Most Phenomenal Actresses of All Time!

These are the most incredible, beautiful people on the big screen. Most are VERY under-appreciated in my book.
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1.
Angela Bassett
Captivating, gifted, and sensational, Angela Bassett's presence has been felt in theaters, stages, and television screens throughout the world. Angela Evelyn Bassett was born on August 16, 1958 in New York City, to Betty Jane (Gilbert), a social worker, and Daniel Benjamin Bassett, a preacher's son...
 
2.
Whitney Houston
Actress, The Bodyguard
Whitney Elizabeth Houston was born into a musical family on 9 August 1963, in Newark, New Jersey, the daughter of gospel star Cissy Houston, cousin of singing star Dionne Warwick and goddaughter of soul legend Aretha Franklin. She began singing in the choir at her church, The New Hope Baptist Church in Newark...
 
3.
Cate Blanchett
Cate Blanchett was born on May 14, 1969 in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, to June (Gamble), an Australian teacher and property developer, and Robert DeWitt Blanchett, Jr., an American advertising executive, originally from Texas. She has an older brother and a younger sister. When she was ten years old...
 
4.
Elizabeth Mitchell
Actress, Frequency
Elizabeth Mitchell was born in Los Angeles in 1970. Shortly after her birth, her parents moved to Dallas, Texas. She was graduated from Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts located in the Arts District of downtown Dallas. Later, she earned a BFA degree in acting from Stephens College and also studied at the British American Drama Academy...
 
5.
Regina King
Actress, Ray
Regina King was born in Los Angeles, California, to Gloria, a special education teacher, and Thomas King, an electrician. She began her career in the television show 227, followed by a role in Boyz n the Hood. She began to be recognized by a mainstream audience after her role as Cuba Gooding Jr.'s character's wife in Jerry Maguire...
 
6.
Jessica Lange
Actress, Big Fish
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...
 
7.
Michelle Pfeiffer
Actress, Scarface
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...
 
8.
Sandra Bullock
Actress, Gravity
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...
 
9.
Julianna Margulies
Actress, The Good Wife
Julianne Margulies was born on June 8, 1966 in Spring Valley (near New York City), as the youngest of three daughters of Francesca (Goldberg), a teacher and dancer in American Ballet, and Paul Margulies, an advertising writer and philosopher. She is of Ashkenazi Jewish heritage (from Romania, Austria...
 
10.
Brooke Shields
"Want to know what comes between me and my Calvins? Nothing". If you have not heard of Brooke Shields before, this tagline from her Calvin Klein Jeans ad had to grab your attention. Not that she has not had a previously noteworthy resume. She was born on May 31, 1965 in New York City and, at age 12...
 
11.
Alex Kingston
Actress, ER
 
12.
Jennifer Lawrence
Academy Award-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence is best known for playing Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games, Tiffany Maxwell in Silver Linings Playbook, and Rosalyn Rosenfeld in American Hustle. Jennifer Shrader Lawrence was born on August 15, 1990 in Louisville, Kentucky, to Karen (Koch), who manages a children's camp...
 
13.
Virginia Madsen
Actress, Sideways
One of the hottest stars of the mid-1980s, Virginia Madsen has since played a variety of roles that have cemented her reputation as a fantastic actress who can adapt to any part. Virginia was born in Chicago, Illinois, and belongs to an acting family -- with her brother, Michael Madsen, also an actor...
 
14.
Kate Winslet
Actress, Titanic
Ask Kate Winslet what she likes about any of her characters, and the word "ballsy" is bound to pop up at least once. The British actress has made a point of eschewing straightforward pretty-girl parts in favor of more devilish damsels; as a result, she's built an eclectic resume that runs the gamut from Shakespearean tragedy to modern-day mysticism and erotica...
 
15.
Lucille Ball
Actress, I Love Lucy
The woman who will always be remembered as the crazy, accident-prone, lovable Lucy Ricardo was born Lucille Desiree Ball on August 6, 1911 in Jamestown, New York. Her father died before she was four, and her mother worked several jobs, so she and her younger brother were raised by their grandparents...
 
16.
Lena Headey
Actress, 300
Lena Headey is a British actress. She was born in Bermuda to parents from Yorkshire, England, where she was raised. She is the daughter John Headey, a police officer, and his wife Sue. Headey is best known for her role as "Cersei Lannister" in Game of Thrones (2011-present) and The Brothers Grimm, Possession...
 
17.
Betty White
Betty White was born in Oak Park, Illinois, to Christine Tess (Cachikis), a homemaker, and Horace Logan White, a lighting company executive. She is of Danish, Greek, English, and Welsh descent. Although best known as the devious Sue Ann Nivens on the classic sitcom Mary Tyler Moore and the ditzy Rose Nylund on The Golden Girls...
 
19.
Sarah Paulson
Sarah Paulson was born on December 17, 1974 in Tampa, Florida, to Catharine Gordon (Dolcater) and Douglas Lyle Paulson II. She spent most of her early years in New York and Maine, before settling in Manhattan to attend the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and the High School for Performing Arts. Although...
 
20.
Rhona Mitra
Actress, Shooter
Mitra was born in Paddington, London, England, the daughter of Nora Downey and Anthony Mitra, a cosmetic surgeon. She has an older and a younger brother. Her father is of Bengali Indian and English descent, and her mother is Irish. In 1984, when Mitra was eight, her parents divorced, and she was sent to boarding school...
 
21.
Beyoncé Knowles
Beyoncé was born in Houston, Texas. Her father, Mathew Knowles, manages Destiny's Child. Her mother, Tina Knowles (née Celestine Ann Beyincé), designs their glittering costumes. Solange Knowles, her sister (they're about 5 years apart), has released her debut album. She dances with her big sister during DC-3 concerts. Beyoncé is of African-American and Creole descent...
 
22.
Dolly Parton
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...
 
23.
Gabrielle Union
Actress, Bad Boys II
Gabrielle Union was born on October 29, 1972, in Omaha, Nebraska, to Theresa (Glass), who managed a phone company, and Sylvester E. Union, a military sergeant and business executive. At the age of 8, her family moved to Pleasanton, California, where she grew up and attended high school. In high school...
 
24.
Kate Beckinsale
Actress, Underworld
Kate Beckinsale was born on 26 July 1973 in England, and has resided in London for most of her life. Her mother is Judy Loe, who has appeared in a number of British dramas and sitcoms and continues to work as an actress, predominantly in British television productions. Her father was Richard Beckinsale...
 
25.
Melissa McCarthy
Actress, Gilmore Girls
Melissa McCarthy was born in Plainfield, Illinois, to Sandra and Michael McCarthy, a farmer. McCarthy began her performing career as a stand-up comedian in New York where she appeared at the famous clubs, Stand Up New York and The Improv. She worked on her acting skills at The Actors Studio and appeared in many stage productions in the city before moving to Los Angeles in the late-1990s...
 
26.
Nicole Beharie
Actress, Shame
Nicole Beharie is an American actress. Her critically acclaimed film debut was in the film American Violet (2008) alongside Alfre Woodard, Tim Blake Nelson and Will Patton. Beharie also played Ernie Davis' girlfriend in the movie The Express (2008). Her upcoming projects include My Last Day Without You (2011) and Steve McQueen's Shame (2011) opposite Michael Fassbender...
 
27.
Angelina Jolie
Actress, Maleficent
Angelina Jolie is an Oscar-winning actress who became popular after playing the title role in the "Lara Croft" blockbuster movies, as well as Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Wanted, Salt and Maleficent. Off-screen, Jolie has become prominently involved in international charity projects, especially those involving refugees...
 
28.
Catherine Zeta-Jones
Actress, Chicago
Catherine Zeta-Jones was born September 25, 1969 in Swansea, West Glamorgan, Wales, UK. She is the daughter of Patricia (Fair) and David James "Dai" Jones, who formerly owned a candy factory. Her father is of Welsh descent and her mother is of English, Irish, and Welsh ancestry. Her brothers are David Jones (born 1967)...
 
30.
 
31.
Minnie Driver
Amelia Fiona J. Driver was born January 31, 1970 in Finsbury Park, London. Her mother, Gaynor Churchward, was a designer and former couture model and her father, Charles Ronald "Ronnie" Driver, was a businessman. She has a sister, Kate Driver, who is a model and a producer. Minnie's mother was her father's mistress...
 
32.
Queen Latifah
Actress, Living Single
Often considered hip-hop's first lady (though some would attribute that to Roxanne Shanté), the woman behind the moniker Queen Latifah was born Dana Owens on March 18th, 1970, in East Orange, New Jersey. She is the daughter of Rita (Bray), a teacher, and Lancelot Owens, Sr. She came from a police family--both her father and older brother were cops...
 
33.
Emily Blunt
Actress, Sicario
Emily Olivia Leah Blunt is a British actress known for her roles in The Young Victoria and The Devil Wears Prada. Blunt was born on February 23, 1983, in Roehampton, South West London, England, the second of four children in the family of Joanna Mackie, a former actress and teacher, and Oliver Simon Peter Blunt...
 
34.
Dana Delany
Actress, China Beach
Dana Welles Delany was born on March 13, 1956, in New York City and raised in Stamford, Connecticut. Dana knew early in life that she wanted to be an actress. Following graduation from Wesleyan University, this tall (5'7") beauty moved to New York and developed her skills working in daytime television and theater...
 
35.
Carla Gugino
Carla Gugino was born in Sarasota, Florida, to Carl Gugino, an orthodontist. She is of Italian (father) and English-Irish (mother) ancestry. Gugino moved with her mother to Paradise, California, when Carla was just five years old. During her childhood, they moved many times within the state. But she remained a straight-A student throughout high school and graduated as valedictorian...
 
36.
Keke Palmer
Actress, Grease Live!
Keke Palmer was born Lauren Keyana Palmer in Robbins, Illinois--a small town 20 miles south of Chicago-- to Sharon and Larry Palmer, both former actors. Palmer showed vocal promise as a five-year-old, when she belted out "Jesus Loves Me" in her church choir. A year later the singer-actress had a solo in her kindergarten play but...
 
37.
Jennifer Lopez
Actress, Out of Sight
Jennifer Lynn Lopez was born in the Castle Hill section of the South Bronx on July 24, 1969. She is the middle of three musically-inclined sisters, Leslie Lopez, a homemaker, and Lynda Lopez (aka Lynda Lopez), a DJ on New York's WKTU, a VH1 VJ, and a morning news show correspondent on New York's Channel 11...
 
38.
Charlize Theron
Charlize Theron was born in Benoni, a city in the greater Johannesburg-area, in South Africa, the only child of Gerda Theron (née Gerda Jacoba Aletta Maritz) and Charles Jacobus Theron. She was raised on a farm outside the city. Theron is of Afrikaner (Dutch, with some French Huguenot and German) descent, and Afrikaner military figure Danie Theron was her great-great-uncle...
 
39.
Jennifer Garner
Jennifer Garner, who catapulted into stardom with her lead role on the television series Alias, has come a long way from her birthplace of Houston, Texas. Raised in Charleston, West Virginia by her mother, Patricia Ann (née English), a retired teacher of English, and her father, William John Garner...
 
41.
Sally Field
Actress, Forrest Gump
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...
 
42.
Alfre Woodard
Actress, Primal Fear
Alfre Woodard was born on November 8, 1952 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the youngest of three children of Constance, a homemaker, and Marion H. Woodard, an interior designer. She was named by her godmother, who claimed she saw a vision of Alfre's name written out in gold letters. A former high school cheerleader and track star...
 
43.
Ashley Judd
Actress, Divergent
American actress and political activist Ashley Judd was born Ashley Tyler Ciminella on April 19, 1968, in Granada Hills, California. She grew up in a family of successful performing artists as the daughter of country music singer Naomi Judd and the sister of Wynonna Judd. While she is best known for an ongoing acting career spanning more than two decades...
 
44.
Garcelle Beauvais
Garcelle was born in Haiti. Her mother, Marie-Claire, was a teacher who moved Garcelle and her six older children to Massachusetts after a divorce from her father, Axel, four years prior. At age 16, the family moved again to Miami. At 17, Garcelle pursued a modeling career in New York. She got a break on Aaron Spelling's TV show...
 
46.
Idina Menzel
Actress, Frozen
 
47.
Zooey Deschanel
Actress, Elf
Zooey Deschanel was born in 1980 into a showbiz family. Her father, Caleb Deschanel, is an Academy Award-nominated cinematographer (perhaps most notably for The Passion of the Christ) and her mother, Mary Jo Deschanel (née Weir), is an actress who appeared in Twin Peaks. Her paternal grandfather was French, and her other roots include English, German, Scottish, Irish, and Dutch...
 
48.
Nia Long
Stunning pop culture icon, Hollywood leading lady and three-time NAACP award winner Nia Long returns to the big screen this fall in the highly anticipated Universal Pictures sequel The best man holiday (in theaters November 15th) where she reunites with original castmates Taye Diggs ("Private Practice")...
 
49.
Rue McClanahan
A veteran television actress and Broadway star of the 50s, Rue McClanahan was born Eddi-Rue McClanahan in Healdton, Oklahoma, to Dreda Rheua-Nell (Medaris), a beautician, and William Edwin McClanahan, a building contractor. She was noticed by television executive Norman Lear. Lear cast her in a number of television shows...
 
50.
Geena Davis
Actress, Beetlejuice
Geena Davis was born January 21, 1956 in Wareham, Massachusetts, to Lucille (née Cook; 1919-2001), a teacher's assistant, and William F. Davis (1913-2009), a church deacon and civil engineer. Her parents, originally from small towns in Vermont, were both from families with deep roots in New England. Her brother, Danforth, is a geotechnical engineer in Las Vegas...
 
51.
Estelle Getty
She was truly one mother of a mom...on stage, on film and on TV. A favorite firecracker on 80s and 90s television, tiny character player Estelle Getty became best known for her carping, meddlesome moms -- complete with bemused, cynical looks, irreverent digs and dead-pan Henny Youngman-like one-liners...
 
52.
Jessica Biel
Jessica Biel, with her good looks and talent, has become one of Hollywood's most sought-out actresses. She was born in Ely, Minnesota, to Kimberly (Conroe) and Jonathan Edward Biel, who is a business consultant and GM worker. She is of German, French, English, Irish, and some Choctaw ancestry. Biel was raised in Boulder...
 
53.
Naomie Harris
Actress, Skyfall
British actress Naomie Harris was born in London, the only child of television scriptwriter Lisselle Kayla. Her father is from Jamaica and her mother is from Trinidad. She showed an interest in acting from an early age and attended the prestigious Anna Scher Theatre School. From here, Harris won roles in various projects...
 
54.
Catherine Bell
Actress, JAG
Catherine was born in London, but moved to California with her Iranian mother at age 2. Her mother still acts as her personal assistant. As a child, she acted in various TV adverts. She went to UCLA to study biology, but dropped out to become a model in Japan. She moved back into acting with a Mexican...
 
55.
Keri Russell
Keri Russell was born in Fountain Valley, California, to Stephanie (Stephens) and David Harold Russell, an executive at Nissan Motors. She began her career on the Mickey Mouse Club in 1991. She stayed with the show until 1993. After leaving The All New Mickey Mouse Club (where she, along with her castmates recorded an album...
 
56.
Mary Steenburgen
Mary Steenburgen is an Academy Award-winning American actress. She was born February 8, 1953, in Newport, Arkansas, USA. Her mother, Nellie May (Wall) Steenburgen, was a school-board secretary, and her father, Maurice H. Steenburgen, was a freight-train conductor. Her surname comes from distant Dutch ancestry, and her roots also include English, Scottish, and Welsh...
 
57.
Cher
Actress, Mask
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...
 
58.
Nicole Randall Johnson
Actress, MADtv
Born in Los Angeles, California and raised in Portland, Oregon and Phoenix, Arizona, Nicole Randall Johnson trained in the B.F.A. Acting/Directing program at University of Arizona in Tucson. Nicole later moved to Los Angeles where, after 3-years of sketch & improvisation training at the renowned Groundlings School & Theatre, she became a performer and writer for the Groundlings Sunday Company...
 
59.
Helen Mirren
Actress, The Queen
Dame Helen Mirren was born in Queen Charlotte's Hospital in West London. Her mother, Kathleen Alexandrina Eva Matilda (Rogers), was from a working-class English family, and her father, Vasiliy Petrovich Mironov, was a Russian-born civil servant, from Kuryanovo, whose own father was a diplomat. Mirren attended St...
 
60.
Jada Pinkett Smith
Actress, Collateral
Jada Koren Pinkett Smith was born in Baltimore, Maryland, to Robsol Grant Pinkett, Jr., a contractor, and Adrienne Banfield-Jones, a nurse. They divorced after only a few months of marriage. Her father is of African-American descent and her mother is of Afro-Caribbean ancestry (from Barbados and Jamaica). Jada majored in dance and choreography at the Baltimore School for the Arts...
 
61.
Mariska Hargitay
Mariska (Ma-rish-ka) Magdolna Hargitay was born on January 23, 1964, in Santa Monica, California. Her parents are Mickey Hargitay and Jayne Mansfield. She is the youngest of their three children. In June 1967, Mariska and her brothers Zoltan and Mickey Jr. were in the back seat of a car when it was involved in the fatal accident which killed her mother...
 
62.
Valerie Bertinelli
Valerie Bertinelli was born in Wilmington, Delaware. Her father was a General Motors executive. In her early teens, her father was transferred to a GM assembly plant in the Detroit, Michigan area and her family resided in Clarkston, Michigan where she attended Clarkston Middle School. A short time later...