Entertainment

The Greatest American Actresses of All Time  

Ranker Film
Originally by
168.9k votes 11.9k voters 85.9k views 175 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
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
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
Bette Davis is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
All About Eve, Dark Victory, Jezebel
4
Joan Crawford is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
stefan-komisch added What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, Grand Hotel, Mildred Pierce
5
Judy Garland is listed (or ranked) 5 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
6
Kathy Bates is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
DolittleD added Titanic, Misery, The Blind Side
7
Jessica Lange is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
looksharp added Tootsie, Big Fish, Cape Fear
8
Sally Field is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
DolittleD added Forrest Gump, The Amazing Spider-Man, Mrs. Doubtfire
9
Grace Kelly is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
To Catch a Thief, Rear Window, Dial M for Murder
10
Anne Bancroft is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
The Graduate, The Miracle Worker, The Elephant Man
11
Jodie Foster is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
The Silence of the Lambs, Taxi Driver, The Accused
12
Glenn Close is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
jsnungaray added Dangerous Liaisons, Cookie's Fortune, The World According to Garp
13
Frances McDormand is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Fargo, Burn After Reading, Almost Famous
14
Jane Fonda is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
On Golden Pond, Klute, Monster-in-Law
15
Susan Sarandon is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Thelma and Louise, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Dead Man Walking
16
Elizabeth Taylor is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Cleopatra, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
17
Myrna Loy is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
CraigAlarm added The Best Years of Our Lives, The Thin Man, The End
18
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
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
Sandra Bullock is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Miss Congeniality, Gravity, The Blind Side
21
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
Sigourney Weaver is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
looksharp added Alien, Ghostbusters, Avatar
23
Jessica Tandy is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
CraigAlarm added The Birds, Driving Miss Daisy, Fried Green Tomatoes
24
Julianne Moore is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
The Kids Are All Right, Non-Stop, Carrie
25
Claudette Colbert is listed (or ranked) 25 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