an author and video producer, and Michael Horowitz, a publisher and bookseller. Her father's family is Russian Jewish and Romanian ...

26. Robin Tunney

Actress | The Craft

Robin Tunney studied acting at the Chicago Academy for the Arts, spending her summer performing in such plays as "Bus Stop" and "Agnes of God". She moved to Los Angeles at the age of eighteen and shortly landed roles in such television shows as Life Goes On (1989), Class of '96 (1993) (recurring), ...

27. Daphne Zuniga

Actress | Spaceballs

Zuniga was born in San Francisco, California to Agnes A. Zuniga (née Janawicz) and Joaquin Alberto Zuniga Mazariegos. Her mother is a Unitarian minister, of Polish and Finnish descent, and her father, originally from Guatemala, was an emeritus professor of philosophy at California State University,...

28. Jane Fonda

Actress | Klute

Born in New York City to legendary screen star Henry Fonda and Ontario-born New York socialite Frances Seymour Brokaw, Jane Seymour Fonda was destined early to an uncommon and influential life in the limelight. Although she initially showed little inclination to follow her father's trade, she was ...

29. Natalie Wood

Actress | West Side Story

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 ...

30. Claire Bloom

Actress | Limelight

Age has not taken the flower off this Bloom. The well-known and respected stage, screen and television actress Claire Bloom, originally named Patricia Claire Blume, continues to be in demand as an octogenarian actress and looks as beautiful as ever.

She was born Patricia Claire Blume on February 15,...

31. Ellen Burstyn

Actress | Requiem for a Dream

Ellen Burstyn was born in Detroit, Michigan, to Correine Marie (Hamel) and John Austin Gillooly. She is of mostly Irish, German, and French-Canadian descent. Ellen worked a number of jobs before she became an actress. At 14, she was a short-order cook at a lunch counter. After graduating from ...

32. Nancy Allen

Actress | RoboCop

Nancy Anne Allen was the daughter of a police lieutenant from Yonkers, New York. At a young age, she trained for a dancing career at the High School of Performing Arts, and then attended Jose Quintano's School for Young Professionals. In dozens of television commercials from the age of 15, Nancy ...

33. P.J. Soles

Actress | Halloween

P.J. (Pamela Jayne) Soles was born on July 17, 1950 in Frankfurt, Germany. Her father came from Holland and her mother from New Jersey. Because her father was working for an international insurance company, the family moved all over the world. P.J. lived in Casablanca, Morocco, and Maracaibo, ...

34. Pamela Sue Martin

Actress | The Poseidon Adventure

Pamela Sue Martin attended public schools in Westport, Connecticut and graduated from Staples High School in February 1971. Before she graduated, Pamela was working in a hamburger stand for $1.45 per hour when a friend told her that she was earning $60 per hour modeling in New York. Liking the ...

35. Sophia Loren

Actress | La ciociara

Sophia Loren was born as Sofia Scicolone at the Clinica Regina Margherita in Rome, Italy, on September 20, 1934. Her father, Riccardo Scicolone, was married to another woman and refused to marry her mother, Romilda Villani, despite the fact that she was the mother of his two children (Sophia and ...

36. Anjelica Huston

Actress | The Witches

Anjelica Huston was born on July 8, 1951 in Santa Monica, California, to prima ballerina Enrica "Ricki" (Soma) and director and actor John Huston. Her mother, who was from New York, was of Italian descent, and her father had English, Scottish, and Scots-Irish ancestry. Huston spent most of her ...

37. Bette Midler

Soundtrack | The First Wives Club

Multi Grammy Award-winning singer/comedienne/author Bette Midler has also proven herself to be a very capable actress in a string of both dramatic and comedic roles. Midler was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, on December 1, 1945. She is the daughter of Ruth (Schindel), a seamstress, and Fred Midler, a ...

38. Glenn Close

Actress | Fatal Attraction

Seven 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 ...

39. Debra Winger

Actress | Terms of Endearment

Mary Debra Winger was born May 16, 1955 in Cleveland, Ohio, to Ruth (Felder), an officer manager, and Robert Jack Winger, a meat packer. She is from a Jewish family (originally from Austria-Hungary and the Russian Empire). Her maternal grandparents called her Mary, while her parents called her ...

40. 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...

41. Toni Collette

Actress | Little Miss Sunshine

Toni Collette is an Academy Award-nominated Australian actress, best known for her roles in The Sixth Sense (1999) and Little Miss Sunshine (2006).

Collette was born Toni Collett (she later added an "e") on November 1, 1972, in Blacktown, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. She is the first of three...

42. Shelley Winters

Actress | The Poseidon Adventure

Shelley Winters was born Shirley Schrift of very humble beginnings on August 18, 1920 (some sources list 1922) in East St. Louis, Illinois. Her mother, Rose Winter, was born in Missouri, to Austrian Jewish parents, and her father, Jonas Schrift, was an Austrian Jewish immigrant. She had one sibling...

43. Betty Thomas

Self | Howard Stern

Betty Thomas was born July 27, 1947 in St. Louis, Missouri, graduating from Ohio University with a BA in fine arts. Initially sidetracked, Betty first taught school in Chicago but found herself restricted and needing more of an open forum for self-expression than a classroom. She found herself drawn...

44. Madeline Kahn

Actress | Paper Moon

Madeline Kahn was born Madeline Gail Wolfson on September 29, 1942 in Boston, Massachusetts, to Freda (Goldberg) and Bernard B. Wolfson, a garment manufacturer. She was of Russian Jewish descent. Madeline began her acting career in high school and went on to university where she trained as an opera...

45. Eileen Brennan

Actress | Clue

A supremely gifted, versatile player who could reach dramatic depths, as exemplified in her weary-eyed, good-hearted waitress in The Last Picture Show (1971), or comedy heights, as in her sadistic drill captain in Private Benjamin (1980), Eileen Brennan managed to transition from lovely Broadway ...

46. Lesley Ann Warren

Actress | The Cool Kids

Lesley Ann Warren started gearing towards a life in show business right off the bat as a child ballerina; little did she know that Hollywood stardom would arrive on her doorstep in the form of a "Cinderella" story. The New York-born actress (born in 1946) is the daughter of a night club singer, ...

47. Charlotte Rampling

Actress | 45 Years

Tessa Charlotte Rampling was born 5 February 1946 in Sturmer, England, to Isabel Anne (Gurteen), a painter, and Godfrey Lionel Rampling, an Olympic gold medalist, army officer, and colonel, who became a NATO commander. She was educated at Jeanne d'Arc Académie pour Jeunes Filles in Versailles, ...



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