My list of the best actresses of the last 5 decades!
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...
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...
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...
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...
Virginia Cathryn "Gena" Rowlands is an American film, stage, and television actress, whose career in the entertainment industry has spanned over six decades. A four-time Emmy and two-time Golden Globe winner, she is known for her collaborations with her late actor-director husband John Cassavetes in 10 films...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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)...
Karen Black was born Karen Blanche Ziegler in Park Ridge, Illinois, to Elsie Mary (Reif), who wrote children's books, and Norman Arthur Ziegler, an engineer and businessman. She was of Norwegian (from her paternal grandmother), German, and Bohemian (Czech) descent. Karen entered Northwestern University at 15 and left two years later...
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...
New Yorker Claire Catherine Danes was born in Manhattan, the daughter of Carla (Hall), a day-care provider and artist, and Christopher Danes, a computer consultant and photographer. She has an older brother, Asa. Her paternal grandfather, Gibson Andrew Danes, was a Dean of the Yale School of Art and Architecture. She is of mostly German and British Isles descent...
Lily Tomlin was born September 1, 1939 in Detroit, Michigan, to Lillie Mae (Ford) and Guy Tomlin, who moved to Michigan from Paducah, Kentucky, during the Great Depression. Her mother was a nurse's aide and her father was a factory worker. She graduated from Cass Technical High School in 1957, and later enrolled at Wayne State University...
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...
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,...
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...
Madeline Kahn was born Madeline Gail Wolfson on September 29, 1942 in Boston, Massachusetts, to Freda (Goldberg) and Bernard B. Wolfson, a garment manufacturer. She was of Russian Jewish descent. Madeline began her acting career in high school and went on to university where she trained as an opera singer and starred in several campus productions...
Goldie Jeanne Hawn was born in Washington D.C., to Laura Hawn
(née Steinhoff), a jewelry shop/dance school owner, and Rut Hawn
(Edward Rutledge Hawn), a band musician. She has a sister, Patti Hawn
, and a brother, Edward, who died before she was born. She was raised in the Jewish religion...
A leading lady on screen, stage and sometimes television, Brenda Vaccaro, was born in Brooklyn but was actually raised in Dallas, Texas. Her appetite for acting increased following several appearances in high school productions, and she finally started a professional career in the 1960s. Memorable to many in Supergirl
The very lovely, vivacious and smart-looking Joanna Cassidy was born in Camden, New Jersey, and raised in nearby Haddonfield, a borough located in Camden County. She grew up in a creative environment as the daughter and granddaughter of artists. At an early age she engaged in painting and sculpture and went on to major in art at Syracuse University in New York...
Farrah Fawcett is a true Hollywood success story. A native of Texas, she was the daughter of Pauline Alice (Evans), a homemaker, and James Fawcett
, an oil field contractor. She was a natural athlete, something that her father encouraged, and she attended a high school with a strong arts program. She attended University of Texas in Austin...
Kim Basinger was born December 8, 1953, in Athens, Georgia, the third of five children. Both her parents had been in entertainment, her dad had played big-band jazz, and her mother had performed water ballet in several Esther Williams movies. Kim was introspective, from her father's side. As a schoolgirl...
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...
One cool, eternally classy lady, Candice Bergen was elegantly poised for trendy "ice princess" stardom when she first arrived on the 60s screen, but she gradually reshaped that débutante image in the 70s both on- and off-camera. A staunch, outspoken feminist with a decisive edge, she went on to take a sizable portion of these contradicting qualities to film and, most particularly, to late 80s TV...
Academy Award winner Lee Grant was born Lyova Haskell Rosenthal on October 31, 1926 in Manhattan, New York City, to Witia (Haskell), a teacher and actress, and Abraham Rosenthal, an educator and realtor. Her father was of Romanian Jewish descent, and her mother was a Russian Jewish immigrant. Lee made her stage debut at age 4 at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City...
Actress-comedienne Bea Arthur was born on May 13, 1922 in New York City to a Jewish family. She grew up in Maryland, where her parents ran a dress shop. At 12 years old, she was the tallest girl in her school at 5'9". She earned the title "wittiest" girl in her school, and Bea's dream was to be in show business...
Katharine Juliet Ross was born on January 29, 1940 in Hollywood, California, to Katharine W. (Hall) and Dudley T. Ross. Her father, who also worked for the Associated Press, was away in the US Navy when she was born. His navy career shuttled the family around to Virginia, then Palo Alto, and finally to Walnut Creek...
Elizabeth Montgomery was born into show business. Her parents were screen actor Robert Montgomery
and Broadway actress Elizabeth Allen
. Elizabeth graduated from the Spence School in New York City and attended the Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York. After three years intensive training, she made her...
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...
Teri Garr can claim a career in show business by birthright. She was born in Lakewood, Ohio, the daughter of Eddie Garr
(born Edward Leo Gonnoud), a Broadway stage and film actor, and Phyllis Garr
(née Emma Schmotzer), a dancer. Her maternal grandparents were Austrian, and her father was of Irish descent...
When Ruth Gordon convinced her father, a sea captain, to let her pursue acting she came to New York and studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. She acted in a few silents made at Fort Lee, New Jersey, in 1915. She made her Broadway debut in "Peter Pan" as Nibs the same year. The next 20 years she spent on stage...
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)...
Genevieve Bujold spent her first twelve school years in Montreal's oppressive Hochelaga Convent where opportunities for self-expression were limited to making welcoming speeches for visiting clerics. As a child she felt 'as if I were in a long dark tunnel trying to convince myself that if I could ever get out there was light ahead'...
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...
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...
Rita Moreno has had a thriving acting career for the better part of six decades. One of the very few (and very first) performers to win an Oscar, an Emmy, a Tony and a Grammy, she was born Rosita Dolores Alverío in Humacao, Puerto Rico, on December 11, 1931, to seamstress Rosa María (Marcano) and farmer Francisco José "Paco" Alverío...
Making people laugh is only one facet of Valerie Harper's career, which extends from the stage to television and feature films. A native of Suffern, New York -- "I was born to suffer" -- Harper began her career as a dancer with the corps de ballet at Radio City Hall during its spectacular heyday. She gradually moved into acting...
Show business is in Sharon Gless' blood. Her grandfather, Neil S. McCarthy (May 6, 1888 - July 25, 1972), was considered by many to have been the most respected and powerful entertainment lawyer of Hollywood's Golden Age. His clients included Howard Hughes
, Paramount Pictures, Louis B. Mayer
Multi Grammy Award-winning singer/comedienne/author Bette Midler has also proven herself to be a very capable actress in a string of both dramatic and comedic roles. Midler was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, on December 1, 1945. She is the daughter of Ruth (Schindel), a seamstress, and Fred Midler, a painter...
Margot Kidder was born Margaret Ruth Kidder in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada, to Jocelyn Mary "Jill" (Wilson), a history teacher from British Columbia, and Kendall Kidder, a New Mexico-born mining engineer and explosives expert. Margot was a delightful child who took pride in everything she did...
Actress and singer Ann-Margret is one of the most famous sex symbols and actresses of the 1960s and beyond. She continued her career through the following decades and into the 21st century. Ann-Margret was born Ann-Margret Olsson in Valsjöbyn, Jämtland County, Sweden, to Anna Regina (Aronsson) and Carl Gustav Olsson...
The beat goes on ... and on ... and as strong as ever for this superstar entertainer who has well surpassed the four-decade mark while improbably transforming herself from an artificial, glossy "flashionplate" singer into a serious, Oscar-worthy, dramatic actress ... and back again! With more ups and downs than the 2008 Dow Jones Industrial Average...
Perhaps best known for her trademark curly blond tresses and her faithful appearances at L.A. Lakers basketball games, Dyan Cannon has enjoyed nearly fifty years in the entertainment industry. Born Samille Diane Friesen in Tacoma, Washington, Cannon had early dreams of becoming an actress. She made her screen debut with a small part in the critically acclaimed crime drama The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond
Susan Ker Weld was born on August 27, 1943, in New York City. When her father, Lathrop Motley Weld, died three years later at the age of 49, the cute little girl, whose name by then had somehow been transmogrified into "Tuesday", took over the role of the family breadwinner, which included her mother Yosene Balfour Ker...
Lucy Kate Jackson was born in Birmingham, AL on October 29.1948. She attended the University of Mississippi but left during her sophomore year to begin studying at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. She was supporting cast on Dark Shadows (Daphne, 1970-1971) and on The Rookies (Jill Danko, 1972-1976)...
Mia Farrow was born in Los Angeles, California, to director John Farrow
and actress and Tarzan-girl Maureen O'Sullivan
. Her father was Australian-born (of English descent) and her mother was Irish-born (of Irish, Scottish, and English ancestry). Farrow debuted at the movies in 1959 in very small roles...
Sally Kellerman arrived quite young on the late 1950s film and TV scene with a fresh and distinctively weird, misfit presence. It is this same uniqueness that continues to makes her such an attractively offbeat performer today. The willowy, swan-necked, flaxen-haired actress shot to film comedy fame after toiling nearly a decade and a half in the business...
Discovered by a talent scout at Northwestern University in 1958, Paula Prentiss
was signed by Metro Goldwyn Mayer and teamed with Jim Hutton
in a string of comedies. She rapidly became one of the best American comediennes of the 1960s. Her funny voice inflexions, free acting style and brunette good looks established her as a leading lady in comedies of the screwball type...
Following her success as a top fashion model for the Ford Modeling Agency and Revlon cosmetics, Hutton was selected to play the only major female character in Paper Lion
. After a semi-successful starring role in American Gigolo
, Hutton's modeling career took a slide in the 1980s, and she was relegated to B-movie roles...
The entertainment world has enjoyed a five-decade love affair with comedienne/singer Carol Burnett. A peerless sketch performer and delightful, self-effacing personality who rightfully succeeded Lucille Ball
as the carrot-topped "Queen of Television Comedy," it was Burnett's traumatic childhood that set the stage for her comedy...
Anne Archer was nominated for an Academy Award®, a Golden Globe and the British (BAFTA) Academy Award for her role as Michael Douglas
' sympathetic, tortured wife, "Beth Gallagher", in Adrian Lyne
's 1987 thriller Fatal Attraction
. Archer is also well-known for her poignant Golden Globe-winning performance...
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...
Dolly Rebecca Parton was born on January 19, 1946, one of 12 children of Robert Lee Parton, a tobacco farmer, and Avie Lee Parton (née Owens). Dolly grew up on a run-down farm in Locust Ridge, Tennessee. At 12, she was appearing on Knoxville TV and, at 13, she was already recording on a small label and appearing at the Grand Ole Opry...
Angie Dickinson was born in Kulm, North Dakota, the daughter of Fredericka (Hehr) and Leo Henry Brown, a newspaper editor and publisher of The Kulm Messenger. Her parents were both of German descent, with the family surname originally being "Braun"(which in German is pronounced as brown). The family left North Dakota in 1942...
Versatile, award-winning character actress Eileen Heckart, with the lean, horsey face and assured, fervent gait, was born Anna Eileen Stark on March 29, 1919, in Columbus, Ohio. An only child, she lived with her mother after her parents separated at age 2. Her childhood was an acutely unhappy one. Her mother...
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
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...
A supremely gifted, versatile player who could reach dramatic depths, as exemplified in her weary-eyed, good-hearted waitress in The Last Picture Show
, or comedy heights, as in her sadistic drill captain in Private Benjamin
, Eileen Brennan managed to transition from lovely Broadway singing ingénue to respected film and television character actress within a decade's time...