Movie Poll: Who’s Your Favorite “Golden Age” (1930-60) Actress?

"Golden Age" (1930-60) Actress?

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13 Articles about Bette Davis

9 Articles about Barbara Stanwyck

  • Tito Pannaggi

    Too bad my favorite Anna Magnani was not in the poll!

    • sonny

      It’s even worse that Susan Hayward is not on the top of the list

  • Joel

    A poll like this, without Susan Hayward, is ludicrous!

    • Susan Peran

      My sentiments exactly.

      • Susan Peran

        You forgot Loretta Young.

        • Joel

          I voted for Stanwyck, as she, as well as Hayward are from Brooklyn. You can tell by their films, they have been there – done that!!

  • Susan Peran

    Grace Kelly but no Myrna Loy?

    • Chester

      Right with on this one!

    • larry

      No Myrna Loy….no vote

      • Lisa

        Definitely, Myrna Loy

        • Louis

          I agree!!!!

          • Louis

            Cary Grant was added days later on another poll
            and he won!!

          • Bryan Ruffin

            Here it is a couple of days later and still no Myrna! I have to stand with you on this one. I gave it to Ginger, but had Myrna been there, she would have gotten my vote!

          • aldanoli

            Yes, it’s true that Myrna Loy was overlooked — although I would have voted for Audrey Hepburn regardless. But that’s the problem with these “favorite” polls — they’re always based on the tastes/memories of the person who puts it together. As someone said in response to the last poll, it would be better to ask “Which OF THESE is your favorite {actor or actress}” — not just “which {actor or actress}” is . . . though I’m sure some would still refuse to participate if their personal fave wasn’t among the choices.

          • Michelle

            Another vote for Myrna Loy.

    • Woody

      Agree; Myrna Loy !

    • Doug Galloway


  • Heidi McDonald Stetler

    Yes, how did Myrna Loy and Irene Dunn get left out of this poll???

    • Susan Peran

      OMG You are so right.

    • Gregg

      Yes, I am right there with you. How did Myrna Loy get left off of this list?

    • Louis

      I agree with Hedi, where is Myrna Loy and
      Irene Dunn????????????

  • Susan Peran

    I guess I need my own poll, but I couldn’t ever leave out Judy Garland. She broke my heart and raised my spirits so many times. She never seems to get her.doe.

  • Susan Peran


  • Martin Stumacher

    What happened to Irene Dunn, Myrna Loy and Susan Hayward?

  • TommieLu

    What about Ginger Rogers, Veronica Lake, Gloria Graham, Greer Gsrson, Lana Turner, Lizbeth Scott. …should I go on?,

    • Susan Heidarifar

      U brought up some good ones who were missed. All are good, but as far as acting goes – Grace Kelly was pretty, graceful and a fair actress, but on a list like this – with these woman, and the ones mentioned? I would say “not in the same league”!

      • wade

        it did ask for favourite actress not your opinion of best actress so I would pick Ava Gardner but on the list I picked Barbara Stanwyck who I think is also a great actress. Maybe they should have a write-in vote

  • TommieLu

    Oops Ginger is there. They all were great. Really can’t say who would be my fav.

  • rca341

    I vote for Joan Blondell

    • Doug Galloway

      I’m with you! She was the best!!!

  • GIL

    a poll without Olivia DeHaviland or Gene Tierney…how can that be????

    • Doug Galloway

      Nuts. That’s what…

  • Brian Jodrie

    How about Deanna Durbin,Virginis Mayo,Ann Sheridan,and Lizebeth Scott?

  • AN

    Always one to agree with those who say that ‘we should choose from the list as given,” this list lacks so many other ‘favorite-type’ actresses and leading ladies that it seems traitorous to vote among this group alone. For example, luminaries such as Deborah Kerr, Jane Greer, Ava Gardner, Mary Astor, Doris Day, Janet Leigh, Esther Williams and Joan Fontaine were also exluded ….

    • Sam

      I second Deborah Kerr and Maureen O’Hara! I’d also add Marlene Dietrich and Jean Arthur to the list.

  • jfleming

    Voted for Bette Davis but wish Carole Lombard had been on list.

  • tangomann

    Why is Grace Kelly on this list?

    • Joel

      I totally agree! Kelly and not Hayward? Who does these lists anyway, Joe Biden!

  • rca341

    Ida lupino and Claire Trever arn’t to shabby either

  • Vincent Paterno

    I’ll vote if you please add Carole Lombard.

  • Blair Kramer.

    Where’s Carole Lombard?

  • Luigi From NYC

    Susan Haywood left out ? WHY-oh-WHY ?

    Her performance in ( With a Song In My Heart //
    I’ll Cry Tomorrow // I Want To Live // = A+

    and finally ( I’d Climb The Highest Mountain ) — which by the way was finally released on DVD !

    Claudette Colbert = ( Tomorrow Is Forever ) –
    finally released on DVD !
    AND — let’s not forget her performance in –
    ( Since You Went Away ) !

    Glad that Stanwyck was included –
    One of my favorites will be shown on TCM –
    toward the end of April ( My Reputatiion ) –
    which Babbs considered her FAVORITE ROLE –
    re: All The Characters she played = now on DVD !

  • Susan Heidarifar

    I agree with “why is GRACE KELLY on this list”? She may have been beautiful, GRACEful, etc.etc.,but – for one – had it not been for HITCHCOCK, how many movies would she have made (or even been seen, or good ones?), and secondly – she doesn’t even belong with these on the list and the others mentioned. Pretty gal and good in the few roles she had, but not a real actress in the caliber of the others!

    • G2008

      I didn’t vote for grace Kelly, but I like the movies she was in. In one of my favorite movies she sang a song that made her the answer to a good music trivia question. Which member of the European Royalty achived a Gold record? Maybe you can guess the song. Some hints
      It was a duet with one of the great male vocalists of the twentieth century.
      The song was also on the American top ten list, and can be seen as one of the last of its type before rock and roll took over.
      I believe (but I could remember this wrong) that it was nominated for best song but lost out to a song from a Hitchcock movie
      The movie had three individuals who were arguable among the greatest vocalists of the century – although one in more known as an instrumentalist.
      The movie had maybe the greatest Jazz player of all time , with his orchestra, which he introduces person by person twice in the movie.
      The movie had songs by perhaps the greatest song writer in American history -although this could be debated he would be on most top ten lists.
      The songs were arranged by one of the great arrangers of alltime
      How many of those can you figure out?

      • Anne Jennings

        “High Society”. Great question, G2008!

      • Cara

        The song was True Love. The three great vocalists/instrumentalists were Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Louis Armstrong. The songs were composed (including lyrics) by Cole Porter. One of the last films to have songs and lyrics original to the movie. Don’t know the arranger, but I do know High Society was a musical remake of the Philadelphia Story. I enjoy High Society, and have watched it many times, but I love Philadelphia Story and have watched it more times than I can guess. If you get the chance, buy the DVD of PS. It’s got some of the best, most technically informative commentary of any I have listened to.

  • Wayne

    Another one for the heap might be Marilyn Monroe. Being eye candy is not what the job description of acting mostly entails, as we can see from the top vote getters having much more substance than simply great looks…

    • Gayle Feyrer

      Monroe is fabulous in Some Like It Hot and Bus Stop – and in The Misfits. She deserves to be included. I voted for Stanwyck, but went back and forth between her and both Hepburns and Monroe. It was favorite, not best, but all were favorites and wonderful actresses in their own way.

    • Lorraine M.

      I disagree. MM was so incandescently beautiful and so memorably sexy that in her time she wasn’t taken seriously as an actress and still doesn’t get her due now. Her comic timing was exquisite and in dramatic roles (“Don’t Bother to Knock,” “Bus Stop,” “The Misfits”) she could break your heart.

  • Tito Pannaggi

    There are no black women on the list; where is Dorothy Jean Dandridge.

    And where is Nancy Kwan the beatyful Anglo-asian girl from “The World of Suzy Wong”(1960).

    • jfleming

      I’d rather have Anna May Wong.

  • Angel54

    I agree with Tito – need to add Lena Horne – my Fav.

  • Chris P

    okay. SO I guess that this tally of actresses was not thought out so well. Where is Doris Day?

  • Chris P

    AND Shirley MacLaine…

  • Curt

    Two time Academy Award winner Olivia de Havilland and her sister AA winner Joan Fontaine don’t rate? This is as bad as last week’s favorite actor question that left off Cary Grant and James Cagney until popular demand caused you to add them late. And I don’t think that actresses who had significant portions of their career in the 60′s should be on the list. In other words, Audrey Hepburn.

  • Mike Otworth

    No Teresa Wright? Seriously?

  • John Marsh

    This is a difficult list as all are probably “favorite” for different reasons. (And of course, like all these polls, people just can’t vote for those on the list, they have to add others). I voted for Ginger Rogers because I have always liked her dynamic pesonality, wonderful looks, and she made me feel good. I suppose it’s how you feel in the moment! On another day I might have voted for Bette Davis.

  • Barbara Atkinson

    Bet we can all agree that the “Golden Age” was Golden for many great reasons, yes? And the marvelous acting, both female and male, contributes to that enormously.

    In this poll, my vote goes to Ginger Rogers. Boy, am I glad to see her listed here, as she so often is overlooked and bypassed in such things. Have often thought that if a scale were developed, giving point totals to various qualities, such as one’s ability/appeal in the areas of: drama, comedy, singing, dancing, beauty, fan/box office appeal, etc., then add the totals for each category together… Ginger would surely top, or certainly be very near the top of, the list. She could do everything and did each marvelously! As an Oscar-winning actress, she somehow managed to make each one of her 73 movie role characters different! She never played the same character twice. That must have been quite the creative challenge. If you haven’t done so, please give yourself the chance to explore the depth of her talent and treat yourself to a great amount of joy in the process. Ginger’s career is really a great gift to us all.

  • DBJ

    Maureen O’Hara, hands down. How could you leave her out?

  • maxfabien

    I don’t understand the fascination with Katherine Hepburn. I forgot who said it, but it’s so true: “She runs the emotional gamut from A to B.”

    • Anne Jennings

      It was also said of her, “There’s not much there, but what there is, is cherce!”

      • maxfabien

        That line wasn’t said of Katherine Hepburn the actress. Spencer Tracy said it of her character in the film “Pat and Mike”. Actually the line is “Not much meat on her, but what’s there is cherce.” Referring to her body, not her acting skills.

    • CACS

      I believe it was Dorothy Parker in a review of the film ‘Alice Adams.’

  • Kevin Molony

    Carole Lombard doesn’t rate a mention?

  • mickey

    Maureen O’Hara should have been on the list.
    And say what you will about Marilyn Monroe but when she was on the screen it was tough to look away. She had that thing that made you want to get close to her.

  • Ed

    Rita Hayworth
    Mary Astor

  • Jim

    Where oh Where is JENNIFER JONES???

  • Erik Decker

    Do you mean “actress” or “Actress” with a capital A? Jean Simmons for the latter category!

  • Rob

    Wow. I ridiculously incomplete list. No Maureen O’hara? No Debbie Reynolds? No Judy Garland? Jane Russell? Natalie Wood? Every single one of these woman were in films prior to 1960, had great careers, AND were gorgeous!

  • ian

    I am also aghast that Susan Hayward does not appear on this list, which should also have included Loretta Young and Alice Faye. Drop Grace Kelly please, she is vastly overrated

  • Christine Harrison

    It’s interesting to see what names readers have suggested be added to the list – of course, a list featuring everyone’s favourite would end up being a very long one, but many of the suggestions are valid ones. What I find most intriguing about the current voting is the lack of votes for Joan Crawford. She was one of the “big guns” of the Hollywood Golden Age, made several films and was often in the news not just for her acting but also her colourful personal life. I’m wondering if the low voting is partly due for her actual acting skills, which may seem overblown now in contrast with some of the other actresses listed, but also by the damage done with the “Mommie Dearest” book (and film) which showed her as a monster mother (although this has been disputed by some). She was certainly a tough lady and her onscreen persona reflected this, but such actresses as Bette Davis and Barbara Stanwyck amongst others also showed they could stand up for themselves and they have scored much more highly in the voting as it stands. Personally, I found that I could feel sympathy for Davis in a film like “Jezebel” where she plays a “bad girl”, but I tended to feel less so towards Crawford, even when she was in a situation that demanded it. However, I have to stress that this is just my personal reaction to her.

    • Vincent Paterno

      Regarding Joan Crawford, she often was very good at what she did, from the archetypal late ’20s girl of “Our Dancing Daughters” to the many “shopgirl dramas” she made for MGM in the ’30s to her noirish Warners late ’40s persona. However, her later work bordered on self-parody and descent into Grand Guignol (she should have followed the lead of her good friend Myrna Loy and sat those out), and even at her peak she lacked the deftness for comedy. I have no doubt that “Mommie Dearest” (the book, then the movie) hurt her legacy — but just as Fred MacMurray is now viewed for his considerable entirety of work rather than for “My Three Sons” or his Disney films, so Crawford’s reputation will eventually be rehabilitated.

  • Chester

    Oh my gosh. Where is Myrna Loy? Had a crush on her since I was 13, and that was a looong time ago. Gene Tierney, Hedy Lamar, Olivia deHavilland, Susan Hayward, Maureen O’Sullivan, Ginger Rogers. There are som significant names missing from this llist, I’m sorry to say.

  • Melanie Simone

    I also miss Myrna Loy on this list but was happy to find other great names like Barbara Stanwyck and Bette Davis. Personally, I would also add Barbara Hale who’s mostly known for her TV stardom these days despite her many films – The Window, The Jackpot, Jolson Sings Again, A Lion is in the Streets or The Houston Story to name just a few. I’ve always loved the characters she played, earthbound and real.

  • Amber

    Am I the only one disappointed that this list says 1930′s to 1960′s but it mainly as actresses from the 40′s and 50′s? What about some of the amazing actresses from the 30′s, like Jean Harlow, Marion Davies, Joan Blondell and Glenda Farrell. I understand that making a list like this, your not going to please everyone because there were too many actresses from 1930 to 1960 but at least make the list well rounded. Maybe the best from each decade.

    • Debbie Coley

      I agree, and I would also like to add Helen Hayes to the list.

  • R.D.Cochran

    Janet Gaynor? Jean Arthur?

    • R.D.Cochran

      Oh,and Rosalind Russell also. Myrna Loy was one of my favorites.

      • Betty Grove

        Jean Arthur in Mr. Smith Goes To Washington is one of the best she ever made and I’ll watch it every chance I get.

  • Barbara Clarke

    I believe that your list is incomplete. MARLENE DIETRICH is an
    icon movie actress from the period of the 1930′s to the 1950′s.

  • Johnny M.

    I was hoping Deborah Kerr would be on the list whom I would have voted for,I thought with 6 Academy Award nominations for Best Actress it would have been a given? Oh well,I’ll give My vote to Audrey.

  • tim

    Carole Lombard

  • Tom M.

    A lot of greats left off that list, like my favorite Myrna Loy. Looking at that list and comparing it to what passes for actresses today, well, it just makes you thankful that the old movies survived. Long live AMC and TCM.

  • Anne Jennings

    I voted for Audrey Hepburn. When I was a pre-teen, she was my idol. Loved that gamine quality of hers. However, if Mae West had been on the list, I would have voted for her, hands down!

    And thanks, Tito, for noticing that neither Lena nor Dorothy Dandridge, nor Nancy Kwan (not to mention Anna May) are on the list.

  • Norman Hawkins

    I can’t remember her name but ‘Blondie’ Dagwood and little Baby Dumpling and Daisy the dog.
    Absolutely Brilliant in “Where’s Blondie”

    • Johnny Sherman

      Penny Singleton played Blondie

  • Dave Sheehan

    Actresses or Stars? My favourite star was Ethel Waters- not on the list (predictably). My favourite ACTRESS was Betty Field (the most VERSATILE of them all) not on the list either!!

  • Rick

    That’s a tough field. There is something about Ingrid Bergman that makes her the one I would like to have met. But as a pure actress, Bette Davis may be the best, narrowly, because as I said that’s a lot of great actresses.

  • William Sommerwerck

    Where’s Myrna Loy?

  • Dan

    Jean Arthur!!

    • Betty Grove

      Dan, you have excellent taste! Jean Arthur could make any movie she was in a hit. I still watch anything I can find with her in it, she puts some of the “actresses” of today to shame.

  • Gary

    Really is a toss up between Audrey and Katharine Hepburn for me. Just got done watching The African Queen, so KH gets my vote!

  • ANH

    Reading through this list – it seems there may be some confusion about “Favorite Actress” ` which does not necessarily mean “Best Actress.” They are not always the same. And there can be a HUGE difference between the two. For example, Esther Williams and Marilyn Monroe may be ‘favorites’ of some …. but no one has them on their list of the ‘best’ actresses.

  • Daniel E. Coates

    I would have voted for Myrna Loy but sewttled for Ginger Rogers with Claudia Colbert a close second.
    People who should have been on the list are
    Joan Blondell who made every movie she was in better like Edward G. Robinson did. I would have the Bennett sisters Constance and Joan. Dark Horse choice would be Aline MacMaahon from Golddiggers of 1933.

  • Betty Grove

    How can the list be complete without Jean Arthur? She had everything and could play comedy with class. Susan Hayward and Maureen O’Hara are glaringly missing. But Jean Arthur was the best!

  • Bob Brewis

    Where is Donna Reid, Jane Mansfield, Eve Ardin?

  • Daniel E. Coates

    An another great one left off the list is Marlene

  • Watt Hyer

    Yes, so many great names left off the list. Why not take a real poll on everybody’s favorites??
    That being said, I’m flabbergasted at the low number of votes for Joan Crawford. Is Mommy Dearest really the only thing people remember about her??

  • Nils Goering

    The second stupidest poll MovieFanFare has issued.
    Some of my top favorites didn’t even rate a spot on the list:

  • Trippy Trellis

    I voted for Audrey, of course, but how valid is a list of Golden Age greats without: Susan Hayward (1 Oscar, 5 best actress nominations, 3 times one of the top ten box office stars of the year), Deborah Kerr (most best actress nominations of the ’50s) and Rosalind Russell (with the exception of the overrated Katharine Hepburn, the only female superstar of a certain age to have done only first-rate vehicles, not a horror movie in the bunch). Also MIA: the First Lady of the Golden Age, Norma Shearer; the most talented siblings of all-time, Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine; the oh-so-charming Irene Dunne; and, although not my cup of tea, the most nominated and acclaimed star of the ’40s, Greer Garson.

  • Woody

    So what does: Two Girls and a Sailor (1944), Words and Music (1945), Little Women (1949), The Glenn Miller Story (1954), and Strategic Air Command (1955) have in common?
    June Allyson !

  • Jim

    I voted for Barbara Stanwyck. But if Ida Lupino were listed, she would get my vote. This poll is even more difficult than the one for pre-60s actors. There are literally a dozen or more genuinely great actresses from this period.

  • Jim

    omg, I completely forgot about Jean Arthur! Let’s face it, this poll is impossible!

  • Emily

    Mine are Deanna Durbin, Jean Arthur and Myrna Loy! (Though there are so many others I could add more to this list all day!) But sadly these 3 have not been included, and you can’t vote for everybody! :(

  • Dolores Tamoria

    Too many left out. Very few of today’s can match yesterdays talents. Beside those names above that are missing so is Doris Day.

  • Jack Jones

    All of the above!

  • Blair Kramer.

    Ya know, these numerous responses tell me that there were actually more great female stars than male stars during the so-called “golden age.” A LOT more!

  • RAN

    Susan H. is absolutely right about Grace Kelly, but that doesn’t make it hurt any less!
    Voted for Stanwyck over Arthur (but barely).
    Always seem to enjoy films where Una O’Connor, Marjorie Main and Thelma Ritter appear.
    Great suggestions in here. Good thing we didn’t have to choose a post-1960 actress, or we’d only have about six to think about.

  • Mark Conlan

    I voted for Barbara Stanwyck because she could do it all! She made great comedies, mysteries, thrillers, romances, soap operas. She played heroines and villainesses with equal power and skill. There are other actresses on the list who could have done “The Lady Eve” or “Double Indemnity,” but just try to come up with someone else who could have done both (let alone “The Miracle Woman,” “Stella Dallas” and “Meet John Doe”). Katharine Hepburn and Bette Davis would have been my number two and three choices.

    • RAN

      I agree.
      Stanwyck and Arthur were captivating when playing “hard boiled” characters, but I think Hepburn and Davis were just “hard.” I would be pleased to open a car door for the first two, but not the last two. All great actresses tho…
      My opinion.

      • Joel

        Absolutely agree about Stanwyck – as No. 2.
        Hayward as No. 1! Ironic that both are from Brooklyn.

  • john

    The problem with a list like this is that you leave off two to three times as many good actresses as you have on your list. They are all worthy of being included in this poll.

  • Chris

    Jean Simmons is my favorite. So there!

  • SDW

    What – no Gene Tierney? Too many folks left off of this list…SDW

  • Bick Denning

    Who is the actress that copped 6% of the votes between Ginger Rogers and Claudette Colbert? And how did those voters know who they were voting for?

  • John Kistner

    My favourite was actually Lilian Harvey, an English born actress who starred in German cinema in the decades before WWII. Ilse Werner and zara Leander were also great.

  • Louis

    Myrna Loy!!!!!! Irene Dunn!!!!!!!

  • John Mecca

    I voted for Ginger Rogers since she had the most talents of all those on the list…..actress, singer, dancer and comedienne. She is also the prettiest one.

  • John Mecca

    I voted for Ginger Rogers because she had the most talents….actress, singer, dancer and comedienne. She is also the prettiest one one the list.

  • Bernie Kenney

    What about Betty Grable. She could act, sing, dance, looked great and was a big booster for morale for U.S. GI’s during WWII.

  • joylesstreet

    I voted for Bette Davis because to me she stands alone as a force of nature, whether her acting is sometimes over the top or not. It also makes it easy, because then most of the other actresses are on my list of favorites & I don’t have to agonize over choices. Agree about Carole Lombard, Myrna Loy, Irene Dunne. Would add Vivien Leigh, Kay Francis, Rosalind Russell, Dorothy Dandridge, May Robson, Helen Broderick, (altho the last 2 are character actresses, not “stars”),Marlene Dietrich, Hedy Lamarr, Maureen O’Hara & O’Sullivan,Luise Rainer, Clara Bow, Ann Sheridan and soooo many others! See why I just put Bette in her own category as the greatest and then I just love all the other wonderful actresses who are too numerous to name but keep me up nights watching them do their stuff. A special word for Judy Garland who transcends “actress” and could do it all.

  • wlater

    Where’s Lillian Gish’s name?????

  • jfleming

    Let’s not forget Margaret Sullavan or Sylvia Sydney

  • Louis

    You added Cary Grant on a past poll days after
    it started and he won!
    Add Myrna Loy and Irene Dunn!!

  • Doug Galloway

    What about Loretta Young?

    • Lisa

      This really made me think and here goes: Ingrid Bergman, Thelma Todd, Gene Tierney, Lauren Bacall, Thelma Ritter and Rosalind Russell, plus Judy Holiday (apologies for the spelling?).

      Everybody is right! Sure brings back memories of wonderful films and great ladies.


  • Roger Lynn

    so glad Ms Barbara Stanwyck was there num 1 in my heart she is THE BEST

  • Al Schweiger

    Where is Rosalind Russell’s Name?

  • Barrie Hanold

    How about June Allyson?

  • Carol

    The great Patrica Neal was left off the list. She, Barbara Stanwyck, Myrna Loy and Susan Hayward are my favorite actresses.

  • Trippy Trellis

    I hate to be pedantic and I know that a rose by any other name smells as sweet but- Irene Dunn (4 different fans)? Donna Reid? Eve Ardin? Jane Mansfield? Gloria Graham? Lizbeth Scott? Claire Trevir?
    Com’on, fans, if we don’t remember the correct names of our greats, who will?

  • David

    What happened? I guess it was just an oversight that you left the beautiful Kim Novak off the list! Next in line…Grace Kelly.

  • Shemp Lugosi

    Gloria Grahame is my favorite.


    Well I’m a Retired Marine and I voted for Marilyn Monroe even if She wasn’t in THE D.I. with JACK WEBB!

  • frank pienkosky

    you got something against Italians?…great food, hot cars and supersexy women!….Sophia Loren could act with the best of them [Two Women]..and Gina Lollolotawoman put out enough heat to warm a small house!…

  • Omar Soliman

    I love people’s alternative choices!! I would have to agree with Myrna Loy and Judy Garland being added to the list. But the one person who is constantly named as everyone’s favorite hollywood actress is Jean Arthur. And I certainly would have voted for her if she had been there. I believe Myrna Loy was voted people’s favorite actress by movie goers of the day more years than any other actress.

  • Rita

    Tough choices. Okay Marilyn Monroe was a sex symbol but a great actress that could be debated.

    Where is Myrna Loy, Irene Dunne, Greer Garson and Jean Arthur? They all made great movies during the Golden era of films.

  • Sonja Bishop

    HELLO???? DORIS DAY for me, hands down!! WHY, WHY, WHY isn’t she on the list??? I wasn’t even born yet when most of her movies were made, but they are SO enjoyable and always did (and still does) put a smile on my face! They just don’t make them like that anymore! Who doesn’t love Comedy, (some Drama), Music & Dancing all wrapped up in one VERY talented lady?? Ok, ok…. from the list – Katherine Hepburn….. classy!

  • TomCat

    I was very suprised not to see Olivia deHavilland’s name, I would have voted for her instead.

  • Mike O.

    I would also nominate Jennifer Jones as one of the great actresses of the past. Who else could have played the soft-spoken ultra-devout Bernadette and then go on to portray the fiery half-breed Pearl Chavez in “Duel In The Sun”?
    This lady was a pro!

  • Louis

    Why not have a place in the list
    for ” Other ” ? If ” Other ” gets enough
    votes add it to the list.

  • SLH

    Well I tried to apply the same logic to this poll as the male version, it worked that time because Cary Grant was added. This time I am struggling, the actress I own the most dvds of is Doris Day and while she didn’t make movies in the 30′s neither did Audrey and a few others mentioned here. From the choices given it will have to be Katherine Hepburn who did make movies in each decade and did a fine job entertaining me regardless of others opinions.

    Now for a list of my favorites if they made movies in any of the 3 decades here I figure they qualify ;-)
    Doris Day
    Maureen O’Hara
    Katherine Hepburn
    Audrey Hepburn
    Claudette Colbert
    Carole Lombard
    June Allyson
    June Powell
    Elizabeth Taylor
    Debbie Reynolds
    Theresa Wright
    Natalie Wood
    Kim Novak
    Grace Kelly
    I could go on……
    This was about favorite not best, it would be hard to pick one BEST from those years !!

  • Lisa

    My choice for one of the most talented ~ PATRICIA NEAL but perhaps one of the people’s favorites was ~ SHIRLEY TEMPLE (in the early decades).

  • Crusty Old Timer

    All you kansarn whippersnappers forget the talkies, take a look at some real wimmen actors:

  • Carl

    Pre-1960 should not be without Kay Francis, Ann Harding, Hedy Lamarr, Loretta Young, Ann Southern, and Billie Burke.

  • Stephen Farris

    You included Scarlett, but forgot Maureen… O’Hara. She made the Duke even better, when she co-starred with him.

  • Mike Canestraro

    Carole Lombard! Carole Lombard! Carole Lombard! Really now…how do you pick a favorite from an era so rich in wonderful women, but how do you leave CAROLE LOMBARD off the poll?

  • Mellie

    Lillian Gish…one of the greatest actresses of both the silent and talking eras. Carole Lombard, true brilliance. This list is far too imcomplete.

  • Steve

    I had to choose Ginger Rogers, just because she’s so cute, esp. in The Major and the Minor when she scrubs off the makeup, but I did miss some serious actors, like Jean Arthur, Gloria Swanson, Maggie Smith, Kim Stanley, Joan Fontaine, Irene Dunne (“Gone with the Wind, WooHoo”), Agnes Moorehead, Olivia de Havilland, Rosalind Russell, Hedy Lamarr, and Angela Lansbury.

    And where is Hattie McDaniel? I watch GWTW just to see her — she makes me cry every time…. Well, maybe to see Vivian, too.

  • SlyFox

    Where are Rita Hayworth, Lana Turner, Judy Garland, Doris Day, Myrna Loy, Irene Dunn, Ava Gardner, Marlene Dietrich, Susan Hayward, Gene Tierney, Betty Grable, Loretta Young, Lauren Bacall, Carole Lombard, Olivia De Havilland, Joan Fontaine, Jean Arthur, Hedy Lamar, Ida Lupino, Veronica Lake, Jean Harlow, Cyd Charisse, Jane Russell, Dorothy Lamour, Lilian Gish, Mary Pickford, Maureen O’Hara, Gloria Grahame, Clara Bowe and Alice Faye. I could go on because I love the pre-60s movies.

    They should’ve offered us the choice of an “other” category where we could indicate a name not on the list they offer.

    • Larry Magen

      Agree whole heartedly SlyFox!  Judy Garland is my fave… but gotta love Rita, Doris, Myrna, and Jane Russell too!   FB me.

  • Bob Stolarz

    Where’s Greer Garson and Teresa Wright??

  • Anonymous


  • Lee

    Bette Davis was in a class by herself. A strong woman who didn’t take crap from anyone. She played a wide range of characters and did it well . When Bette was on screen you couldn’t take your eyes off her.

  • CACS

    Isn’t it a wonderful thing to suffer from such an embarrassment of riches?

  • Sami

    Merle Oberon is my absolute favorite.

  • James R Bezanson

    Where the hell is Ruth Hussey?! And Peggy Dow!!!

    • Steve

      Jim: Seriously. Peggy Dow’s really your favorite actress?! In her most “memorable” role, as Miss Kelly in Harvey, Peggy was a complete bust next to Josephine Hull (Veta Louise) and Victoria Horn (Myrtle Mae), both of whom might have gotten my vote.

      If you were trying for cute, Pricilla Lane (Arsenic and Old Lace) and Helen Mack (Son of Kong) were much more so.

  • Steve

    CHRIStopher ColUMbus!! Out of 6,248 votes, Ginger Rogers only got 480 (8%), 6th place? I thought this was supposed to be a vote for your FAVORITE actress (now called “actor”), not the BEST actress in a dramatic role.

    I would have bet that more people would rather spend an evening with somebody funny and adorable — like Irene Dunn, Jean Arthur, Joan Greenwood, Margaret Rutherford, or Judy Holiday — than with Katie or Bette, for all their acting prowess.

    I think this contest should have been held separately for men and women, under and over 60, IQ under and over 100, and with write-ins.

  • Brian Jodrie

    Jane Russell,Alice Faye,Betty Grable,and Dorothy Lamour.

    • Steve

      Not my favorites, but they have their points.

  • James R Bezanson

    Carole Lumbard forever!

  • James R Bezanson

    -make that Lombard

    • Steve

      I, too, would like to make that Lombard, but Mt. Charleston got in the way.

  • John Small

    My favorites weren’t included: Maureen O’Sulivan and Maureen O’Hara. And let’s not forget Maragret Dumont!

  • Wayne

    I dont consider this a sexist comment, but another 2 Golden Age Starlets who radiated more sex appeal than acting talent, at least possibly, were Margaret Lockwood (The Lady Vanishes & The Wicked Lady), and Miriam Hopkins (Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, The Story of Temple Drake). Im not saying looks should be a deciding criteria for either sex, but lets face facts…its a good start

    • Steve

      In The Lady Vanishes, Margret Lockwood was pretty, but for sex appeal couldn’t hold a candle to Dame May Whitty (Miss Foy) or even Katherine Lacey (the bad/good nun). In Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, I prefer Ingrid Bergman in the role of Ivy Peterson, but to each his (or her) own.

      Now, speaking of sexy nuns, nobody I’ve seen listed here compares to Kathleen Byron as crazy Sister Ruth in Black Narcissus. What a nose! And as to the question of Jean Simmons as Kanchi — the answer is definitely YES!

  • Jane

    Wheres Debbie Reynolds?
    Look at all the great movies she was in, like ‘Singing in The Rain’, ‘The Tender Trap’ and
    ‘Second Time Around’.
    It’s just not a worthwhile poll without her.

    • Steve

      Jane: If you really saw Singin’ in the Rain, you must know that the prettiest, funniest, and most adorable actress was Jean Hagen. For all of Debbie’s sprightly cuteness, Jean stole every scene. She was also pretty good in The Asphalt Jungle.

    • Larry Magen

      Have to agree with you Jane!  Debbie certainly deserves to be on the list.  And how about Judy Garland?  Judy is not on the list.. are you kidding me?

  • Steve

    Can anyone think of a female role in any movie from 1930 to 1950 that Hedy Lamarr couldn’t have done better?

  • Eli

    I thought of Jennifer Jones before I clicked in and now I realize what is wrong with this survey. They should have just asked the questions, “Who is you favorite 1930-60 actress and why?” and let people write in their favorites. This is what is happening anyway. To present an incomplete list is whako.
    Also, I got to meet Theresa Wright one time in NYC many years ago. She came into a shop I was working part time in on 1st Ave. She was looking for casters for furniture. I recognized her immediately. It was cold weather and she was wearing a very plain gray long coat – no make-up -her hair very plain – no pretence. The first thing out of my mouth was, “Oh man, The Best of Our Lives” and she lit up for my remembering her in that all time classic movie. She was so humble. Our shop didn’t have what she wanted so I told her of a place on 2nd Ave. Then she went next door into the book store where a young woman was minding the shop and I told her to write home to tell her mom that she met Theresa Wright. Then I told the young woman that I had been in love with Theresa Wright for some 20 or 25 years and Theresa lit up again. It was a memorable experience.

  • Wayne

    Hedy Lamarr was one sexy actress but nothing to write home about, acting-wise, IMHO…she is very smart, nowever, holding a patent on a submarine device after WW2, when the nuclear sub age arrival had probably already dried up any market for it, so maybe she was just under-employed!

    • Patrice Mitsos

      My dad always thought she was stunning.  And she was!

  • sugarpussoshea

    I voted for Babs Stanwyck – natch……………….
    but soooo many left out! From Irene Dunne, Myrna, Kaye Francis, Constance Bennet to Hedy Lamarr, Rita Hayworth, Susan Hayward, etc. We shud have just put in our fav to see who the real no. 1 wud have been.

  • Wpdavis

    I dont like this “new” comment system!  :(

  • Doppleganger51

    how  about  shirley  temple   

  • Bjodrie

    Deanna Durbin.

  • Geezerfitz

    How about the two Jeans?  Arthur and Harlow

  • Mholzman1234

    How about Norma Shearer

  • Wade

    ava gardner

  • Larry Magen

    Listen, all the ladies on that list are great.. and I voted for Audrey… but how can you possibly have a list of the greatest actresses in the 30′s, 40′s and 50′s and leave Judy Garland off the list????  I know she is primarily a singer… but I believe she qualifies as an actress.  Judy is my favorite.  Maybe not the best acting chops… but the question is “favorite.”  Not even on the list?  The list lacks credibility to not even have her on the list… sorry!

    • Patrice Mitsos

      Her voice was certainly second to none.  And she should have won for Meet Me in St. Louis as well…that was an Oscar sham of the highest order.  That little lady had more talent in her pinky than anyone today under, say, 40, has their whole repertoire.  I just love her voice…big sound, clear, great range, facile, and she was an exquisite interpreter of music as well.  Streisand is very, very close…but I think I have to give it up for Garland for pure sound.

    • Gord Jackson

      Like you, I voted for Audrey as my favourite on the list. That said, Judy Garland is my personal favourite, not just for the MGM work with OZ, LOUIS, THE CLOCK and my favourites EASTER PARADE and IN THE GOOD OLD SUMMERTIME, but Judy’s performance in A STAR IS BORN (which I re-watched at the beginning of the week), JUDGMENT AT NUREMBERG, and most especially I COULD GO ON SINGING are head and shoulders beyond a lot of what is on offer these days. (Think Gwenyth Paltro for SHAKSPEARE IN LOVE beating out Fernando Montinegro’s brilliant turn in CENTRAL STATION.) Also missing is Doris Day who was as adept at drama as comedy/musical comedy and the underrated, under-valued Jean Simmons who should have at least been nominated for HOME BEFORE DARK. Also missing Greer Garson, Jean Arthur and yes, Barbra Streisand as well. Not only was Barbra a worthy Oscar winner for FUNNY GIRL, but she should also have been nominated for NUTS as well.

      Of those listed for a vote, all had their great moments but what that list also proves is that it’s a mugs game trying to even come up with one because, as respondents have shown, too many worthy people have to be omitted if you’re not going to take innumerable pages for a list.

  • Larry Magen

    Myrna Loy belongs on the list too!

    • Bobby Donat

      Couldn’t agree more: Myrna Loy was the classiest actress in Holywood after Audrey Hepburn. Miss Loy (like Miss Hepburn) had a social conscience outside of Hollywood.

  • DIRKwrestler

    Anybody for Irene Dunn??

    • ranchorenal

      Yes!  “Gone with the Wind, Woo-Woo!” — too funny!

      Pretty lady and great voice, too — “Smoke Gets in you Eyes,” etc. Sigh….

  • Ian

    Actually, I think Lauren Bacall was and is wildly underrated. How she’s left off the list and Katherine Hepburn tops it is beyond me.

  • Patrice Mitsos

    My three favorites from this era are Katharine Hepburn, Bette Davis, and Ingrid Bergman.

    From the era of the 60′s and 70′s (heydey), I’d have to say Anne Bancroft (LOVE HER), Gena Rowlands, and Shirley MacLaine.

    And then, the next generation, basically, would be Emma Thompson, Meryl Streep and Diane Keaton.  I’d love to see the three of them in one film.  At least Meryl’s worked with both of them individually…but I’d love to see all three of them in one film.

  • B Barley

    all j maqcdonald and n eddy i love and i watch them  all the time their films arefeel good films and lbetter than all the violent trash on tv these days. just watch them  in the film MAYTIME  and you l see what i mean.  Barbara

  • Bobby Donat

    Bette Davis and Geraldine Fitzgerald.    Bette for obvious reasons.   Geraldine because in addition to being an exquisite Irish beauty, she possessed the most beautiful speech patterns and was one of the most intelligent actresses on the Silver Screen.  Miss. Fitzgerald should have been a major star.

  • Jcog1557

    Most beautiful Maureen O’Hara not on list!  Bette Davis, Olivia DeHavilland, Joan Fontain, Gene Tierney, who could forget any of her performances!  Vivien Leigh who never made a bad movie; glad to see she made the list. Jane Russell and those beautiful blondes, Betty Grable and June Haver. Susan Hayward, Myrna Loy, just beautiful and great in every movie she made. 

  • Vann Morrison

    Some poll! Left out Maureen O’Hara and Paulette Goddard.

  • Declan44

    Where’s Rita Hayworth?

  • Msidd

    My Favorite in Maureen O’Hara. Awesome with the Duke!!

  • D Petersen

    Where’s Doris Day??!!

    • D Petersen

       Even though she was a major star in the 60s, she did some great acting in the 50s too.  But oh what talent and beauty there was back then. Much better then those bitchy fems of today.

  • Jparana

    Where is Maureen O’Hara, Olivia DeHavilland or Donna Reed?

  • Tjac41166

    “Yes”  add me to the Olivia DeHavilland fans list, she was simply pure beautiful…..
    didn’t have to show anything off like today’s actresses.

  • Missmoeus

    Well, I can’t believe they left off Greer Garson.  She was a truly classy lady and won the Oscar in 1942 for Mrs. Miniver

  • Jim Fetterman

    Good to see Katherine won

  • Pintog

    Myrna Loy ,Maureen O’Hara are my favorites. But the rest are all excellent acresses.

  • Tminshall2003

    If I have to choose one off the list it would be hands down Barbara Stanwyck. But I’m saddened that Merle Oberon and Jane Russell aren’t up there.

  • Sally Stark

    Of the few ladies you gave us, I chose Audrey Hepburn…, but WHERE THE FLIP WAS JEAN ARTHUR!!! (g)

  • bill

    Hey! where is Jean Arthur and Myrna Loy?

  • Mike

    Susan Hayward, terrific face and a very talented actress who played many different roles so very well.

  • Kathy

    I never saw a Joan Crawford film I didn’t like.

  • Oldcoon57

    Where the heck is lauren bacall???????

  • gary

    greer garson never made a bat movie… all were great

  • Seamusthe2

    You left out Maureen O’Hara

  • Clpapa1

    Can’t choose.  Most of them mentioned were great.  Some of my favorites were left out.  Jean Arthur, Greer Garson, Irene Dunne, Carol Lombard, Jean Harlow to name a few.  That was time period of great actresses.  Classy ones

  • Jcog1557

    All above were great but how could you not mention Greer Garson, Lana Turner, Hedy Lamarr, Maureen O’Hara, Gene Tierney, Myrna Loy…….certainly great beauties along with great talent.  Some of these should have been mentioned in place of Grace Kelly and Marilyn Monroe.

  • SisJo

    Norma Shearer should be on this list.

  • Donna

    Vivian Leigh, because her mental illness came through on the screen which made her performances acutely better. My favorite used to be Bette Davis, but her characters are becoming more morbid than courageous as the years go by.  I’m becoming  a Claudette Colbert fan, because I can see alot of her characters fitting into today’s world, with some modifications, of course.

  • 68orthro

    So many great actresses! It’s hard to choose the best.  But almost all of them are better than today’s moneymakers.  I see the same (pretty) vapid performers over and over again.  I’m too kind to list them  but I do see a lot of films-probably 5 or six per week.   Perhaps its because storytelling has taken a back seat to plot and character development, and I don’t mean to sound trite.  Of course I loved the last Batman movie and I loved “The Artist”  but great performances are gone, unless its a caricature. Betty Davis was memorable, although was often over the top.  Elizabeth Taylor started off fabulously if you see “A Place in the Sun” or “Cat On A Tin Roof” but in the end was just a celebrity  Grace Kelly shone in “The Country Girl” and in “High Society” and Audrey Hepburn could almost do no wrong.  Katherine Hepburn always seemed to be playing herself and Marilyn Monroe, though memorable ,lampooned, perhaps without intention.  Claudette Colbert was timeless and a tough act to beat.  I have to say that Irene Dunne, before my time ,and Greer Garson , and Sophia Loren, and Doris Day owned the screen when they acted.  There’s a kind of greatness in that.  After all we see movies to be entertained, at least as far as I am concerned.

  • Larry Cox

    Why is Katie Jurado not on this list?

  • Meggyx13

    I had to settle for Stanwick, why? Where is Maureen O’Hara’s name and why is is not added???

  • Christiana19119

    Jean Simmons, the shamefully overlooked English actress who was both beautiful and talented.  I wouldn’t put Audrey Hepburn in this category because I think of all the wonderful movies she made after 1960.  Otherwise, she would be my favorite.

  • Tom

    Why is Olivia DeHavilland not on this list?  she was absolutly beautiful and so very talented…
    I’ll bet this girl did not have to spend much time at all in the make-up room, her beauty was
    pure, and she didn’t have to flirt for attention like most others did then and now….
    a Hollywood honey for sure!

    • Pamhandle

      I totally agree, plus she was smart and a leader. She worked for equal pay for the ladies in her field.

  • Joeccosta

    Barbara Stanwyck was an easy choice, but what about Teresa Wright?

    • SilentJoe

      Gee, really nice to ‘hear’ the comment about Teresa Wright.  I was the Head Librarian at the HS from which she graduated  (Columbia HS in Maplewood, NJ) and ‘had’ her installed into the Hall of Fame  (  Obviously, met her and had a nice lunch on that date.  A running joke is that CHS has more Academy Awards than any other HS.  Of course, Hollywood High has more but those are from the Parents, whereas *ours* are from the students!

  • ohmortimer

    Three way tie:

    Greta Garbo
    Carole Lombard
    Jean Arthur

  • Joel

    Susan Hayward above all!  Stanwyck a close second, DeHavilland third.

  • John Craig

    Please!!!!! Do me a favour…the most popular actress of the forties/fifties/sixties omitted from the list??
    DORIS DAY………its a no-brainer

  • Victoria

    Some may not agree with me, but I think Ava Gardner should be included…

  • Victoria

     I would like to add Ava Gardner

  • elimgarak1

    Stanwyck without a doubt. 

  • johnson

    myrna loy- comedy, drama, she was tops

    • Brilliant One1956


      • carysgyrl


  • Croonerman

    My favorite “Golden Age” actress would be Gloria Graham or Alexis Smith or Ann Sheridan!

  • Jay Polerstock

    My favorite – Golden Age – actress is – Judy Garland – who should have been on the above list.

  • AA

    How about six-time Oscar nominee Deborah Kerr?

  • Bjodrie

    Carole Landis,Anita Ekberg,and Joan Leslie

  • Dee6760

    Barbara Stanwyck

  • Joestalin

    If I must pick one, it’s Bette. ( I never liked Katherine.  The only movie of hers I thoroughly enjoyed was “Lion in Winter”) Bette was a standout for me since I saw her first film (The Private Lives of Elizabeth & Essex).  She’s done some half-baked portrayals (like Dangerous, for which she won an Oscar, go figure), but with a Davis picture, I always feel I get a full-bang for my buck.  My other love is Audrey Hepburn; she could do no wrong in my book.  I so wanted to see her reach middle and old age.  I miss her.

  • Sfopilot88

    Why wasn’t Deborah Kerr on the list?

  • sugarpussoshea

    Where’s Kay??????
                                   Francis, that is……

  • Chicagomike47

    whithout a doubt MARIE WINDSOR! a true FEMME FATALE! beautiful but deadly.GEE. i just realized. I just described my first wife!

  • Karen

    Maureen O’Hara, Katherine Hepburn and Doris Day

  • Mark

    my favorite actress of all time would have to be Ann Sheridan, but it’s so hard just to pick one, there were so many from the 30′s and 40′s. I also like Joan Leslie, June Haver, Betty Gable, Jeanne Crain And Linda Darnell.

  • raja999

    My favorite would have to be Susan Hayward.  Don;t understand her omission from the list.

    • Lauradyoung

      I agree! Terrible omission from the list.

  • Pfmjr

    i can not better any of these comments but what about virgina mayo? white heat ‘ hornblower etc etc ?? pat  

  • Lauradyoung

    Susan Hayward. My favorite hands down.

  • Lauradyoung

    I always loved Teresa Wright in anything she did…

  • Rookaloo

    Carole Lombard

  • Katherineferg

    Olivia de Havilland

  • m.santayana

    There is Bette Davis and then the rest of them.

  • m.santayana

    Where is Deborah Kerr? Too refined for most people, I suppose. even those who put the list together.

    • Brilliant One 1956


  • ian

    How about Loretta Young, Greer Garson, Lauren Bacall…and others?

    • Brilliant One 1956

      Loretta Young–good call!

  • pookas24

    I like them ALL I just cannot make up my mind.

  • Fredric M. London

    I would actually like to vote for Rita Hayworth.

  • Noel Bjorndahl

    I like a lot of those on the list and especially the divine Garbo, Barbara Stanwyck and Claudette Colbert.. But there are many faves missing in action-Myrna Loy, Gene Tierney, Maureen O’Hara, Ann Sheridan for starters but some really startling omissions include Margaret Sullavan, Kay Francis, Deanna Durbin, Jeanette MacDonald, Alice Faye.

  • JimJN

    A tough call. Plus several of note are missing. I like so many of them for different reasons and genres. One thing is for certain. This “new age” could learn a lot from these greats.

    Most, not all, of the new actresses are all fluff, hype and tabloid divas, no real substance
    or talent. Even many of the B and some C level actresses of the earlier years are better than the best today has to offer.

  • Mario Brescio

    They were all good, but Bette Davis tops them all!
    She was nominated or won the Best Actress Oscar in every decade of the “Golden Age.”
    Dangerous (1935)
    Jezebel (1938)
    Dark Victory (1939)
    The Letter (1940)
    Little Foxes (1941)
    Now, Voyager (1942)
    Mr. Skeffington (1944)
    All About Eve (1950)
    The Star (1952)
    Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? (1962)

  • David Ecklein

    I voted for Barbara Stanwyck – but would have chosen Jeanette MacDonald if she were on the list. She could not only act well, but was my favorite singer of the golden era.

  • dave j

    Doris Day

  • dave j

    The question was ” who is your favorite ” ?

  • Richy

    Carole Lombard (not on the list) the sexiest

    • Jim

      I totally agree! She transcends her era!

  • Victoria

    Deborah Kerr, Greer Garson, Olivia de Havilland…. Too many to choose!

  • Christine Harrison

    There are so many actresses on this list that I really like, so I just couldn’t bring myself to vote for only one of them! It just goes to show what a wealth of talent was out there. One actress I like a lot who’s not featured was Betty Field. I always enjoyed watching her – not as showy as some of the actresses featured here, but her thoughtful and intelligent manner was a joy to behold. I felt she should have played the part of Jane Eyre in the 1940s production instead of Joan Fontaine. I think she would have captured the essence of the character so well.

  • jd

    Judy Garland!

  • Hedy Lamarr

    I vote for Hedy Lamarr as my favorite Golden Age actress Youtube— My Delelah Tribute to Hedy Lamarr

  • Jim

    I chose Barbara Stanwyck, but as with so many similar polls, it is almost absurd to ask a true movie lover to pick one actor or actress above all. In choosing Stanwyck, I had to leave behind Bette Davis, Katherine Hepburn, and Ingrid Bergman. How crazy is that? And the list didn’t even include personal favorites of mine such as Ida Lupino, Susan Hayward, and Rosalind Russell. In the end, I must raise a toast to all the great actresses of the era.

    • Edna Henry Esquivel

      so true, so true.

  • dugwindad

    I saw National Velvet and fell in love with Elizabeth Taylor; then I saw Great Expectations and forgot all about Elizabeth and began a lifetime love of Jean Simmons. How I envied Stewart Granger! She has been my Number One ever since.

  • ghj600

    Judy Garland Was the best.

  • vkenneth

    Gloria Swanson was undoubtedly the most glamorous of the real “Golden Age” of movies! She somehow set the tone for so many other who would follow, including those on the list. All of the names appearing certainly hold their own ownderful place in motion picture history, but Miss Swanson leads that parade, along with others of those early days: Mary Pickford, Marion Leonard, and Lillian Gish, to name three.

  • Billievk

    With exception of Joan Crawford I liked them all.

  • Jack

    Marilyn Monroe is still one of the most remembered actresses on the cusp of the golden age. Not only was she a great actress, she was a radiant personality who lights up the screen.

  • whitetiger

    Lana Turner

  • Gary

    I simply love Greer Garson!

  • classics fan

    Greer Garson is a great choice but I pick Hedy Lamarr or Gene Tierney.

  • Kathie

    They left off the all-time great Rosalind Russell!!! She is my pick

  • WDPjr

    I can’t believe they left Myrna Loy off this list. I voted vor Barbara Stanwyck, but if Myrna had been listed it would have been a very difficult choice.

  • Beckett

    That’s a tough pick and they didn’t have any of my favorites on the list, Deanna Durbin, Judy Garland, Esther Williams or Maureen O’hara

  • Loie

    Yes I agree, They left out the three big ones, Greer Garson, Irene Dunne, Myrna Loy…. And especially Jean Arthur…… Now the top three I mentioned, I would have loved to see who came in number one…..

  • Cara

    This is such a difficult poll and an excellent example of the problems of choosing the best or favorite of anything. I could have voted for almost any of these women if I’d based my choices on different movies I love or career arcs that I admire. In fact, the only star I couldn’t have chosen was Joan Crawford. I know Crawford has myriad fans, but I’m not one of them. And, yeah, Myrna Loy should be on this list. Also Rosalind Russell. And for sheer versatility and talent, Judy Garland. I love Greer Garson. Ah, Random Harvest! But I can understand why she might not be considered one of the top ten. Still, given this list’s blatant deficiencies, I might have to stop voting in the top ten polls.

    After I started writing this post, I paged through some of the other responses. You left off some real biggies. Ava Gardner, “the most beautiful woman on earth,” Rita Hayworth, “the sex Goddess,” Deborah Kerr, Loretta Young, Betty Grable, the favorite pinup of WWII! Plus the above named. I don’t think a top ten poll on Golden Age actresses can be adequately created. If you haven’t already set up one on Golden Age actors, you might want to rethink the concept.

  • BarbinOK

    Wow! To think of the blessings we’ve received by the gifts of all these extremely talented ladies! The readers commenting on those not on this list certainly have their points! But for me, entertainment is about smiles, laughter, gaiety, and leaving current troubles behind. I don’t want to be depressed or scared in my movie watching. Thus, for me at this time, my all time fave is Ginger. I just can’t help smiling and feeling uplifted when watching almost any of her work. Her versatility is well documented in her work. The lady really could do it all. If only I could have met her at some point…. Thanks to all our ladies!

  • ninermq

    It makes me nostalgic just to see the names of such wonderful actresses. I miss them all.

  • Guest

    My favorite isn’t not on that list . . . Olivia de Havilland!

  • WW

    Judy Garland

  • Denise Brightbill

    I picked Barbara Stanwyck but with all the choices it was hard to pick. I really liked most of them. That was the day when actresses were beautiful and classy unlike most of the actresses of today which I would not give you the price of the movie ticket for most of them.
    My personal opinion is that Grace Kelly was the most beautiful and classy of any actress there ever was. But Mryna Loy, Greer Garson, Irene Dunne, Carol Lombard and Jean Harlow need to be on the list also.

  • MaryLouiseC

    Yes, there were many others that should be on the list, starting with Irene Dunne. I just discovered her radio show (Bright Star) with Fred MacMurray and have been listening to those. She was even a great “voice” actress.

  • HeyJustin

    Jeanette MacDonald

  • Cara

    Another thought. One of the reasons there are so many suggestions for alternate favorites among the actresses is because movies made in the 30s, 40s and 50s had many more good parts for women. When the blockbuster, blood and thunder, CGI driven, $300 million-to-make movies took over, women’s parts virtually disappeared. You will note that Jaws, considered the first blockbuster, essentially starred three men. (I love Jaws, I’m just saying . . .)

  • Angela

    When I cast my vote for Ginger Rogers I thought perhaps she would be low down in the results, but I see that many of you who voted know that her dancing with that guy … what was his name? (hahaha) was only a small part of her film career. She was, I dare say, a better actress than dancer with a much broader range than many people of today would give her credit.
    After all, she did win an Oscar for a dramatic non-dancing role. I just love her!

  • hiram

    I would have voted for K. Hepburn ten years ago, but she couldn’t do Double Indemnity or The Strange Love of Martha Ivers or Crime of Passion, or The Furies or Forty Guns or The Violent Men. Stanwyck’s ability to do genres like noir and the Western as well comedy and straight drama give her the edge for me now.

  • Drayton

    Linda Darnell, Veronica Lake, Jane Greer.


    Ava Gardner, Deborah Kerr,Virginia Mayo…

  • vkenneth

    One more: Jean Harlow!

  • Callsign

    Oh gosh, a lot of BIG names are missing here. Hedy Lamarr, Gene Tierney, Olivia de Havilland etc etc.

  • Dave

    Jennifer Jones!!!

  • BeDe140

    Olivia de Havilland

  • Gayle

    I voted for Ginger Rogers but only because Jeannette MacDonald wasn’t on the list….shame
    on you !! Don’t you like musicals?

  • steve

    ava gardner..the best..perfect body(one touch of venus)>>>>beautiful!!!!!!!!!

  • Soulaugh

    …and let’s not forget Greer Garson and Joan Fontaine, though perhaps without quite the same volute of great work as some of the others.

  • Candace

    Where’s Greer Garson? That is who I would choose for #1.

  • phyl1943

    Well my Very Favorite is Maureen O’Hara, with Doris Day and Susan Hayward 2nd. But we shouldn’t forget Myrna Loy either. Yes there were so many great actresses.

  • Frosty

    Where’s Jean Arthur?
    Where’s Jean Arthur?

  • Frosty

    I never understood the attraction of Katharine Hepburn. She’s not very good-looking, she has limited range, and her voice is like nails on a chalkboard. And in real life, she wasn’t a very nice person. Women seem to love her; probably because she’s non-threatening.

  • Kat

    I agree, where is Jean Arthur on this list? The More The Merrier was one of my favorites. I’ve seen it about 30 times. Have to say Vivien Leigh is up there as my favorite too, and Claudette Cobert.

  • john jake wayne

    I agree with phyl1943 what about Maureen O’Hara & Doris Day, the poll is not fair should include all actresses of distinction

  • Big Pauly

    Olivia De Haviland is my choice.

  • Tim

    Myrna Loy, Carole Lombard

  • moviegirl

    they are all good but Eleanor Parker is my fave

  • CandyKiss

    They left out Greer Garson, Myrna Loy, Doris Day, Olivia DeHavilland, and Jean Harlow. boo

  • Jack Fitzpatrick

    Jean Arthur and Jean Harlow.

  • Merle Oberon

    And…they also left out Merle Oberon. What an outrage!

  • Christine Harrison

    I think it’s interesting looking at the current voting to see that Greta Garbo is in last place in the voting. It may be that, although critics raved about her talents, her unapproachable attitude counted against her in terms of popularity. Ginger Rogers, on the other hand, came across as much more “real” – the sort of girl who had an optimistic approach to life, could be quite tough, but could still play the glamorous roles, especially when she danced with Fred Astaire. Garbo always seemed very remote, even in more realistic parts, and I don’t think she ever got involved in the war effort (as far as I know), whereas several other actresses entertained the troops, promoted War Bonds, and served in the Stage Door Canteen. It seems her wish to be left alone paid off.

  • Slick

    What about Priscilla Lane?


    What people seem to have overlooked here is that it’s your list of ten.
    Yes, there more than ten faves but the list here is still ten. I could say Lauren Bacall, Maureen O’Sulivan, Ida Lupino, Gloria Grahame, Jane Greer, Rita Hayworth, Janet Leigh,Terry Moore, Lizabeth Scott, Jane Russell, and keep going…But from your list? It’s hard but it would have to be Marilyn Monroe surely…Best, FransV

  • dale

    actually you have excluded more of my favorite “golden age” actresses than you included. i don’t know who comes up with these lists, obviously not a student of cinema. what about norma shearer, jean arthur, carole lombard, jean harlow and you include marilyn monroe, grace kelly, vivian leigh. you mistake stardom for ability.

  • Antone

    Stanwyck wins by a Secretariat margin because of her dazzling versatility. She was unbeatable in my favorite genres [film noir & screwball comedy] but could also compete with anyone in movies ranging from tearjerker melodrama to rip-snorting westerns. She could even do some singing and dancing without humiliating herself. Bette Davis was almost as versatile *IF* a strong director controlled her tendency to overemote—but she wouldn’t do in an oater. Colbert, Loy, Ros Russell & Lombard were great in comedy & drama but could never be believable as a ruthless femme fatale.

  • Noreen

    How about Greer Garson…She was wonderful in so many movies…

  • Bruce Reber

    Don’t forget Natalie Wood and Kim Novak!

  • Sharon Baldwin

    What about Irene Dunne?

  • John Marsh

    Here we go again. The question is “favorite” not “best” or “star”, et cetera. Next time place a blank and write in your “favorite”. I do agree that times have changed in favor of nostalgia over acting abilty as it was viewed at the time in the 30′s ,40′s, 50′s. Greta Garbo in other words seems dated and limited where Stanwyck changed with the times as did Ginger. However, “favorite” elicits personal uniqute qualities to the viewer that have little to do with acting ability which many could explain Monroe’s appeal.

    • charlie

      yeah, so? It says favorite…not who’s got the best acting ability in your opinion.

  • 3PugMom

    Out of your list my choice for “favorite” would be different than for “best” actress. BUT if you had Myrna Loy it would have been an easy choice. To see her in all the Thin Man movies, Manhatten Melodrama, The Red Pony, Best Years of our Lives is to see an actress with a very wide range of talent. Out of your list Barbara Stanwyck is the “best”. She also has a broad range of talent but I just like Myrna better. My “favorite” out of your list is Grace Kelly. She was beautiful, graceful, and talented but did not make enough movies to be the “best”.

  • Jane Kelly

    I voted for Katharine Hepburn but Audrey is also one of my favorites to watch!

  • jumbybird

    Myrna Loy… no contest!

  • joe

    Four of the top six need to be put on the bottom.Claudette beats them all.

  • Charles Prescott

    Myrna Myrna Myrna!