actresses 22 Famous Actresses of the 1930s  

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As a distraction from the stock market crash and the rise of the Great Depression, Americans began turning their attention to movies and television. The 1930s were part of the Golden Age of Hollywood, when actors were movie stars and films were genre-based masterpieces. This era contains some of the best actresses of all time, many of whom are Academy Award winners, as well as classic film stars.

Who is the most famous actress of the 1930s? Katharine Hepburn tops our list. Hepburn was one of Hollywood's most beloved actresses for over 60 years, but she got her start in the 1930s. Holiday, Bringing Up Baby, and Alice Adams are just a few of the films in which Hepburn starred during the golden age of cinema. She appeared in nine films with her longtime love, Spencer Tracy.

Vivien Leigh starred in one of the most popular films of the 1930s--and beyond--when she appeared alongside Clark Gable in the 1939 Oscar-winner Gone with the Wind. She was married to the accomplished actor Laurence Olivier from 1940 – 1960. Claudette Colbert appeared in some of the most memorable films of the 1930s including It Happened One Night and Drums Along the Mohawk. She skipped the 1935 Oscars because she didn't think she would win against Bette Davis. She was wrong, and was honored with the award for Best Actress.

Which 1930s actress is your favorite? Take a look at this list and share your thoughts in the comments section.

Katharine Hepburn is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 22 Famous Actresses of the 1930s
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Katharine Hepburn was one of Hollywood's most beloved actresses for over 60 years, but she got her start in the 1930s. Holiday, Bringing Up Baby and Alice Adams are just a few of the films in which Hepburn starred during the golden age of cinema. She appeared in nine films with her longtime love Spencer Tracy.

Katharine Houghton Hepburn was an American actress. Known for her fierce independence and spirited personality, Hepburn was a leading lady in Hollywood for more than 60 years. She appeared in a range of genres, from screwball comedy to literary drama, and received four Academy Awards for Best ...more

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Age: Died at 96 (1907-2003)

Credits (Film): Bringing Up Baby, The Philadelphia Story, The African Queen, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, On Golden Pond, + more

Birthplace: Hartford, Connecticut, United States of America

Also Ranked

#8 on The Greatest Actors & Actresses in Entertainment History

#2 on The Greatest American Actresses of All Time

#92 on Actors You Would Watch Read the Phone Book

#30 on Celebrities Whose Names Are Hardest to Spell

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Bette Davis is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 22 Famous Actresses of the 1930s
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Bette Davis, known for her bewitching eyes and cynical characters, started her career appearing in the 1931 film The Bad Sister. She went on to win two Academy Awards in her over 50-year career.

Ruth Elizabeth Davis, known as Bette Davis, was an American actress of film, television and theater. Regarded as one of the greatest actors in cinema history, she was noted for her willingness to play unsympathetic, sardonic characters and was reputed for her performances in a range of film genres, ...more

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Age: Died at 81 (1908-1989)

Credits (Film): All About Eve, P.S. I Love You, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, The Watcher in the Woods, Burnt Offerings, + more

Birthplace: Lowell, Massachusetts, United States of America

Also Ranked

#5 on The Best Actresses in Film History

#7 on The Greatest Actors & Actresses in Entertainment History

#5 on The Greatest American Actresses of All Time

#62 on People We Wish Were Still Alive

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Vivien Leigh is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 22 Famous Actresses of the 1930s
Photo: Freebase/Public domain
Vivien Leigh starred in one of the most popular films of the 1930s and beyond when she appeared alongside Clark Gable in the 1939 Oscar-winner Gone with the Wind. She was married to the accomplished actor Laurence Olivier from 1940 - 1960.

Vivian Mary Hartley, later known as Vivien Leigh, was an English stage and film actress. She won two Academy Awards for Best Actress for her performances as "Southern belle" Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind and Blanche DuBois in the film version of A Streetcar Named Desire, a role she had also ...more

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Age: Died at 54 (1913-1967)

Credits (Film): Gone with the Wind, A Streetcar Named Desire, Ship of Fools, Waterloo Bridge, Fire Over England, + more

Birthplace: Darjeeling, India

Also Ranked

#4 on The Best Actresses in Film History

#79 on The Greatest Actors & Actresses in Entertainment History

#44 on The Greatest Broadway Stars of All Time

#61 on The Greatest Actress Performances of All Time

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Barbara Stanwyck is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 22 Famous Actresses of the 1930s
Photo: Antonio Marín Segovia/flickr/CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0
In her later years, Barbara Stanwyck was known for her roles on popular TV series like Dynasty and The Colbys, but she appeared in over a dozen feature films in the 1930s. She was nominated for an Academy Award for her role in the 1938 picture Stella Dallas and she won an Honorary Oscar for her contribution to film in 1982.

Barbara Stanwyck was an American actress. She was a film and television star, known during her 60-year career as a consummate and versatile professional with a strong, realistic screen presence, and a favorite of directors including Cecil B. DeMille, Fritz Lang and Frank Capra. After a short but ...more

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Age: Died at 83 (1907-1990)

Credits (Film): Double Indemnity, The Lady Eve, Forty Guns, Titanic, Ball of Fire, + more

Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States of America

Also Ranked

#58 on The Best Actresses in Film History

#60 on The Greatest American Actresses of All Time

#23 on The Best Actresses Who Have Never Won an Oscar (for Acting)

#55 on The Greatest Western Movie Stars

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