Following our Top 100 all time actors post, this article is about the 100 most important actresses that made an impact on the Movie industry, Hollywood and to movie fans all around the world. It starts with a list of the best actresses from a financial perspective, followed by the top 50 actresses of all times, and then by decades from the 80’s to the 50’s. Enjoy!
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Top 10 Actresses at the Box Office
The first section is about the top 10 actresses that made the most money with their films for both themselves and the studios.
- Keira Knightley
- Natalie Portman
- Monica Bellucci
- Bonnie Hunt
- Cameron Diaz
- Annie Potts
- Liv Tyler
- Julie Andrews
- Lindsay Lohan
- Catherine Zeta-Jones
Keira Knightley is a popular British actress as well as model best known for playing alongside Johnny Depp in the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels.
Natalie Portman is an American actress which first came to fame in 1994 in the classic Luc Besson’s film Léon the professional. She then became even more known when cast in a key role in the Star Wars sequels.
Monica Bellucci is an Italian actress married to actor Vincent Cassel and best known for her roles in the controversial Scorsese movie The Passion of the Christ, as well as the blockbusters sequel Matrix.
Bonnie Lynne Hunt is well known American television host as well as actress known to be the voice behind key characters in the animated hits Monsters Inc. and Toy Story 3.
Cameron Diaz is a very well known American actress and former model, which first appeared in 1990 in the movies The Mask. She later became famous for her parts in huge blockbusters including There’s Something About Mary, Being John Malkovich, Vanilla Sky, and Gangs of New York.
Annie Potts is an American television and film actress well known for her roles in Ghostbusters, Pretty in Pink, and Jumpin’ Jack Flash, as well as a leading role on CBS sitcom Designing Women.
Liv Tyler is an American model, actress as well as the daughter of Aerosmith’s lead singer, Steven Tyler. She is best known for her roles in Empire Records (1995), Heavy (1996) and That Thing You Do! (1996), the Abbotts (1997) and Cookie’s Fortune (1999).
Julia Andrews is a British theatre and film actress best known for her roles in musical films including Mary Poppins (1964) and The Sound of Music (1965): the roles for which she is still best-known.
Lindsay Lohan is an American actress, pop singer and model who became famous in Disney’s 1998 remake of The Parent Trap and later in such films as Freaky Friday, Mean Girls and Herbie: Fully Loaded as well as Robert Altman’s A Prairie Home Companion and Emilio Estevez’s Bobby.
Catherine Zeta-Jones is a Welsh actress who came famous in Hollywood playing in movies such as the Mask of Zorro and the Entrapment and in the 2000 film Traffic, for which she earned her first Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
Top 50 Actresses of all time
Our second list consists of the best 50 actresses as compiled by different user generated lists. It doesn’t include the actresses already in other lists. Most of the actresses are figures known from the 90’s and 2000s decades.
- Katherine Hepburn (Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner)
- Meryl Streep (Sophie’s Choice)
- Ingrid Bergman (Gaslight)
- Grace Kelly (The Country Girl)
- Bette Davis (All About Eve)
- Barbara Stanwyck (Ball of Fire)
- Audrey Hepburn (Roman Holiday)
- Olivia De Havilland (The Heiress)
- Diane Keaton (Annie Hall)
- Joan Fontaine (Suspicion)
- Greer Garson (Mrs. Miniver)
- Faye Dunaway (Network)
- Susan Hayward (I Want to Live)
- Elizabeth Taylor (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf)
- Ava Gardner (The Night Of The Iguana)
- Ellen Burstyn (Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore)
- Vivien Leigh (Gone With the Wind)
- Jane Wyman (Johnny Belinda)
- Sophie Loren (Two Women)
- Jodie Foster (Silence of the Lambs)
- Shirley MacLaine (Terms of Endearment)
- Joan Crawford (Sudden Fear)
- Emma Thompson (Howard’s End)
- Julia Roberts (Erin Brokovich)
- Jennifer Jones (The Song Of Bernadette)
- Kathy Bates (Misery)
- Judy Garland (A Star Is Born)
- Marilyn Monroe (Some Like It Hot)
- Sally Field (Norma Rae)
- Deborah Kerr (The King and I)
- Susan Sarandon (Thelma and Louise)
- Sissy Spacek (Carrie)
- Louise Rainer (The Good Earth)
- Greta Garbo (Camille)
- Glenn Close (Fatal Attraction)
- Doris Day (Pillow Talk)
- Natalie Wood (Rebel Without a Cause)
- Jane Fonda (Coming Home)
- Holly Hunter (The Piano)
- Hillary Swank (Boys Don’t Cry)
- Claudette Colbert (It Happened One Night)
- Diane Lane (Unfaithful)
- Jessica Lange (Blue Sky)
- Gloria Swanson (Sunset Boulevard)
- Lauren Bacall (Key Largo)
- Frances McDormand (Fargo)
- Nicole Kidman (Moulian Rouge)
- Norma Shearer (The Divorcee)
- Bette Midler (Beaches)
- Uma Thurman(Kill Bill)
Katharine Hepburn was an American actress of film who won an Academy Award for Morning Glory and later known for her role Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.
Mary Streep is one of the most acclaimed American actresses known for her roles in The Deer Hunter (1978), Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) and her performance in Sophie’s Choice (1982) which got her the Academy Award for Best Actress.
Ingrid Bergman is perhaps the most renown Swedish actress who starred in a variety of European and American films which won her many various awards including three Academy Awards. Listed as the fourth greatest female star of American cinema of all time by the American Film Institute, she is best remembered for her roles as Ilsa Lund in Casablanca (1942), Hitchcock thriller Notorious (1946) and Gaslight.
Grace Kelly was an acclaimed American actress as well as the Princess consort of Monaco. She is ranked #13 in the American Film Institute top female list and is best remembered for her role in The Country Girl.
Bette Davis was an American actress remembered for her performances in a range of film genres including great commercial successes such as All About Eve.
Barbara Stanwyck was an American actress ranked by the American Film Institute as the eleventh greatest female star of all time and mostly remembered for her role in Ball of Fire.
Audrey Hepburn was a British actress ranked as the third greatest female by the American Film Institute. This legend in the history of American cinema played in various hits including Roman Holiday.
Olivia De Havilland
Olivia de Havilland is a British and American film actress who won the Academy Award for Best Actress both in 1946 and 1949, and remember for her performance in The Heiress.
Diane Keaton is an American film actress best known for her impersonation of Annie Hall which won her the Academy Award for Best Actress, as well as other Woody Allen movies. She is also remembered as Kay Adams-Corleone in the Coppola classic, The Godfather (1972).
Joan Fontaine is a British American actress who won an Academy Award for her performance in Hitchcock classic film Suspicion.
Greer Garson was a British-born actress very popular during World War II, who won numerous Academy Award nominations and winning the Best Actress award for Mrs. Miniver (1942).
Faye Dunaway (Network)
Faye Dunaway is well known American actress acclaimed for her performance in Bonnie and Clyde (1967) and Chinatown (1974) and Network (1976) for which she won an Academy Award for Best Actress.
Susan Hayward was an American actress best remembered for her performance in the Story of a Woman (1947) and her portrayal of death row inmate Barbara Graham in I Want to Live! (1958).
Elizabeth Taylor was a British-American actress and one of the world’s most famous film stars, remembered for her roles in Terfield 8 (1960), Cleopatra (1963) and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966).
Ava Gardner was an American actress who is best remembered for her performance in The Killers (1946), Mogambo (1953), The Night of the Iguana (1964), Earthquake (1974) and The Cassandra Crossing (1976).
Ellen Burstyn is an American actress who achieved recognition for her roles in The Last Picture Show (1971) , The Exorcist (1973) and acclaimed Martin Scorsese’s film Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1973) for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress.
Vivien Leigh was an English actress who won two Best Actress Academy Awards for playing Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind (1939) and Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951).
Jane Wyman was an American actress who received an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in Johnny Belinda (1948) and later achieved success during the 1980s for her leading role in the television series Falcon Crest.
Sophie Loren is a well known Italian actress who won more than 50 international awards and celebrated for her roles in Houseboat (1958), El Cid (1961), Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (1963), Marriage Italian Style (1964), A Special Day (1977), Courage (1986) and in American blockbusters such as Grumpier Old Men (1995) and Nine (2009).
Jodie Foster is an American actress best remembered for playing an FBI trainee in Silence of the Lambs. Her other popular films include Maverick (1994), Contact (1997), Panic Room (2002), Flightplan (2005), Inside Man (2006), The Brave One (2007) and Nim’s Island (2008).
Shirley MacLaine is an American actress who won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in Terms of Endearment.
Joan Crawford was an American film actress best known for her appearance in Sudden Fear.
Emma Thompson is a British actress nominated as Best Actress for The Remains of the Day and as Best Supporting Actress for In the Name of the Father.
Julia Fiona Roberts is an American actress who became famous in Hollywood in the 1990′s playing a prostitute in the romantic comedy Pretty Woman. She then won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 2001 for her performance in Erin Brokovich.
Jennifer Jones was an American actress who won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in The Song of Bernadette (1943).
Kathleen Bates is an American actress best remembered for her performance in Misery (1990), for which she won both the Academy Award for Best Actress and a Golden Globe.
Judy Garland was an American actress who obtained international stardom playing in various musical and dramatic roles including A Star Is Born.
Marilyn Monroe is perhaps one of the best known American icons remembered in films such as Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), How to Marry a Millionaire (1953), The Seven Year Itch (1955) and Some Like It Hot (1959).
Sally Field is an American actress remembered in her roles in Smokey and the Bandit (1977) and Norma Rae (1979) and later in Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) and Forrest Gump.
Deborah Kerr was a Scottish-born film actress who was awarded the Academy Honorary Award. She played in many notorious films including The King and I, An Affair to Remember, From Here to Eternity, Quo Vadis, The Innocents, Black Narcissus, Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp and Separate Tables.
Susan Sarandon is an American actress who won the Academy Award for Best Actress in the film Dead Man Walking (1995) as well as remembered for her performance in Thelma and Louise.
Sissy Spacek is an American actress and singer who won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role as country star Loretta Lynn and also known for her roles as Carrie White in Brian De Palma’s 1976 horror film Carrie.
Louise Rainer is a former German film actress who became the first woman to win two Academy Awards, and the first person to win them consecutively. She is best remembered for her role in The Good Earth.
Greta Garbo was a known Swedish actress who became a major star in Hollywood during the silent film era and then the Golden Age. She is ranked fifth in the American Film Institute list of greatest female stars of all time and is perhaps best remember for her role in Camille.
Glenn Close is an American actress known for her roles as a femme fatale in Dangerous Liaisons (1988), a deranged stalker Alex Forrest in Fatal Attraction (1987)and known for playing Cruella de Vil in 101 Dalmatians (1996)and its sequel.
Doris Day is an American actress perhaps the top-ranking female box office star of all time and best remembered for her role in Pillow Talk.
Natalie Wood was an American actress who began her stardom in Miracle on 34th Street (1947) and later remembered for her exceptional performance opposite James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause (1955) and her roles in the musicals West Side Story (1961) and Gypsy (1962).
Jane Fonda is an American actress who rose to fame in the 1960s with films such as Barbarella and Cat Ballou and later became known for her roles in Coming Home.
Holly Hunter is an American actress known for her role the Piano for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress.
Hilary Ann Swank is an American actress who debuted her career in films such as Vampire Slayer (1992)and The Next Karate Kid (1994). She then won the Academy Award for Best Actress twice, as Brandon Teena in Boys Don’t Cry (1999) and as struggling waitress-turned-boxer, Maggie Fitzgerald, in Million Dollar Baby (2004).
Claudette Colbert was a French-born American actress who won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her comedic performance in It Happened One Night (1934). He later received some Academy Award nominations for her dramatic roles in Private Worlds (1935) and Since You Went Away (1944).
Diane Lane is an American film actress who appeared in several notable films including the 2002 film Unfaithful, which earned her an Academy Award, Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations.
Jessica Lange is an American actress known for her performance in Tootsie, as well as her role of Carly Marshall in Blue Sky (1994) and Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire (1995).
Gloria Swanson was an American actress and perhaps the most prominent stars during the silent film era best known for her role in Sunset Boulevard (1950).
Lauren Bacall is an American film actress remembered for her role in Key Largo.
Frances McDormand is an American actress who won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1996 for her role as Marge Gunderson in Fargo.
Nicole Kidman is an Australian actress best remembered for her performance in the musical Moulin Rouge and Kubrick’s last film Eyes Wide Shut.
Norma Shearer was a Canadian-American actress known for her role in the Divorcee, for which she won an Oscar for Best Actress.
Bette Midler is an American actress who starred in films such as Ruthless People, Beaches and Hocus Pocus.
Uma Thurman is an American actress who is best known for her collaboration with Quentin Tarantino on cult films such as Pulp Fiction for which she received an Oscar nomination and Kill Bill.
Top 10 Actresses of the 80s
- Marlee Matlin
- Jessica Tandy
- Sigourney Weaver
- Geena Davis
- Debra Winger
- Judy Davis
- Daryl Hannah
- Goldie Hawn
- Whoopi Goldberg
- Jamie Lee Curtis
Marlee Matlin is an American actress and only deaf actress to date to win the Academy Award for Best Actress in Children of a Lesser God.
Jessie Tandy was an English – American film actress known for her appearance in Alfred Hitchcock’s film, The Birds (1963). She became the oldest actress to receive the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in Driving Miss Daisy (1989).
Sigourney Weaver is an American actress, "The Sci-Fi Queen" best known for her role as Ellen Ripley in the Alien film series, as well as Gorillas in the Mist (1988) and Working Girl (1988) by many on account of her many science fiction and fantasy films.
Geena Davis is an American actress known for her roles in The Fly, Beetlejuice, Thelma & Louise, A League of Their Own, The Long Kiss Goodnight and The Accidental Tourist, for which she won the 1988 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Debra Winger is an American actress known for her roles in Terms of Endearment and in A Dangerous Woman.
Judy Davis is an Australian actress best known for her roles in Husbands and Wives, Barton Fink, A Passage to India and in the TV miniseries Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows.
Daryl Hannah is an American film actress who starred in numerous Hollywood productions including Blade Runner, Splash, Wall Street, and Roxanne, and in 2003 appeared in Kill Bill.
Goldie Hawn is an American actress known for her roles in Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, Private Benjamin, Foul Play, Overboard, Bird on a Wire, Death Becomes Her, The First Wives Club and Cactus Flower, for which she won the 1969 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Whoopi Goldberg is an American actress who made her film debut in The Colour Purple (1985) and later was acclaimed for films including Sister Act and Sister Act 2, The Lion King, Made in America, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Girl, Interrupted and Rat Race.
Jamie Lee Curtis
Jamie Lee Curtis is an American actress sometimes known as the "scream queen" because of her appearances in such films as Halloween, The Fog, Prom Night and Terror Train.
Top 10 Actresses of the 70s
- Louise Fletcher
- Liza Minnelli
- Lily Tomlin
- Liv Ullmann
- Gena Rowlands
- Isabelle Adjani
- Isabelle Huppert
- Jill Clayburgh
- Pam Grier
- Talia Shire
Louise Fletcher is an American actress best known for her role as Nurse Ratched in One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress and as Kai Winn Adami in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
Liza Minnelli is an American actress acclaimed for her dramatic performances in the movies The Sterile Cuckoo (1969) and Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon (1970). and the musical Cabaret, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress.
Lily Tomlin is an American actress who won multiple awards including Tony Awards, Emmy Awards, and a Grammy Award and has also been nominated for an Academy Award.
Liv Ullmann is a Norwegian actress known for being the muse of Swedish director Ingmar Bergman. She was nominated for the Palme d’Or, two times for the Academy Award, and a BAFTA Award.
Gena Rowlands is an American actress best known for her collaborations with her actor-director husband John Cassavetes in ten films, in two of which, Gloria and A Woman Under the Influence, she gave Academy Award-nominated performances.
Isabelle Adjani is a French film actress who appeared in 30 films since 1970 including One Deadly Summer (1983), Camille Claudel (1988), Queen Margot (1994) and Skirt Day (2009).
Isabelle Huppert is a French actress who has appeared in many film including a great performance in La Cérémonie.
Jill Clayburgh was an American actress who received Academy Award nominations for her roles in An Unmarried Woman and Starting Over.
Pam Grier is an American actress who became famous in the early 1970s, after starring in a string of moderately successful women in prison films such as 1974′s Foxy Brown. Her career was later revitalized in 1997 after her appearance in Quentin Tarantino’s film Jackie Brown.
Talia Shire is an American actress most known for her roles as Adrian Balboa in the Rocky series and Connie Corleone in The Godfather films.
Top 10 Actresses of the 60s
- Jeanne Moreau
- Anne Bancroft
- Geraldine Page
- Joanne Woodward
- Vanessa Redgrave
- Doris Day
- Hayley Mills
- Mary Badham
- Patty Duke
- Maggie Smith
Jeanne Moreau is a French actress who achieved prominence as the star of Elevator to the Gallows (1958) directed by Louis Malle and Jules et Jim (1962), directed by François Truffaut.
Anne Bancroft was an American actress who won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in The Miracle Worker (1962), and received subsequent nominations for her roles in The Pumpkin Eater (1964), The Graduate (1967), The Turning Point (1977) and Agnes of God (1985). She later appeared in G.I. Jane (1997), Great Expectations (1998), Antz (1998) and Heartbreakers (2001).
Geraldine Sue Page was an American actress who won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance as Carrie Watts in The Trip to Bountiful in March 1986.
Joanne Woodward is an American actress best-known for her Academy Award winning role in The Three Faces of Eve (1957).
Vanessa Redgrave is an English actress who starred in more than 80 films including Mary, Queen of Scots, Isadora, Julia, The Bostonians, Mission: Impossible and Atonement.
Barbra Streisand is an American singer and actress who won two Academy Awards, and one of the few entertainers who also have won an Emmy, Grammy, and Tony Award.
Hayley Mills is an English actress who is best remembered for her appearance as a kid on such films as for Pollyanna (1960) and several films for Walt Disney.
Mary Badham is an American actress known for her portrayal of Jean Louise “Scout” Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Patty Duke is an American actress best known for playing the role of Neely O’Hara in the 1967 film Valley of the Dolls.
Maggie Smith is an English film actress who won numerous awards for acting including two Academy Award. Her critically acclaimed films include Othello (1965), The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1967), California Suite (1978), Clash of the Titans (1981), A Room with a View (1985), and Gosford Park (2001).
Top 10 Actresses of the 50s
- Lana Turner
- Thelma Ritter
- Eva Marie Saint
- Judy Holliday
- Giulietta Masina
- Gloria Grahame
- Simone Signoret
- Leslie Caron
- Eleanor Parker
- Kathryn Grayson
Lana Turner was an American actress remembered for her roles in films such as Won’t Forget (1937), Ziegfeld Girl (1941) and Somewhere I’ll Find You (1942), as well as her performance in the film noir The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946) and Peyton Place (1957), for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress.
Thelma Ritter was an American supporting and character actress best known for her role as "Birdie" in All About Eve (1950),
Eva Marie Saint
Eva Marie Saint is an American actress who won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the drama film On the Waterfront (1954) and later starred in the thriller film North by Northwest (1959), directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
Judy Holliday is best remembered for her role in Born Yesterday as "Billie Dawn" for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress.
Giulietta Masina was an Italian actress who starred in La Strada and Nights of Cabiria, both winners of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, in 1956 and 1957, respectively.
Gloria Grahame was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Crossfire (1947), as well as winner for her work in The Bad and the Beautiful (1952). She later played in Sudden Fear (1952), Human Desire (1953),The Big Heat (1953) and Oklahoma! (1955).
Simone Signoret was a French cinema actress often hailed as one of France’s greatest movie stars and became the first French person to win an Academy Award, for her role in Room at the Top (1959).
Leslie Caron is a French film actress best known for the musical films An American in Paris (1951), Lili (1953), Daddy Long Legs (1955), Gigi (1958) and for the non-musical films Fanny (1961), The L-Shaped Room (1962), and Father Goose (1964).
Eleanor Jean Parker is an American screen actress best known for playing the role of Baroness Elsa Schraeder, the second female lead in the 1965 Oscar-winning smash hit The Sound Of Music. Her versatility led to her being dubbed Woman of a Thousand Faces.
Kathryn Grayson was an American actress known for her lead performance in such films as Thousands Cheer (1943), Anchors Aweigh (1945) with Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly, and Show Boat (1951) and Kiss Me Kate (1953) .