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The Greatest Broadway Stars of All Time 

Buster McDermott
Originally by
Updated April 26, 2020 52.4k votes 5.4k voters 89.9k views 136 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.

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1
Ranker Video
Age: 84

Birthplace: Walton-on-Thames, United Kingdom

Country of nationality: England

Debuted on Broadway in 1954 in The Boy Friend.
Dame Julie Andrews, (born 1 October 1935) is an English actress, singer and author. Andrews, a child actress and singer, appeared in the West End in 1948 and made her Broadway debut in The Boy ...more

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#18 of 935 The Best Female Vocalists Ever #36 of 1,043 The Best Singers of All Time #17 of 273 The Greatest British Actors of All Time

2
Ranker Video
Age: 48

Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States of America

Country of nationality: United States of America

Originated the role of Elphaba in Wicked.
Idina Kim Menzel (born May 30, 1971) is an American actress, singer, and songwriter. Menzel rose to prominence when she originated the role of Maureen Johnson in the Broadway musical Rent. Her ...more

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#69 of 935 The Best Female Vocalists Ever #322 of 1,043 The Best Singers of All Time #191 of 274 The Most Trustworthy Celebrities in the World

3
Ranker Video
Age: 51

Birthplace: Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, United States of America

Country of nationality: United States of America

Originated the role of Glinda in Wicked.
Kristin Dawn Chenoweth (; born Kristi Dawn Chenoweth, July 24, 1968) is an American actress and singer, with credits in musical theatre, film and television. In 1999, she won a Tony Award for ...more

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#251 of 935 The Best Female Vocalists Ever #348 of 473 Famous Women You'd Want to Have a Beer With #216 of 378 The Best American Actresses Working Today

4
Ranker Video
Age: 70

Birthplace: Northport, Huntington, New York, United States of America

Country of nationality: United States of America

Won a Tony Award for her performance in Evita.
Patti Ann LuPone (born April 21, 1949) is an American actress and singer, best known for her work in stage musicals. She has won two Grammy Awards, two Tony Awards, and two Olivier Awards. She ...more

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#230 of 935 The Best Female Vocalists Ever #439 of 453 The Greatest Singers of the Past 30 Years #10 of 85 The Best Female Broadway Stars of the 21st Century

5
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Age: 71

Birthplace: New York City, USA, New York, Ozone Park

Country of nationality: United States of America

Critically acclaimed for her performances in Gypsy, Annie Get Your Gun, and more.
Bernadette Peters (born Bernadette Lazzara; February 28, 1948) is an American actress, singer, and children's book author. Over the course of a career that has spanned five decades, she has ...more

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#309 of 935 The Best Female Vocalists Ever #663 of 1,043 The Best Singers of All Time #354 of 473 Famous Women You'd Want to Have a Beer With

6
Ranker Video
Age: 77

Birthplace: Williamsburg, New York City, New York, United States of America

Country of nationality: United States of America

Remembered for her Broadway performance in Funny Girl.
Barbara Joan "Barbra" Streisand (born April 24, 1942) is an American singer, actress, and filmmaker. In a career spanning six decades, she has achieved success in multiple fields of ...more

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The Best Barbra Streisand Songs #11 of 935 The Best Female Vocalists Ever #394 of 418 Musicians Who Belong In The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame

7
Ranker Video
Age: 94

Birthplace: Poplar, London, United Kingdom

Country of nationality: United States of America, England

Remembered for her Broadway performance in Mame.
Dame Angela Brigid Lansbury (born October 16, 1925) is a British-American-Irish actress who has appeared in theatre, television, and film. Her career has spanned eight decades, much of it in the ...more

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#159 of 2,004 The Greatest Actors & Actresses in Entertainment History #49 of 940 The Best Actresses in Film History #144 of 469 The Greatest Entertainers of All Time

8
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Age: 98

Birthplace: Seattle, Washington, United States of America

Country of nationality: United States of America

Originated the role of Dolly Levi in Hello, Dolly!
Carol Elaine Channing (January 31, 1921 – January 15, 2019) was an American actress, singer, dancer, and comedian, known for starring in Broadway and film musicals. Her characters usually ...more

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#11 of 53 The Best Living Actresses Over 80 #44 of 65 The Greatest Gay Icons in Music #4 of 53 The Greatest Female Broadway Stars

9
Ranker Video
Age: 44

Birthplace: Statesboro, Georgia, United States of America

Country of nationality: United States of America

Regarded for her performance as Millie Dillmount in Thoroughly Modern Millie.
Sutton Lenore Foster (born March 18, 1975) is an American actress, singer and dancer. She is known for her work on the Broadway stage, for which she has received two Tony Awards for Best ...more

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#8 of 85 The Best Female Broadway Stars of the 21st Century #8 of 85 The Best Broadway Stars of the 21st Century #453 of 542 The Best TV Actors of All Time

10
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Age: 73

Birthplace: Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, United States of America

Country of nationality: United States of America

Has won four Tony Awards in her illustrious Broadway career.
Liza May Minnelli (born March 12, 1946) is an American actress and singer. Best known for her Academy Award-winning performance in Cabaret (1972), she is known for her energetic stage presence ...more

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#102 of 935 The Best Female Vocalists Ever #458 of 1,043 The Best Singers of All Time #714 of 2,004 The Greatest Actors & Actresses in Entertainment History

11
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Birthplace: Highland Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States of America

Country of nationality: United States of America

Was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 1992. Eugene Curran Kelly (August 23, 1912 – February 2, 1996) was an American dancer, actor of film, stage, and television, singer, film director, producer, and choreographer. He was known for his ...more

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The Best Gene Kelly Movies #334 of 1,043 The Best Singers of All Time #93 of 329 The Greatest Actors Who Have Never Won an Oscar (for Acting)

12
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typoqueen added Lin-Manuel Miranda Age: 39

Birthplace: Manhattan, New York City, New York, United States of America

Country of nationality: United States of America

Wrote and starred in Hamilton.

Lin-Manuel Miranda (born January 16, 1980) is an American composer, lyricist, rapper, singer, actor, playwright and producer, widely known for creating and starring in the Broadway musicals In ...more

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Every Song in Hamilton, Ranked by Singability #290 of 469 The Greatest Entertainers of All Time #21 of 53 The Best Latinx Actors and Actresses Under 40

13
Ranker Video
Age: 86

Birthplace: Washington, D.C., United States of America

Country of nationality: United States of America

Performed in Broadway shows including Can-Can and Guys and Dolls.
Chita Rivera (born January 23, 1933) 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 ...more

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#2 of 53 The Greatest Female Broadway Stars #22 of 125 The Best Hispanic Actresses of All Time

14
Ranker Video
Age: 63

Birthplace: Jersey City, New Jersey, United States of America

Country of nationality: United States of America

Won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his performance in The Producers.

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#674 of 1,139 The Best Actors in Film History #26 of 115 The Best Short Actors #18 of 40 The Greatest Gay Icons in Film

15
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Age: 49

Birthplace: Berlin, Germany

Country of nationality: United States of America

Won a Tony Award for her performance in Porgy and Bess.
Audra Ann McDonald (born July 3, 1970) is an American actress and singer. Primarily known for her work on the Broadway stage, she has won six Tony Awards, more performance wins than any other ...more

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#540 of 940 The Best Actresses in Film History #100 of 229 The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time #12 of 85 The Best Female Broadway Stars of the 21st Century

16
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Age: 86

Birthplace: San Antonio, Texas, United States of America

Country of nationality: United States of America

Has performed in musicals including I Do! I Do! and Love Letters.
Carol Creighton Burnett (born April 26, 1933) is an American actress, comedian, singer and writer, whose career spans seven decades of television. She is best known for her groundbreaking comedy ...more

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#29 of 274 The Most Trustworthy Celebrities in the World #23 of 261 The Funniest Stand Up Comedians Of All Time #22 of 362 The Funniest People Of All Time

17
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Dec. at 76 (1908-1984)

Birthplace: Astoria, New York City, New York, United States of America

Country of nationality: United States of America

Introduced many Broadway standards, including "Anything Goes" and "I Got Rhythm."
Ethel Merman (born Ethel Agnes Zimmermann, January 16, 1908 – February 15, 1984) was an American actress and singer. Known primarily for her distinctive, powerful voice and leading roles in ...more

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#357 of 935 The Best Female Vocalists Ever #271 of 469 The Greatest Entertainers of All Time #405 of 525 Which Artist Would You Bring Back From The Dead To Write One More Song?

18
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typoqueen added Jonathan Groff Age: 34

Birthplace: USA, Pennsylvania, Lancaster

Country of nationality: United States of America

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

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#133 of 275 The Hottest Men Of 2020, Ranked #175 of 242 The Hottest Men Of 2019, Ranked #25 of 30 The Most Eligible Bachelors Of 2020

19
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jadethekilljoy added Age: 48

Birthplace: Angeles, Philippines

Country of nationality: Philippines

Originated the role of Kim in Miss Saigon.

Maria Lea Carmen Imutan Salonga, , (; born February 22, 1971) is a Filipina singer and actress, best known for her roles in musical theatre, for supplying the singing voices of two Disney ...more

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#805 of 1,043 The Best Singers of All Time #9 of 85 The Best Female Broadway Stars of the 21st Century #9 of 85 The Best Broadway Stars of the 21st Century

20
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Age: 51

Birthplace: Sydney, Australia

Country of nationality: Australia

Performed in the Royal National Theatre's production of Oklahoma!
Hugh Michael Jackman (born 12 October 1968) is an Australian actor, singer, and producer. He is best known for playing Wolverine in the X-Men film series from 2000 to 2018, a role for which he ...more

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20 Interesting Facts You May Not Know About Hugh Jackman #4 of 285 The Best (Male) Actors Working Today #4 of 274 The Most Trustworthy Celebrities in the World

21
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Age: 77

Birthplace: Salisbury, England

Country of nationality: England

Debuted on Broadway in Black Comedy.
Michael Patrick Smith, (born 19 January 1942), known by the professional stage name of Michael Crawford, is an English actor, comedian, singer, voice artist. He has received international ...more

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22
Jeremy Jordan is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Broadway Stars of All Time
Age: 35

Birthplace: Corpus Christi, Texas, United States of America

Country of nationality: United States of America

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
23
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Age: 33

Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States of America

Country of nationality: United States of America

Has performed in musicals including Les Misérables and Fiddler on the Roof.

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#53 of 218 The Greatest New Female Vocalists of the Past 10 Years #326 of 935 The Best Female Vocalists Ever #1,587 of 2,004 The Greatest Actors & Actresses in Entertainment History

24
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Age: 67

Birthplace: USA, Chicago, Illinois

Country of nationality: United States of America

Originated the role of George Seurat in Sunday in the Park with George.
Mandy Bruce Patinkin (; born November 30, 1952) is an American actor and singer.Patinkin is well known for his portrayal of Inigo Montoya in the 1987 film The Princess Bride. His other film ...more

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#163 of 285 The Best (Male) Actors Working Today #302 of 1,139 The Best Actors in Film History #367 of 532 Famous Men You'd Want to Have a Beer With

25
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Age: 80

Birthplace: Burnley, United Kingdom

Country of nationality: England

Performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Sir Ian Murray McKellen (born 25 May 1939) is an English actor. His career spans genres ranging from Shakespearean and modern theatre to popular fantasy and science fiction. He is the recipient ...more

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#4 of 273 The Greatest British Actors of All Time #13 of 285 The Best (Male) Actors Working Today #25 of 274 The Most Trustworthy Celebrities in the World