Most Beautiful Classic Actresses

by thelindacody | created - 24 Apr 2015 | updated - 25 Apr 2015 | Public

Alphabetically.

1. Anita Ekberg

Actress | La dolce vita

Kerstin Anita Marianne Ekberg was born on September 29, 1931 in Malmo, Sweden. Growing up with seven brothers and sisters was not an adventure, but Anita's adventure began when she was elected Miss Sweden in 1950. She did not win the Miss Universe contest but she got a modeling contract in the ...

2. Ann Sheridan

Actress | Kings Row

Ann Sheridan won the "Search for Beauty" contest which carried with it a Paramount screen test. Signed to a contract at 18, she was put into a number of small roles under her real name of Clara Lou Sheridan. As she got better, her name was changed to Ann. In 1936, after two dozen films, she went to...

3. Audrey Hepburn

Actress | Breakfast at Tiffany's

Audrey Hepburn was born on May 4, 1929 in Ixelles, Brussels, Belgium. She was a blue-blood and a cosmopolitan from birth. Her mother, Baroness Ella Van Heemstra, was of a Dutch descent, and her father, Joseph Victor Anthony Hepburn-Ruston, was born in Úzice, Bohemia, and of an English and Austrian ...

4. Ava Gardner

Actress | The Night of the Iguana

Ava Lavina Gardner was born on December 24, 1922 in Grabtown, North Carolina, to Mary Elizabeth (née Baker) and Jonas Bailey Gardner. Born on a tobacco farm, where she got her lifelong love of earthy language and going barefoot, Ava grew up in the rural South. At age 18, her picture in the window ...

5. Barbara Stanwyck

Actress | Double Indemnity

Today Barbara Stanwyck is remembered primarily as the matriarch of the family known as the Barkleys on the TV western The Big Valley (1965), wherein she played Victoria, and from the hit drama The Colbys (1985). But she was known to millions of other fans for her movie career, which spanned the ...

6. Betty Grable

Actress | I Wake Up Screaming

Elizabeth Ruth Grable was born on December 18, 1916 in St. Louis, Missouri, to Lillian Rose (Hofmann) and John Charles Grable, a stockbroker. She had German, English, Irish, and Dutch ancestry. Her mother was a stubborn and materialistic woman who was determined to make her daughter a star. ...

7. Brenda Marshall

Actress | The Sea Hawk

Brenda wanted to be a film actress, all right; it's just that she didn't want to be Brenda Marshall. Throughout her years in Hollywood, she insisted that her friends and coworkers address her not by her studio-fabricated cognomen, but by her given name of Ardis Ankerson (with the addition of the ...

8. Brigitte Bardot

Actress | Le mépris

Brigitte Bardot was born on September 28, 1934 in Paris, France. Her father had an engineering degree and worked with his father in the family business. Brigitte's mother encouraged her daughter to take up music and dance, and she proved to be very adept at it. By the time she was 15, Brigitte was ...

9. Carole Landis

Actress | I Wake Up Screaming

Carole Landis was born on New Year's Day in 1919 in Fairchild, Wisconsin, as Frances Lillian Mary Ridste. Her father, a railroad mechanic, was of Norwegian descent and her mother was Polish. Her father walked out, leaving Carole, her mother and an older brother and sister to fend for themselves.

...

10. Carole Lombard

Actress | My Man Godfrey

Carole Lombard was born Jane Alice Peters in Fort Wayne, Indiana, on October 6, 1908. Her parents divorced in 1916 and her mother took the family on a trip out West. While there they decided to settle down in the Los Angeles area. After being spotted playing baseball in the street with the ...

11. Debra Paget

Actress | The Ten Commandments

An acting career was always in the cards for Debra Paget (nee Debralee Griffin) and her siblings, coming from a show biz family and being the offspring of a "stage mother" anxious to get her kids into the movies. Paget's sister Teala Loring got her movie breaks in the 1940s, Lisa Gaye was a film ...

12. Donna Douglas

Actress | The Beverly Hillbillies

An honest-to-goodness Southern Belle, similar to her most famous character role, "Elly May Clampett" on The Beverly Hillbillies (1962), Donna Douglas grew up in the Baton Rouge, Louisiana area, loving "critters". She got married soon after high school, had a son, divorced and won a couple of beauty...

13. Doris Day

Soundtrack | Love Me or Leave Me

One of America's most prolific actresses was born Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff on April 3, 1922, in Cincinnati, Ohio, to Alma Sophia (Welz), a housewife, and William Joseph Kappelhoff, a music teacher and choir master. Her grandparents were all German immigrants. She had two brothers, Richard, who ...

14. 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 ...

15. Esther Williams

Actress | Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Esther Jane Williams was born on August 8, 1921 in Inglewood, California. Her youth was spent as a teenage swimming champion and she won three United States National championships. She eventually was spotted by a MGM talent scout while working in a Los Angeles department store. She made her film ...

16. Eunice Gayson

Actress | Dr. No

Eunice Gayson was an English actress best known for playing Sylvia Trench, James Bond's girlfriend in the first two Bond films (Dr. No and From Russia with Love). Originally, Gayson was to be cast as Miss Moneypenny, but that part went to Lois Maxwell instead.

Gayson was originally to have been a ...

17. Eva Gabor

Actress | The Rescuers

Eva Gabor was born on February 11, 1919 in Budapest, Hungary, to Jolie Gabor (née Janka Tilleman) and Vilmos Gabor (born Farkas Miklós Grün), a soldier. Her older siblings were Magda Gabor, an actress, and Zsa Zsa Gabor, an actress and socialite. Her parents were both from Jewish families. She went...

18. Eve Arden

Actress | Our Miss Brooks

Eve was born just north of San Francisco in Mill Valley and was interested in show business from an early age. At 16, she made her stage debut after quitting school to joined a stock company. After appearing in minor roles in two films under her real name, Eunice Quedens, she found that the stage ...

19. Frances Farmer

Actress | Son of Fury: The Story of Benjamin Blake

Born in Seattle, Frances Farmer studied drama at the University of Washington, Seattle. In 1935, she went to Hollywood where she secured a seven-year contract with Paramount. In 1943, she was wrongfully declared mentally incompetent and committed by her parents to a series of asylums and public ...

20. Gene Tierney

Actress | Laura

With prominent cheekbones and the most appealing overbite of her day, her striking good looks helped propel her to stardom. Her best known role is the enigmatic murder victim in Laura (1944). She was also Oscar-nominated for Leave Her to Heaven (1945). Her acting performances were few in the 1950s ...

21. Ginger Rogers

Actress | The Major and the Minor

Ginger Rogers was born Virginia Katherine McMath in Independence, Missouri on July 16, 1911. Her mother, known as Lelee, went to Independence to have Ginger away from her husband. She had a baby earlier in their marriage and he allowed the doctor to use forceps and the baby died. She was kidnapped ...

22. Grace Kelly

Actress | Rear Window

On November 12, 1929, Grace Patricia Kelly was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to wealthy parents. Her girlhood was uneventful for the most part, but one of the things she desired was to become an actress which she had decided on at an early age. After her high school graduation in 1947, Grace ...

23. Greer Garson

Actress | Mrs. Miniver

Eileen Evelyn Greer Garson was born on September 29, 1904 in London, England, to Nancy Sophia (Greer) and George Garson, a commercial clerk. She was of Scottish and Ulster-Scots descent. Her childhood was a normal if not non-descript life. Greer showed no early signs of interest in becoming an ...

24. 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 ...

25. Hedy Lamarr

Actress | Samson and Delilah

Hedy Lamarr, the woman many critics and fans alike regard as the most beautiful ever to appear in films, was born Hedwig Eva Kiesler in Vienna, Austria. She was the daughter of Gertrud (Lichtwitz), from Budapest, and Emil Kiesler, a banker from Lember (now known as Lviv). Her parents were both from...

26. 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 ...

27. Jane Greer

Actress | Out of the Past

As a baby, she was winning beauty contests; as a teenager, with good looks and an attractive contralto voice, she was singing with big bands (most notably Enric Madriguera's orchestra in Latin Club Del Rio in Washington, D.C.. She met Rudy Vallee, her first husband, on the radio where she also ...

28. Jane Russell

Actress | Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

Ernestine Jane Geraldine Russell was born on June 21, 1921 in Bemidji, Minnesota. Her father was a United States Army lieutenant and her mother had been a student of drama and an actress with a traveling troupe. Once Mr. Russell was mustered out of the service, the family took up residence in ...

29. Jane Wyman

Actress | Falcon Crest

Jane Wyman was born Sarah Jane Mayfield on January 5, 1917, in St. Joseph, Missouri (she was also known later as Sarah Jane Fulks). When she was only eight years old, and after her parents filed for divorce, she lost her father prematurely. After graduating high school she attempted, with the help ...

30. Janet Leigh

Actress | Psycho

Janet Leigh was the only child of a couple who often moved from town to town. Living in apartments, Janet was a bright child who skipped several grades and finished high school when she was 15. A lonely child, she would spend much of her time at movie theaters. She was a student, studying music and...

31. Jayne Mansfield

Actress | The Girl Can't Help It

One of the leading sex symbols of the 1950s and 1960s, film actress Jayne Mansfield was born Vera Jayne Palmer on April 19, 1933 in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, to Vera J. and Herbert W. Palmer. Her parents were well-to-do, with her father a successful attorney in Phillipburg, New Jersey, where Jayne ...

32. Jean Harlow

Actress | Libeled Lady

Harlean Carpenter, who later became Jean Harlow, was born in Kansas City, Missouri, on March 3, 1911. She was the daughter of a successful dentist and his wife. In 1927, at the age of 16, she ran away from home to marry a young businessman named Charles McGrew, who was 23. The couple pulled up ...

33. Jeanne Crain

Actress | State Fair

Jeanne Crain was born in Barstow, California, on May 25, 1925. The daughter of a high school English teacher and his wife, Jeanne was moved to Los Angeles not long after her birth after her father got another teaching position in that city. While in junior high school, Jeanne played the lead in a ...

34. Joan Fontaine

Actress | Rebecca

Born Joan de Beauvoir de Havilland on October 22, 1917, in Tokyo, Japan, in what was known as the International Settlement. Her father was a British patent attorney with a lucrative practice in Japan, but due to Joan and older sister Olivia de Havilland's recurring ailments the family moved to ...

35. Joanne Woodward

Actress | Rachel, Rachel

Joanne Gignilliat Trimmier Woodward was born on February 27, 1930, in Thomasville, Georgia, to Wade Woodward and Elinor Gignilliat Trimmier Woodward in a modest household. Her one older brother, Wade Jr., who was the favorite of her father, eventually became an architect. Elinor Woodward was a ...

36. Judy Garland

Actress | The Wizard of Oz

One of the brightest, most tragic movie stars of Hollywood's Golden Era, Judy Garland was a much-loved character whose warmth and spirit, along with her rich and exuberant voice, kept theatre-goers entertained with an array of delightful musicals.

She was born Frances Ethel Gumm on 10 June 1922 in ...

37. June Allyson

Actress | Executive Suite

American leading lady whose sweet smile and sunny disposition made her the prototypical girl-next-door of American movies of the 1940s. Raised in semi-poverty in Bronx neighborhoods by her divorced mother, Allyson (nee Ella Geisman) was injured in a fall at age eight and spent four years confined ...

38. June Havoc

Actress | Gentleman's Agreement

Musical theater devotees will undoubtedly know that the song "Let Me Entertain You" was from the classic musical "Gypsy", the born-in-a-trunk story of resilient kid troopers Gypsy Rose Lee and June Havoc who were mercilessly pushed into vaudeville careers by an unbearably headstrong mother. While ...

39. Kim Novak

Actress | Vertigo

Kim Novak was born in Chicago, Illinois on February 13, 1933 with the birth name of Marilyn Pauline Novak. She was the daughter of Joseph Novak, a former teacher turned transit clerk and his wife, Blanche Kral Novak, also a former teacher. Throughout elementary and high school, Kim did not get ...

40. Lana Turner

Actress | Peyton Place

Lana Turner had an acting ability that belied the "Sweater Girl" image MGM thrust upon her, and even many of her directors admitted that they knew she was capable of greatness (check out The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)). Unfortunately, her private life sometimes overshadowed her professional ...

41. 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...

42. 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 ...

43. Mamie Van Doren

Actress | The Navy vs. the Night Monsters

Mamie Van Doren was born on February 6, 1931 in Rowena, South Dakota, USA as Joan Lucille Olander. She is an actress, known for The Navy vs. the Night Monsters (1966), Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women (1968) and Teacher's Pet (1958). She has been married to Thomas Dixon since June 26, 1979...

44. Maureen O'Hara

Actress | The Quiet Man

In America, the early performing arts accomplishments of young Maureen FitzSimons (who we know as Maureen O'Hara) would definitely have put her in the child prodigy category. However, for a child of Irish heritage surrounded by gifted parents and family, these were very natural traits. Maureen made...

45. Maureen O'Sullivan

Actress | Hannah and Her Sisters

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 ...

46. Olivia de Havilland

Actress | The Heiress

Olivia Mary de Havilland was born July 1, 1916, in Tokyo, Japan, to British parents Lilian Augusta (Ruse), a former actress, and Walter Augustus de Havilland, an English professor and patent attorney. Her sister, Joan, later to become famous as Joan Fontaine, was born the following year. Her ...

47. Rhonda Fleming

Actress | Out of the Past

A native-born Californian, Rhonda Fleming attended Beverly Hills public and private schools. Her father was Harold Cheverton Louis (1896-1951). Her mother, Effie Olivia Graham (1891-1985), was a famous model and actress in New York. She has a son (Kent Lane), two granddaughters (Kimberly and Kelly)...

48. Rita Hayworth

Actress | Gilda

Rita Hayworth was born Margarita Carmen Cansino on October 17, 1918, in Brooklyn, New York, into a family of dancers. Her father, Eduardo Cansino Reina, was a dancer as was his father before him. He emigrated from Spain in 1913. Rita's American mother, Volga Margaret (Hayworth), who was of mostly ...

49. 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 ...

50. Terry Moore

Actress | Come Back, Little Sheba

Born Helen Luella Koford on January 7, 1929, the Los Angeles, California, native worked as a model before she made her film debut at age 11 in 20th Century-Fox's Maryland (1940). Throughout the 1940s she worked under a variety of names (her own, Judy Ford and January Ford) before settling on Terry ...

51. Tippi Hedren

Actress | The Birds

Tippi Hedren was born Nathalie Kay Hedren in New Ulm, Minnesota, to Dorothea Henrietta (Eckhardt) and Bernard Carl Hedren, who ran a general store. Her father was of Swedish descent and her mother was of German and Norwegian ancestry. Tippi was working as a New York fashion model when she married ...

52. Ursula Andress

Actress | Dr. No

The quintessential jet-set Euro starlet, Ursula Andress was born in the Swiss canton of Berne on March 19, 1936, one of six children in a strict German Protestant family. Although often seeming icily aloof, a restless streak early demonstrated itself in her personality, and she had an impetuous ...

53. Veronica Lake

Actress | Sullivan's Travels

Veronica Lake was born as Constance Frances Marie Ockleman on November 14, 1922, in Brooklyn, New York. She was the daughter of Constance Charlotta (Trimble) and Harry Eugene Ockelman, who worked for an oil company as a ship employee. Her father was of half German and half Irish descent, and her ...

54. Vivien Leigh

Actress | A Streetcar Named Desire

If a film were made of the life of Vivien Leigh, it would open in India just before World War I, where a successful British businessman could live like a prince. In the mountains above Calcutta, a little princess is born. Because of the outbreak of World War I, she is six years old the first time ...

55. Zena Marshall

Actress | Dr. No

Striking, dark-haired beauty Zena Moyra Marshall was born of French (from her mother's side) and English/Irish (her father's) ancestry in Narobi, Kenya. After the early death of her father, her mother remarried and moved the family to Leicestershire. Zena received her education from St Mary's Roman...

56. Vera Miles

Actress | The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

Born in Boise City, Oklahoma, Vera Miles attended school in Pratt, Kansas and Wichita, Kansas. The patrician beauty of Miss Miles won her the title of "Miss Kansas" in 1948, leading soon to small roles in Hollywood films and television series. Fame came to the forthright, spirited Miles when she ...



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