20 (basically) Forgotten Actresses Who Are Terrific

Sort of alphabetical order.
View:
Log in to copy items to your own lists.
1.
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 has finally got her own movie collection from TCM. ” - Bernadette_P
 
2.
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...
“ She is wonderful opposite Tyrone Power in I'll Never Forget You. The movie is also known as The House in the Square. It's a time travel movie with a twist ending. It is available in a double DVD set with Luck of the Irish. ” - Bernadette_P
 
3.
Ina Balin
Brooklyn-native actress Ina Balin (née Rosenberg) was born on November 12, 1937, into a Jewish family of entertainers. Her father, Sam Rosenberg, was a dancer/singer/comedian who worked the Borscht Belt. He later quit show business to join his family's furrier business. Her mother was a Hungarian-born professional dancer who escaped a troubled family life by marrying at age 15...
“ She co-stars with Paul Newman in From the Terrace. ” - Bernadette_P
 
4.
Joanna Barnes
Actress, Spartacus
Joanna Barnes is an American actress and novelist and journalist. Barnes was born in Boston, Massachusetts. She moved to Los Angeles, California soon after finishing her education, and took up a contract with Columbia Pictures. She has since had roles in more than twenty films and made guest appearances on many television shows...
“ She was on the seminal western TV series Maverick 5 times. She also played in both of the Parent Trap movies. Also a distinguished author and journalist. ” - Bernadette_P
 
5.
Barbara Britton
Radiant to a tee, well-coiffed and well-dressed Barbara Britton looked like she stepped out of a magazine when she entered into our homes daily as the 'Revlon Girl' on 50s and 60s TV. She sparkled with the best of them and managed to capture that "perfect wife/perfect mother" image with, well, perfect poise and perfect grace...
“ She packed two lifetimes into her 60 years. She was beautiful but not threatening. She was in the sparkling and zany comedy The Fabulous Suzanne and later became well known for live Revlon commercials on The 64,000 Question. Her beauty and lustrous personality never dimmed. ” - Bernadette_P
 
6.
Constance Bennett
Actress, Topper
Independent, outspoken Constance Bennett, the first of the Bennett sisters to enter films, appeared in New York-produced silents before a chance meeting with Samuel Goldwyn led to her Hollywood debut in Cytherea. She abandoned a burgeoning career in silents for marriage to Philip Plant in 1925; after they divorced...
“ She was terrific opposite Cary Grant in Topper. She also scheduled shows for GI's at the end of World War II and participated in The Berlin Airlift (1948-49). She was known for controversy. Sister of Joan Bennett. ” - Bernadette_P
 
7.
Peggy Dow
Actress, Harvey
This Universal-International player had the beauty, brains and talent to go the distance, only to surprise herself by choosing marriage and family over her career. Now remembered more for her charitable work than her Hollywood roles, pretty and wholesome blonde Peggy Dow was christened Peggy Josephine Varnadow on March 18...
“ A supremely gifted actress, she entered movies at a low ebb in the late 1940's and acted until the early 50's. She was on her way to real stardom when she got tired of having to bring her own clothes to the studio to wear in films. She met an oilman from Oklahoma, married him and became noted for her philanthropic works in Tulsa. ” - Bernadette_P
 
8.
Ellen Drew
Talented Missouri-born Ellen Drew was born Esther Loretta Ray in 1915, the daughter of an Irish barber. She worked various jobs (accountant, salesgirl) to support her family until her fresh-faced good looks and high-wattage smile earned her a couple of beauty pageant trophies. Encouraged to try her luck in Hollywood...
“ She was sparkling onscreen and was in some A-list movies. Somehow she ended up in mostly "B" movies. But, no matter what role she played she commanded the screen. ” - Bernadette_P
 
9.
Anne Francis
Anne Francis got into show business quite early in life. She was born Ann Marvak on September 16, 1930 in Ossining, New York (which is near Sing Sing prison), the only child of Phillip Marvak, a businessman/salesman, and the former Edith Francis. A natural little beauty, she became a John Robert Powers model at age 6(!) and swiftly moved into radio soap work and television in New York...
“ An extremely beautiful and capable actress. Why she never became a top star is unknown. She had her own popular TV series called "Honey West" in the mid-60's and was memorable with her sometimes sly and coy delivery of dialogue. ” - Bernadette_P
 
10.
Diana Hyland
Diana Hyland, a striking, knowing beauty with a confident air about her, was born Diane Gentner on January 25, 1936, in Ohio and appeared on stage in summer stock, as a teen, before graduating from Cleveland Heights High School. Moving to New York in 1955 to test her acting mettle, the slim-faced,...
“ She seemed to guest in all the top TV shows. She was very attractive, but did not look like a typical star. She met John Travolta on the set of Boy in the Plastic Bubble. Though she was older Travolta fell deeply in love with her. She passed away with Travolta by her side. It is said he never got over her death. ” - Bernadette_P
 
11.
Marjorie Lord
Poised and lovely Marjorie Lord started her long and varied career on the Broadway stage and in "B" films as a sweet-natured ingénue. Lord was born Marjorie F. Wollenberg in 1918 in San Francisco, California, to Lillian Rosalie (Edgar) and George Charles Wollenberg. Her family transported themselves to New York City when she was fifteen...
“ Early in the 1940's she was a bubbly and lovely ingenue. Later she became more well known as Danny Thomas's wife in his TV comedy Make Room for Daddy aka The Danny Thomas Show. As of today, Miss Lord is now 94 years old. ” - Bernadette_P
 
12.
Diane McBain
Signed on as a Warner Brothers starlet, bouncy, blonde-coiffed Diane McBain would develop a burgeoning career as lively 60s "bad girl" and "spoiled rich girl" types on film and TV. Born in Cleveland, Ohio on May 18, 1941, the family moved to California while still young and she started things off as a "sweet 16" model in print and commercial ads...
“ One of the most beautiful actresses of the early 1960's she came along at a time when movies wanted actresses who looked more like ordinary women. The same for actors. Had she arrived in the 1940's she would have been a star or if she had arrived in 2012 she would have been cast in A-list movies. Timing is everything, unfortunately. ” - Bernadette_P
 
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...
“ The beautiful and talented singer is said to have been wasted at Paramount. She did freelance acting. She is the woman around whom Dressed to Kill revolves. She plays a sultry baddie in the film. But her fame came when she was discovered by Cole Porter at a party where she sang (she was a guest). Immediately Cole Porter knew he had the star for his new Broadway play Kiss Me Kate. She went on to Broadway stardom in the role. As of today she is 98 years old. ” - Bernadette_P
 
14.
Maureen O'Sullivan
Maureen Paula O'Sullivan was born on May 17, 1911 in County Roscommon, Ireland, to Evangeline "Mary Eva" Lovatt (Frazer) and Charles Joseph O'Sullivan, an officer in the Connaught Rangers. She was of Irish, English, and Scottish descent. The future mother of Mia Farrow was educated in private Catholic girls schools in London...
“ She was in A-list movies like The Thin Man (1934) all the way to Hannah and Her Sisters(1986).She was the wife of Director John Farrow and is the mother of Mia Farrow. She is probably best remembered as Tarzan's Jane. An unprepossessing woman off-screen, she nevertheless was a talented actress and played many memorable roles. ” - Bernadette_P
 
15.
Marjorie Reynolds
Bright, vivacious Marjorie Reynolds (née Marjorie Goodspeed) was born in Idaho on August 12, 1917 to a doctor and homemaker, and raised in Los Angeles. Making her film debut at age 6, she "retired" after only a few years in favor of a normal education. She returned in the mid-30s, as a teenager this time...
“ A very sweet and appealing actress, she is the female lead in the classic Holiday Inn. But not a great deal happened for her until she became Peg Riley, the calm and capable wife, opposite William Bendix on the classic TV show "The Life of Riley." ” - Bernadette_P
 
16.
Barbara Rush
Actress, Peyton Place
The epitome of poise, charm, style and grace, beautiful brunette Barbara Rush was born in Denver, Colorado in 1927 and enrolled at the University of California before working with the University Players and taking acting classes at the Pasadena Playhouse. It didn't take long for talent scouts to spot her and...
“ An appealing personality onscreen as well as being a beauty and having a distinctive way of delivering lines. She was capable of crying on cue; considered an asset to directors. She played in a number of science fiction movies of the 1950's and then spent many years doing good roles in TV series and made-for-TV movies. ” - Bernadette_P
 
17.
Gail Russell
An angelically beautiful leading lady with a demure and melancholy screen persona which reflected a deeper sadness in her real life. She was born Elizabeth Russell in Chicago, Illinois, the second child of George and Gladys (Barnet) Russell. She was painfully, almost disabling shy as a child. When she was a teenager, her family moved to Los Angeles...
“ She was a dark-skinned, beautiful young brunette when she debuted in the now-classic movie The Uninvited(1944). The movie is on many people's favorites list. She had a wistful, almost "golly-gee" way of delivering lines but could approach intensity at times. Her eyes were hauntingly beautiful. She was painfully shy and this led her to alcoholism. She died of the disease at a rather young age. ” - Bernadette_P
 
18.
Jan Sterling
Actress, Guiding Light
One of Hollywood's more talented and watchable stars on screen was sullen, strikingly stick-thin 50s actress Jan Sterling who didn't quite reach the top echelon of stardom but certainly ensured audiences of a real good time with her sexy pout and flashy style in soaps, film noir and saucy comedy. Jan was born Jane Sterling Adriance in Manhattan in 1921 to a well-to-do family...
“ A very fine actress who appeared in some intense roles. Later, she appeared to have a slight disfigurement to her face which made her even more interesting. ” - Bernadette_P
 
19.
Diane Varsi
Actress, Compulsion
This lovely, long-haired, fresh-faced and most promising product of the late 1950s was born Diane Marie Antonia Varsi in San Mateo, California, on February 23, 1938, the elder of two daughters of Russell Varsi, a florist, and wife Beatrice DeMerchant. A troubling childhood led to her dropping out of high school...
“ Because of her enormous ability to act, she was almost an immediate star. But, she voiced her disenchantment with life in Hollywood and summarily picked up and moved to Vermont. Big mistake. Later she tried to come back to Hollywood but pretty much got the cold shoulder and never again approached stardom. ” - Bernadette_P
 
20.
Dana Wynter
The daughter of a noted surgeon, Dana Wynter was born Dagmar Winter in Berlin, Germany, and grew up in England. When she was 16 her father went to Morocco to operate on a woman who wouldn't allow anyone else to attend her; he visited friends in Southern Rhodesia, fell in love with it and brought his daughter and her stepmother to live with him there...
“ As you can see in her photo she was a perfectly beautiful young Englishwoman. Besides the classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers, she also was extremely good as a Wren Officer in D-Day the Sixth of June. But, her most touching role was as an innocent who had gotten caught up in World War II in Germany and had lost everything. Her character struggles greatly. As a native of Germany, this role, no doubt, was important to her. ” - Bernadette_P