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The Greatest Female Broadway Stars

Updated April 20, 2021 21.4k votes 3.6k voters 51.9k views54 items

List RulesVote up the top women on Broadway based on their careers on the stage

These leading ladies have made audiences laugh, cry and wish that the show would never end. Some have had long-running careers, while others are just starting out, but they all have one thing in common: they’re all the best female performers to have ever graced Broadway stages. For that reason, they all deserve a spot on this list of the greatest female Broadway stars. 

Broadway and music fans everywhere have heard of Barbra Streisand, but did you know she only performed in two shows on Broadway: I Can Get It for You Wholesale and Funny Girl? Of course, her star power was so bright that she was nominated for a Tony Award each time. The year she was nominated for Funny Girl (1964), she lost out to a performer many consider to be one of the top Broadway performers of all time - Carol Channing.

Channing not only won a total of three Tony Awards but also originated two of the most iconic Broadway roles in history: Dolly Levi in Hello, Dolly! and Lorelei Lee in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Because of these stunning performances, Carol Channing is regarded as one of the most amazing Broadway stars in history, alongside greats like Bernadette Peters, Ethel Merman, and Liza Minnelli. Other rising Broadway stars such as Megan Hilty and Lea Michele are joining the ranks of these great Broadway stars, making Broadway more fantastic as time goes on.

Whether for their powerful voices or skilled acting, the leading Broadway ladies on this list are known as the greatest female Broadway stars. Cast your votes below for the best female Broadway stars.

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  • 1
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    Well-known for her portrayal of Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady.
  • 2
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    Originated the role of Lorelei Lee in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
  • 3
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    Acclaimed for her performance on Broadway in Miss Saigon.
  • 4
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    Earned a Tony nomination for her performance as Mama Rose in Gypsy.
  • 5
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    Debuted on Broadway in Three Sisters.
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    Originated the role of Maureen Johnson in Rent.
  • 7
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    Captured a Tony Award for her performance in You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown.
  • 8
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    Well-known for starring in Mame.
  • 9
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    Remembered for her portrayal of Anita in West Side Story.
  • 10
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    Had won three Tony Awards by the age of 28.
  • 11
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    Nominated for a Tony Award after her first Broadway role (in Once Upon a Mattress).
  • 12
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    Won a Tony Award for her portrayal of Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes.
  • 13
    202
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    Ethel Merman

    Dec. at 76 (1908-1984)
    Debuted many Broadway standards, including "Anything Goes" and "Friendship."
  • 14
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    Judy Kuhn

    Age: 62
  • 15
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    Performed in both Funny Girl and I Can Get It for You Wholesale.
  • 16
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    Won a Tony Award for her performance in Flora the Red Menace.
  • 17
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    Nominated for a Tony Award for her performance in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.
  • 18
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  • 19
    127
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    Elaine Stritch

    Dec. at 89 (1925-2014)
    Debuted on Broadway in 1946 in Loco.
  • 20
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    Debuted on Broadway in 1776 in 1969.
  • 21
    123
    304

    Mary Martin

    Dec. at 77 (1913-1990)
    Originated the role of Maria von Trapp in The Sound of Music.
  • 22
    29
    59
  • 23
    155
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  • 24
    125
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    Played Velma in Chicago.
  • 25
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    Starred in Nice Work If You Can Get It with Matthew Broderick.