theater The Greatest Broadway Stars of All Time  

Buster McDermott
Originally by
18.8k votes 2.3k voters 36.8k views 121 items

List Rules Vote up the famous Broadway actors, actresses, and singers who have been shining stars on the main stage.

These Broadway stars have been the biggest audience draws in the past, and many are sure to be in the future. All the theater stars on this list have performed at one of the forty designated Broadway theaters. Many theater actors listed here originated roles that have become beloved by audiences of all ages. From newer names (like Lea Michele) to old favorites who have passed on (such as Sammy Davis, Jr.), you’ll find them all here on this list of the greatest Broadway stars of all time.

Did you know that one amazing Broadway star performed two leading roles in a single day? Howard Keel, who later went on to star on the hit television show “Dallas,” understudied for the lead in Carousel in 1945. After he began performing in Oklahoma!, his understudy skills were needed - and he performed both plays in one night. Not only for his amazing performances, but also for his vigor, Keel has earned his place on this list of the most amazing Broadway stars.

Other Broadway stars are just beginning to make their marks. A prime example is Lea Michele, who is perhaps most widely recognized for her “Glee” character, Rachel Berry. She conquered the Broadway stage when she originated the role of Wendla in Spring Awakening. Audiences responded to her great Broadway performance, as did critics, and she was nominated for a Drama Desk Award. Michele and her cohort of Broadway newcomers are definitely building their names as the most popular Broadway performers.

On this list you’ll find all of the greatest Broadway stars from the past and present. Although some have left the stage, their memories live on and give new generations of Broadway stars something to aspire to. Cast your votes below for the greatest Broadway stars of all time.

list ordered by

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Julie Andrews age 83 Debuted on Broadway in 1954 in The Boy Friend.
Dame Julia "Julie" Elizabeth Andrews, DBE, is an English film and stage actress, singer, author, theatre director and dancer. Andrews, a former child actress and singer, appeared on ...more

2
386 177
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Kristin Chenoweth age 50 Originated the role of Glinda in Wicked.
Kristin Dawn Chenoweth is an American actress and singer, with credits in musical theatre, film and television. In 1999, she won a Tony Award for her performance as Sally Brown in You're a Good ...more

3
300 115
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Patti LuPone age 69 Won a Tony Award for her performance in Evita.
Patti Ann LuPone is an American actress and singer, best known for her work in stage musicals. She is a two-time Grammy Award winner and a two-time Tony Award winner. She is also a 2006 American ...more

4
402 178
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Idina Menzel age 47 Originated the role of Elphaba in Wicked.
Idina Menzel is an American actress and singer. She rose to prominence when she originated the role of Maureen Johnson in the Broadway musical Rent, a role which she reprised for the 2005 ...more

5
381 172
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typoqueen added Lin-Manuel Miranda age 38

Wrote and starred in Hamilton.

Lin-Manuel Miranda is an American composer, rapper, lyricist, and actor. He wrote the Broadway musical In the Heights, for which he won numerous accolades, including a Tony and a Grammy Award. ...more

6
229 86
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Sutton Foster age 43 Regarded for her performance as Millie Dillmount in Thoroughly Modern Millie.
Sutton Lenore Foster is an American actress, singer and dancer. Foster is best known for her work on the Broadway stage, for which she has received two Tony Awards for Best Performance by a ...more

7
311 118
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jadethekilljoy added Lea Salonga age 47

Originated the role of Kim in Miss Saigon.

Maria Lea Carmen Imutan Salonga KLD, better known as Lea Salonga, is a Filipina singer and actress who starred in the lead role of Kim in the musical Miss Saigon, for which she won the Olivier, ...more

8
363 147
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Bernadette Peters age 70 Critically acclaimed for her performances in Gypsy, Annie Get Your Gun, and more.
Bernadette Peters is an American actress, singer and children's book author. Over the course of a career that has spanned five decades, she has starred in musical theatre, films and television, ...more

9
230 92
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Audra McDonald age 48 Won a Tony Award for her performance in Porgy and Bess.
Audra Ann McDonald is an American actress and singer. She has appeared on the stage in both musicals and dramas, such as Ragtime, A Raisin in the Sun, and Porgy and Bess. She maintains an active ...more

10
278 104
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typoqueen added Jonathan Groff age 33

Originated starring roles in Spring Awakening and as King George III in Hamilton.

Jonathan Drew Groff is an American actor and singer. At the age of 22, Groff received a Tony Award nomination for his performance as Melchior Gabor in the Broadway rock musical Spring Awakening. ...more

11
273 110
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Angela Lansbury age 93 Remembered for her Broadway performance in Mame.
Dame Angela Brigid Lansbury, DBE is an Anglo-Irish-American actress and singer who has appeared in theatre, television, and films. Her career has spanned seven decades, much of it based in the ...more

12
273 134
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Barbra Streisand age 76 Remembered for her Broadway performance in Funny Girl.
Barbra Joan Streisand is an American singer, songwrighter, actress, director, writer, composer, producer, designer, author, photographer, and activist. During a career spanning six decades, she ...more

The Best Broadway Stars of the 21st Century

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Phillipa Soo is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Broadway Stars of All Time
Anna Wray added Phillipa Soo

Originated role of Eliza in Hamilton.

Phillipa Soo (born May 31, 1990) is an American actress and singer. Soo is perhaps best known for originating the role of Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton in the Broadway musical Hamilton, a ...more

14
234 114
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Hugh Jackman age 50 Performed in the Royal National Theatre's production of Oklahoma!
Hugh Michael Jackman is an Australian actor, producer, and singer who is involved in film, musical theatre and television. Jackman has won international recognition for his roles in major films, ...more

15
151 80
Aaron Tveit is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Broadway Stars of All Time
stella-mahler added Aaron Tveit age 35 Aaron Kyle Tveit is an American actor and singer. He is known for originating the roles of Gabe in Next to Normal and Frank Abagnale Jr. in the stage version of Catch Me If You Can on Broadway. ...more

16
504 259
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Chita Rivera age 85 Performed in Broadway shows including Can-Can and Guys and Dolls.
Chita Rivera is an American actress, dancer, and singer best known for her roles in musical theatre. She is the first Hispanic woman and the first Latino American to receive a Kennedy Center ...more

17
130 54
Sierra Boggess is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Broadway Stars of All Time
typoqueen added Sierra Boggess age 36 Sierra Marjory Boggess is an American theater actress and singer.

The Greatest Living Opera Singers

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140 41
Jeremy Jordan is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Broadway Stars of All Time
Jeremy Jordan age 34 Jeremy Michael Jordan is an American actor and singer. He has performed on Broadway and in television and film, as well as in other theatrical productions. He is best known for the roles of Jack ...more

19
186 133
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Lea Michele age 32 Has performed in musicals including Les Misérables and Fiddler on the Roof.
Lea Michele Sarfati, known professionally as Lea Michele, is an American singer, songwriter, actress, dancer, and author, best known for her performance as Rachel Berry on the Fox television ...more

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137 60
Renée Elise Goldsberry is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Broadway Stars of All Time
Renée Elise Goldsberry age 47 Renée Elise Goldsberry is an American actress, singer and songwriter.

21
207 111
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Gene Kelly Was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 1992. Eugene Curran "Gene" Kelly was an American dancer, actor, singer, film director, producer and choreographer. He was known for his energetic and athletic dancing style, his good looks ...more

22
142 83
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Michael Crawford age 76 Debuted on Broadway in Black Comedy.
Michael Crawford, CBE is an English actor and singer. He has received great critical acclaim and won numerous awards during his career, which covers radio, television, film, and stagework on ...more

The Greatest Musicals Ever Performed on Broadway, Ranked

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Carol Channing age 97 Originated the role of Dolly Levi in Hello, Dolly!
Carol Elaine Channing is an American actress, singer, dancer, comedian, and voice artist. She won the Golden Globe Award and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for ...more

24
169 94
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Carol Burnett age 85 Has performed in musicals including I Do! I Do! and Love Letters.
Carol Creighton Burnett is an American actress, comedian, singer, and writer. She is best known for her long-running TV variety show, The Carol Burnett Show, for CBS. She has achieved success on ...more

25
185 82
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Ethel Merman Died at 76 (1908-1984) Introduced many Broadway standards, including "Anything Goes" and "I Got Rhythm."
Ethel Merman was an American actress and singer. Known primarily for her belting voice and roles in musical theatre, she has been called "the undisputed First Lady of the musical comedy ...more

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84 43
Laura Osnes is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Broadway Stars of All Time
typoqueen added Laura Osnes age 33 Laura Ann Osnes is an American actress and singer known for her work on the Broadway stage. She has played starring roles in Grease as Sandy, South Pacific as Nellie Forbush, Anything Goes as ...more

27
181 85
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Nathan Lane age 62 Won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his performance in The Producers.
Nathan Lane is an American actor and writer. He is known for his roles as Albert in The Birdcage, Max Bialystock in the musical The Producers, Ernie Smuntz in MouseHunt, Nathan Detroit in Guys ...more

The Worst Fashion Trends in History

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173 85
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Liza Minnelli age 72 Has won four Tony Awards in her illustrious Broadway career.
Liza May Minnelli is an American actress and singer best known for her portrayal of Sally Bowles in the 1972 musical film Cabaret which won her an Academy Award for Best Actress. Born to film ...more

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129 55
Ramin Karimloo is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Broadway Stars of All Time
sonencho added Ramin Karimloo age 40 Ramin Karimloo is an Iranian-born Canadian actor and singer recognised chiefly for his work in London's West End. He has played leading male roles in both of the West End's longest running ...more

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114 65
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Ian McKellen age 79 Performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Sir Ian Murray McKellen, CH, CBE is an English actor. He is the recipient of six Laurence Olivier Awards, a Tony Award, a Golden Globe Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, a BIF Award, two Saturn ...more

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102 59
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Colm Wilkinson age 74 Originated the role of Jean Valjean in Les Miserables.
Colm Wilkinson, also known as C. T. Wilkinson, is an Irish tenor, best known for originating the role of Jean Valjean in Les Misérables and for taking the title role in The Phantom of the ...more

32
105 60
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Mary Martin Died at 77 (1913-1990) Originated the role of Nellie Forbush in South Pacific.
Mary Virginia Martin was an American actress, singer and Broadway star. A muse of Rodgers and Hammerstein, she originated many leading roles over her career including Nellie Forbush in South ...more

All The Broadway Musicals Based On Disney Movies, Ranked

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73 62
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Megan Hilty age 37 Noted for her performance as Glinda in Wicked.
Megan Kathleen Hilty is an American musical theatre and television actress, and singer. She rose to prominence for her roles in several Broadway musicals including her performance as Glinda in ...more

34
148 76
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Joel Grey age 86 Originated the role of Master of Ceremonies in Cabaret.
Joel Grey is an American actor, singer, dancer, and photographer. He is best known for portraying the Master of Ceremonies in both the stage and film versions of the Kander & Ebb musical ...more

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101 42
Andrew Rannells is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Broadway Stars of All Time
yaaaaasqueen added Andrew Rannells age 40 Andrew Scott Rannells is an American actor and singer. He is perhaps best known for his work as Elder Price in the 2011 Broadway musical The Book of Mormon, which earned him a nomination for the ...more

36
89 65
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Samantha Barks Made her film debut in Les Miserables.

37
184 108
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Robert Preston Died at 69 (1918-1987) Won a Tony Award for his portrayal of Harold Hill in The Music Man.
Robert Preston was an American stage and film actor best remembered for originating the role of Harold Hill in the 1957 musical The Music Man and the subsequent film adaptation. He is also known ...more

Crimes You'd Commit (If You Could Get Away With It)

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83 49
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Josh Gad age 37 Known for his portrayal of Elder Arnold Cunningham in The Book of Mormon.
Joshua Ilan "Josh" Gad is an American actor best known for voicing Olaf in Frozen and for playing Elder Arnold Cunningham in the Broadway musical The Book of Mormon, and Ryan Church in ...more

39
109 77
Darren Criss is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Broadway Stars of All Time
ceciboo333 added Darren Criss age 31 Darren Everett Criss is an American actor, singer, songwriter, and musician. One of the founding members and co-owners of StarKid Productions, a musical theater company based in Chicago, ...more

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93 64
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Glenn Close age 71 Won a Tony Award for her performance in Sunset Boulevard.
Glenn Close is an American film, television and stage actress. Throughout her long and varied career, she has been consistently acclaimed for her versatility and is widely regarded as one of the ...more

41
89 61
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Madeline Kahn Died at 57 (1942-1999) Nominated for a Tony Award for her performance in In the Boom Boom Room.
Madeline Kahn was an American actress, comedienne and singer. A two-time Academy Award nominee, she also won an Emmy Award and a Tony Award. Kahn made her Broadway debut in Leonard Sillman's New ...more

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123 70
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Mandy Patinkin age 66 Originated the role of George Seurat in Sunday in the Park with George.
Mandel Bruce "Mandy" Patinkin is an American actor, tenor singer, voice artist, and comedian. Patinkin is well known for his portrayal of Inigo Montoya in the 1987 movie The Princess ...more

Celebrities Who Have Starred on Broadway

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Matthew Broderick age 56 Known for his portrayal of Leo Bloom in The Producers.
Matthew Broderick is an American actor who, among other roles, played the title character in the comedy Ferris Bueller's Day Off, voice of the Adult Simba in the Disney animated film The Lion ...more

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81 56
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Jessica Tandy Died at 85 (1909-1994) Won a Tony Award for her performance in A Streetcar Named Desire.
Jessica Alice Tandy was a British-American stage and film actress, who spent most of her 67-year career in the United States. She appeared in over 100 stage productions and had more than 60 ...more

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92 68
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Shirley Jones Was the first and only singer to be put under contract with Rodgers and Hammerstein.

46
82 57
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Elaine Paige age 70 Debuted on Broadway in Sunset Boulevard.
Elaine Paige OBE is an English singer and actress best known for her work in musical theatre. Raised in Barnet, North London, Paige attended the Aida Foster stage school, making her first ...more

47
54 32
Tim Curry is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Broadway Stars of All Time
Tom Islava added Tim Curry age 72

Nominated for 3 Tonys for Amadeus, My Favorite Year, and Monty Python's Spamalot

Timothy James "Tim" Curry is an English actor, singer, and composer, known for his work in a diverse range of theatre, film, and television productions, often portraying villainous ...more

48
74 52
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Bea Arthur Died at 87 (1922-2009) Performed as Yente the Matchmaker in the Broadway debut of Fiddler on the Roof.
Beatrice "Bea" Arthur was an American actress, comedian, and singer whose career spanned seven decades. Arthur achieved fame as the character Maude Findlay on the 1970s sitcoms All in ...more

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90 49
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Elaine Stritch Died at 89 (1925-2014) Starred in the original production of Bus Stop.
Elaine Stritch was an American actress and singer, best known for her work on Broadway. She appeared in numerous stage plays and musicals, feature films and many television programs. She was ...more

50
73 55
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Vivien Leigh Died at 54 (1913-1967) Played both Juliet and Cleopatra on the stage.
Vivian Mary Hartley, later known as Vivien Leigh, was an English stage and film actress. She won two Academy Awards for Best Actress for her performances as "Southern belle" Scarlett ...more