americans The Greatest American Actresses of All Time

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List Rules Vote up and add the best AMERICAN actresses to have ever lived. Vote on each actress's entire body of work. Remember, Helen Mirren is not American.

It takes a lot to make a movie great. There has to be excellent writing, production, direction, editing, and of course, acting. While the crew draws out the parameters for a movie, the actors are who color in the film to bring it to life, and without great acting, a great film can crumble. 

 These actresses are the ones who deliver time and again, regardless of how good the script or the production of the film is. These are the greatest American actresses ever. Who are the best actresses? That's up to you to decide. This list is votable and rerankable, and if you don't see someone on here that deserves a spot, feel free to add them. 

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Meryl Streep is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Meryl Streep The Iron Lady, Kramer vs. Kramer The Devil Wears Prada - Meryl Streep is an American actress. A three-time Academy Award winner, she is widely regarded as one of the greatest film actors of all time. Streep made her professional stage debut in The Playboy ...more

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Katharine Hepburn is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Katharine Hepburn The Philadelphia Story, The African Queen Bringing Up Baby - 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 ...more

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Joan Crawford is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Joan Crawford What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, Grand Hotel Mildred Pierce - Joan Crawford was an American film and television actress who started as a dancer and stage chorine. Beginning her career as a dancer in traveling theatrical companies before debuting as a chorine on ...more

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Jodie Foster is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Jodie Foster The Silence of the Lambs, Taxi Driver The Accused - Alicia Christian Foster, known professionally as Jodie Foster, is an American actress, film director, and producer. Foster began acting in commercials at the age of three, and her first significant ...more

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Bette Davis is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Bette Davis All About Eve, Dark Victory Jezebel - 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 ...more

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Sally Field is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Sally Field Forrest Gump, The Amazing Spider-Man Mrs. Doubtfire - Sally Margaret Field is an American actress and director. She is known for her film roles in Smokey and the Bandit, Norma Rae, Places in the Heart, Murphy's Romance, Steel Magnolias, Mrs. Doubtfire, ...more

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Judy Garland is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Judy Garland The Wizard of Oz, P.S. I Love You Judgment at Nuremberg - Judy Garland was an American singer, actress, and vaudevillian. She was renowned for her vocals and attained international stardom which continued throughout a career that spanned more than 40 years ...more

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Diane Keaton is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Diane Keaton Annie Hall, Something's Gotta Give The Godfather - Diane Keaton is an actress, television director and producer and screenwriter.

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Jessica Lange is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Jessica Lange Tootsie, Big Fish Cape Fear - Jessica Phyllis Lange is an American actress who has worked in film, theater and television. She has won several awards, including two Oscars, three Emmys, five Golden Globes, one SAG Award and three ...more

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Anne Bancroft is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Anne Bancroft The Graduate, The Miracle Worker The Elephant Man - Anna Maria Louisa Italiano, known professionally as Anne Bancroft, was an American actress associated with the Method acting school, which she had studied under Lee Strasberg. Respected for her acting ...more

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Glenn Close is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Glenn Close Dangerous Liaisons, Cookie's Fortune The World According to Garp - Glenn Close is an American film, television and stage actress. Throughout her long and varied career, she has been consistently acclaimed for her versatility and is widely regarded as one of the ...more

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Kathy Bates is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Kathy Bates Titanic, Misery The Blind Side - Kathleen Doyle "Kathy" Bates is an American actress and film director. After appearing in several minor roles in film and television during the 1970s and the 1980s, Bates rose to prominence ...more

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Lauren Bacall is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Lauren Bacall To Have and Have Not, The Big Sleep How to Marry a Millionaire - Lauren Bacall was an American actress known for her distinctive voice and sultry looks. She was named the 20th greatest actress of the 20th century by the American Film Institute and received an ...more

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Frances McDormand is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Frances McDormand Fargo, Burn After Reading Almost Famous - Frances Louise McDormand is an American actress. She married director and writer Joel Coen in 1984 and has starred in several of the Coen brothers' films, including Blood Simple, Raising Arizona, The ...more

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Elizabeth Taylor is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Elizabeth Taylor Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Cleopatra Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? - Dame Elizabeth Rosemond "Liz" Taylor, DBE was a British-born American actress. From her early years as a child star with MGM, she became one of the great screen actresses of Hollywood's ...more

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Jane Fonda is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Jane Fonda On Golden Pond, Klute Monster-in-Law - Jane Fonda is an American actress, writer, political activist, former fashion model and fitness guru. She is a two-time Academy Award winner. In 2014, she was the recipient of the American Film ...more

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Grace Kelly is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Grace Kelly To Catch a Thief, Rear Window Dial M for Murder - Grace Patricia Kelly was an American actress who, after marrying Prince Rainier III, became Princess of Monaco. After embarking on an acting career in 1950, at the age of 20, Kelly appeared in New ...more

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Shirley MacLaine is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Shirley MacLaine Terms of Endearment, The Apartment Steel Magnolias - Shirley MacLean Beaty, known professionally as Shirley MacLaine, is an American film, television and theater actress, singer, dancer, activist and author. She has won one Academy Award, five Golden ...more

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Myrna Loy is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Myrna Loy The Best Years of Our Lives, The Thin Man The End - Myrna Loy was an American film, television and stage actress. Trained as a dancer, Loy devoted herself fully to an acting career following a few minor roles in silent films. She was originally ...more

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Mary Tyler Moore is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Mary Tyler Moore Ordinary People, Moon Flirting with Disaster - Mary Tyler Moore is an American actress, primarily known for her roles in television sitcoms. Moore is best known for The Mary Tyler Moore Show, in which she starred as Mary Richards, a 30-something ...more

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Jean Stapleton is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Jean Stapleton You've Got Mail, Klute Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World - Jean Stapleton was an American character actress of stage, television and film. Stapleton is best known for having portrayed Edith Bunker, the long-suffering, yet devoted wife of Archie Bunker and ...more

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Julianne Moore is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Julianne Moore The Kids Are All Right, Non-Stop Carrie - Julianne Moore is an American-British actress and children's author. Prolific in cinema since the early 1990s, Moore is active in both art house and Hollywood films. She is particularly known for her ...more

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Michelle Pfeiffer is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Michelle Pfeiffer The Family, Scarface What Lies Beneath - Michelle Marie Pfeiffer is an American actress and singer. She made her film debut in 1980 in The Hollywood Knights, but first garnered mainstream attention with her breakout performance in Scarface. ...more

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Helen Hunt is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Helen Hunt As Good As It Gets, What Women Want Pay it Forward - Helen Hunt was a hair stylist in Hollywood movies from the 1930s up to 1967, when she worked on Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. She was the chief hair stylist for Columbia Pictures. Hunt fell into her ...more

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Sandra Bullock is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Sandra Bullock Miss Congeniality, Gravity The Blind Side - Sandra Annette Bullock is an American actress and film producer. She is one of Hollywood's highest-paid actresses, and is the recipient of one Academy Award from two nominations, and one Golden Globe ...more

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Julia Roberts is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Julia Roberts Pretty Woman, Erin Brockovich Steel Magnolias - Julia Fiona Roberts is an American actress and producer. She became a Hollywood star after headlining the romantic comedy Pretty Woman, which grossed $464 million worldwide. After winning two Golden ...more

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Natalie Wood is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Natalie Wood Rebel Without a Cause, West Side Story Miracle on 24th Street - Natalie Wood was an American film and television actress best known for her screen roles in Miracle on 34th Street, Splendor in the Grass, Rebel Without a Cause, and West Side Story. After first ...more

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Shirley Temple is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Shirley Temple Fort Apache, Heidi The Little Colonel - Shirley Temple Black was an American film and television actress, singer, dancer and public servant, most famous as Hollywood's number one box-office star from 1935 through 1938. As an adult, she ...more

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Sigourney Weaver is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Sigourney Weaver Alien, Ghostbusters Avatar - Sigourney Weaver is an American actress and film producer, known for playing Ellen Ripley in the Alien franchise. Following her film debut as a minor character in Annie Hall, Weaver quickly came to ...more

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Susan Sarandon is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Susan Sarandon Thelma and Louise, The Rocky Horror Picture Show Dead Man Walking - Susan Abigail Sarandon is an American actress. She is an Academy Award and BAFTA Award winner who is also known for her social and political activism for a variety of liberal causes. She was appointed ...more

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Whoopi Goldberg is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Whoopi Goldberg The Lion King, Toy Story 3 Ghost - Whoopi Goldberg is an American actress, comedienne, political activist, writer, producer, and television host. Although Goldberg made her film debut in the avant-garde ensemble film Citizen: I'm Not ...more

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Sissy Spacek is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Sissy Spacek Carrie, Coal Miner's Daughter In the Bedroom - Sissy Spacek is an American actress and singer. She is an Academy Award winner and three-time Golden Globe Award winner. Spacek began her career in the early 1970s and first gained attention for her ...more

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Mary McDonnell is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Mary McDonnell Donnie Darko, Dances with Wolves Independence Day - Mary Eileen McDonnell is an American film, stage, and television actress. She received Academy Award nominations for her roles as Stands With A Fist in Dances with Wolves and May-Alice Culhane in ...more

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Ginger Rogers is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Ginger Rogers Top Hat, Swing Time The Gay Divorcee - Ginger Rogers was an American actress, dancer and singer who appeared in films, and on stage, radio, and television throughout much of the 20th century. During her long career, she made 73 films, ...more

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Irene Dunne is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Irene Dunne The Awful Truth, Cimarron Life with Father - Irene Dunne was an American film actress and singer of the 1930s, 1940s and early 1950s. Dunne was nominated five times for the Academy Award for Best Actress, for her performances in Cimarron, ...more

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Jessica Tandy is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Jessica Tandy The Birds, Driving Miss Daisy Fried Green Tomatoes - Jessica Alice Tandy was a British-American stage and film actress, who spent most of her 67-year career in the United States. She appeared in over 100 stage productions and had more than 60 roles in ...more

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Goldie Hawn is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Goldie Hawn Overboard, First Wives Club Private Benjamin - Goldie Jeanne Hawn is an American actress, film director, producer, and occasional singer. Hawn is known for her roles in television's Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In and films such as The Sugarland ...more

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Ellen Burstyn is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Ellen Burstyn The Exorcist, Requiem for a Dream Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore - Ellen Burstyn is an American actress. Her career began in theatre during the late 1950s, and over the next decade included several films and television series. Burstyn's performance in the acclaimed ...more

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Lucille Ball is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Lucille Ball All the Right Moves, Top Hat Stage Door - Lucille Désirée Ball was an American actress, comedian, model, and film studio executive. She was the star of the sitcoms I Love Lucy, The Lucy–Desi Comedy Hour, The Lucy Show, Here's ...more

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Annette Bening is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Annette Bening The Kids Are All Right, American Beauty The American President - Annette Carol Bening is an American actress. She began her career on the stage and in 1987 she was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play for her performance in Coastal ...more

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Kathleen Turner is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Kathleen Turner Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Virgin Suicides The War of the Roses - Mary Kathleen Turner, better known as Kathleen Turner, is an American film and stage actress and director. Turner came to fame during the 1980s, after roles in Body Heat, Romancing the Stone, and ...more

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Reese Witherspoon is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Reese Witherspoon American Psycho, Legally Blonde Election - Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon is an American actress and producer. She made her film debut as the female lead in the film The Man in the Moon in 1991. In 1996, she appeared in Freeway and starred in ...more

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Diane Lane is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Diane Lane Man of Steel, The Outsiders The Perfect Storm - Diane Lane is an American actress. Born and raised in New York City, Lane made her screen debut in George Roy Hill's 1979 film A Little Romance, starring opposite Sir Laurence Olivier. Soon after, she ...more

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Donna Reed is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Donna Reed It's a Wonderful Life, From Here to Eternity Cinema Paradiso - Donna Reed was an American film and television actress and producer. Her career spanned over forty years, with appearances in over forty films. She is well known for her role as Mary Hatch Bailey in ...more

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Doris Day is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Doris Day Pillow Talk, The Man Who Knew Too Much Lover Come Back - Doris Day is an American actress, singer, and animal rights activist. Day began her career as a big band singer in 1939. Her popularity began to rise after her first hit recording "Sentimental ...more

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Gene Tierney is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Gene Tierney Laura, Leave Her to Heaven The Ghost and Mrs. Muir - Gene Eliza Tierney was an American film and stage actress. Acclaimed as a great beauty, she became established as a leading lady. Tierney was best known for her portrayal of the title character in the ...more

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Thelma Ritter is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Thelma Ritter Rear Window, All About Eve Miracle on 34th Street - Thelma Ritter was an American actress, best known for her comedic roles as working class characters and strong New York accent. She received six Academy Award nominations for Best Supporting Actress, ...more

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Debbie Reynolds is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Debbie Reynolds Singin' in the Rain, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Charlotte's Web - Debbie Reynolds is an American actress, singer, and dancer. Initially signed at age sixteen by Warner Bros., Reynolds' career got off to a slow start. When her contract was not renewed, ...more

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Bette Midler is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Bette Midler Oliver & Company, Hocus Pocus Fantasia 2000 - Bette Midler, also known by her informal stage name The Divine Miss M, is an American singer, songwriter, actress, comedian, and film producer. In a career spanning almost half a century, Midler has ...more

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Barbara Stanwyck is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Barbara Stanwyck The Lady Eve, Ball of Fire Sorry - 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 ...more