Actresses The Greatest American Actresses of All Time  

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155.9k votes 11.1k voters 77.6k 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
1,884 1,005
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
2,240 1,630
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
1,137 969
Jessica Lange is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
looksharp added Tootsie, Big Fish, Cape Fear

4
1,248 1,253
Bette Davis is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
All About Eve, Dark Victory, Jezebel

5
1,320 854
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
1,351 1,157
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
1,266 617
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
985 972
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
913 480
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
1,001 1,436
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
795 955
Frances McDormand is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Fargo, Burn After Reading, Almost Famous

12
936 1,263
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
928 701
Anne Bancroft is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
The Graduate, The Miracle Worker, The Elephant Man

14
902 1,155
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
880 961
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
937 851
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
1,144 653
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
873 789
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
978 928
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
834 1,204
Sigourney Weaver is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
looksharp added Alien, Ghostbusters, Avatar

21
718 684
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
1,038 846
Julia Roberts is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Pretty Woman, Erin Brockovich, Steel Magnolias

23
912 728
Michelle Pfeiffer is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
The Family, Scarface, What Lies Beneath

24
747 591
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
1,211 889
Sandra Bullock is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Miss Congeniality, Gravity, The Blind Side

26
753 982
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
583 665
Annette Bening is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
The Kids Are All Right, American Beauty, The American President

28
508 409
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
778 677
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
620 559
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
554 556
Ellen Burstyn is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
The Exorcist, Requiem for a Dream, Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore

32
485 284
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
656 377
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
732 643
Helen Hunt is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
As Good As It Gets, What Women Want, Pay it Forward

35
681 548
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
538 193
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
585 840
Goldie Hawn is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Overboard, First Wives Club, Private Benjamin

38
414 209
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
508 329
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
594 448
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
506 460
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
573 1,048
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
329 138
Rita Hayworth is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
pload added The Shawshank Redemption, Gilda, The Lady from Shanghai

44
537 333
Helen Hayes is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
looksharp added Cinema Paradiso, Airport, Herbie Rides Again

45
890 517
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
528 467
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
357 316
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
465 239
Rachel McAdams is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
swirlyt added Mean Girls, The Notebook, Wedding Crashers

49
536 660
Hilary Swank is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Boys Don't Cry, Million Dollar Baby, Freedom Writers

50
671 718
Amy Adams is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Her, American Hustle, Enchanted