The Greatest Broadway Stars of All Time

By 6.5k votes 951 voters 14k views 110 items tags f p @

List Criteria: Vote based on their Broadway careers.

These Broadway stars have been the biggest audience draws in the past, and many are sure to be in the future. All the theater stars on this list have performed at one of the forty designated Broadway theaters. Many theater actors listed here originated roles that have become beloved by audiences of all ages. From newer names (like Lea Michele) to old favorites who’ve passed on (such as Sammy Davis, Jr.), you’ll find them all here on this list of the greatest Broadway stars of all time.

Did you know that one amazing Broadway star performed two leading roles in a single day? Howard Keel, who later went on to star on the hit television show “Dallas,” understudied for the lead in Carousel in 1945. After he began performing in Oklahoma!, his understudy skills were needed - and he performed both plays in one night. Not only for his amazing performances, but also for his vigor, Keel has earned his place on this list of the most amazing Broadway stars.

Other Broadway stars are just beginning to make their marks. A prime example is Lea Michele, who is perhaps most widely recognized for her “Glee” character, Rachel Berry. She conquered the Broadway stage when she originated the role of Wendla in Spring Awakening. Audiences responded to her great Broadway performance, as did critics, and she was nominated for a Drama Desk Award. Michele and her cohort of Broadway newcomers are definitely building their names as the greatest Broadway performers.

On this list you’ll find all of the greatest Broadway stars from the past and present. Although some have left the stage, their memories live on and give new generations of Broadway stars something to aspire to. Cast your votes below for the greatest Broadway stars of all time.

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    Julie Andrews is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Broadway Stars of All Time

    Walton-on-Thames, United Kingdom Debuted on Broadway in 1954 in The Boy Friend.

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    Chita Rivera is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Broadway Stars of All Time

    Washington, D.C., United States of America Performed in Broadway shows including Can-Can and Guys and Dolls.

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    Robert Preston is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Broadway Stars of All Time

    Newton, Massachusetts, United States of America Won a Tony Award for his portrayal of Harold Hill in The Music Man.

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    Carol Channing is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Broadway Stars of All Time

    Seattle, Washington, United States of America Originated the role of Dolly Levi in Hello, Dolly!

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    Kristin Chenoweth is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Broadway Stars of All Time

    Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, United States of America Originated the role of Glinda in Wicked.

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    Gene Kelly is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Broadway Stars of All Time

    Gene Kelly Was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 1992.

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    Idina Menzel is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Broadway Stars of All Time

    New York City, New York, United States of America Originated the role of Elphaba in Wicked.

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    Bernadette Peters is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Broadway Stars of All Time

    Ozone Park, New York City, New York Critically acclaimed for her performances in Gypsy, Annie Get Your Gun, and more.

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  9. 9
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    Patti LuPone is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Broadway Stars of All Time

    Northport, Huntington, New York Won a Tony Award for her performance in Evita.

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  10. 10
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    Angela Lansbury is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Broadway Stars of All Time

    Poplar, London, United Kingdom Remembered for her Broadway performance in Mame.

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    Joel Grey is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Broadway Stars of All Time

    Cleveland, Ohio, United States of America Originated the role of Master of Ceremonies in Cabaret.

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    Carol Burnett is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Broadway Stars of All Time

    San Antonio, Texas, United States of America Has performed in musicals including I Do! I Do! and Love Letters.

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    Angeles, Philippines

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  14. 14
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    Ethel Merman is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Broadway Stars of All Time

    Astoria, New York City, New York Introduced many Broadway standards, including "Anything Goes" and "I Got Rhythm."

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    Nathan Lane is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Broadway Stars of All Time

    Jersey City, New Jersey, United States of America Won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his performance in The Producers.

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    Hugh Jackman is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Broadway Stars of All Time

    Sydney, Australia Performed in the Royal National Theatre's production of Oklahoma!

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    Manhattan, New York City, New York

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    Middletown, New York, United States of America

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    Matthew Broderick is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Broadway Stars of All Time

    Manhattan, New York City, New York Known for his portrayal of Leo Bloom in The Producers.

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  20. 20
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    Sutton Foster is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Broadway Stars of All Time

    Statesboro, Georgia, United States of America Regarded for her performance as Millie Dillmount in Thoroughly Modern Millie.

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  21. 21
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    Jerry Orbach is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Broadway Stars of All Time

    New York City, New York, United States of America Performed as Billy Flynn in the original production of Chicago.

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    Mandy Patinkin is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Broadway Stars of All Time

    Chicago, Illinois, United States of America Originated the role of George Seurat in Sunday in the Park with George.

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    Ben Vereen is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Broadway Stars of All Time

    Laurinburg, North Carolina, United States of America Known for his great performances in Wicked, Pippin, Jesus Christ Superstar, and more.

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    Gregory Hines is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Broadway Stars of All Time

    New York City, New York, United States of America Won a Tony Award for his work in Jelly's Last Jam.

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    Shirley Jones is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Broadway Stars of All Time

    Shirley Jones Was the first and only singer to be put under contract with Rodgers and Hammerstein.

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    Michael Crawford is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Broadway Stars of All Time

    Salisbury, United Kingdom Debuted on Broadway in Black Comedy.

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    Yul Brynner is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Broadway Stars of All Time

    Vladivostok, Russia Remembered for his portrayal of the King of Siam in The King and I.

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  28. 28
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    Megan Hilty is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Broadway Stars of All Time

    Bellevue, Washington, United States of America Noted for her performance as Glinda in Wicked.

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    Lancaster, Pennsylvania, United States of America

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    Madeline Kahn is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Broadway Stars of All Time

    Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America Nominated for a Tony Award for her performance in In the Boom Boom Room.

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    Lea Michele is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Broadway Stars of All Time

    New York City, New York, United States of America Has performed in musicals including Les Misérables and Fiddler on the Roof.

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    California, United States of America

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    Zero Mostel is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Broadway Stars of All Time

    New York City, New York, United States of America Remembered for his performance in Fiddler on the Roof.

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  34. 34
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    Mary Martin is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Broadway Stars of All Time

    Weatherford, Texas, United States of America Originated the role of Nellie Forbush in South Pacific.

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    Jessica Tandy is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Broadway Stars of All Time

    London Borough of Hackney, London, United Kingdom Won a Tony Award for her performance in A Streetcar Named Desire.

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    Sammy Davis, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Broadway Stars of All Time

    Harlem, New York City, New York Remembered for his role in Mr. Wonderful.

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  37. 37
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    Elaine Paige is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Broadway Stars of All Time

    London Borough of Barnet, United Kingdom Debuted on Broadway in Sunset Boulevard.

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  38. 38
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    Ian McKellen is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Broadway Stars of All Time

    Burnley, United Kingdom Performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company.

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  39. 39
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    Vivien Leigh is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Broadway Stars of All Time

    Darjeeling, India Played both Juliet and Cleopatra on the stage.

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    Glenn Close is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Broadway Stars of All Time

    Greenwich, Connecticut, United States of America Won a Tony Award for her performance in Sunset Boulevard.

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  41. 41
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    Elaine Stritch is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Broadway Stars of All Time

    Detroit, Michigan, United States of America Starred in the original production of Bus Stop.

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  42. 42
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    Jonathan Pryce is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Broadway Stars of All Time

    Holywell, United Kingdom Won a Tony Award for his performance in Miss Saigon.

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  43. 43
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    Colm Wilkinson is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Broadway Stars of All Time

    Drimnagh, Republic of Ireland Originated the role of Jean Valjean in Les Miserables.

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  44. 44
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    Audra McDonald is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Broadway Stars of All Time

    Berlin, Germany Won a Tony Award for her performance in Porgy and Bess.

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  45. 45
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    Patrick Stewart is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Broadway Stars of All Time

    Mirfield, United Kingdom Performed in a widely popular performance of Waiting for Godot.

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    Denver, Colorado, United States of America

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  48. 48
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    Samantha Barks is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Broadway Stars of All Time

    Samantha Barks Made her film debut in Les Miserables.

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    Bebe Neuwirth is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Broadway Stars of All Time

    Princeton, New Jersey, United States of America Debuted on Broadway in A Chorus Line.

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    Burnsville, Minnesota, United States of America

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