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35 Famous Movie Stars of the 1930s

Updated October 15, 2019 121.4k views35 items

Lights, camera, action! These famous movie stars were the very definition of glitz and glamour in in the 1930s. Despite the recent stock market crash and the start of the Great Depression, 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 actors actresses of all time, many of whom are Academy Award winners, as well as classic film stars.

Who is the most popular movie star of the 1930s? James Stewart tops our list. Known for playing everyday men with real-life problems, James Stewart appeared in some of the most popular films of all-time in his over 50-year career. In the 1930s, he starred in such classics as Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and Destry Rides Again. Other great actors from the 1930s include Carey Grant, Humphrey Bogart and Henry Fonda.

Many great actresses thrived in the 1930s as well. Bette Davis, known for her bewitching eyes and cynical characters, started her career by appearing in the 1931 film, The Bad Sister. She went on to win two Academy Awards in her over 50-year career. Joan Crawford was a working actress for over 40 years, but she became a bonafide movie star in the 1930s. She was signed to MGM, and became one of the highest paid women in film of the decade.

Which 1930s movie star is your favorite? Take a look at this list and share your thoughts in the comments section.
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  • James Stewart is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 35 Famous Movie Stars of the 1930s
    Photo: Studio publicity still / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
    Known for playing everyday men with real-life problems, James Stewart appeared in some of the most popular films of all-time in his over 50-year career. In the 1930s, he starred in such classics as Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and Destry Rides Again.
    • Credits (Film): It's a Wonderful Life, Vertigo, Rear Window, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, The Philadelphia Story
    • Birthplace: Indiana, Pennsylvania, United States of America
    • Age: Dec. at 89 (1908-1997)
  • Cary Grant is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 35 Famous Movie Stars of the 1930s
    Photo: kate gabrielle / flickr / CC-BY 2.0
    Holiday and Bringing Up Baby are just two of the great 1930s films that featured Cary Grant. He was named the second Greatest Male Star of All Time by the American Film Institute, losing the top spot to fellow 1930s movie star Humphrey Bogart.
    • Credits (Film): North by Northwest, Bringing Up Baby, His Girl Friday, The Philadelphia Story, Arsenic and Old Lace
    • Birthplace: United Kingdom
    • Age: Dec. at 82 (1904-1986)

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  • Henry Fonda is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 35 Famous Movie Stars of the 1930s
    Photo: US Navy / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
    Known for his stoic performances in Western films, Henry Fonda first got his start in the 1935 movie The Farmer Takes a Wife. He has three children including Jane and Peter Fonda.
    • Credits (Film): Once Upon a Time in the West, 12 Angry Men, The Grapes of Wrath, The Longest Day, How the West Was Won
    • Birthplace: Grand Island, Nebraska, United States of America
    • Age: Dec. at 77 (1905-1982)

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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.
    • Credits (Film): Bringing Up Baby, The Philadelphia Story, The African Queen, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, On Golden Pond
    • Birthplace: Hartford, Connecticut, United States of America
    • Age: Dec. at 96 (1907-2003)

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