actresses The Greatest American Actresses of All Time  

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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
1,767 930
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
2,065 1,545
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
1,253 1,057
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
1,232 783
Joan Crawford is listed (or ranked) 4 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

5
1,051 887
Jessica Lange is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
looksharp added Jessica Lange Tootsie, Big Fish, Cape Fear

6
1,156 1,184
Bette Davis is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Bette Davis All About Eve, Dark Victory, Jezebel

7
1,182 561
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
901 897
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
849 428
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
867 661
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
928 1,372
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
872 1,200
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
736 906
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
823 906
Jane Fonda is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Jane Fonda On Golden Pond, Klute, Monster-in-Law

The Best Living American Actors

15
827 1,106
Glenn Close is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
jsnungaray added Glenn Close Dangerous Liaisons, Cookie's Fortune, The World According to Garp

16
1,074 620
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
806 757
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
918 882
Diane Keaton is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Diane Keaton Annie Hall, Something's Gotta Give, The Godfather

19
771 1,155
Sigourney Weaver is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
looksharp added Sigourney Weaver Alien, Ghostbusters, Avatar

20
863 806
Julianne Moore is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Julianne Moore The Kids Are All Right, Non-Stop, Carrie

21
663 647
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

The Best Fantasy Movies

22
972 802
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
850 692
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
690 566
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
1,130 855
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
474 377
Jessica Tandy is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
CraigAlarm added Jessica Tandy The Birds, Driving Miss Daisy, Fried Green Tomatoes

27
691 962
Shirley MacLaine is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Shirley MacLaine Terms of Endearment, The Apartment, Steel Magnolias

28
738 622
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

The Best Actresses Who Won Oscars and Globes for the Same Role

29
541 633
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
571 521
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
694 607
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
619 355
Myrna Loy is listed (or ranked) 32 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

33
435 261
Diane Lane is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
looksharp added Diane Lane Man of Steel, The Outsiders, The Perfect Storm

34
506 527
Ellen Burstyn is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Ellen Burstyn The Exorcist, Requiem for a Dream, Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore

35
628 532
Joanne Woodward is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Joanne Woodward The Three Faces of Eve, Rachel, Rachel

50 Movies That Contained Future Stars

36
497 172
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
544 801
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
477 307
Claudette Colbert is listed (or ranked) 38 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

39
377 186
Ginger Rogers is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Amos added Ginger Rogers Top Hat, Swing Time, The Gay Divorcee

40
467 424
Mary Tyler Moore is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
CraigAlarm added Mary Tyler Moore Ordinary People, Moon, Flirting with Disaster

41
558 427
Gene Tierney is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Gene Tierney Laura, Leave Her to Heaven, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir

42
533 1,014
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

The Best American Actresses Working Today

43
499 438
Jean Stapleton is listed (or ranked) 43 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

44
508 310
Helen Hayes is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
looksharp added Helen Hayes Cinema Paradiso, Airport, Herbie Rides Again

45
841 475
Reese Witherspoon is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
FranciscodeSouza added Reese Witherspoon American Psycho, Legally Blonde, Election

46
495 625
Hilary Swank is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Hilary Swank Boys Don't Cry, Million Dollar Baby, Freedom Writers

47
338 354
Kathleen Turner is listed (or ranked) 47 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

48
287 113
Rita Hayworth is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
pload added Rita Hayworth The Shawshank Redemption, Gilda, The Lady from Shanghai

49
423 205
Rachel McAdams is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
swirlyt added Rachel McAdams Mean Girls, The Notebook, Wedding Crashers

50
535 442
Shirley Temple is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
CraigAlarm added Shirley Temple Fort Apache, Heidi, The Little Colonel