Actresses The Greatest American Actresses of All Time  

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154.9k votes 11.1k voters 76.9k 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
1,870 995
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
2,221 1,618
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
1,240 1,242
Bette Davis is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
All About Eve, Dark Victory, Jezebel

4
1,126 958
Jessica Lange is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
looksharp added Tootsie, Big Fish, Cape Fear

5
1,339 1,145
Jodie Foster is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
The Silence of the Lambs, Taxi Driver, The Accused

6
1,310 847
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
1,254 607
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
977 962
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
908 469
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
994 1,428
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
932 1,254
Elizabeth Taylor is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Cleopatra, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

12
788 949
Frances McDormand is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Fargo, Burn After Reading, Almost Famous

13
895 1,148
Glenn Close is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
jsnungaray added Dangerous Liaisons, Cookie's Fortune, The World According to Garp

14
919 697
Anne Bancroft is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
The Graduate, The Miracle Worker, The Elephant Man

15
868 960
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
931 846
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
1,137 649
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
868 782
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
968 925
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
829 1,197
Sigourney Weaver is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
looksharp added Alien, Ghostbusters, Avatar

21
713 682
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
1,032 842
Julia Roberts is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Pretty Woman, Erin Brockovich, Steel Magnolias

23
906 726
Michelle Pfeiffer is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
The Family, Scarface, What Lies Beneath

24
741 590
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
1,200 886
Sandra Bullock is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Miss Congeniality, Gravity, The Blind Side

26
749 979
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
579 661
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
504 407
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
772 673
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
616 552
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
552 550
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
481 280
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
728 640
Helen Hunt is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
As Good As It Gets, What Women Want, Pay it Forward

34
649 376
Myrna Loy is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
CraigAlarm added The Best Years of Our Lives, The Thin Man, The End

35
673 548
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
532 192
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
581 836
Goldie Hawn is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Overboard, First Wives Club, Private Benjamin

38
407 208
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
502 328
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
588 446
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
501 455
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
569 1,043
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
533 330
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
322 135
Rita Hayworth is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
pload added The Shawshank Redemption, Gilda, The Lady from Shanghai

45
884 513
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
525 464
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
531 657
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
459 235
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
351 315
Angela Bassett is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
CraigAlarm added Boyz n the Hood, Green Lantern, Malcolm X

50
666 716
Amy Adams is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest American Actresses of All Time
Her, American Hustle, Enchanted