Actresses The Greatest American Actresses of All Time  

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153.9k votes 11k voters 76.2k 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. 

1
1,855 985
Katharine Hepburn is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Katharine Hepburn The Philadelphia Story, The African Queen, Bringing Up Baby

2
2,202 1,607
Meryl Streep is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Meryl Streep The Iron Lady, Kramer vs. Kramer, The Devil Wears Prada

3
1,331 1,135
Jodie Foster is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Jodie Foster The Silence of the Lambs, Taxi Driver, The Accused

4
1,228 1,236
Bette Davis is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Bette Davis All About Eve, Dark Victory, Jezebel

5
1,302 836
Joan Crawford is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
stefan-komisch added Joan Crawford What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, Grand Hotel, Mildred Pierce

6
1,118 947
Jessica Lange is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
looksharp added Jessica Lange Tootsie, Big Fish, Cape Fear

7
1,249 597
Sally Field is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
DolittleD added Sally Field Forrest Gump, The Amazing Spider-Man, Mrs. Doubtfire

8
968 955
Kathy Bates is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
DolittleD added Kathy Bates Titanic, Misery, The Blind Side

9
902 462
Judy Garland is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
stefan-komisch added Judy Garland The Wizard of Oz, P.S. I Love You, Judgment at Nuremberg

10
912 694
Anne Bancroft is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Anne Bancroft The Graduate, The Miracle Worker, The Elephant Man

11
986 1,419
Susan Sarandon is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Susan Sarandon Thelma and Louise, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Dead Man Walking

12
926 1,245
Elizabeth Taylor is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Elizabeth Taylor Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Cleopatra, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

13
782 942
Frances McDormand is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Frances McDormand Fargo, Burn After Reading, Almost Famous

14
888 1,143
Glenn Close is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
jsnungaray added Glenn Close Dangerous Liaisons, Cookie's Fortune, The World According to Garp

15
865 952
Jane Fonda is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Jane Fonda On Golden Pond, Klute, Monster-in-Law

16
1,131 645
Grace Kelly is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Grace Kelly To Catch a Thief, Rear Window, Dial M for Murder

17
862 778
Lauren Bacall is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Lauren Bacall To Have and Have Not, The Big Sleep, How to Marry a Millionaire

18
822 1,191
Sigourney Weaver is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
looksharp added Sigourney Weaver Alien, Ghostbusters, Avatar

19
922 841
Julianne Moore is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Julianne Moore The Kids Are All Right, Non-Stop, Carrie

20
963 919
Diane Keaton is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Diane Keaton Annie Hall, Something's Gotta Give, The Godfather

21
706 679
Sissy Spacek is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Sissy Spacek Carrie, Coal Miner's Daughter, In the Bedroom

22
1,026 837
Julia Roberts is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Julia Roberts Pretty Woman, Erin Brockovich, Steel Magnolias

23
900 721
Michelle Pfeiffer is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Michelle Pfeiffer The Family, Scarface, What Lies Beneath

24
736 585
Natalie Wood is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Natalie Wood Rebel Without a Cause, West Side Story, Miracle on 24th Street

25
1,192 883
Sandra Bullock is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Sandra Bullock Miss Congeniality, Gravity, The Blind Side

26
743 976
Shirley MacLaine is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Shirley MacLaine Terms of Endearment, The Apartment, Steel Magnolias

27
500 403
Jessica Tandy is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
CraigAlarm added Jessica Tandy The Birds, Driving Miss Daisy, Fried Green Tomatoes

28
769 668
Whoopi Goldberg is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
CraigAlarm added Whoopi Goldberg The Lion King, Toy Story 3, Ghost

29
574 657
Annette Bening is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Annette Bening The Kids Are All Right, American Beauty, The American President

30
612 548
Lucille Ball is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
CraigAlarm added Lucille Ball All the Right Moves, Top Hat, Stage Door

31
724 638
Helen Hunt is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Helen Hunt As Good As It Gets, What Women Want, Pay it Forward

32
477 276
Diane Lane is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
looksharp added Diane Lane Man of Steel, The Outsiders, The Perfect Storm

33
647 371
Myrna Loy is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
CraigAlarm added Myrna Loy The Best Years of Our Lives, The Thin Man, The End

34
671 544
Joanne Woodward is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Joanne Woodward The Three Faces of Eve, Rachel, Rachel

35
546 546
Ellen Burstyn is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Ellen Burstyn The Exorcist, Requiem for a Dream, Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore

36
529 188
Susan Hayward is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
CraigAlarm added Susan Hayward Demetrius and the Gladiators, I Want to Live!, Valley of the Dolls

37
579 832
Goldie Hawn is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Goldie Hawn Overboard, First Wives Club, Private Benjamin

38
404 204
Ginger Rogers is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Amos added Ginger Rogers Top Hat, Swing Time, The Gay Divorcee

39
499 324
Claudette Colbert is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
screwballcomedyfan added Claudette Colbert It Happened One Night, The Palm Beach Story, It's a Wonderful World

40
587 441
Gene Tierney is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Gene Tierney Laura, Leave Her to Heaven, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir

41
499 449
Mary Tyler Moore is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
CraigAlarm added Mary Tyler Moore Ordinary People, Moon, Flirting with Disaster

42
566 1,037
Barbara Stanwyck is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Barbara Stanwyck The Lady Eve, Ball of Fire, Sorry

43
531 327
Helen Hayes is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
looksharp added Helen Hayes Cinema Paradiso, Airport, Herbie Rides Again

44
319 130
Rita Hayworth is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
pload added Rita Hayworth The Shawshank Redemption, Gilda, The Lady from Shanghai

45
523 461
Jean Stapleton is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
CraigAlarm added Jean Stapleton You've Got Mail, Klute, Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World

46
878 510
Reese Witherspoon is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
FranciscodeSouza added Reese Witherspoon American Psycho, Legally Blonde, Election

47
527 654
Hilary Swank is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Hilary Swank Boys Don't Cry, Million Dollar Baby, Freedom Writers

48
360 378
Kathleen Turner is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
CraigAlarm added Kathleen Turner Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Virgin Suicides, The War of the Roses

49
663 711
Amy Adams is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Amy Adams Her, American Hustle, Enchanted

50
455 231
Rachel McAdams is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
swirlyt added Rachel McAdams Mean Girls, The Notebook, Wedding Crashers