Top American Actresses Currently Active

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Best American Actresses Current, Meryl Streep Best Top American Actress
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Meryl Streep
Considered by many critics to be the greatest living actress, Meryl Streep has been nominated for the Academy Award an astonishing 19 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...
Jodie Foster
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...
Joanne Woodward
Actress, Philadelphia
Joanne Gignilliat Trimmier Woodward was born on February 27, 1930, in Thomasville, Georgia, to Wade Woodward and Elinor Gignilliat Trimmier Woodward in a modest household. Her one older brother, Wade Jr., who was the favorite of her father, eventually became an architect. Elinor Woodward was a quite a movie buff and enjoyed going to picture shows often...
Annette Bening
Annette 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 has German and English ancestry. Her family moved to California when she was young, and she grew up there. She...
Diane Lane
Actress, Man of Steel
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...
Glenn Close
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...
Kathy Bates
Actress, Titanic
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...
Swoosie Kurtz
Actress, Sisters
Swoosie is the only child of author Margo and Frank Kurtz. As her father was a colonel in the U.S. Air Force, she moved often during her school years, living in eight different states. At the University of Southern California she majored in drama; later she attended the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art...
Holly Hunter
Holly Hunter was born in Conyers, Georgia, to Opal Marguerite (Catledge), a homemaker, and Charles Edwin Hunter, a part-time sporting goods company representative and farmer with a 250 acre farm. She is the youngest of seven children. Her parents encouraged her talent at an early age, and her first acting part was as Helen Keller in a fifth-grade play...
Julianne Moore
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...
Sigourney Weaver
Actress, Aliens
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)...
Renée Zellweger
Renée Kathleen Zellweger was born on April 25, 1969, in Katy, Texas, USA. Her mother, Kjellfrid Irene (Andreassen), is a Norwegian-born former nurse and midwife, of Norwegian, Kven (Finnish), and Swedish descent. Her father, Emil Erich Zellweger, is a Swiss-born engineer. The two married in 1963. Renée has a brother named Drew Zellweger...
Gwyneth Paltrow
Actress, Se7en
A tall, wafer thin, delicate beauty, Gwyneth Kate Paltrow was born in Los Angeles, the daughter of noted producer and director Bruce Paltrow and Tony award-winning actress Blythe Danner. Her father was from a Jewish family, while her mother has German, and some English and Irish, ancestry. When Gwyneth was eleven...
Susan Sarandon
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...
Marisa Tomei
Actress, The Wrestler
Marisa Tomei was born on December 4, 1964, in Brooklyn, New York to mother Patricia "Addie" Tomei, an English teacher and father Gary Tomei, a lawyer. Marisa also has a brother, actor Adam Tomei. As a child, Marisa's mother frequently corrected her speech as to eliminate her heavy Brooklyn accent...
Ellen Barkin
Offbeat, unconventionally pretty, and utterly mesmerizing, Ellen Barkin was born in 1954 in the Bronx, New York, to Evelyn (Rozin), a hospital administrator, and Sol Barkin, a chemical salesman. Her parents were both from Russian Jewish families. Raised in the South Bronx and Queens, New York area,...
Natalie Portman
Natalie Portman was born Natalie Hershlag on June 9, 1981, in Jerusalem, Israel, to a Jewish family. She is the only child of Avner Hershlag, an Israeli-born doctor, and Shelley Stevens, an American-born artist (from Cincinnati, Ohio), who also acts as Natalie's agent. She left Israel for Washington...
Rae Allen
Actress, Stargate
Laura Linney
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)...
Colleen Dewhurst
Actress, Annie Hall
Tall, luminous and leonine, the legendary Colleen Dewhurst must go down as one of the theater's finest contemporary tragediennes of the late 1900s. With trademark dusky tones and a majestically careworn appearance, she possessed an inimitable down-to-earth fierceness that not only earned her the title...
Halle Berry
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...
Marcia Gay Harden
Actress, Into the Wild
Marcia Gay Harden was born on August 14, 1959, in La Jolla, California, the third of five children. Her mother, Beverly (Bushfield), was a homemaker, and her father, Thad Harold Harden, was in the military. The family relocated often -- she first became interested in the theater when the family was living in Greece...
Jane Alexander
Actress, The Ring
Angular in features, reserved in demeanor and more-or-less plaintive in appearance, actress Jane Alexander's has played down the glamor card for the most part. Her true brilliance has come from the remarkable range and depth of her talent. Heralded as one of the finest 70s actresses to arrive in films following a towering Broadway success...
Frances Sternhagen
Actress, Misery
Raised in Washington, D.C., Frances Sternhagen taught acting, singing and dancing to school children before first performing herself with the Arena Stage Group. Since that time, she has been seen in numerous Broadway show, has been nominated five times for a Tony Award and received one for "The Good Doctor"...
Estelle Parsons
The charming, witty, and immeasurably gifted Estelle Parsons was born November 20, 1927 in Lynn, Massachusetts, to Elinor and Eben Parsons. She attended the Oak Grove School for Girls in Maine, and later graduated from Connecticut College in 1949. She worked as a singer with a band before she became the first Women's Editor on Today...
Edie Falco
Actress, The Sopranos
Edith Falco, called Edie, was born on July 5, 1963 in Brooklyn, New York, to Judith Anderson, an actress, and Frank Falco, a jazz drummer. She is of Italian (father) and Swedish, English, and Cornish (mother) descent. Edie grew up on Long Island and attended SUNY Purchase, where she was trained in acting at the prestigious Conservatory of Theatre Arts and Film...
Faye Dunaway
Actress, Chinatown
Faye Dunaway was born on a farm in Bascom, Florida in 1941, the daughter of Grace April (Smith), a housewife, and John MacDowell Dunaway, Jr., an army officer. After high school she majored in education at the University of Florida, but switched to theatre arts and transferred to Boston University, earning her degree in 1962...
Olympia Dukakis
Long a vital, respected lady of the classic and contemporary stage this grand lady did not become a household name and sought-after film actress until age 56 when she turned in a glorious, Oscar-winning perf as Cher's sardonic mother in the romantic comedy Moonstruck. Since then movie...
Allison Janney
Actress, The West Wing
Allison Janney is an award-winning actress who has earned a solid reputation in stage productions and in many supporting roles on screen, and who more recently has become prominent by portraying one of the major characters in the popular TV series The West Wing. Entertainment Weekly magazine describes Janney's screen presence as "uncommonly beautiful and infinitely expressive"...
Stockard Channing
Actress, Grease
One of Broadway and Hollywood's cleverer talents who tends to shine a smart, cynical light on her surroundings, Stockard Channing was born Susan Williams Antonia Stockard on February 13, 1944, in New York City, to a Catholic family, with English and Irish ancestry. The daughter of Lester Napier Stockard...
Florence Henderson
She is considered by protocol executive Jerold Franks, CSA to be " of the most generous stars I have ever worked with." Los Angeles, New York and all parts of the country, Florence has helped raise millions of dollars for various charitable organizations. Jerold Franks, friend and confidante to Mary Martin as well as producer of Ms...
Blythe Danner
Blythe Danner was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Katharine (Kile) and Harry Earl Danner, a bank executive. She has German, as well as English and Irish, ancestry. Danner studied acting and got her degree from Bard College and began her career in Boston theater companies. By 25, she won the Theater World Award for her work in Molière's "The Miser"...
Marsha Mason
She has a wonderful, extremely engaging "feel good" quality about her, an innate warmth that makes you root for her whether she's playing a stubborn single mom, brittle prostitute, or strung-out alcoholic. Marsha Mason was a resoundingly respected and popular film actress of the 1970s and 1980s whose career skyrocketed in the bittersweet comedies/dramas of award-winning Neil Simon...
Hilary Swank
Hilary was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, to Judith Kay (Clough), a secretary, and Stephen Michael Swank, who served in the National Guard and was also a traveling salesman. Her maternal grandmother, Frances Martha Dominguez, was of Mexican descent, and her other roots include German, English, and Scottish...
Piper Laurie
Actress, Carrie
Piper Laurie was born Rosetta Jacobs in Detroit, Michigan, on January 22, 1932, to Charlotte Sadie (Alperin) and Alfred Jacobs, a furniture dealer. Her father was a Polish Jewish immigrant and her mother was of Russian Jewish descent. Her father moved the family to Los Angeles, California, when she was 6-years-old...
Elizabeth Ashley
Actress, Another World
Love her or not, award-winning actress Elizabeth Ashley can always be counted on to give her all. Grand in style, exotic in looks, divinely outgoing in personality and an engaging interpreter of Tennessee Williams' florid Southern-belles on stage, she was born Elizabeth Ann Cole on August 30, 1939, in Ocala...
Cloris Leachman
Actress, The Croods
The record-breaking actress set a record when at age 82, she appeared on Dancing with the Stars. Cloris Leachman was born on April 30, 1926 in Des Moines, Iowa to Berkeley Claiborne "Buck" Leachman and the former Cloris Wallace. Her father's family owned a lumber company, Leachman Lumber Co. She is of Czech (from her maternal grandmother) and English descent...
Anne Meara
Actress, Awakenings
Comedienne Anna Meara was born September 20, 1929, in Brooklyn, New York, to Mary (Dempsey) and Edward Joseph Meara, who were both of Irish descent. She and her husband, Jerry Stiller were members of the improvisational company, the Compass Players, which later became SCTV. They performed as a duo under the name "Stiller and Meara"...
Eva Marie Saint
Eva Marie Saint is an American actress and producer. She is known for starring in Elia Kazan's On the Waterfront (1954), for which she won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, and Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest (1959). Her film career also includes roles in Raintree County (1957), Exodus (1960)...
Shirley Jones
Shirley Mae Jones was born 31 March, 1934 in Charleroi, Pennsylvania. She was named after Shirley Temple. Her father owned the local brewery. When she was 20, she went to New York with her parents and, within a week, became the first and only actor signed to a personal contract by Rogers and Hammerstein...
Camryn Manheim
Actress, The Practice
Camryn grew up in Peoria, Illinois. Her mother, Sylvia, was a schoolteacher and her father, Jerry, was a math professor. She developed an interest in acting after working at a Renaissance Fair at age 16. She earned a Master's Degree in Fine Arts from New York University in 1987. She studied acting at the Atlantic Theater Company Acting School in Chelsea...
Kristen Stewart
Actress, Twilight
Though most famous for her role as Isabella "Bella" Swan in The Twilight Saga, Kristen Stewart has been a working actor since her early years in Los Angeles, California, where she was born. Her parents, John Stewart and Jules Stewart, both work in film and television. Her mother is Australian...