My choices for the 100 greatest actresses in movie history.
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 from Shakespearean tragedy to modern-day mysticism and erotica...
“ 3 Essential Films: Hideous Kinky; Titanic; Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind ” - Joseph Jones
Natalie Wood was born on July 20, 1938, in San Francisco, California, as Natalia Nikolaevna Zakharenko. Her parents, Maria Stepanovna (Zudilova) and Nikolai Stepanovich Zakharenko, were Russian-born émigrés, of Ukrainian and Russian descent, who spoke barely comprehensible English; they changed the family name to Gurdin after becoming US citizens...
“ 3 Essential Films: Rebel without a Cause; Splendor in the Grass; Love with the Proper Stranger ” - Joseph Jones
Lana Turner had an acting ability that belied the "Sweater Girl" image MGM thrust upon her, and even many of her directors admitted that they knew she was capable of greatness (check out The Postman Always Rings Twice
). Unfortunately, her private life sometimes overshadowed her professional accomplishments. Lana Turner was born Julia Jean Mildred Francis Turner in Wallace...
“ 3 Essential Films: Ziegfeld Girl; The Postman Always Rings Twice; The Bad & the Beautiful ” - Joseph Jones
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 Meryl Streep
, both second only to Katharine Hepburn
“ 3 Essential Films: Gaslight; Notorious; Autumn Sonata ” - Joseph Jones
Isabelle Huppert was born in 1953, in Paris, France, but spent her childhood in Ville d'Avray. Encouraged by her mother (who was a teacher of English), she followed the Conservatory of Versailles and won an acting prize for her work in Alfred de Musset
's "Un caprice". She then studied at the Conservatoire d'Art Dramatique and followed an illustrious theatrical career...
“ 3 Essential Films: Violette; Story of Women; 8 Femmes ” - Joseph Jones
Julie Christie, the British movie legend whom Al Pacino
called "the most poetic of all actresses", was born in Chukua, Assam, India, on April 14, 1941, the daughter of a tea planter, Frank St. John Christie, and his wife, Rosemary (Ramsden), who was a painter. Her family was of English, and some Scottish...
“ 3 Essential Films: Darling; McCabe and Mrs. Miller; Afterglow ” - Joseph Jones
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
, would be her last theatrical release. She played the landlady. Signoret had a long film apprenticeship during World War II, mostly as an extra and occasionally getting to speak a single line...
“ 3 Essential Films: Diabolique; Room at the Top; Ship of Fools ” - Joseph Jones
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 Greene in upstate New York...
“ 3 Essential Films: History is Made at Night; The More the Merrier; Shane ” - Joseph Jones
On January 30, 1937, renowned theatre actor Michael Redgrave
was performing in a production of Hamlet in London. During the curtain call, the show's lead, Laurence Olivier
, announced to the audience: "tonight a great actress was born". This was in reference to his co-star's newborn daughter, Vanessa Redgrave...
“ 3 Essential Films: Isadora; Julia; The Bostonians ” - Joseph Jones
If a film were made of the life of Vivien Leigh, it would open in India just before World War I, where a successful British businessman could live like a prince. In the mountains above Calcutta, a little princess is born. Because of the outbreak of World War I, she is six years old the first time her parents take her to England...
“ 3 Essential Films: Gone with the Wind; Waterloo Bridge; A Streetcar Named Desire ” - Joseph Jones
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 devastated at age 14 to find him dead...
“ 3 Essential Films: Alice Adams; Adam's Rib; The Lion in Winter ” - Joseph Jones
Harlean Carpenter, who later became Jean Harlow, was born in Kansas City, Missouri, on March 3, 1911. She was the daughter of a successful dentist and his wife. In 1927, at the age of 16, she ran away from home to marry a young businessman named Charles McGrew, who was 23. The couple pulled up stakes and moved to Los Angeles...
“ 3 Essential Films: Red Dust; Dinner at Eight; Libeled Lady ” - Joseph Jones
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 and her mother has Kabyle ancestry. Raised in Orléans...
“ 3 Essential Films: Love Me If You Dare; A Very Long Engagement; La Vie en Rose ” - Joseph Jones
Considered by many critics to be the greatest living actress, Meryl Streep has been nominated for the Academy Award an astonishing 20 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 Streep...
“ 3 Essential Films: Sophie's Choice; The Bridges of Madison County; The Devil Wears Prada ” - Joseph Jones
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 is Scottish-born...
“ 3 Essential Films: Howards End; The Remains of the Day; Love, Actually ” - Joseph Jones
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 childhood and teens...
“ 3 Essential Films: Mary Poppins; The Sound of Music; VictorVictoria ” - Joseph Jones
The middle of seven children, she was named after the S.S. Rosalind at the suggestion of her father, a successful lawyer. After receiving a Catholic school education, she went to the American Academy of Dramatic Art in New York, having convinced her mother that she intended to teach acting. In 1934...
“ 3 Essential Films: The Women; His Girl Friday; Auntie Mame ” - Joseph Jones
The iconoclastic gifts of the visually striking and fiercely talented actress Tilda Swinton have been appreciated by a more international audience of late. She was born Katherine Mathilda Swinton on November 5, 1960, in London, England. Her mother, Judith Balfour, Lady Swinton (née Killen), was Australian...
“ 3 Essential Films: Orlando; The Deep End; Michael Clayton ” - Joseph Jones
Jessica Phyllis Lange was born 1949 in Cloquet, Minnesota, to Dorothy Florence (Sahlman) and Albert John Lange, a traveling salesman and teacher. She is of Finnish (mother) and Dutch and German (father) descent. She obtained a scholarship to study art at the University of Minnesota, but instead went to Paris to study drama...
“ 3 Essential Films: Tootsie; Frances; Blue Sky ” - Joseph Jones
One of America's most prolific actresses was born Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff on April 3, 1922, in Cincinnati, Ohio, to Alma Sophia (Welz), a housewife, and William Joseph Kappelhoff, a music teacher and choir master. Her grandparents were all German immigrants. She had two brothers, Richard, who died before she was born and Paul, a few years older...
“ 3 Essential Films: Romance on the High Seas; Calamity Jane; Pillow Talk ” - Joseph Jones
Her father was a police lieutenant and imbued in her a military attitude to life. Marlene was known in school for her "bedroom eyes" and her first affairs were at this stage in her life - a professor at the school was terminated. She entered the cabaret scene in 1920s Germany, first as a spectator then as a cabaret singer...
“ 3 Essential Films: Morocco; Shanghai Express; Destry Rides Again ” - Joseph Jones
Laura Leggett Linney was born in New York City on February 5, 1964, into a theatre family. Her father was prominent playwright Romulus Linney
, whose own great-grandfather was a congressman from North Carolina. Her mother, Miriam Anderson (Leggett), is a nurse. Although she did not live in her father's house (her parents having divorced when she was an infant)...
“ 3 Essential Films: You Can Count On Me; The House of Mirth; Kinsey ” - Joseph Jones
She is one of the great models who transitioned successfully into acting! "Thomas Crown Affair" being one of the greatest performances causing all to take notice! Playing intelligent women with ability to match her contemporary male powerful counterparts into in-depth presence of the changes appearing...
“ 3 Essential Films: Bonnie & Clyde; Network; Mommie Dearest ” - Joseph Jones
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 then she discovered the stage...
“ 3 Essential Films: Now, Voyager; All About Eve; What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? ” - Joseph Jones
Patricia Neal, the Oscar- and Tony Award-winning actress, was born Patricia Louise Neal in Packard, Kentucky. Her father managed a coal mine and her mother was the daughter of the town doctor. She grew up in Knoxville, where she attended high school. She was first bit by the acting bug at the age of 10...
“ 3 Essential Films: Three Secrets; A Face in the Crowd; Hud ” - Joseph Jones
Eleonora Rossi Drago
She never found the international cross-over fame destined for Sophia Loren
and Gina Lollobrigida
, and most American audiences would not recognize her name, but voluptuous, visually stunning Eleonora Rossi Drago certainly made male hearts pulsate in Europe with her scores of princesses and temptresses throughout Italian cinema of the 1950s and 1960s...
“ 3 Essential Films: Le Amiche; Violent Summer; In the Folds of the Flesh ” - Joseph Jones
Susan Sarandon was born Susan Abigail Tomalin in New York City, New York, to Lenora Marie (Criscione) and Phillip Leslie Tomalin, a television producer and advertising executive. She is of Italian (mother) and English, Irish, Welsh, and German (father) descent. Soon after the 1968 Democratic convention...
“ 3 Essential Films: Bull Durham; Thelma & Louise; Dead Man Walking ” - Joseph Jones
Born in New York City to legendary screen star Henry Fonda
and 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 prompted by...
“ 3 Essential Films: Barefoot in the Park; They Shoot Horses, Don't They?; Klute ” - Joseph Jones
Considered by many to be one of the greatest American actresses of all time, Geraldine Page was a master craftswoman who seemed to bring out the most inner detail of the character she was playing. Her dedication to her craft has earned her the respect of many of today's great actors including Meryl Streep and Michelle Pfeiffer...
“ 3 Essential Films: Summer and Smoke; Sweet Bird of Youth; The Trip to Bountiful ” - Joseph Jones
Greta Garbo was born Greta Lovisa Gustafsson on September 18, 1905, in Stockholm, Sweden, to Anna Lovisa (Johansdotter), who worked at a jam factory, and Karl Alfred Gustafsson, a laborer. She was fourteen when her father died, which left the family destitute. Greta was forced to leave school and go to work in a department store...
“ 3 Essential Films: Queen Christina; Camille; Ninotchka ” - Joseph Jones
Today Barbara Stanwyck is remembered primarily as the matriarch of the family known as the Barkleys on the TV western The Big Valley
, wherein she played Victoria, and from the hit drama The Colbys
. But she was known to millions of other fans for her movie career, which spanned the period from 1927 until 1964...
“ 3 Essential Films: Stella Dallas; The Lady Eve; Double Indemnity ” - Joseph Jones
Juliette Binoche was born in Paris, France, to Monique Yvette Stalens, a director, teacher, and actress, and Jean-Marie Binoche, a sculptor, director, and actor. Her mother was born in Czestochowa, Poland, of French, Walloon Belgian, and Polish descent, while her father is French. Juliette was only 23 when she first attracted the attention of international film critics with The Unbearable Lightness of Being
“ 3 Essential Films: The Unbearable Lightness of Being; The English Patient; Chocolat ” - Joseph Jones
Olivia de Havilland
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 surname comes from her paternal grandfather...
“ 3 Essential Films: The Adventures of Robin Hood; To Each, His Own; The Heiress ” - Joseph Jones
Dame Helen Mirren was born in Queen Charlotte's Hospital in West London. Her mother, Kathleen Alexandrina Eva Matilda (Rogers), was from a working-class English family, and her father, Vasiliy Petrovich Mironov, was a Russian-born civil servant, from Kuryanovo, whose own father was a diplomat. Mirren attended St...
“ 3 Essential Films: The Long Good Friday; Gosford Park; The Queen ” - Joseph Jones
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 March 30, 1937. Her ancestry includes English and Scottish...
“ 3 Essential Films: The Apartment; Sweet Charity; Terms of Endearment ” - Joseph Jones
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 Detroit's Cass Technical High School...
“ 3 Essential Films: Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore; Resurrection; Requiem for a Dream ” - Joseph Jones
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 California in the hopes of improving their health...
“ 3 Essential Films: Rebecca; The Constant Nymph; Letter from an Unknown Woman ” - Joseph Jones
Multi-talented Kathleen Doyle Bates was born on June 28, 1948, and raised in Memphis, Tennessee. She is the youngest of three girls born to Bertye Kathleen (Talbot), a homemaker, and Langdon Doyle Bates, a mechanical engineer. Her grandfather was author Finis L. Bates. Kathy has English, as well as Irish...
“ 3 Essential Films: Misery; Dolores Claiborne; Primary Colors ” - Joseph Jones
“ 3 Essential Films: On the Waterfront; North by Northwest; All Fall Down ” - Joseph Jones
Sharon Yvonne Stone was born and raised in Meadville, a small town in Pennsylvania, to Dorothy Marie (Lawson), an accountant and homemaker, and Joseph William Stone II, a factory worker. Her father was strict. She was the second of four children, and has English, German, Scottish, and Irish ancestry...
“ 3 Essential Films: Basic Instinct; Intersection; Casino ” - Joseph Jones
Catherine Deneuve was born October 22, 1943 in Paris, France. Her parents were actors. She made her movie debut in 1957, when she was thirteen and continued with small parts in minor films, until Roger Vadim
gave her a meatier role in Vice and Virtue
. But her breakthrough came with the excellent musical The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
“ 3 Essential Films: Repulsion; Indochine; Potiche ” - Joseph Jones
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 on with since...
“ 3 Essential Films: A Place in the Sun; Cat on a Hot Tin Roof; Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? ” - Joseph Jones
The youngest of three children, Edythe Marrenner was born in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, New York. Her father and mother, who were of Irish and Swedish descent respectively, endowed her with the milky complexion and ruby mane that would become her trademark. She grew up in poverty in the shadow of her older sister Florence who was her mother's favorite...
“ 3 Essential Films: My Foolish Heart; With a Song in My Heart; I Want to Live! ” - Joseph Jones
Anne Bancroft was born on September 17, 1931 in the Bronx, the daughter of Michael Italiano (1905-2001), a dress pattern maker, and Mildred DiNapoli (1908-2010), a telephone operator. She made her cinema debut in Don't Bother to Knock
in 1952 and over the next five years appeared in a lot of undistinguished movies as a supporting actress...
“ 3 Essential Films: The Miracle Worker; The Graduate; Agnes of God ” - Joseph Jones
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 Robert Stephens
and to playwright Beverley Cross
“ 3 Essential Films: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie; Travels with My Aunt; Gosford Park ” - Joseph Jones
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 their life's work...
“ 3 Essential Films: Dangerous Liaisons; The Fabulous Baker Boys; Batman Returns ” - Joseph Jones
With prominent cheekbones and the most appealing overbite of her day, her striking good looks helped propel her to stardom. Her best known role is the enigmatic murder victim in Laura
. She was also Oscar-nominated for Leave Her to Heaven
. Her acting performances were few in the 1950s as she battled a troubled emotional life that included hospitalization and shock treatment for depression.
“ 3 Essential Films: Laura; Leave Her to Heaven; The Razor's Edge ” - Joseph Jones
Anna Magnani was born in Rome, Italy (not in Egypt, as some biographies claim), on March 7, 1908. She was the illegitimate child of Marina Magnani and an unknown father, often said to be from Alexandria, Egypt, but whom Anna herself claimed was from the Calabria region of Italy although she never knew his name...
“ 3 Essential Films: Rome, Open City; The Rose Tattoo; Mamma Roma ” - Joseph Jones
French ballet dancer Leslie Caron was discovered by the legendary MGM star Gene Kelly
during his search for a co-star in one of the finest musicals ever filmed, the Oscar-winning An American in Paris
, which was inspired by and based on the music of George Gershwin
. Leslie's gamine looks and pixie-like appeal would be ideal for Cinderella-type rags-to-riches stories...
“ 3 Essential Films: Lili; Gigi; The L-Shaped Room ” - Joseph Jones
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 her entrance into this caring haven on August 17...
“ 3 Essential Films: The Hunchback of Notre Dame; How Green was My Valley; The Quiet Man ” - Joseph Jones
Judi Dench was born in York, England, to Eleanora Olive (Jones), who was from Dublin, Ireland, and Reginald Arthur Dench, a doctor from Dorset, England. She attended Mount School in York, and studied at the Central School of Speech and Drama. She has performed with Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre...
“ 3 Essential Films: Mrs. Brown; Iris; Ladies in Lavendar ” - Joseph Jones
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 years old...
“ 3 Essential Films: Elizabeth; The Aviator; I'm Not Here ” - Joseph Jones
Born in San Giorgio di Piano, Giulietta Masina spent part of her teenage years living with a widowed aunt in Rome, where she cultivated a passion for the theater and studied for a degree in Philosophy. She began her career on the radio with the program "Terzoglio" (1942), about the adventures of newlyweds Cico and Pallina from scripts written by Federico Fellini
“ 3 Essential Films: La Strada; Nights of Cabiria; Juliet of the Spirits ” - Joseph Jones
Naomi Ellen Watts was born on September 28, 1968 in Shoreham, England, to Myfanwy Edwards "Miv" (Roberts), an antiques dealer and costume/set designer, and Peter Watts
(Peter Anthony Watts), the road manager to Pink Floyd
. Her maternal grandfather was Welsh. Her father died when Naomi was seven and she began to follow her mother and her brother around England...
“ 3 Essential Films: Mulholland Dr.; King Kong; The Painted Veil ” - Joseph Jones
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 Company 1939-40...
“ 3 Essential Films: Tea and Sympathy; The Sundowners; The Innocents ” - Joseph Jones
Six time Academy Award-nominated actress Glenn Close was born and raised in Greenwich, Connecticut. She is the daughter of Elizabeth Mary Hester "Bettine" (Moore) and William Taliaferro Close (William Close
), a prominent doctor. Both of her parents were from upper-class northeastern families. Glenn...
“ 3 Essential Films: The World According to Garp; Fatal Attraction; Dangerous Liaisons ” - Joseph Jones
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 correct her cross-eyed stare caused by a muscle weakness...
“ 3 Essential Films: The Barretts of Wimpole Street; Marie Antoinette; The Women ” - Joseph Jones
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 Minnesota...
“ 3 Essential Films: The Wizard of Oz; Meet Me in St. Louis; A Star is Born ” - Joseph Jones
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 Burlington, New Jersey, has German, Irish, German-Jewish, and English ancestry...
“ 3 Essential Films: Short Cuts; Boogie Nights; The End of the Affair ” - Joseph Jones
Few in modern British history have come as far or achieved as much from humble beginnings as Glenda Jackson has. From acclaimed actress to respected MP (Member of Parliament), she is known for her high intelligence and meticulous approach to her work. She was born to a working-class household in Birkenhead...
“ 3 Essential Films: Women in Love; Sunday, Bloody Sunday; A Touch of Class ” - Joseph Jones
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 Inglis
(née Desiree Mary Lucy Hawkins)...
“ 3 Essential Films: The Year of Living Dangerously; Aliens; Gorillas in the Mist ” - Joseph Jones
Demure British beauty Jean Simmons was born January 31, 1929 in Crouch End, London. As a 14-year-old dance student, she was plucked from her school to play Margaret Lockwood
's precocious sister in Give Us the Moon
, and she went on to make a name for herself in such major British productions as Caesar and Cleopatra
“ 3 Essential Films: So Long at the Fair; Elmer Gantry; The Happy Ending ” - Joseph Jones
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 love of animals...
“ 3 Essential Films: Pretty Woman; Notting Hill; Erin Brockovich ” - Joseph Jones
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. Her ancestry includes Irish, English, German, and Scottish. Keaton studied Drama at Santa Ana College before dropping out to study at the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York...
“ 3 Essential Films: Annie Hall; Looking for Mr. Goodbar; Marvin's Room ” - Joseph Jones
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 grew up...
“ 3 Essential Films: The Smiling Lieutenant; It Happened One Night; Midnight ” - Joseph Jones
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 came...
“ 3 Essential Films: The Spiral Staircase; Friendly Persuasion; A Summer Place ” - Joseph Jones
Ava Lavina Gardner was born on December 24, 1922 in Grabtown, North Carolina, to Mary Elizabeth (née Baker) and Jonas Bailey Gardner. Born on a tobacco farm, where she got her lifelong love of earthy language and going barefoot, Ava grew up in the rural South. At age 18, her picture in the window of her brother-in- law's New York photo studio brought her to the attention of MGM...
“ 3 Essential Films: Mogambo; On the Beach; The Night of the Iguana ” - Joseph Jones
Diane Lane was born on January 22, 1965, in New York. She is the daughter of acting coach Burton Eugene "Burt" Lane and nightclub singer/centerfold Colleen Farrington. Her parents' families were both from the state of Georgia. Diane was acting from a very young age and made her stage debut at the age of six...
“ 3 Essential Films: A Little Romance; A Walk on the Moon; Unfaithful ” - Joseph Jones
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 actress...
“ 3 Essential Films: Goodbye, Mr. Chips; Mrs. Miniver; Random Harvest ” - Joseph Jones
Rachel Hannah Weisz was born on 7 March, 1970, in London, U.K., to Edith Ruth (Teich), a psychoanalyst, and George Weisz, an inventor. Her parents both came to England around 1938. Her father is a Hungarian Jewish immigrant, and her mother, from Vienna, is of Italian and Austrian Jewish heritage. Rachel has a sister, Minnie, a curator and photographer...
“ 3 Essential Films: The Mummy; The Constant Gardener; The Whistleblower ” - Joseph Jones
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 Irish, English, French, and German descent. Sandra grew up on the road with her parents and younger sister...
“ 3 Essential Films: While You Were Sleeping; Miss Congeniality; The Blind Side ” - Joseph Jones
Myrna Williams, later to become Myrna Loy, was born on August 2, 1905 in Radersburg, Montana. Her father was the youngest person ever elected to the Montana State legislature. Later on her family moved to Helena where she spent her youth. At the age of 13, Myrna's father died of influenza and the rest of the family moved to Los Angeles...
“ 3 Essential Films: The Thin Man; Libeled Lady; The Best Years of Our Lives ” - Joseph Jones
Audrey Hepburn was born Audrey Kathleen Hepburn-Ruston on May 4, 1929 in Brussels, Belgium. She was a blue-blood and a cosmopolitan from birth. Her mother, Ella van Heemstra, was a Dutch baroness; Audrey's father, Joseph Victor Anthony Hepburn-Ruston, was born in Úzice, Bohemia, of English and Austrian descent, and worked in business...
“ 3 Essential Films: Roman Holiday; Love in the Afternoon; Two for the Road ” - Joseph Jones
Eleanor Jean Parker was born on June 26, 1922, in Cedarville, Ohio, the last of three children born to a mathematics teacher and his wife. Eleanor caught the acting bug early and began performing in school plays. She was was so serious about becoming a thespian that she attended the Rice Summer Theatre on Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts beginning when she was 15 years old...
“ 3 Essential Films: Caged; Detective Story; Interrupted Melody ” - Joseph Jones
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 Debra (her father named her Debra after his favorite actress...
“ 3 Essential Films: An Officer and a Gentleman; Terms of Endearment; A Dangerous Woman ” - Joseph Jones
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 aspiring actor Robert Walker
and they soon married...
“ 3 Essential Films: The Song of Bernadette; Portrait of Jennie; Ruby Gentry ” - Joseph Jones
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 childhood overseas...
“ 3 Essential Films: Prizzi's Honor; The Grifters; The Witches ” - Joseph Jones
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; Crawford worked a variety of menial jobs...
“ 3 Essential Films: Grand Hotel; Mildred Pierce; Johnny Guitar ” - Joseph Jones
Alicia Christian Foster was born in Los Angeles on November 19, 1962. She is the daughter of Evelyn Ella "Brandy" (Almond) and Lucius Fisher Foster III, an Air Force lieutenant colonel and later real estate broker. Brandy had filed for divorce in 1959 after having three children with Lucius, but the exes had a brief re-encounter in 1962 which resulted in Alicia's birth...
“ 3 Essential Films: Taxi Driver; The Accused; The Silence of the Lambs ” - Joseph Jones
Kristin Scott Thomas
Kristin Scott Thomas was born in Redruth, Cornwall, England, to Deborah (Hurlbatt) and Lieutenant Commander Simon Scott Thomas. Her ancestry includes Welsh, English, and Dutch. Her father was a pilot for the British Royal Navy and died in a flying accident in 1964. Her stepfather was also a pilot and died six years later under similar circumstances...
“ 3 Essential Films: Four Weddings and a Funeral; The English Patient; I've Loved You So Long ” - Joseph Jones
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. Sissy attended Quitman High School and was homecoming queen...
“ 3 Essential Films: Carrie; Coal Miner's Daughter; In the Bedroom ” - Joseph Jones
It came as no surprise to film aficionados when, in 1999, Entertainment Weekly named Jill Clayburgh on its list of Hollywood's 25 Greatest Actresses. For decades, she delivered stellar performances in a wide variety of roles. Jill Clayburgh was born in 1944 in New York City, into a wealthy family, the daughter of Julia Louise (Dorr)...
“ 3 Essential Films: An Unmarried Woman; Starting Over; It's My Turn ” - Joseph Jones
Rejected by the Yale Drama School, Judy began in the theater as a backstage operator for Orson Welles' Mercury Theater. She made her stage debut when she joined Betty Comden
and Adolph Green
in a cabaret group called the Revuers. Working their way up through the circuit, the group was hired by 20th Century Fox to appear in the film Greenwich Village
“ 3 Essential Films: Adam's Rib; Born Yesterday; The Marrying Kind ” - Joseph Jones
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 of her mother...
“ 3 Essential Films: Johnny Belinda; Magnificent Obsession; All that Heaven Allows ” - Joseph Jones
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. Sally attended Birmingham High School in Van Nuys, California...
“ 3 Essential Films: Norma Rae; Places in the Heart; Murphy's Romance ” - Joseph Jones
Kathleen Turner was born June 19, 1954 in Springfield, Missouri, to Patsy (Magee) and Allen Richard Turner, a U.S. Foreign Service officer. She graduated from American School in London in 1972. After the death of her father, the Turner family moved back to the United States where Kathleen later enrolled at Missouri State University for two years...
“ 3 Essential Films: Body Heat; Romancing the Stone; Peggy Sue Got Married ” - Joseph Jones
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,...
“ 3 Essential Films: Funny Girl; The Way We Were; Yentl ” - Joseph Jones
Grace Patricia Kelly was born on November 12, 1929 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to wealthy parents. She was the daughter of Margaret Katherine (Majer), a physical education instructor, and John Brendan Kelly, Sr., a three-time Olympic Gold winner for rowing. Her uncle was playwright George Kelly
“ 3 Essential Films: Rear Window; The Country Girl; To Catch a Thief ” - Joseph Jones
, the 5' 2" beauty was a comedy hit during the 30s and 40s. Born in Fort Wayne, Indiana on October 6, 1908 under the name of Jane Alice Peters. Young Jane Alice loved the Friday night movie night with her family and would perform the night before's show in the morning. Her mother and her father divorced in October of 1914...
“ 3 Essential Films: My Man Godfrey; Nothing Sacred; To Be or Not To Be ” - Joseph Jones
Halle Berry was born in Cleveland, Ohio. Her father, Jerome Jesse Berry, was African-American, and worked as a hospital attendant. Her mother, Judith Ann (Hawkins), who is Caucasian, has English and German ancestry, and is a retired psychiatric nurse. Halle has an older sister named Heidi Berry
“ 3 Essential Films: Losing Isaiah; Monster's Ball; Die Another Day ” - Joseph Jones
British character actress, long in the United States. The daughter of an actress and the granddaughter of a high-ranking politician, Lansbury studied acting from her youth, departing for the United States as the Second World War began. She was contracted by MGM while still a teenager and nominated for an Academy Award for her first film...
“ 3 Essential Films: Gaslight; The Manchurian Candidate; Death on the Nile ” - Joseph Jones
Jamie Lee Curtis
Jamie Lee Curtis served as an honorary chairperson for the Building Resilience for Young Children Dealing with Trauma program held at the Shakespeare Theatre - Harman Center for the Arts in Washington, D.C. She was an inspiration for the youth that were celebrated. Jessey Love-Wadkins (formerly known...
“ 3 Essential Films: Halloween; True Lies; Freaky Friday ” - Joseph Jones
When people gave Louis Malle
credit for making a star of Jeanne Moreau in Elevator to the Gallows
immediately followed by The Lovers
, he would point out that Moreau by that time had already been "recognized as the prime stage actress of her generation." She had made it to the Comédie Française in her 20s...
“ 3 Essential Films: Elevator to the Gallows; Jules et Jim; Diary of a Chambermaid ” - Joseph Jones
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 Opera as a dancer and singer for four years...
“ 3 Essential Films: The Magnificent Ambersons; All that Heaven Allows; Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte ” - Joseph Jones
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 by her father several times until her mother took him to court...
“ 3 Essential Films: Top Hat; Stage Door; The Major and the Minor ” - Joseph Jones
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. Her father moved the family to Brooklyn when she was still young so that he...
“ 3 Essential Films: A Place in the Sun; A Patch of Blue; The Poseidon Adventure ” - Joseph Jones
Probably the most celebrated of all actresses, Marilyn Monroe was born Norma Jeane Mortenson on June 1, 1926, in the charity ward of the Los Angeles General Hospital. Prior to her birth, Marilyn's father bought a motorcycle and headed north to San Francisco, abandoning the family in Los Angeles. Marilyn grew up not knowing for sure who her father really was...
“ 3 Essential Films: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes; Some Like it Hot; The Misfits ” - Joseph Jones
“ 3 Essential Films: Airport; Rich and Famous; Latter Days ” - Joseph Jones
Annette Carol Bening was born on May 29, 1958 in Topeka, Kansas, the youngest of four children of Shirley (Ashley), a soloist and church singer, and Arnett Grant Bening, an insurance salesman. She is of German and British Isles ancestry. Her family moved to California when she was young, and she grew up there...
“ 3 Essential Films: The Grifters; Being Julia; The Kids Are All Right ” - Joseph Jones
Helena Bonham Carter
Helena Bonham Carter is an actress of great versatility, one of the UK's finest and most successful. Bonham Carter was born May 26, 1966 in Golders Green, London, England, the youngest of three children of Elena (née Propper de Callejón), a psychotherapist, and Raymond Bonham Carter, a merchant banker...
“ 3 Essential Films: A Room with a View; The Wings of the Dove; Sweeney Todd ” - Joseph Jones