film The Greatest American Actresses of All Time  

Originally by
86.5k votes 7.9k voters 43.9k views 141 items Embed

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. 
list ordered by

1
932 652
Katharine Hepburn is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Katharine Hepburn The Philadelphia Story, The African Queen, Bringing Up Baby

The Best Living American Actors The Greatest Horror Films of All Time

2
1,221 871
Meryl Streep is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Meryl Streep The Iron Lady, Kramer vs. Kramer, The Devil Wears Prada

3
742 478
Joan Crawford is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
stefan-komisch added Joan Crawford What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, Grand Hotel, Mildred Pierce

4
690 782
Bette Davis is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Bette Davis All About Eve, Dark Victory, Jezebel

5
766 704
Jodie Foster is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Jodie Foster The Silence of the Lambs, Taxi Driver, The Accused

6
578 595
Jessica Lange is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
looksharp added Jessica Lange Tootsie, Big Fish, Cape Fear

7
395 465
Kathy Bates is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
DolittleD added Kathy Bates Titanic, Misery, The Blind Side

8
506 341
Sally Field is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
DolittleD added Sally Field Forrest Gump, The Amazing Spider-Man, Mrs. Doubtfire

9
526 705
Glenn Close is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
jsnungaray added Glenn Close Dangerous Liaisons, Cookie's Fortune, The World According to Garp

10
543 922
Susan Sarandon is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Susan Sarandon Thelma and Louise, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Dead Man Walking

11
487 474
Anne Bancroft is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Anne Bancroft The Graduate, The Miracle Worker, The Elephant Man

12
493 818
Elizabeth Taylor is listed (or ranked) 12 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?

13
534 627
Diane Keaton is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Diane Keaton Annie Hall, Something's Gotta Give, The Godfather

14
431 559
Jane Fonda is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Jane Fonda On Golden Pond, Klute, Monster-in-Law

15
401 575
Frances McDormand is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Frances McDormand Fargo, Burn After Reading, Almost Famous

The Best Actresses Who Won Oscars and Globes for the Same Role 50 Movies That Contained Future Stars

16
419 259
Judy Garland is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
stefan-komisch added Judy Garland The Wizard of Oz, P.S. I Love You, Judgment at Nuremberg

17
447 759
Sigourney Weaver is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
looksharp added Sigourney Weaver Alien, Ghostbusters, Avatar

18
522 629
Julianne Moore is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Julianne Moore The Kids Are All Right, Non-Stop, Carrie

19
394 479
Sissy Spacek is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Sissy Spacek Carrie, Coal Miner's Daughter, In the Bedroom

20
421 616
Shirley MacLaine is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Shirley MacLaine Terms of Endearment, The Apartment, Steel Magnolias

21
493 541
Michelle Pfeiffer is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Michelle Pfeiffer The Family, Scarface, What Lies Beneath

22
526 472
Grace Kelly is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Grace Kelly To Catch a Thief, Rear Window, Dial M for Murder

23
457 531
Lauren Bacall is listed (or ranked) 23 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

24
557 611
Julia Roberts is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Julia Roberts Pretty Woman, Erin Brockovich, Steel Magnolias

25
623 709
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

26
341 481
Annette Bening is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Annette Bening The Kids Are All Right, American Beauty, The American President

27
421 439
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

28
314 306
Whoopi Goldberg is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
CraigAlarm added Whoopi Goldberg The Lion King, Toy Story 3, Ghost

29
241 244
Jessica Tandy is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
CraigAlarm added Jessica Tandy The Birds, Driving Miss Daisy, Fried Green Tomatoes

The Best Living American Actresses The Best Children's Books for Adults to Revisit

30
284 217
Myrna Loy is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
CraigAlarm added Myrna Loy The Best Years of Our Lives, The Thin Man, The End

31
420 439
Helen Hunt is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Helen Hunt As Good As It Gets, What Women Want, Pay it Forward

32
313 380
Ellen Burstyn is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Ellen Burstyn The Exorcist, Requiem for a Dream, Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore

33
197 119
Diane Lane is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
looksharp added Diane Lane Man of Steel, The Outsiders, The Perfect Storm

34
300 543
Goldie Hawn is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Goldie Hawn Overboard, First Wives Club, Private Benjamin

35
272 245
Mary Tyler Moore is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
CraigAlarm added Mary Tyler Moore Ordinary People, Moon, Flirting with Disaster

36
273 358
Lucille Ball is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
CraigAlarm added Lucille Ball All the Right Moves, Top Hat, Stage Door

37
290 265
Jean Stapleton is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
CraigAlarm added Jean Stapleton You've Got Mail, Klute, Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World

38
183 202
Kathleen Turner is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
CraigAlarm added Kathleen Turner Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Virgin Suicides, The War of the Roses

39
340 696
Barbara Stanwyck is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Barbara Stanwyck The Lady Eve, Ball of Fire, Sorry

40
176 305
Anjelica Huston is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
CraigAlarm added Anjelica Huston One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, This Is Spinal Tap, The Royal Tenenbaums

41
299 283
Shirley Temple is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
CraigAlarm added Shirley Temple Fort Apache, Heidi, The Little Colonel

42
278 433
Joanne Woodward is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Joanne Woodward The Three Faces of Eve, Rachel, Rachel

43
443 817
Mary McDonnell is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
FranciscodeSouza added Mary McDonnell Donnie Darko, Dances with Wolves, Independence Day

The Best Movies Directed by Women The Best Bars and Pubs in London

44
165 155
Thelma Ritter is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
punksnotdead added Thelma Ritter Rear Window, All About Eve, Miracle on 34th Street

45
142 77
Ginger Rogers is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Amos added Ginger Rogers Top Hat, Swing Time, The Gay Divorcee

46
350 486
Amy Adams is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Amy Adams Her, American Hustle, Enchanted

47
163 194
Claudette Colbert is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
screwballcomedyfan added Claudette Colbert It Happened One Night, The Palm Beach Story, It's a Wonderful World

48
110 61
Rachel McAdams is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
swirlyt added Rachel McAdams Mean Girls, The Notebook, Wedding Crashers

49
261 310
Gene Tierney is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Gene Tierney Laura, Leave Her to Heaven, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir

50
234 319
Robin Wright is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Robin Wright Forrest Gump, The Princess Bride, The Congress