The best actresses ever

by ehrlich-jonathan | created - 14 Jun 2011 | updated - 01 Jul 2011 | Public

1. Meryl Streep

Actress | Out of Africa

Considered by many critics to be the greatest living actress, Meryl Streep has been nominated for the Academy Award an astonishing 21 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 ...

2. Elizabeth Taylor

Actress | Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor was considered one of the last, if not the last, major star to have come out of the old Hollywood studio system. She was known internationally for her beauty, especially for her violet eyes, with which she captured audiences early on in her youth and kept the world hooked ...

3. Ellen Burstyn

Actress | Requiem for a Dream

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 ...

4. Angela Lansbury

Actress | The Manchurian Candidate

British character actress, long in the United States. The daughter of an actress and the granddaughter of a high-ranking politician, Lansbury studied acting from her youth, departing for the United States as the Second World War began. She was contracted by MGM while still a teenager and nominated ...

5. Imelda Staunton

Actress | Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Imelda Staunton was born on January 9, 1956 in Archway, London, England as Imelda Mary Philomena Bernadette Staunton. She is an actress, known for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007), Pride (2014) and Shakespeare in Love (1998). She has been married to Jim Carter since October 1983. ...

6. Marcia Gay Harden

Actress | Mystic River

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 theatre when the family was...

7. Cate Blanchett

Actress | Carol

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 ...

8. Glenn Close

Actress | Fatal Attraction

Six time Academy Award-nominated actress Glenn Close was born and raised in Greenwich, Connecticut. She is the daughter of Bettine (Moore) and William Taliaferro Close (William Close), a prominent doctor. Both of her parents were from upper-class northeastern families.

Glenn was often seen on ...

9. Faye Dunaway

Actress | Network

One of the great models who transitioned successfully into acting, Faye Dunaway was one of the hottest actresses of the 1970s, playing neurotic, highly-driven, and intelligent women with sex appeal, who matched her male powerful contemporaries. Her most notable roles include Bonnie and Clyde (1967)...

10. Maggie Smith

Actress | Gosford Park

One of the world's most famous and distinguished actresses, Dame Maggie Smith was born Margaret Natalie Smith in Essex. Her Scottish mother, Margaret (Hutton), worked as a secretary, and her English father, Nathaniel Smith, was a teacher at Oxford University. Smith has been married twice: to actor ...

11. Dianne Wiest

Actress | Hannah and Her Sisters

One of three children (she has two brothers, Greg and Don), Dianne Wiest was born in Kansas City, Missouri, USA. Her mother, Anne Stewart (Keddie), was a nurse from Auchtermuchty, Scotland, and her father, Bernard John Wiest, was a college dean and social worker who was born in Pennsylvania, of ...

12. Emma Thompson

Actress | Sense and Sensibility

Emma Thompson was born in London on April 15, 1959, into a family of actors - her father was Eric Thompson, who has passed away, and her mother, Phyllida Law, has co-starred with Thompson in several films (her sister, Sophie Thompson, is an actor as well). Her father was English-born and her mother...

13. Liv Ullmann

Actress | Ansikte mot ansikte

Liv Ullmann's father was a Norwegian engineer who used to work abroad, so as a child she lived in Tokyo, Canada, New York and Oslo. In the mid-'50s she made her stage debut and in 1957 made her film debut. She really became successful, however, when she began to work for Swedish director Ingmar ...

14. Brenda Blethyn

Actress | Pride & Prejudice

After twenty years of hard work on stage and both television and film, there are not many other actresses who deserved the success, recognition and stardom which Brenda Blethyn has now achieved.

Born in 1946 in Ramsgate, Kent, England, she started her career at British Rail in the 1960s. Saving ...

15. Katharine Hepburn

Actress | The Lion in Winter

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 ...

16. Shirley MacLaine

Actress | Terms of Endearment

Shirley MacLaine was born Shirley MacLean Beaty in Richmond, Virginia. Her mother, Kathlyn Corinne (MacLean), was a drama teacher from Nova Scotia, Canada, and her father, Ira Owens Beaty, a professor of psychology and real estate agent, was from Virginia. Her brother, Warren Beatty, was born on ...

17. Ingrid Bergman

Actress | Notorious

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 ...

18. 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...

19. Judi Dench

Actress | Skyfall

Dame Judi Dench was born Judith Olivia Dench in York, England, to Eleanora Olive (Jones), who was from Dublin, Ireland, and Reginald Arthur Dench, a doctor from Dorset, England. She attended Mount School in York, and studied at the Central School of Speech and Drama. She has performed with the ...

20. Sissy Spacek

Actress | In the Bedroom

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.

...

21. Frances McDormand

Actress | Fargo

Frances Louise McDormand was born on June 23, 1957 in Gibson City, Illinois. She was adopted by Canadian-born parents, Noreen Eloise (Nickleson), a nurse from Ontario, and The Rev. Vernon Weir McDormand, a Disciples of Christ minister from Nova Scotia, who raised her in the suburbs of Pittsburgh. ...

22. Mia Farrow

Actress | Rosemary's Baby

Mia Farrow is the daughter of the director John Farrow and the actress and Tarzan-girl Maureen O'Sullivan. She debuted at the movies in 1959 in very small roles. She was noticed for the first time in the film Rosemary's Baby (1968) by Roman Polanski. She showed her talent also on TV and at the ...

23. Barbra Streisand

Soundtrack | Funny Girl

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,...

24. Jessica Tandy

Actress | Driving Miss Daisy

A beloved, twinkly blue-eyed doyenne of stage and screen, actress Jessica Tandy's career spanned nearly six and a half decades. In that span of time, she enjoyed an amazing film renaissance at age 80, something unheard of in a town that worships youth and nubile beauty. She was born Jessie Alice ...

25. Helena Bonham Carter

Actress | Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Helena Bonham Carter is an actress of great versatility, one of the UK's finest and most successful.

Bonham Carter was born May 26, 1966 in Golders Green, London, England, the youngest of three children of Elena (née Propper de Callejón), a psychotherapist, and Raymond Bonham Carter, a merchant ...

26. Susan Sarandon

Actress | Thelma & Louise

Susan Sarandon was born Susan Abigail Tomalin in New York City, NY, to Lenora Marie (Criscione), no profession, and Phillip Leslie Tomalin, an advertising executive. She is of Italian (mother) and English, Irish, Welsh, and German (father) descent.

It was shortly after the 1968 Democratic convention...

27. Miranda Richardson

Actress | The Crying Game

Miranda Richardson was born in Southport, Lancashire, England on March 3, 1958, to Marian Georgina (Townsend) and William Alan Richardson, a marketing executive. She has one sister, eight years her senior. Her parents and sister are not involved in the performing arts. At an early age she performed...

28. Bette Davis

Actress | All About Eve

Ruth Elizabeth Davis was born April 5, 1908, in Lowell, Massachusetts, to Ruth Augusta (Favor) and Harlow Morrell Davis, a patent attorney. Her parents divorced when she was 10. She and her sister were raised by their mother. Her early interest was dance. To Bette, dancers led a glamorous life, but...

29. Lauren Bacall

Actress | To Have and Have Not

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...

30. Helen Mirren

Actress | RED

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. ...

31. Holly Hunter

Actress | Thirteen

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...

32. Julianne Moore

Actress | The Kids Are All Right

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 ...

33. Winona Ryder

Actress | Little Women

Winona Ryder was born Winona Laura Horowitz in Olmsted County, Minnesota, and was named after a nearby town, Winona, Minnesota. She is the daughter of Cynthia (Istas), an author and video producer, and Michael Horowitz, a publisher and bookseller. Her father's family is Russian Jewish and Romanian ...

34. Laura Linney

Actress | The Big C

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 ...

35. Catherine Deneuve

Actress | 8 femmes

Catherine Deneuve was born October 1943 in Paris, France. Her parents were actors. She made her movie debut in 1957, when she was barely a teenager and continued with small parts in minor films, until Roger Vadim gave her a meatier role in Le vice et la vertu (1963). But her breakthrough came with ...

36. Anjelica Huston

Actress | The Witches

Anjelica Huston was born on July 8, 1951 in Santa Monica, California, to prima ballerina Enrica "Ricki" (Soma) and director and actor John Huston. Her mother, who was from New York, was of Italian descent, and her father had English, Scottish, and Scots-Irish ancestry. Huston spent most of her ...

37. Annette Bening

Actress | American Beauty

Annette Carol 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 is of German and British Isles ancestry. Her family moved to California when she was young, and she ...

38. Sophia Loren

Actress | La ciociara

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 ...

39. Julie Christie

Actress | Doctor Zhivago

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 ...

40. Patricia Clarkson

Actress | The Green Mile

This remarkable, one-of-a-kind actress has, since the early 1990s, intrigued film and TV audiences with her glowing, yet careworn eccentricity and old world-styled glamour. Very much in demand these days as a character player, Patricia Clarkson nevertheless continues to avoid the temptation of ...

41. Greta Garbo

Actress | Ninotchka

Greta Garbo was born Greta Lovisa Gustafsson on September 18, 1905, in Stockholm, Sweden, to Anna Lovisa (Johansdotter), who worked at a jam factory, and Karl Alfred Gustafsson, a laborer. She was fourteen when her father died, which left the family destitute. Greta was forced to leave school and ...

42. Deborah Kerr

Actress | The King and I

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 ...

43. Nicole Kidman

Actress | Moulin Rouge!

Elegant blonde Nicole Kidman, known as one of Hollywood's top Australian imports, was actually born in Honolulu, Hawaii, while her Australian parents were there on educational visas.

Kidman is the daughter of Janelle Ann (Glenny), a nursing instructor, and Antony David Kidman, a biochemist and ...

44. Hilary Swank

Actress | Boys Don't Cry

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 ...

45. Viola Davis

Actress | Fences

Actress Viola Davis was born on her grandmother's farm, at the then-Singleton Plantation in St. Matthews, South Carolina. When she was two months old her family moved to Central Falls, Rhode Island, where her father, Dan Davis, worked as a horse groomer and trainer. Her mother, Mary Alice (Logan), ...

46. Kathy Bates

Actress | Misery

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...

47. Goldie Hawn

Actress | The First Wives Club

Goldie Jeanne Hawn was born on November 21, 1945 in Washington D.C. to Laura Hawn (née Steinhoff), a jewelry shop/dance school owner, and Rut Hawn, a band musician. She has a sister, Patti Hawn, and a brother, Edward, who died in infancy before her birth. She was raised in the Jewish religion. Her ...

48. Marthe Keller

Actress | Marathon Man

Marthe Keller was born on January 28, 1945 in Basel, Switzerland. She studied ballet as a child but stopped after a skiing accident at age 16. She changed to acting, and worked in Berlin at the Schiller Theatre and the Berliner Ensemble.

Keller's earliest film appearances were in Funeral in Berlin (...

49. Angela Bassett

Actress | Strange Days

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...

50. Laura Dern

Actress | Jurassic Park

Laura Dern was born on February 10, 1967 in Los Angeles, the daughter of actors Bruce Dern and Diane Ladd. Dern was exposed to movie sets and the movie industry from infancy, and obtained several bit parts as a child. Her parents divorced when Dern was two and Dern lost contact with her father for ...