Actresses The Greatest American Actresses of All Time  

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157.6k votes 11.2k voters 78.6k views 159 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
1,905 1,017
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
2,268 1,644
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
1,267 1,266
Bette Davis is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
All About Eve, Dark Victory, Jezebel

4
1,146 991
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
1,333 869
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
1,365 1,177
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
1,277 635
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
998 988
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
924 495
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
1,014 1,452
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
811 964
Frances McDormand is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Fargo, Burn After Reading, Almost Famous

12
951 1,273
Elizabeth Taylor is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Cleopatra, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

13
912 1,164
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
938 708
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
886 977
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
950 862
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
1,155 657
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
882 795
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
989 935
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
842 1,212
Sigourney Weaver is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
looksharp added Alien, Ghostbusters, Avatar

21
727 688
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
1,049 856
Julia Roberts is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Pretty Woman, Erin Brockovich, Steel Magnolias

23
761 598
Natalie Wood is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Rebel Without a Cause, West Side Story, Miracle on 24th Street

24
916 736
Michelle Pfeiffer is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
The Family, Scarface, What Lies Beneath

25
1,223 899
Sandra Bullock is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Miss Congeniality, Gravity, The Blind Side

26
592 672
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
758 990
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
516 414
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
784 691
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
561 561
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
625 567
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
494 289
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
743 649
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
660 381
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
687 549
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
548 197
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
590 846
Goldie Hawn is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Overboard, First Wives Club, Private Benjamin

38
423 211
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
515 332
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
602 451
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
512 464
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
577 1,052
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
543 337
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
333 143
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
896 524
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
532 473
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
541 664
Hilary Swank is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Boys Don't Cry, Million Dollar Baby, Freedom Writers

48
361 322
Angela Bassett is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
CraigAlarm added Boyz n the Hood, Green Lantern, Malcolm X

49
468 244
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
680 721
Amy Adams is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Her, American Hustle, Enchanted