Favorite Classic Actresses

I really enjoy classic movies especially musicals and screwball comedy. This is a list of my favorite actresses from the Golden Age.
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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...
“ She's great in both musicals and screwball comedies. Favorites include: Pillow Talk and Pajama Game. ” - mainemoviefanaticDaisy
Judy Garland
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...
“ She's mostly known for musicals. Favorites include Meet Me in St Louis and Easter Parade. ” - mainemoviefanaticDaisy
Esther Williams
Esther Jane Williams was born on August 8, 1921 in Inglewood, California. Her youth was spent as a teenage swimming champion and she won three United States National championships. She eventually was spotted by a MGM talent scout while working in a Los Angeles department store. She made her film debut with MGM in an "Andy Hardy" picture called Andy Hardy's Double Life...
“ She's mostly known for musicals. Favorites include Bathing Beauty and Take Me Out to the Ball Game. ” - mainemoviefanaticDaisy
Debbie Reynolds
Debbie Reynolds was born Mary Frances Reynolds in El Paso, Texas, the second child of Maxine N. (Harmon) and Raymond Francis Reynolds, a carpenter for the Southern Pacific Railroad. Her film career began at MGM after she won a beauty contest at age 16 impersonating Betty Hutton. Reynolds wasn't a dancer until she was selected to be Gene Kelly's partner in Singin' in the Rain...
“ She's good in both musicals and comedies alike. Favorites include Singin' in the Rain and The Mating Game. ” - mainemoviefanaticDaisy
Ginger Rogers
Actress, Top Hat
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...
“ She's mostly known for musicals and comedies. Favorites include The Major and the Minor and Bachelor Mother. ” - mainemoviefanaticDaisy
Betty Grable
Elizabeth Ruth Grable was born on December 18, 1916 in St. Louis, Missouri, to Lillian Rose (Hofmann) and John Charles Grable, a stockbroker. She had German, English, Irish, and Dutch ancestry. Her mother was a stubborn and materialistic woman who was determined to make her daughter a star. Elizabeth...
“ She's known for musicals and comedies. Favorites include Down Argentine Way and Moon Over Miami. ” - mainemoviefanaticDaisy
Kathryn Grayson
Actress, Show Boat
Kathryn Grayson was born Zelma Kathryn Elisabeth Hedrick in Winston-Salem, NC, on February 9, 1922. This pretty, petite brunette with a heart-shaped face was discovered by MGM talent scouts while singing on the radio. The studio quickly signed her to a contract, and she was given acting lessons along and had to pose for countless publicity photos...
“ She known for musicals. Favorites include Kiss Me Kate and Anchors Aweigh. ” - mainemoviefanaticDaisy
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...
“ She's known for musicals. Favorites include Hit the Deck and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. ” - mainemoviefanaticDaisy
Cyd Charisse
Cyd Charisse was born Tula Ellice Finklea on March 8, 1921 in Amarillo, Texas. Born to be a dancer, she spent her early childhood taking ballet lessons and joined the Ballet Russe at age 13. In 1939, she married Nico Charisse, her former dance teacher. In 1943, she appeared in her first film, Something to Shout About...
“ She's known for musicals. Favorites include Brigadoon and Silk Stockings. ” - mainemoviefanaticDaisy
Ann Miller
Ann Miller was born Johnnie Lucille Ann Collier on April 12, 1923 in Chireno, Texas. She lived there until she was nine, when her mother left her philandering father and moved with Ann to Los Angeles, California. Even at that young age, she had to support her mother, who was hearing-impaired and unable to hold a job...
“ She's known for musicals. Favorites include On the Town and Kiss Me Kate. ” - mainemoviefanaticDaisy
One of the most vivacious and vibrant musical film talents to glide through Hollywood's "Golden Age" in the 40s and 50s was Vera-Ellen Westmeyer Rohe, better known to her fans simply by her hyphenated first name. Whether performing solo or dueting with the best male partners of her generation, including Fred Astaire...
“ She's known for musicals. Favorites include White Christmas and On the Town. ” - mainemoviefanaticDaisy
Carole Lombard
Carole Lombard was born Jane Alice Peters in Fort Wayne, Indiana, on October 6, 1908. Her parents divorced in 1916 and her mother took the family on a trip out West. While there they decided to settle down in the Los Angeles area. After being spotted playing baseball in the street with the neighborhood boys by a film director...
“ She's mostly known for screwball comedies. Favorite movie of hers is My Man Godfrey. ” - mainemoviefanaticDaisy
Myrna Loy
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...
“ She's mostly known for comedies. Favorites include the Thin Man series and Mr Blandings Builds His Dream House. ” - mainemoviefanaticDaisy
Sandra Dee
Sandra Dee was born Alexandria Zuck on April 23, 1942 in Bayonne, New Jersey, to Mary (Cymboliak) and John Zuck. She was of Carpatho-Rusyn descent. Her mother envisioned a show business career for her daughter and would often lie about her age in order to get Sandy where she wanted to go. For example...
“ She's known for comedies. Favorites include The Reluctant Debutante and Come September. ” - mainemoviefanaticDaisy
Audrey Hepburn
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...
“ She's mostly known for comedies. Favorites include Roman Holiday and Sabrina. ” - mainemoviefanaticDaisy
Jean Arthur
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...
“ She's known as a great comedic actress. Favorites include You Can't Take It With You, Easy Living and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. ” - mainemoviefanaticDaisy
Betty Hutton
Betty Hutton was born Elizabeth June Thornburg on February 26, 1921, in Battle Creek, Michigan. Two years later Betty's father decided that the family way of life wasn't for him, so he left (he committed suicide 16 years later). Having to fend for themselves, Mrs. Thornburg moved the family to Detroit to find work in the numerous auto factories there...
“ Known for comedies and musicals. Favorite movies include The Miracle of Morgan's Creek and Annie Get Your Gun. ” - mainemoviefanaticDaisy
Katharine Hepburn
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...
“ She's known for both drama and comedy. Favorites include Desk Set and The Philadelphia Story. ” - mainemoviefanaticDaisy
Rosalind Russell
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...
“ She's known mostly for comedies. Favorites include The Women and His Girl Friday. ” - mainemoviefanaticDaisy
Natalie Wood
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...
“ She's mostly known for dramas. Favorites include Cash McCall and Sex and the Single Girl. These are comedies! ” - mainemoviefanaticDaisy
Claudette Colbert
Claudette Colbert was born in Paris and brought to the United States as a child three years later. Born Lily Claudette Chauchoin, she went to high school in New York. She was studying at the Art Students League when, in 1923, she took the name Claudette Colbert for her first Broadway role in "The Wild Westcotts"...
“ She's great in both comedies and dramas. Favorite comedies include It Happened One Night and Midnight. Favorite dramas include Three Came Home and So Proudly We Hail. ” - mainemoviefanaticDaisy
Rita Hayworth
Actress, Gilda
Margarita Carmen Cansino was born on October 17, 1918, in Brooklyn, New York, into a family of dancers. Her father, Eduardo was a dancer as was his father before him. He emigrated from Spain in 1913. Rita's mother met Eduardo in 1916 and were married the following year. Rita, herself, studied as a dancer in order to follow in her family's footsteps...
“ She's known for both musicals and drama. Favorites include Cover Girl and Down to Earth. ” - mainemoviefanaticDaisy
Norma Shearer
Actress, The Women
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...
“ Known as the "Queen of MGM" partially because of her relationship with Irving Thalberg. Favorite movie of hers is The Women. ” - mainemoviefanaticDaisy
Deborah Kerr
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...
“ She's mostly known for dramas. Favorites include An Affair to Remember and The King and I (in which she did NOT do the singing). ” - mainemoviefanaticDaisy
Grace Kelly
Actress, Rear Window
Grace Kelly was an American actress who, after marrying Prince Rainier III in April 1956, became Princess of Monaco. After embarking on an acting career in 1950, at the age of 20, Kelly appeared in New York City theatrical productions and more than 40 episodes of live drama productions broadcast during the early 1950s Golden Age of Television...
“ She was mostly known for dramas. Favorites include High Society and To Catch a Thief. ” - mainemoviefanaticDaisy
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 actress...
“ She's known for dramas. Favorites include Blossoms in the Dust and Random Harvest. ” - mainemoviefanaticDaisy
Lauren Bacall
Actress, The Big Sleep
Lauren Bacall was born Betty Joan Perske on September 16, 1924, in New York City. She is the daughter of Natalie Weinstein-Bacal, a Romanian Jewish immigrant, and William Perske, who was born in New Jersey, to Polish Jewish parents. Her family was middle-class, with her father working as a salesman and her mother as a secretary...
“ She's mostly known for dramas. Favorite movie of hers is How To Marry a Millionaire. ” - mainemoviefanaticDaisy
Kim Novak
Actress, Vertigo
Kim Novak was born in Chicago, Illinois on February 13, 1933 with the birth name of Marilyn Pauline Novak. She was the daughter of Joseph Novak, a former teacher turned transit clerk and his wife, Blanche Kral Novak, also a former teacher. Throughout elementary and high school, Kim did not get along well with teachers...
“ She's mostly known for dramas. Favorite movie of hers is Bell Book and Candle. ” - mainemoviefanaticDaisy
Ingrid Bergman
Actress, Casablanca
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 are second only to Katharine Hepburn...
“ She's known for dramas. Favorite movie of hers is The Bells of St Mary's. ” - mainemoviefanaticDaisy
Gene Tierney
Actress, Laura
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.
“ She's known for dramas. Favorite movie of hers is The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. ” - mainemoviefanaticDaisy
Paulette Goddard
Actress, Modern Times
Paulette Goddard was a child model who debuted in "The Ziegfeld Follies" at the age of 13. She gained fame with the show as the girl on the crescent moon, and was married to a wealthy man by the time she was 16. After her divorce she went to Hollywood in 1931, where she appeared in small roles in pictures for a number of studios...
“ She's known for both comedies and dramas. Favorite movies include Pot o' Gold and So Proudly We Hail. ” - mainemoviefanaticDaisy
Jeanne Crain
Actress, State Fair
Jeanne Crain was born in Barstow, California, on May 25, 1925. The daughter of a high school English teacher and his wife, Jeanne was moved to Los Angeles not long after her birth after her father got another teaching position in that city. While in junior high school, Jeanne played the lead in a school production which set her on the path to acting...
“ She's known for both dramas and comedies. Favorites include State Fair and People Will Talk. ” - mainemoviefanaticDaisy
Maureen O'Hara
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...
“ She's known for both dramas and comedies. Favorites include The Parent Trap and The Quiet Man. ” - mainemoviefanaticDaisy
Sophia Loren
Actress, Two Women
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 her younger sister Maria Scicolone)...
“ She's known for both dramas and comedies. Favorites include Houseboat and It Started in Naples. ” - mainemoviefanaticDaisy
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 of her mother...
“ She's known for both dramas and comedies. Favorites include Three Guys Named Mike and Here Comes the Groom. ” - mainemoviefanaticDaisy
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 California in the hopes of improving their health...
“ She's mostly known for dramas. Waiting to see more variety before picking favorites. ” - mainemoviefanaticDaisy
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...
“ She's known for dramas. Waiting to see more variety before picking favorites. ” - mainemoviefanaticDaisy
Susan Hayward
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 graduated from a commercial high school that was intended to give students a marketable skill...
“ She's known for dramas. Waiting to see more variety before picking favorites. ” - mainemoviefanaticDaisy
Joan Crawford
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...
“ She's known for dramas. Waiting to see more variety before picking favorites. ” - mainemoviefanaticDaisy
Loretta Young
Sweet, sweeter, sweetest. No combination of terms better describes the screen persona of lovely Loretta Young. A&E's Biography has stated that Young "remains a symbol of beauty, serenity, and grace. But behind the glamor and stardom is a woman of substance whose true beauty lies in her dedication to her family...
“ She's known mostly for comedies. Waiting to see more variety before picking favorites. ” - mainemoviefanaticDaisy
Leslie Caron
Actress, Gigi
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...