Culture

The Greatest Broadway Stars of All Time 

Buster McDermott
Originally by
Updated April 26, 2020 52.8k votes 5.5k voters 90.7k 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.

list ordered by
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

More Julie Andrews 

#19 of 935 The Best Female Vocalists Ever #35 of 1,043 The Best Singers of All Time #1,170 of 2,042 The Greatest Musical Artists 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

More Idina Menzel 

#69 of 935 The Best Female Vocalists Ever #324 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

More Kristin Chenoweth 

#233 of 935 The Best Female Vocalists Ever #351 of 473 Famous Women You'd Want to Have a Beer With #208 of 453 The Greatest Singers of the Past 30 Years

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

More Patti LuPone 

#219 of 935 The Best Female Vocalists Ever #439 of 453 The Greatest Singers of the Past 30 Years #12 of 85 The Best Female Broadway Stars of the 21st Century

5
Ranker Video
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

More Bernadette Peters 

#274 of 935 The Best Female Vocalists Ever #665 of 1,043 The Best Singers of All Time #307 of 940 The Best Actresses in Film History

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

More Barbra Streisand 

The Best Barbra Streisand Songs #391 of 419 Musicians Who Belong In The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame #11 of 935 The Best Female Vocalists Ever

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

More Angela Lansbury 

#50 of 940 The Best Actresses in Film History #157 of 2,004 The Greatest Actors & Actresses in Entertainment History #9 of 771 American Public Figures Who Are National Treasures

8
Ranker Video
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

More Carol Channing 

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

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

More Sutton Foster 

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

10
Ranker Video
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

More Liza Minnelli 

#103 of 935 The Best Female Vocalists Ever #454 of 1,043 The Best Singers of All Time #440 of 940 The Best Actresses in Film History

11
Ranker Video

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

More Gene Kelly 

The Best Gene Kelly Movies #333 of 1,043 The Best Singers of All Time #122 of 1,139 The Best Actors in Film History

12
Ranker Video
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

More Lin-Manuel Miranda 

Every Song in Hamilton, Ranked by Singability 27 Lin-Manuel Miranda Tweets That Prove He Is Just As Amazing On Twitter As He Is On Stage #290 of 469 The Greatest Entertainers of All Time

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

More Chita Rivera 

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

14
Ranker Video
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

More Audra McDonald 

#541 of 940 The Best Actresses in Film History #101 of 229 The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time #10 of 85 The Best Female Broadway Stars of the 21st Century

15
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.

More Nathan Lane 

#676 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

16
Ranker Video
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

More Carol Burnett 

#30 of 274 The Most Trustworthy Celebrities in the World #23 of 261 The Funniest Stand Up Comedians Of All Time #294 of 940 The Best Actresses in Film History

17
Ranker Video
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

More Ethel Merman 

#321 of 935 The Best Female Vocalists Ever #269 of 469 The Greatest Entertainers of All Time #407 of 527 Which Artist Would You Bring Back From The Dead To Write One More Song?

18
Ranker Video
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.

More Jonathan Groff 

#135 of 275 The Hottest Men Of 2020, Ranked #176 of 242 The Hottest Men Of 2019, Ranked #25 of 30 The Most Eligible Bachelors Of 2020

19
Ranker Video
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

More Lea Salonga 

#806 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
Ranker Video
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

More Hugh Jackman 

The Best Hugh Jackman Movies #4 of 285 The Best (Male) Actors Working Today #3 of 274 The Most Trustworthy Celebrities in the World

21
Ranker Video
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

More Michael Crawford 

#399 of 668 The Best Rock Vocalists #89 of 184 The Funniest British and Irish Comedians of all Time #355 of 465 Celebrities You Didn't Know Use Stage Names

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
Ranker Video
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.

More Lea Michele 

#299 of 935 The Best Female Vocalists Ever #53 of 218 The Greatest New Female Vocalists of the Past 10 Years #1,589 of 2,004 The Greatest Actors & Actresses in Entertainment History

24
Ranker Video
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

More Ian McKellen 

#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

25
Ranker Video
Age: 67

Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States of America

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

More Mandy Patinkin 

#162 of 285 The Best (Male) Actors Working Today #299 of 1,139 The Best Actors in Film History #367 of 532 Famous Men You'd Want to Have a Beer With