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24 Famous Actresses of the 1930s

Updated May 7, 2021 142.9k views24 items

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. She is one of the 1930s starlets you are bound to recognize.

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. 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. 

Scroll on below to learn a little more about these 1930s female movie stars.

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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.

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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.

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      • 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.

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        • 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.

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