Some of my favorite actresses from the 1980s

by Pannozzi | created - 5 months ago | updated - 5 months ago | Public

Here's a list of actresses who debuted (or at least first hit it big) as young women in the 1980s. Something about the starlets of this era has always appealed to me.

1. Karen Allen

Actress | Raiders of the Lost Ark

Karen Jane Allen was born in Carrollton, rural southern Illinois, to Patricia (Howell), a teacher, and Carroll Thompson Allen, an FBI agent. She spent her first 10 years traveling around the country with her parents and two sisters. She was always "the new girl in school." Acting did not really ...

Notable work: "Raiders of the Lost Ark"

2. Christina Applegate

Actress | The Sweetest Thing

Christina Applegate was born in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, to record producer/executive Robert William Applegate and singer-actress Nancy Priddy. Her parents split-up shortly after her birth. She has two half-siblings from her father's re-marriage - Alisa (b. 10 October 1977) & Kyle (b. 15...

Notable work: "Married... With Children" (Kelly Bundy)

3. Julie Brown

Actress | Clueless

Julie Brown was born on August 31, 1954 in Van Nuys, California, USA as Julie Ann Brown. She is an actress and producer, known for Clueless (1995), Earth Girls Are Easy (1988) and Medusa: Dare to Be Truthful (1992). She was previously married to Ken Rathjen and Terrence E. McNally.

Notable work: MTV's "Just Say Julie", "Earth Girls Are Easy"

4. Phoebe Cates

Actress | Gremlins

Phoebe Belle Cates was born on July 16, 1963 in New York City, New York, and raised there. She is the daughter of Lily and Joseph Cates, who was a Broadway producer and television pioneer. Her uncle was director/producer Gilbert Cates. Phoebe is of Russian Jewish, and one quarter Chinese, descent. ...

Notable work: "Gremlins" films, "Fast Times at Ridgemont High"

5. Jennifer Connelly

Actress | A Beautiful Mind

Jennifer Connelly was born in the Catskill Mountains, New York, to Ilene (Schuman), a dealer of antiques, and Gerard Connelly, a clothing manufacturer. Her father had Irish and Norwegian ancestry, and her mother was from a Jewish immigrant family. Jennifer grew up in Brooklyn Heights, just across ...

Notable 80s work: "Labyrinth", "Phenomena" Notable post-80s work: "Requiem for a Dream"

6. Barbara Crampton

Actress | You're Next

Barbara Crampton was born on December 27, 1958 in Levittown, New York. Growing up in Vermont, she spent the majority of her childhood summers traveling the country with a roadside carnival that her father worked for. Crampton began acting in school plays in seventh grade and subsequently studied ...

Notable work: "Re-Animator", "From Beyond"

7. Elizabeth Daily

Actress | Pee-wee's Big Adventure

Elizabeth Daily was born on September 11, 1961 in Los Angeles, California, USA as Elizabeth Ann Guttman. She is an actress, known for Pee-wee's Big Adventure (1985), The Powerpuff Girls (1998) and Happy Feet (2006). She was previously married to Rick Salomon.

Notable 80s work: "Better Off Dead", "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure". Notable post-80s work: "Rugrats" (Tommy Pickles), "The Powerpuff Girls" (Buttercup)

8. 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 ...

Notable 80s work: "Mask", "Blue Velvet" Notable post-80s work: "Jurassic Park", "Twin Peaks" (Diane Evans)

9. Diane Franklin

Actress | Better Off Dead...

Diane Franklin is an iconic 80s American film actress, known for her dark curly hair, and dialects. Beginning her acting career at the age of ten, Diane started with modeling, theater, commercials, and soap opera work. She then won the lead role of the dream girl, Karen, in cult classic THE LAST ...

Notable work: "Better Off Dead", "TerrorVision", "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure"

10. Linda Hamilton

Actress | Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Born in Salisbury, Maryland, USA, following high school Linda studied for two years at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland, before moving on to acting studies in New York. In New York she attended acting workshops given by Lee Strasberg. Her first parts were small parts in TV series, with ...

Notable work: "Terminator" films, "Beauty and the Beast" (Catherine Chandler)

11. Mariska Hargitay

Actress | Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

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...

Notable 80s work: "Ghoulies" Notable post-80s work: "Law & Order: SVU" (Olivia Benson)

12. Megumi Hayashibara

Actress | Papurika

Megumi Hayashibara was born on March 30, 1967 in Tokyo, Japan. She is an actress, known for Paprika (2006), Shin Seiki Evangerion (1995) and Pokémon: The First Movie - Mewtwo Strikes Back (1998). She has been married to Amiya Masaharu since April 30, 1998.

Notable 80s work: "Project A-ko" Notable post-80s work: Cowboy Bebop (Faye Valentine), "Neon Genesis Evangelion" (Rei Ayanami)

13. Kelly Hu

Actress | The Scorpion King

On February 13th, 1968, a girl of Chinese, English, and Hawaiian ancestry was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. Her father, Herbert, was a salesman and her mother, Juanita, worked many odd jobs to help support the family. She has one older brother, Glenn. She is a former Miss Teen USA, and modeled in Japan...

Notable 80s work: "Friday the 13 Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan" Notable post-80s work: "X-Men 2", "Young Justice" (Cheshire and Lian), "TMNT" 2012 TV series (Karai)

14. Miki Itô

Actress | Purojekuto A-ko

Miki Itô was born on October 21, 1962 in Tokyo, Japan as Miki Hirano. She is an actress, known for Project A-Ko (1986), Doragon bôru: Ossu! Kaette kita Son Gokû to nakama-tachi!! (2008) and Tasogare Seibei (2002).

Notable 80s work: "Project A-ko" Notable post-80s work: "Dragon Ball" series (Artificial Human #18)

15. Mami Koyama

Actress | Akira

Mami Koyama was born on January 17, 1955 in Aichi, Japan. She is known for her work on Akira (1988), Millennium Actress (2001) and Appleseed (2004). She was previously married to Tôru Furuya.

Notable work: "Dr. Slump" series (Arale Norimaki), "Dragon Ball" series (Lunch)

16. Ashley Laurence

Actress | Hellraiser

Ashley Laurence is an American film and television actress, noted for her appearances in horror films, particularly the "Hellraiser" series.

She grew up in the cultural excitement of Southern California. Encouraged to explore every artistic avenue available to her, she soon found her love for acting...

Notable work: "Hellraiser" films

17. Jenny Lewis

Actress | The Wizard

Jenny Lewis was born on January 8, 1976, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Her acting debut was in a Jell-O commercial. During the mid-1980s, her parents divorced and she moved with her mom, Linda, to Los Angeles, California. In 1999, she gathered a couple of her friends, Blake Soper, Pierre de Reeder, and ...

Notable work: "The Wizard"

18. Mary Stuart Masterson

Actress | Benny & Joon

Mary Stuart Masterson started acting before the age of ten, when she appeared in The Stepford Wives (1975) in 1975 with her father. Afterwards, at the direction of her parents, Mary Stuart led a life outside of the limelight, attending school in New York. She appeared in a few productions at New ...

Notable pre-80s work: "The Stepford Wives" Notable 80s work: "Some Kind of Wonderful"

19. Linnea Quigley

Actress | The Return of the Living Dead

Barbara Linnea Quigley was born in Davenport, Iowa, on May 27, 1958 to Heath and Dorothy Quigley. Her Mother was a housewife and her Father a noted Chiropractor and psychologist. After moving with her family to Los Angeles in the late 1970s, the short, petite Linnea began working at a Jack Lalanne ...

Notable work: "Return of the Living Dead", "Silent Night, Deadly Night", "Night of the Demons"

20. Molly Ringwald

Actress | Sixteen Candles

Molly Ringwald was born in Roseville, California, to Adele Edith (Frembd), a chef, and Robert Ringwald, a blind jazz pianist. Her ancestry includes German, English, and Swedish. She released an album at the age of 6 entitled, "I Wanna Be Loved By You, Molly Sings". She is the youngest daughter of ...

Notable work: "Sixteen Candles", "The Breakfast Club", "Pretty in Pick"

21. Katey Sagal

Actress | Futurama

An extremely gifted and versatile performer adept at both comedy and drama, actress/singer Katey Sagal became a household name in the late 1980s as the fabulously brazen, undomesticated Peg Bundy on the enduring Fox series Married with Children (1986). During its lengthy run, she received three ...

Notable 80s work: "Married... With Children" (Peg Bundy) Notable post-80s work: "Futurama" (Turanga Leela)

22. Wendy Schaal

Actress | Innerspace

Wendy Schaal was born on July 2, 1954 in Chicago, Illinois, USA as Wendy K. Schaal. She is known for her work on Innerspace (1987), The 'Burbs (1989) and *batteries not included (1987). She was previously married to Stephen M. Schwartz.

Notable 80s work: "The Burbs", "Innerspace" Notable post-80s work: "American Dad" (Francine Smith)

23. Ally Sheedy

Actress | The Breakfast Club

Ally Sheedy was born in New York City, to Charlotte (Baum), a press agent and writer, and John J. Sheedy, Jr., an advertising executive. She is of Russian Jewish (mother) and Irish (father) descent.

While at New York's Bank Street School, 12-year-old Ally Sheedy wrote about a mythical encounter ...

Notable work: "The Breakfast Club", "Short Circuit", "WarGames"

24. Brooke Shields

Actress | The Blue Lagoon

"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,...

Notable pre-80s work: "Alice Sweet Alice", "Pretty Baby" Notable 80s work: "The Blue Lagoon", "Brenda Starr" Notable post-80s work: "Suddenly Susan" (Susan Keane)

25. Emi Shinohara

Actress | Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust

Emi Shinohara was born on August 8, 1963 in Nagano, Japan as Emiko Shinohara. She is an actress, known for Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust (2000), Ninja Scroll (1993) and Perfect Blue (1997).

Notable 80s work: "Project A-ko" Notable post-80s work: "Perfect Blue"

26. Elisabeth Shue

Actress | Leaving Las Vegas

Elisabeth Shue was born in Wilmington, Delaware, to Anne Brewster (Wells), who worked for the Chemical Banking Corporation, and James William Shue, a lawyer and real estate developer. She is of German and English ancestry, including descent from Mayflower passengers. Shue's parents divorced while ...

Notable work: "Adventures in Babysitting", "The Karate Kid", "Back to the Future: Parts 2 & 3"

27. Catherine Mary Stewart

Actress | The Last Starfighter

Catherine Mary Stewart's career has spanned more than 30 years and over 50 different productions, from film to television to theater, in England, Canada and the United States. She was living in London studying dance, acting and singing when she was cast in her first professional acting role as the ...

Notable work: "Weekend at Bernie's", "The Last Starfighter", "Night of the Comet"

28. Kristy Swanson

Actress | Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Kristy Swanson was born on December 19, 1969 in Mission Viejo, California, USA as Kristen Noel Swanson. She is an actress and producer, known for Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992), Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986) and Flowers in the Attic (1987). She has been married to Lloyd Eisler since February 7, ...

Notable 80s work: "Ferris Bueller's Day Off", "Deadly Friend" Notable post-80s work: "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (the 1992 movie), "Dude, Where's My Car?"

29. Lea Thompson

Actress | Back to the Future

Lea Katherine Thompson was born on May 31, 1961, in Rochester, Minnesota. She is the youngest of five children. Her parents are Barbara Anne (Barry) and Clifford Elwin "Cliff" Thompson. Since all her siblings were much older than she, Lea says it seemed like she had more than two parents. The ...

Notable 80s work: "Back to the Future" films, "Some Kind of Wonderful", "Howard the Duck" Notable post-80s work: "Caroline in the City" (Caroline Duffy)

30. Lauren Tom

Actress | Futurama

Lauren Tom is an Obie Award-winning actress, known for her roles as a dutiful daughter in the film The Joy Luck Club (1993), and a recurring role as Ross's girlfriend on NBC's Friends (1994).

Lauren plays the role of "Mai Washington" on the new ABC series Men in Trees (2006). She recently appeared ...

Notable 80s work: "Nothing Lasts Forever", "Wall Street" Notable post-80s work: "Futurama" (Amy Wong, Inez Wong, etc.)

31. Michie Tomizawa

Actress | Kyûketsuki hantâ D

Michie Tomizawa was born on October 20, 1961 in Nagano, Japan. She is an actress, known for Vampire Hunter D (1985), Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon (1992) and Sailor Moon R: The Movie: The Promise of the Rose (1993).

Notable 80s work: "Project A-ko" Notable post-80s work: "Sailor Moon" series (Rei Hino/Sailor Mars)

32. Hiromi Tsuru

Actress | Trigun

Hiromi Tsuru was born on March 29, 1960 in Chitose, Hokkaidô, Japan. She was an actress, known for Trigun (1998), Dragon Ball Z: Doragon bôru Z - Fukkatsu no 'F' (2015) and Dragon Ball (1986). She was married to Keiichi Nanba. She died on November 16, 2017 in Chûô-ku, Tokyo, Japan.

Notable work: "Dragon Ball" series (Bulma) R.I.P., Tsuru-san.

33. Nadine Van der Velde

Producer | The Fresh Beat Band

Lovely and charming brunette actress Nadine Van der Velde was born on May 14, 1962 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She made her film debut in a small role in the raunchy teen sex comedy Private School (1983). Nadine gave a lively and engaging performance as the spunky "April Brown" in the delightful ...

Notable work: "Critters", "Munchies"

34. Jenny Wright

Actress | Near Dark

The talented, unpredictable, opinionated, and uniquely beautiful Jenny Wright was born March 23, 1962 in New York City. Her father was an artist and her mother was a teacher. They instilled a love of the arts and a strong devotion to self education in Jenny at an early age. Her parents later ...

Notable work: "Pink Floyd's The Wall", "Near Dark"

35. Robin Wright

Actress | Forrest Gump

Robin Gayle Wright was born in Dallas, Texas, to Gayle (Gaston), a national director at Mary Kay, and Freddie Wright, a pharmaceutical executive. She grew up in San Diego, California. She started her professional career as a model in 1980 at age 14, and worked both in Paris and Japan. After ...

Notable 80s work: "The Princess Bride" Notable post-80s work: "Forrest Gump", "House of Cards" (Claire Underwood)

36. Amanda Wyss

Actress | The Id

Amanda Wyss was born and raised in Manhattan Beach, California. Discovered by an agent who saw her portray Flora, in the "The Innocents" and Rhoda, in "The Bad Seed" at local LA theaters. As a teenager, she appeared in many commercials and landed her first television roles on the science fiction ...

Notable work: "A Nightmare on Elm Street", "Better Off Dead"

37. Daphne Zuniga

Actress | Spaceballs

Zuniga was born in San Francisco, California to Agnes A. Zuniga (née Janawicz) and Joaquin Alberto Zuniga Mazariegos. Her mother is a Unitarian minister, of Polish and Finnish descent, and her father, originally from Guatemala, was an emeritus professor of philosophy at California State University,...

Notable work: "Spaceballs", "The Fly 2"



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