Stars of the '30s and '40s who are still with us

Some were big and some small - but they all noticeably appeared in at least two films at some point during the 1930s and/or 1940s. Note: TV work or extra work does not count.
View:
Log in to copy items to your own lists.
1.
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...
“ My vote for number one living screen legend goes to this lady. There's several reasons why: her hugely memorable screen partnership with Errol Flynn, which included some of the greatest and most memorable adventure epics of all time, the greatest of them being The Adventures of Robin Hood. She starred in possibly the best loved Hollywood film of all time - a film so well known I need not mention it by name. And possibly her greatest achievement of all was winning the landmark legal battle against Warner Bros, following which she did her best work, including her two Oscar winning performances in To Each His Own and The Heiress, as well as her highly acclaimed role in the groundbreaking The Snake Pit. Her career seemed to go into decline somewhat afterwards but it semed to be based on her own choices. After all what else did she need to prove?

UPDATE: As of 2016, and at 100 years of age, de Havilland is the oldest living Oscar winner and the last surviving name-above the title adult stars of 1930s Hollywood. ” - crisso
 
2.
Glynis Johns
Actress, Mary Poppins
Husky voiced Glynis is the daughter of actor Mervyn Johns. Best known for her light comedy roles and often playful flirtation, Glynis was born in South Africa while her parents were on tour there (her mother was a concert pianist) but was always proud of her Welsh roots and took delight in playing the female lead (opposite Richard Burton) in the classic Under Milk Wood...
 
3.
Angela Lansbury
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...
 
4.
Kirk Douglas
Actor, Spartacus
Cleft-chinned, steely-eyed and virile star of international cinema who rose from being "the ragman's son" (the name of his best-selling 1988 autobiography) to become a bona fide superstar, Kirk Douglas, also known as Issur Danielovitch Demsky, was born in Amsterdam, New York, in 1916. His parents, Bryna (Sanglel) and Herschel Danielovitch...
 
5.
Danielle Darrieux
Actress, Persepolis
Danielle Darrieux was born in 1917 in Bordeaux, France, but raised in Paris. She was only 14 when she auditioned for a secondary role in Le bal: she got the part, and the producer offered her a five-year contract. She had her first romantic lead in La crise est finie and scored an international...
 
6.
Doris Day
One of America's most prolific actresses was born Doris Mary Ann Von Kapplehoff 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...
 
7.
Margaret O'Brien
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. Her big moment came when she was cast in Journey for Margaret. This film shot her into instant stardom and also resulted in Angela changing her name to Margaret. Throughout the 1940s Margaret was a major child star...
 
8.
Sally Ann Howes
Sally Ann Howes grew up in a show business family led by her father, famous English comedian/actor Bobby Howes, her mother Patricia Malone and grandfather, Broadway director Capt. J.A.E. Malone. She had her first screen test offer on her 12th birthday and went on to star in several films before she turned 20, including Anna Karenina with Vivien Leigh...
 
9.
Ann Blyth
The dark, petulant beauty of this petite American film and musical star worked to her advantage, especially in her early dramatic career. Ann Marie Blyth was born of Irish stock to Harry and Nan Blyth on August 16, 1928, in Mt. Kisco, New York. Her parents split while she was young and she, her mother and sister moved to New York City...
 
10.
Jane Withers
Actress, Giant
During the early times of the Depression when life was more famine than feast, child stars became the blue plate special of the day, served up by Hollywood to help nourish a nation besieged with troubles. Following 20th Century-Fox monumental success with Shirley Temple in the early 1930s, every studio...
 
11.
Rhonda Fleming
Actress, Spellbound
A native-born Californian, Rhonda Fleming attended Beverly Hills public and private schools. Her mother, Effie Graham, was a famous model and actress in New York. She has a son (Kent Lane), two granddaughters (Kimberly and Kelly) and four great-grandchildren (Wagner, Page, Lane and Cole). She has appeared in over 40 films...
 
12.
Mary Carlisle
Actress, Dead Men Walk
She was the standard prototype of the porcelain-pretty collegiate and starry-eyed romantic interest in a host of Depression-era films and although her name may not ring a bell to most, Mary Carlisle enjoyed a fairly solid decade in the cinematic limelight. The Boston-born, blue-eyed blonde was brought to Hollywood in 1916...
 
13.
Patricia Morison
Woefully misused while in her prime screen years at Paramount during the late '30s and '40s, Patricia Morison, lovely and exotic with Rapunzel-like long, dark hair, nevertheless became a star in her own right -- as a supremely talented diva on the singing stage. Born on March 19, 1915, in New York City...
 
14.
Nanette Fabray
A sparkling, entertaining, highly energetic presence ever since her early days (from age 4) as a singing and tap dancing child vaudevillian, Nanette Fabray (born Ruby Fabares in San Diego) was once billed as "Baby Nanette" and working with the top headliners of the era, notably Ben Turpin, in the Los Angeles area...
 
15.
Lorna Gray
Born Virginia Pound, Lorna Gray was "discovered" by a Columbia Pictures agent while modeling in a fashion show. She was given a screen test, and Columbia was impressed enough to sign her to a contract (it was at this time that she was given the name "Lorna Gray", which she kept until 1945, when she changed it to "Adrian Booth")...
 
16.
Muriel Pavlow
Lovely, delicate-looking actress Muriel Pavlow belongs firmly to the British cinema of the 1950s and often provided a nice counterbalance to the hectic goings-on in many comedies. Born in 1921 in Leigh, Kent, England, she was a dominant stage actress despite her petite frame and made her theatrical debut at age 15 with a production of "The Old Maid" (1936)...
 
17.
Norman Lloyd
Norman Lloyd was born Norman Perlmutter in Jersey City, New Jersey, to Sadie (Horowitz), a housewife and singer, and Max Perlmutter, a furniture store manager. His family was Jewish (from Hungary and Russia). He began his acting career in the theater, first "treading the boards" at Eva Le Gallienne's Civic Repertory in New York...
 
18.
Arlene Dahl
Elegance and femininity are fitting descriptions for Arlene Dahl. She is considered to be one of the most beautiful actresses to have graced the screen during the postwar period. Audiences were captivated by her breathtaking beauty and the way she used to it to her advantage, progressing from claimer to character roles...
 
20.
Gloria Jean
Gloria Jean Schoonover was born on April 14, 1926 in Buffalo, New York. Her family moved to Scranton, Pennsylvania shortly after that; this is where Gloria spent the early part of her childhood. Her father owned a music store, while her mother, who had been a bareback rider in a circus, took care of Gloria and her three siblings...
 
21.
Darryl Hickman
Actor, Network
Although younger brother Dwayne Hickman is probably the better-remembered sibling today with his still-huge cult following as TV's Dobie Gillis, Darryl Hickman was certainly the more popular actor and deemed more talented when they were children. During his years at MGM in the wartime 40s, Darryl was featured prominently in many grade "A" film productions...
 
22.
Dorothy Malone
Actress, Peyton Place
The blonde, sultry, dreamy-eyed beauty of Dorothy Malone, who was born in Chicago, Illinois, took some time before it made an impact with American filmgoing audiences. But once she did, she played it for all it was worth in her one chance Academy Award-winning "bad girl" performance, a role quite unlike the classy and straight-laced lady herself...
 
23.
Baby Peggy
Silent moppet star Jackie Coogan, immortalized as Charles Chaplin's The Kid, had only one screen rival during the early 1920s, and that was none other than Baby Peggy. She was "discovered" while visiting the Century Studios lot on Sunset Boulevard with her mother when she was a mere 19-months-old...
 
24.
Jane Powell
Actress, Royal Wedding
Jane Powell was singing and dancing at an early age. She sang on the radio and performed in theaters before her screen debut in 1944. Through the 1940s and 1950s, she had a successful career in movie musicals. However, in 1957, her career in films ended, as she had outgrown her innocent girl-next-door image...
 
25.
Mickey Kuhn
One of Hollywood's staple child actors during the 30s and 40s, Mickey Kuhn played alongside many a top Hollywood star from Leslie Howard and Conrad Nagel's son to playing Dick Tracy's ward. Once he reached the "awkward teens" stage, however, he found himself primarily unemployed or in unbilled parts and looked elsewhere for career satisfaction...
 
26.
Terry Kilburn
Actor, Lolita
Hollywood child actor.
 
27.
Claude Jarman Jr.
Actor, Rio Grande
Born in Nashville, Tennessee, Claude was the son of a railroad accountant. With no intentions of becoming a screen actor at the time, 12-year-old Claude Jarman, Jr. was discovered during an MGM nationwide talent search for their upcoming film, The Yearling, and won the coveted role of Jody Baxter in Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' classic story...
 
28.
Honor Blackman
Actress, Goldfinger
Comparing this sultry-eyed blonde to Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich may seem a bit overzealous, but Honor Blackman's stylish allure over the years cannot be denied. One of four children, Blackman was born in London's East End to a statistician father employed with the civil service and a homemaker mother...
 
29.
Valentina Cortese
Actress, Day for Night
Valentina Cortese was born in Milan, Lombardy, Italy, in 1923. She made her movie debut in 1940 and played many "ingenue" parts in Italian films of that period, before making a real sensation in Les Misérables and Tempesta su Parigi, playing both female leads, Fantine and Cosette (the film was a competent screen adaptation of the Victor Hugo classic "Les misérables")...
 
31.
Micheline Presle
Dark-haired, Paris-born Micheline Presle (better known in the States as Micheline Prelle) was the daughter of a businessman and took acting classes as a teen. She was discovered by Georg Wilhelm Pabst and cast in Girls in Distress (Young Girls in Distress) and Four Flights to Love in which she played a dual role...
 
32.
Peggy Stewart
Actress, That's My Boy
Florida-born Peggy O'Rourke's parents divorced when she was very young. Peggy's mother eventually married a wealthy attorney named Stewart, and Peggy took his name. She grew up in Atlanta (where she developed the athletic skills she would later demonstrate in her many westerns for Republic Pictures)...
 
33.
Jerry Maren
Actor, House
He took dancing lessons when he was young and aspired to be an actor. In November 1938, standing just three foot four, he met up with the Oz-bound group of little people in New York and went by bus to California. There he was chosen to be the Munchkin who hands Dorothy a welcoming lollipop.
 
34.
Barbara Hale
Actress, Perry Mason
Barbara was born on 18 April 1922, as one of two children. As a young girl, Ms. Hale intended to major in art and drawing; she began her professional career as a model for a comic strip called "Ramblin' Bill", during the time she was working her way through The Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. She married actor Bill Williams in 1946, and had son William Katt in 1951.
 
35.
June Lockhart
Actress, Lassie
Born in New York City on June 25, 1925, the daughter of actors Gene Lockhart and Kathleen Lockhart, June Lockhart made her professional debut at age eight in a Metropolitan Opera production of "Peter Ibbetson", playing Mimsey in the dream sequence. In the mid-1930s, the Lockharts relocated to California...
 
36.
Marge Champion
One of the great dancer and choreographers in both movies and stage, Marge Champion is best known today as the former wife of Gower Champion, when they worked together as a highly successfully dancing team in the MGM musical years. After retiring from movies, Champion now works as a dance teacher and as a choreographer in New York.
 
38.
Marsha Hunt
Stardom somehow eluded this vastly gifted actress. Had it not perhaps been for her low-level profile compounded by her McCarthy-era blacklisting in the early 1950s, there is no telling what higher tier Marsha Hunt might have attained. Perhaps her work was not flashy enough, or too subdued, or perhaps her intelligence too often disguised a genuine sex appeal to stand out among the other lovelies...
 
39.
 
40.
Gigi Perreau
A major little talent, this French-American moppet star of the late '40s and early '50s was not able to parlay her precocious popularity into a sizeable adult career, but has nevertheless maintained on the fringe for decades. Gigi Perreau was born in Los Angeles to a French father, who fled his native country at the onset of WWII...
 
41.
Petula Clark
Petula Sally Olwen Clark was born in West Ewell Surrey, England on November 15, 1932. Petula made her first broadcast as a singer for the BBC Radio Overseas Service in October 1942, and became an overnight star on BBC National Radio in December 1942 at the age of 10. After many radio shows for the BBC during World War 2...
 
42.
Cora Sue Collins
Actress, Anna Karenina
Cora Sue Collins was born April 19, 1927, in Beckley, West Virginia. She was a beautiful child actress who was in very much demand during the '30s. Her first film, at the age of five, was The Strange Case of Clara Deane. She appeared in small roles throughout the early part of the decade. One of her roles that stand out was as the illegitimate daughter of Colleen Moore in The Scarlet Letter...
 
44.
Ann Gillis
Ann Gillis was born Alma Mabel Conner on February 12, 1927, in Little Rock, Arkansas. At age seven, she appeared in her first film, Men in White, as an extra. During the next two years, she had uncredited appearances in six more films until she received her first major role in King of Hockey. Warner Brothers Studios gave significant screen time to Gillis in this movie...
 
45.
Robert Blake
Actor, Baretta
American actor who began as a child in Our Gang comedies and reappeared as a powerful adult performer of leading and character roles. Born in New Jersey, the young Mickey Gubitosi won a role in MGM's Our Gang series at the age of 5. As one of the more prominent children in the Gang, he gained attention for his cute good looks and his lovable, if somewhat melancholy, personality...
 
46.
Marilyn Knowlden
In 1931, a one-day effort by Marilyn Knowlden's attorney father led to an interview, a next-day screen test and a large part for four-year-old Marilyn in one of the early "talkies", Women Love Once. A ten-year movie career followed, where she played the daughter of such stars as Claudette Colbert, Katharine Hepburn, Allan Jones and Norma Shearer...
 
47.
Rose Marie
Rose Marie is a legend of show business with a career stretching over 80 years since her debut as her self in a Vitaphone musical short that appeared on the bill with The Jazz Singer at its premiere in 1927. According to Rose Marie, when she approached Al Jolson at The Wintergarden Theater in New York on the night of the premiere that made movie history and told him...
 
48.
Janis Paige
Joyous scene-stealer Janis Paige started out playing rather bland film ingénues, but never seemed to be comfortable in those roles--she had too much snap, crackle and pop to be confined in such a formulaic way. Born Donna Mae Tjaden in 1922 in Tacoma, Washington, she was singing in public from age 5 in local amateur shows...
 
49.
Nancy Gates
Actress, Suddenly
Nancy Gates was born February 1, 1926 in Dallas, Texas. She entered show business, at an early age, when she was signed to a contract with RKO Studios when she was 15. Her first production with that studio was in 1942's Hitler's Children. Nancy was also in two more films that year, those being The Great Gildersleeve and The Magnificent Ambersons...
 
50.
Dwayne Hickman
Boyishly handsome Dwayne Hickman, the younger brother of Darryl Hickman, followed in his sibling's tiny footsteps as a moppet film actor himself, appearing in such features as Captain Eddie (with Darryl) and as "Nip Worden" in The Return of Rusty and the rest of that dog adventure series. On a temporary sabbatical from acting...
 
51.
Suzy Delair
Prototype of the sexy cheeky French lady, Suzy Delair was discovered by Henri-Georges Clouzot, who became her companion and gave her two memorable roles : Mila Malou, inspector Wens' unbearable girlfriend in two films, The Last One of the Six, which he wrote, and The Murderer Lives at Number 21, which he penned and directed; and the mythical one of Jenny Lamour...
 
52.
William Phipps
In the early days of 1950s science-fiction, one of the first people to become identified with the genre was actor William Phipps. Aside from furnishing the voice of Prince Charming in Disney's cartoon classic Cinderella, Phipps also hid his boyish face beneath a beard as the star of Arch Oboler's...
 
53.
Jacqueline White
Warm, charming leading lady of 1940s films, Jacqueline White was under contract to both MGM (which wasted her in mostly unbilled bits) and then RKO, where she appeared in two classics--Crossfire and The Narrow Margin. RKO used her as a second lead in A pictures and leading roles in Bs. She retired in 1950 upon her marriage to Bruce Anderson and they relocated to Wyoming...
 
54.
Donnie Dunagan
Born in Depression-era Texas, Donnie Dunagan moved with his parents to Memphis as a young child. There, as a three-year-old, he was taught to tap dance by a neighbor and entered in a talent contest at the Orpheum Theatre. Donnie won the $100 prize and caught the attention of a movie talent scout in the audience...
 
55.
Terry Moore
Born Helen Luella Koford on January 7, 1929, the Los Angeles, California, native worked as a model before she made her film debut at age 11 in 20th Century-Fox's Maryland. Throughout the 1940s she worked under a variety of names (her own, Judy Ford and January Ford) before settling on Terry Moore in 1948...
 
58.
Anne Jeffreys
Actress, Topper
The ever-lovely, poised and vivacious blonde Anne Jeffreys was born Anne Carmichael in 1923 in Goldsboro, North Carolina. Firmly managed by her mother, she trained in voice at a fairly early age and received her first break in the entertainment field after signing with the John Robert Powers agency in New York as a junior model...
 
59.
Russ Tamblyn
Actor, Drive
Russ Tamblyn might as well face it...he will be a Jet "till his last dying day." Indelibly linked to the "womb to tomb" role of Riff, the knife-wielding, rocket-tempered, Edward Villella-styled gang leader of the streetwise Jets in the musical film masterpiece West Side Story, it's not a bad way to be remembered...
 
60.
Jimmy Lydon
Born to a large Irish Catholic family (the fifth of nine children) and raised in New York City, Lydon overcame a birth defect and alcoholic father to begin a Broadway career in 1937, acting opposite Van Heflin, Sidney Lumet and Uta Hagen in separate productions. After a number of films with Paramount and RKO...
 
62.
Marcy McGuire
This Kansas redhead, only 16 when she was cast in Seven Days' Leave, was already working as a nightclub entertainer. When her first role received excellent notices, stressing her singing and wide-eyed appeal, she was signed to an RKO contract. RKO made little use of her comedy talent, assigning her to a series of second leads for "jitterbug appeal" in low-budget musicals...