Actresses The Greatest American Actresses of All Time  

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154.1k votes 11k voters 76.4k 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
1,857 988
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
2,206 1,608
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
1,333 1,137
Jodie Foster is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
The Silence of the Lambs, Taxi Driver, The Accused

4
1,232 1,238
Bette Davis is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
All About Eve, Dark Victory, Jezebel

5
1,120 949
Jessica Lange is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
looksharp added Tootsie, Big Fish, Cape Fear

6
1,303 840
Joan Crawford is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
stefan-komisch added What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, Grand Hotel, Mildred Pierce

7
1,250 599
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
970 956
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
904 464
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
915 695
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
989 1,420
Susan Sarandon is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Thelma and Louise, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Dead Man Walking

12
927 1,248
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
785 942
Frances McDormand is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Fargo, Burn After Reading, Almost Famous

14
890 1,144
Glenn Close is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
jsnungaray added Dangerous Liaisons, Cookie's Fortune, The World According to Garp

15
867 954
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
1,133 647
Grace Kelly is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
To Catch a Thief, Rear Window, Dial M for Murder

17
865 779
Lauren Bacall is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
To Have and Have Not, The Big Sleep, How to Marry a Millionaire

18
824 1,193
Sigourney Weaver is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
looksharp added Alien, Ghostbusters, Avatar

19
923 843
Julianne Moore is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
The Kids Are All Right, Non-Stop, Carrie

20
965 921
Diane Keaton is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Annie Hall, Something's Gotta Give, The Godfather

21
709 679
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
1,027 839
Julia Roberts is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Pretty Woman, Erin Brockovich, Steel Magnolias

23
901 723
Michelle Pfeiffer is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
The Family, Scarface, What Lies Beneath

24
736 587
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
1,192 885
Sandra Bullock is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Miss Congeniality, Gravity, The Blind Side

26
744 977
Shirley MacLaine is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Terms of Endearment, The Apartment, Steel Magnolias

27
501 404
Jessica Tandy is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
CraigAlarm added The Birds, Driving Miss Daisy, Fried Green Tomatoes

28
770 669
Whoopi Goldberg is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
CraigAlarm added The Lion King, Toy Story 3, Ghost

29
576 658
Annette Bening is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
The Kids Are All Right, American Beauty, The American President

30
612 550
Lucille Ball is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
CraigAlarm added All the Right Moves, Top Hat, Stage Door

31
726 638
Helen Hunt is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
As Good As It Gets, What Women Want, Pay it Forward

32
478 278
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
647 373
Myrna Loy is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
CraigAlarm added The Best Years of Our Lives, The Thin Man, The End

34
672 545
Joanne Woodward is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
The Three Faces of Eve, Rachel, Rachel

35
547 547
Ellen Burstyn is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
The Exorcist, Requiem for a Dream, Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore

36
530 189
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
579 834
Goldie Hawn is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Overboard, First Wives Club, Private Benjamin

38
500 325
Claudette Colbert is listed (or ranked) 38 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

39
404 206
Ginger Rogers is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Amos added Top Hat, Swing Time, The Gay Divorcee

40
587 443
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
500 451
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
567 1,039
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
532 328
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
523 463
Jean Stapleton is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
CraigAlarm added You've Got Mail, Klute, Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World

45
319 132
Rita Hayworth is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
pload added The Shawshank Redemption, Gilda, The Lady from Shanghai

46
879 511
Reese Witherspoon is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
FranciscodeSouza added American Psycho, Legally Blonde, Election

47
528 655
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
664 713
Amy Adams is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Her, American Hustle, Enchanted

49
360 380
Kathleen Turner is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
CraigAlarm added Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Virgin Suicides, The War of the Roses

50
455 233
Rachel McAdams is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
swirlyt added Mean Girls, The Notebook, Wedding Crashers