Photo: Blazing Saddles / Warner Bros.

15 Scene-Stealing Actresses From Classic Comedies

Over 100 Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of 15 Scene-Stealing Actresses From Classic Comedies
Voting Rules
Vote up the actresses who were the secret ingredient in classic comedies.

Even in the most male-dominated comedy spaces, there are almost always the actresses and comediennes who serve as the "secret ingredient," the stealth scene-stealers among generally male-driven comedic movies and troupes (e.g., the original SCTV and SNL cast rosters). These are women who, though soundly outnumbered by men, manage to equal or even outshine their colleagues during their time on-screen, and prove to actually be covertly essential to the success of the listed movies and television shows, even if they aren't quite as well known as the male leads.

Remember to vote up the women who consistently - and hilariously - stole the spotlight in classic comedies.

Photo: Blazing Saddles / Warner Bros.

  • Madeline Kahn In Mel Brooks Movies
    Photo: Young Frankenstein / 20th Century Fox

    Madeline Kahn always knew how to extract the most out of her co-starring gigs. That extended to frequent collaborations with director Mel Brooks, in Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, High Anxiety, and History of the World: Part I. Kahn was happy to take on outrageous accents and vamp ridiculously, if so required by Brooks.

    She was rewarded with an Oscar nomination for taking on a hilarious German accent to portray Lili von Shtupp, a freelance seductress in Blazing Saddles. Kahn had another stellar early turn for Brooks in Young Frankenstein as Elizabeth, the fiancee of Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (Gene Wilder, a frequent co-star) who soon falls for his creation (Peter Boyle) due to some of his... physical attributes.

    91 votes
  • Gilda Radner In The Early Seasons Of 'Saturday Night Live'
    Photo: NBC

    Gilda Radner joined the ranks of the original Saturday Night Live's standout stars, along with Chevy Chase, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, and second-season addition Bill Murray. Radner, Jane Curtin, and Laraine Newman were the original female cast members among the show's "not-ready-for-primetime players."

    Radner was a scene-stealing standout, playing a variety of wacky recurring characters. She is pictured above portraying the elderly Emily Litella, a hearing-impaired occasional editorial commentator on Weekend Update who kvetches about issues she thinks she heard discussed ("What's all this fuss I keep hearing about violins on television?"). Brash Weekend Update personal advice commentator Roseanne Roseannadanna, imaginative child Judy Miller, and not-quite-Barbara Walters anchor Baba Wawa number among her other memorable roles.

    66 votes
  • In the original Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) and his San Diego-based local news team feel threatened when ambitious reporter Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) hopes to become an anchor in her own right. Though Ron is the star of the show, Veronica proves a hilarious mainstay as the relative straight person to Ron's wacky antics, ranging from his archaic flirting efforts to the milk-chugging spiraling that transpires when a prank Veronica plays on him during his end-of-broadcast address goes horribly wrong.

    Applegate is excellent as the smartest person in the room, a poised and hard-nosed reporter striving to rise above a sea of idiots. Does she succeed? You bet.

    50 votes
  • As Penny Wharvey-McGill, the put-upon wife of escaped Depression-era convict Ulysses Everett McGill (George Clooney) in the Coen Brothers adventure O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Holly Hunter only gets a small amount of screen time, but she wields it like a weapon. Her Penny is every bit the equal to Clooney's star turn as Everett. The two characters enjoy a sparkling rapport across just a handful of scenes, as Penny careens from telling her daughters that Everett is deceased and changing her name, to agreeing to remarry him, to demurring when he presents the wrong ring.

    In a movie with a surprisingly successful soundtrack (it has sold over 8 million copies in the US alone!), one of the most sonically pleasing tones is the sound of Penny and Everett's witty banter.

    41 votes
  • Obviously, the two names above the title when it comes to The Blues Brothers are John Belushi (as Jake Blues) and Dan Aykroyd (as Elwood), but the John Landis-helmed classic is nothing if not generous when it comes to letting bit players enjoy some shine. This is true of the many, many excellent musical cameos (the Aretha Franklin performance of "Think" is a particular highlight).

    Carrie Fisher gets to take a vacation from galactic adventure to show off her comedic chops playing Jake's jilted fiancee, furious and packing heat (a rocket launcher, an M9A1-7 flamethrower, and an M16 rifle) after he abandoned her at the altar (prior to his imprisonment at the start of the flick). She tracks and tries to kill the brothers four times throughout the film, before finally being duped by Jake with some outrageous explanations. Fisher (who was in reality dating Dan Aykroyd at the time) always remains fully committed to her bit as the homicidal ex-lover, which makes the comedy that much funnier.

    67 votes
  • Wedding crashers John Beck (Owen Wilson) and Jeremy Grey (Vince Vaughn) are confronted with their own unique challenges at the wedding of one of the daughters of US Secretary William Cleary (Christopher Walken). Both make moves on Cleary's other daughters, Claire (Rachel McAdams) and Gloria (Isla Fisher). Claire has an unfaithful hothead jerk of a boyfriend (a pre-fame Bradley Cooper), and soon a smitten John has convinced Jeremy to extend their typical wedding-only ruse (creating faux alibis to hook up with women at weddings, but never sticking with them for too long) into a long weekend as John works on Claire. Gloria, on the other hand, is a nymphomaniac who also seems to have gotten very possessive, very quickly, with Jeremy, who, panicked, classifies her as a "Stage 5 Clinger." 

    John's relationship with Claire is the "A" story arc of Wedding Crashers, but every second Gloria is on screen, she does steal the show. Her relationship with Jeremy develops in surprising ways.

    45 votes