Actresses The Greatest American Actresses of All Time  

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155.3k votes 11.1k voters 77.1k views 154 items

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. Who is the greatest American actress of all time? 

These actresses are the ones who deliver time and again, regardless of how good the script or the production of the film is. From classic Hollywood legends to new rising stars, 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
1,876 997
Katharine Hepburn is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
The Philadelphia Story, The African Queen, Bringing Up Baby

2
2,227 1,624
Meryl Streep is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
The Iron Lady, Kramer vs. Kramer, The Devil Wears Prada

3
1,242 1,244
Bette Davis is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
All About Eve, Dark Victory, Jezebel

4
1,132 961
Jessica Lange is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
looksharp added Tootsie, Big Fish, Cape Fear

5
1,314 847
Joan Crawford is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
stefan-komisch added What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, Grand Hotel, Mildred Pierce

6
1,342 1,149
Jodie Foster is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
The Silence of the Lambs, Taxi Driver, The Accused

7
1,258 610
Sally Field is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
DolittleD added Forrest Gump, The Amazing Spider-Man, Mrs. Doubtfire

8
979 965
Kathy Bates is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
DolittleD added Titanic, Misery, The Blind Side

9
911 471
Judy Garland is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
stefan-komisch added The Wizard of Oz, P.S. I Love You, Judgment at Nuremberg

10
997 1,431
Susan Sarandon is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Thelma and Louise, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Dead Man Walking

11
934 1,258
Elizabeth Taylor is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Cleopatra, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

12
790 952
Frances McDormand is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Fargo, Burn After Reading, Almost Famous

13
898 1,151
Glenn Close is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
jsnungaray added Dangerous Liaisons, Cookie's Fortune, The World According to Garp

14
923 698
Anne Bancroft is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
The Graduate, The Miracle Worker, The Elephant Man

15
873 960
Jane Fonda is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
On Golden Pond, Klute, Monster-in-Law

16
933 848
Julianne Moore is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
The Kids Are All Right, Non-Stop, Carrie

17
1,141 650
Grace Kelly is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
To Catch a Thief, Rear Window, Dial M for Murder

18
869 785
Lauren Bacall is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
To Have and Have Not, The Big Sleep, How to Marry a Millionaire

19
970 927
Diane Keaton is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Annie Hall, Something's Gotta Give, The Godfather

20
830 1,199
Sigourney Weaver is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
looksharp added Alien, Ghostbusters, Avatar

21
715 682
Sissy Spacek is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Carrie, Coal Miner's Daughter, In the Bedroom

22
1,032 844
Julia Roberts is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Pretty Woman, Erin Brockovich, Steel Magnolias

23
908 727
Michelle Pfeiffer is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
The Family, Scarface, What Lies Beneath

24
743 591
Natalie Wood is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Rebel Without a Cause, West Side Story, Miracle on 24th Street

25
1,203 887
Sandra Bullock is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Miss Congeniality, Gravity, The Blind Side

26
580 662
Annette Bening is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
The Kids Are All Right, American Beauty, The American President

27
750 981
Shirley MacLaine is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Terms of Endearment, The Apartment, Steel Magnolias

28
505 407
Jessica Tandy is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
CraigAlarm added The Birds, Driving Miss Daisy, Fried Green Tomatoes

29
774 674
Whoopi Goldberg is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
CraigAlarm added The Lion King, Toy Story 3, Ghost

30
553 552
Ellen Burstyn is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
The Exorcist, Requiem for a Dream, Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore

31
616 555
Lucille Ball is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
CraigAlarm added All the Right Moves, Top Hat, Stage Door

32
482 281
Diane Lane is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
looksharp added Man of Steel, The Outsiders, The Perfect Storm

33
729 641
Helen Hunt is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
As Good As It Gets, What Women Want, Pay it Forward

34
652 376
Myrna Loy is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
CraigAlarm added The Best Years of Our Lives, The Thin Man, The End

35
677 548
Joanne Woodward is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
The Three Faces of Eve, Rachel, Rachel

36
535 192
Susan Hayward is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
CraigAlarm added Demetrius and the Gladiators, I Want to Live!, Valley of the Dolls

37
582 839
Goldie Hawn is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Overboard, First Wives Club, Private Benjamin

38
410 208
Ginger Rogers is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Amos added Top Hat, Swing Time, The Gay Divorcee

39
505 328
Claudette Colbert is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
screwballcomedyfan added It Happened One Night, The Palm Beach Story, It's a Wonderful World

40
591 446
Gene Tierney is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Laura, Leave Her to Heaven, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir

41
502 458
Mary Tyler Moore is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
CraigAlarm added Ordinary People, Moon, Flirting with Disaster

42
570 1,045
Barbara Stanwyck is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
The Lady Eve, Ball of Fire, Sorry

43
535 331
Helen Hayes is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
looksharp added Cinema Paradiso, Airport, Herbie Rides Again

44
324 137
Rita Hayworth is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
pload added The Shawshank Redemption, Gilda, The Lady from Shanghai

45
885 514
Reese Witherspoon is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
FranciscodeSouza added American Psycho, Legally Blonde, Election

46
526 465
Jean Stapleton is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
CraigAlarm added You've Got Mail, Klute, Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World

47
353 315
Angela Bassett is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
CraigAlarm added Boyz n the Hood, Green Lantern, Malcolm X

48
532 659
Hilary Swank is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Boys Don't Cry, Million Dollar Baby, Freedom Writers

49
460 236
Rachel McAdams is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
swirlyt added Mean Girls, The Notebook, Wedding Crashers

50
667 716
Amy Adams is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Her, American Hustle, Enchanted