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24 Famous Actresses of the 1930s

Updated April 12, 2021 141.9k 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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  • Photo: elena-lu / flickr / CC-BY-NC 2.0

    Joan Crawford was a working actress for over 40 years, but she became a bona fide movie star in the 1930s. In the 1930s and 1940s, she was signed to MGM and was one of the highest paid women in film.

    • Age: Dec. at 73 (1904-1977)
    • Credits (Film): What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, Grand Hotel, Mildred Pierce, Johnny Guitar, Hush… Hush
    • Birthplace: San Antonio, Texas, United States of America

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  • Photo: Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    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.

    • Age: Dec. at 93 (1903-1996)
    • Credits (Film): It Happened One Night, The Palm Beach Story, It's a Wonderful World, Hitchcock, Since You Went Away
    • Birthplace: Saint-Mandé, France

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  • A timeless beauty, Greta Garbo was one of the most popular actresses of the 1920s and 1930s. She appeared in such films as Ninotchka, Camille, and Anna Karenina.

    • Age: Dec. at 85 (1905-1990)
    • Credits (Film): Annie, Cinema Paradiso, Grand Hotel, Ninotchka, Queen Christina
    • Birthplace: Stockholm, Sweden

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  • Rita Hayworth started her career in the 1930s, though she was credited as Rita Cansino for many of her first roles. She was later immortalized in the Stephen King novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption.

    • Age: Dec. at 69 (1918-1987)
    • Credits (Film): The Shawshank Redemption, Gilda, The Lady from Shanghai, The Strawberry Blonde, The Wrath of God
    • Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States of America

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