1. Audrey Hepburn
Actress, Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Audrey Hepburn was born on May 4, 1929 in Brussels, Belgium. She really was blue-blood from the beginning with her father, a wealthy English banker, and her mother, a Dutch baroness. After her parents divorced, Audrey went to London with her mother where she went to a private girls school. Later, when her mother moved back to the Netherlands, she attended private schools as well. While vacationing with her mother in Arnhem, Netherlands, Hitler’s army took over the town. It was here that she fell on hard times during the Nazi occupation. Audrey suffered from depression and malnutrition. After the liberation, Audrey went to a ballet school in London on a scholarship and later began a modeling career. As a model, she was graceful and, it seemed, she had found her niche in life – until the film producers came calling. After being spotted modeling by a producer, she was signed to a bit part in the European film Dutch in Seven Lessons (1948) in 1948. Later, she had a speaking role in the 1951 film, Young Wives’ Tale (1951) as Eve Lester. The part still wasn’t much, so she headed to America to try her luck there. Audrey gained immediate prominence in the US with her role in Roman Holiday (1953) in 1953. This film turned out to be a smashing success as she won an Oscar as Best Actress. This gained her enormous popularity and more plum roles. One of the reasons for her popularity was the fact that she was so elf-like and had class, unlike the sex-goddesses of the time. Roman Holiday (1953) was followed by another similarly wonderful performance in the 1957 classic Funny Face (1957). Sabrina (1954), in 1954, for which she received another Academy nomination, and Love in the Afternoon (1957), in 1957, also garnered rave reviews. In 1959, she received yet another nomination for her role in The Nun’s Story (1959). Audrey reached the pinnacle of her career when she played Holly Golightly in the delightful film Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) in 1961. For this she received another nomination. She scored commercial success again in the espionage caper Charade (1963). One of Audrey’s most radiant roles was in the fine production of My Fair Lady (1964) in 1964. Her co-star, Rex Harrison, once was asked to identify his favorite leading lady. Without hesitation, he replied, “Audrey Hepburn in ‘My Fair Lady.'” After a couple of other movies, most notably Two for the Road (1967), she hit pay dirt and another nomination in 1967’s Wait Until Dark (1967). By the end of the sixties, after her divorce from actor Mel Ferrer, Audrey decided to retire while she was on top. Later she married Dr. Andrea Dotti. From time to time, she would appear on the silver screen. One film of note was Robin and Marian (1976), with Sean Connery in 1976. In 1988, Audrey became a special ambassador to the United Nations UNICEF fund helping children in Latin America and Africa, a position she retained until 1993. She was named to People’s magazine as one of the 50 most beautiful people in the world. Her last film was Always (1989) in 1989. Audrey Hepburn died on January 20, 1993 in Tolochnaz, Switzerland, from appendicular cancer. She had made a total of 31 high quality movies. Her elegance and style will always be remembered in film history as evidenced by her being named in Empire magazine’s “The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time.”
2. Meryl Streep
Actress, The Devil Wears Prada
Considered by many movie reviewers to be the greatest living film actress, Meryl Streep has been nominated for the Academy Award an astonishing 17 times, and has won it three times. Born Mary Louise Streep in 1949 in Summit, New Jersey, Meryl’s early performing ambitions leaned toward the opera. She became interested in acting while a student at Vassar and upon graduation she enrolled in the Yale School of Drama. She gave an outstanding performance in her first film role, Julia (1977), and the next year she was nominated for her first Oscar for her role in The Deer Hunter (1978). She went on to win the Academy Award for her performances in Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) and Sophie’s Choice (1982), in which she gave a heart-wrenching portrayal of an inmate mother in a Nazi death camp.
A perfectionist in her craft and meticulous and painstaking in her preparation for her roles, Meryl turned out a string of highly acclaimed performances over the next 10 years in great films like Silkwood (1983); Out of Africa (1985); Ironweed (1987); and A Cry in the Dark (1988). Her career declined slightly in the early 1990s as a result of her inability to find suitable parts, but she shot back to the top in 1995 with her performance as Clint Eastwood’s married lover in The Bridges of Madison County (1995) and as the prodigal daughter in Marvin’s Room (1996). In 1998 she made her first venture into the area of producing, and was the executive producer for the moving …First Do No Harm (1997) (TV). A realist when she talks about her future years in film, she remarked that “…no matter what happens, my work will stand…”
3. Cate Blanchett
Actress, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Cate Blanchett was born on May 14, 1969 in Australia to an American father and an Australian mother. She has an older brother and an younger sister. When she was ten years old, her 40-year old father died of a sudden heart attack. Her mother never remarried, and her grandmother moved in to help her mother. Cate graduated from Australia’s National Institute of Dramatic Art in 1992 and, in a little over a year, had won both critical and popular acclaim. On graduating from NIDA, she joined the Sydney Theatre Company’s production of Caryl Churchill’s “Top Girls”, then played Felice Bauer, the bride, in Tim Daly’s “Kafka Dances”, winning the 1993 Newcomer Award from the Sydney Theatre Critics Circle for her performance. From there, Blanchett moved to the role of Carol in David Mamet’s searing polemic “Oleanna”, also for the Sydney Theatre Company, and won the Rosemont Best Actress Award, her second award that year. She then co-starred in the ABC Television’s prime time drama “Heartland” (1994), again winning critical acclaim. In 1995, she was nominated for Best Female Performance for her role as Ophelia in the Belvoir Street Theatre Company’s production of “Hamlet”. Other theatre credits include Helen in the Sydney Theatre Company’s “Sweet Phoebe”, Miranda in “The Tempest” and Rose in “The Blind Giant is Dancing”, both for the Belvoir Street Theatre Company. In other television roles, Blanchett starred as Bianca in ABC’s “Bordertown” (1995), as Janie Morris in “G.P.” (1989) and in ABC’s popular series Police Rescue (1994). She made her feature film debut in Paradise Road (1997). She also married writer Andrew Upton in 1997. She had met him a year earlier on a movie set, and they didn’t like each other at first. He thought she was aloof, and she thought she was arrogant, but then they connected over a poker game at a party, and she went home with him that night. Three weeks later, he proposed marriage, and, they quickly married before she went off to England to play her breakthrough role in films: the title character in Elizabeth (1998) for which she won numerous awards for her performance, including the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Drama. Cate was also nominated for an Academy Award for the role but lost out to Gwyneth Paltrow. 2001 was a particularly busy year, with starring roles in Bandits (2001), The Shipping News (2001), Charlotte Gray (2001) and playing Elf Queen Galadriel in the “Lord Of The Rings” trilogy. She also gave birth to her first child, son Dashiell, in 2001. In 2004, she gave birth to her second son Roman. Also, in 2004, she played actress Katharine Hepburn in Martin Scorsese’s film “Aviator” (2004), for which she received an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actress. Two years later, she received an Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actress for playing a teacher having an affair with an underage student in “Notes on a Scandal” (2006). In 2007, she returned to the role that made her a star in “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” (2007). It earned her an Oscar nomination as Best Actress. She was nominated for another Oscar that same year as Best Supporting Actress for playing Bob Dylan in “I’m Not There” (2007). In 2008, she gave birth to her third child, son Ignatius. She and her husband became artistic directors of the Sydney Theatre Company, choosing to spend more time in Australia raising their children.
4. Julianne Moore
The daughter of a military judge and a Scottish social worker, Julianne Moore was born in Fayetteville, North Carolina on December 3, 1960. She spent the early years of her life in over two dozen locations around the world with her parents before she finally found her place at Boston University, where she earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) degree in acting from the School of the Performing Arts. After graduation (in 1983), Julianne moved to New York and worked extensively in theater, including appearances off-Broadway in two Caryl Churchill plays, Serious Money and Ice Cream With Hot Fudge and as Ophelia in Hamlet at The Guthrie Theatre. But despite her formal training, Julianne fell into the attractive actress’ trap of the mid-1980’s: TV soaps and miniseries. She appeared briefly in the daytime serial “The Edge of Night” (1956) and from 1985 to 1988 she played two half-sisters Frannie and Sabrina on the soap “As the World Turns” (1956). This performance later led to an Outstanding Ingénue Daytime Emmy Award in 1988. Her subsequent appearances were in mostly forgettable TV-movies, such as Money, Power, Murder. (1989) (TV), The Last to Go (1991) (TV) and Cast a Deadly Spell (1991) (TV). She made her entrance into the big screen with 1990’s Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990), where she played the victim of a mummy. Two years later, Julianne appeared in feature films with supporting parts in The Hand That Rocks the Cradle (1992) and the comedy The Gun in Betty Lou’s Handbag (1992). She kept winning better and more powerful roles as time went on, including a small but memorable role as a nurse who spots Kimble Harrison Ford and attempts to thwart his escape in The Fugitive (1993). (A role that made such an impression on Steven Spielberg that he cast her in the Jurassic Park (1993) sequel without an audition in 1997). In one of Moore’s most distinguished performances, she recapitulated her “beguiling Yelena” from Andre Gregory’s workshop version of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya in Louis Malle’s critically acclaimed Vanya on 42nd Street (1994). Director Todd Haynes gave Julianne her first opportunity to take on a lead role in Safe (1995). Her portrayal of Carol White, an affluent L.A. housewife who develops an inexplicable allergic reaction to her environment, won critical praise as well as an Independent Spirit Award nomination. Later that year she found her way into romantic comedy, co-starring as Hugh Grant’s pregnant girlfriend in Nine Months (1995). Following films included Assassins (1995), where she played an electronics security expert targeted for death (next to Sylvester Stallone and Antonio Banderas) and Surviving Picasso (1996), where she played Dora Maar, one of the numerous lovers of Picasso (portrayed by her hero, Anthony Hopkins). A year later, after co-starring in Spielberg’s The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997), opposite Jeff Goldblum, a young and unknown director, Paul Thomas Anderson asked Julianne to appear in his movie, Boogie Nights (1997). Despite her misgivings, she finally was won over by the script and her decision to play the role of Amber Waves, a loving porn star who acts as a mother figure to a ragtag crew, proved to be a wise one, since she received both Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations. Julianne started 1998 by playing an erotic artist in The Big Lebowski (1998), continued with a small role in the social comedy Chicago Cab (1997) and ended with a subtle performance in Gus Van Sant’s remake of Psycho (1960). 1999 had Moore as busy as an actress can be. She starred in a number of high-profile projects, beginning with Robert Altman’s Cookie’s Fortune (1999) , in which she was cast as the mentally challenged but adorable sister of a decidedly unhinged Glenn Close. A portrayal of the scheming Mrs. Cheveley followed in Oliver Parker’s An Ideal Husband (1999) with a number of critics asserting that Moore was the best part of the movie. She then enjoyed another collaboration with director Anderson in Magnolia (1999) and continued with an outstanding performance in The End of the Affair (1999), for which she garnered another Oscar nomination. She ended 1999 with another great performance, that of a grieving mother in A Map of the World (1999), opposite Sigourney Weaver.
5. Jodie Foster
Actress, The Silence of the Lambs
Alicia Christian Foster was born in Los Angeles on November 19, 1962. Her parents divorced three years before she was born, and she was conceived when her mother, Brandy, was visiting her father, Lucius, for child support. Alicia’s siblings nicknamed her “Jodie,” a name she has used in her profession. When she was just three years old, Jodie began acting in commercials, most notably for Coppertone sunblock. When she was five, Jodie landed her first acting role on the TV show “Mayberry R.F.D.” (1968). She stayed very busy as a child actress, working primarily on television programs such as “The Doris Day Show” (1968), “Adam-12” (1968), and “Gunsmoke” (1955). In movies, she started out playing small roles like Raquel Welch’s daughter in Kansas City Bomber (1972), before moving on to bigger roles in Disney movies like Napoleon and Samantha (1972) and One Little Indian (1973). Jodie first drew attention from critics with her appearance in Taxi Driver (1976), in which she played a prostitute at the tender age of 12 (many reports have erroneously stated that she was 14) and received her first Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actress. She went on to have a very successful career in her early teens with leading roles in the Disney films Freaky Friday (1976) and Candleshoe (1977). The last film Jodie made during this era was the coming-of-age drama Foxes (1980), before enrolling at Yale University. Tragedy struck Jodie during her Freshman year when a crazed and obsessed fan name John Hinckley shot President Ronald Reagan to impress her.
Jodie graduated from Yale in 1985 with a degree in literature. Her main priority was now to become a successful adult actress. After appearing in a few obscure B-movies, Jodie auditioned for The Accused (1988) and was cast Sarah Tobias, a waitress who is gang-raped in a bar after a night of partying. For this role she won her first Academy Award and Golden Globe as Best Actress. But even though she had won an Oscar, Jodie still hadn’t established herself as a star. Her next film, Catchfire (1990), went straight to video, and she fought hard to get her next good role. In 1991 she starred as Clarice Starling, an FBI trainee hunting down a serial killer in The Silence of the Lambs (1991). The film was a blockbuster hit, winning Jodie her second Academy Award for Best Actress and establishing her as an international superstar at the age of 28. With the wealth and fame to do anything she wanted, Jodie turned to directing. She made her directorial debut with Little Man Tate (1991), which was followed by Home for the Holidays (1995). These movies were critically acclaimed but did not do well at the box office, and Jodie proved to be a far more successful actress than she was a director. 1994 proved to be a huge triumph for Jodie’s acting career. She first played a sexy con artist in the successful western spoof Maverick (1994) with Mel Gibson. Then, she played title role in Nell (1994) alongside Liam Neeson and Natasha Richardson. For her compelling performance as a wild, backwoods hermit who speaks an invented language and must return to civilization, Jodie was nominated for another Academy Award and won a Screen Actors Guild Award as Best Actress.
Although Jodie was working far less frequently as an adult than she did as a child, the films she turned out were commercially successful and critically acclaimed. Her next big screen role was in the science fiction drama Contact (1997) opposite Matthew McConaughey. She played a scientist who receives signals from space aliens. The film was a huge hit and brought Jodie a Golden Globe nomination. She starred in the non-musical remake of The King and I (1956) entitled Anna and the King (1999), which was only modestly received in the U.S. but was very successful overseas. Three years after that she headlined the thriller Panic Room (2002). The film was a smash box-office hit and gave Jodie a $30 million opening weekend, the biggest of her career yet. She then appeared in two low-profile projects: the independent film The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys (2002) and the foreign film A Very Long Engagement (2004). She returned to making Hollywood mainstream films, first with Flightplan (2005), in which she played a woman whose daughter disappears on an airplane that she designed. Once again Jodie proved herself to be a box-office draw, and the film was a worldwide hit. The following year she starred in another hit, a thriller about a bank heist titled Inside Man (2006) with Denzel Washington and Clive Owen. Jodie seemed to be on a pattern of non-stop success. She was paid $15 million for her next film, the revenge thriller The Brave One (2007), which once again opened at #1 at the box office and earned her another Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress. Following this succession of dark thrillers, Jodie returned to the comedy genre in Nim’s Island (2008) with Gerard Butler and Abigail Breslin. Jodie will reunite with Mel Gibson in the upcoming movie The Beaver (2011), which is scheduled for general release in 2011.
Having spent nearly her entire life in the spotlight, Jodie Foster has had one of the most substantial film careers in Hollywood history. She is one of the most respected and highest-paid actresses working today, and there is no doubt that there will be many great things ahead for this child actress turned two-time Oscar-winning superstar.
6. Shirley MacLaine
Actress, The Apartment
Shirley MacLaine was born Shirley MacLean Beaty to Virginia native Ira Owens Beaty, an American, and Kathlyn Corinne MacLean, from Nova Scotia, Canada. Her brother, Warren Beatty, was born on March 30, 1937.
Shirley was the tallest in her ballet classes at the Washington School of Ballet. Just after she graduated from Washington-Lee High School, she packed her bags and headed for New York. While auditioning for Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II’s “Me and Juliet”, the producer kept mispronouncing her name. She then changed her name from Shirley MacLean Beaty to Shirley MacLaine. She later had a role in “The Pajama Game”, as a member of the chorus and understudy to Carol Haney. A few months into the run, Shirley was going to leave the show for the lead role in “Can-Can” but ended up filling in for Haney, who had broken her ankle and could not perform. She would fill in for Carol, again, three months later, following another injury, the very night that movie producer Hal B. Wallis was in the audience. Wallis signed MacLaine to a five-year contract to Paramount Pictures. Three months later, she was off to shoot The Trouble with Harry (1955). She then took roles in Hot Spell (1958) and Around the World in Eighty Days (1956), completed not too long before her daughter, Sachi Parker (born Stephanie), was born. With Shirley’s career on track, she played one of her most challenging roles: “Ginny Moorhead” in Some Came Running (1958), for which she received her first Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. She went on to do The Sheepman (1958) and The Matchmaker (1958). In 1960, she got her second Academy Award nomination for The Apartment (1960). Three years later, she received a third nomination for Irma la Douce (1963). In 1969, she brought her friend Bob Fosse from Broadway to direct her in Sweet Charity (1969), from which she got her “signature” song, “If My Friends Could See Me Now”. After a five-year hiatus, Shirley made a documentary on China called The Other Half of the Sky: A China Memoir (1975), for which she received an Oscr nomination for best documentary.
In 1977, she got her fourth Best Actress Oscar nomination for The Turning Point (1977). In 1979, she worked with Peter Sellers in Being There (1979), made shortly before his death. After 20 years in the film industry, she finally took home the Best Actress Oscar for Terms of Endearment (1983). After a five-year hiatus, Shirley made Madame Sousatzka (1988), a critical and financial hit that took top prize at the Venice Film Festival. In 1989, she starred with Dolly Parton, Sally Field and Julia Roberts in Steel Magnolias (1989). She received rave reviews playing Meryl Streep’s mother in Postcards from the Edge (1990) and for Guarding Tess (1994). In 1996, she reprised her role from “Terms of Endearment” as “Aurora Greenway” in The Evening Star (1996), which didn’t repeat its predecessor’s success at the box office. In mid-1998, she directed Bruno (2000), which starred Alex D. Linz. In February 2001, Shirley worked with close friends once again in These Old Broads (2001) (TV), and co-starred with Julia Stiles in Carolina (2003/I) and with Kirstie Alley in Salem Witch Trials (2002) (TV).
MacLaine as her own website which includes her own radio show and interviews, the Encounter Board, and Independent Expression, a members-only section of the site. In the past few years, Shirley starred in a CBS miniseries based on the life of cosmetics queen Mary Kay Ash–Hell on Heels: The Battle of Mary Kay (2002) (TV), and wrote two more books, “The Camino” in 2001, and “Out On A Leash” in 2003. After taking a slight hiatus from motion pictures, Shirley returned with roles in the movies that were small, but wonderfully scene-stealing: Bewitched (2005) with Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell, In Her Shoes (2005) with Cameron Diaz and Toni Collette, in which Shirley was nominated for a Golden Globe in the best supporting actress category, and Rumor Has It… (2005) with Jennifer Aniston and Kevin Costner. Shirley completed filming of Closing the Ring (2007), directed by Sir Richard Attenborough, in 2007. Her latest book is entitled “Sage-ing While Ag-ing”; Shirley’s latest film is Valentine’s Day (2010/I), which debuted in theaters on February 12, 2010.
7. Marlene Dietrich
Soundtrack, Witness for the Prosecution
Her father was a police lieutenant and imbued in her a military attitude to life. Marlene was known in school for her “bedroom eyes” and her first affairs were at this stage in her life – a professor at the school was terminated. She entered the cabaret scene in 1920s Germany, first as a spectator then as a cabaret singer. In 1924, she married and, although she and Rudolf Sieber lived together only 5 years, they remained married until his death. She was in over a dozen silent films in increasingly important roles. In 1929, she was seen in a Berlin cabaret by Josef von Sternberg and, after a screen test, captured the role of the cabaret singer in The Blue Angel (1930) (and became von Sternberg’s lover). With the success of this film, von Sternberg immediately took her to Hollywood, introducing her to the world in Morocco (1930), and signing an agreement to produce all her films. A series of successes followed, and Marlene became the highest paid actress of her time, but her later films in the mid-part of the decade were critical and popular failures. She returned to Europe at the end of the decade, with a series of affairs with former leading men (she had a reputation of romancing her co-stars), as well as other prominent artistic figures. In 1939, an offer came to star with James Stewart in a western and, after initial hesitation, she accepted. The film was Destry Rides Again (1939) – the siren of film could also be a comedienne and a remarkable comeback was reality. She toured extensively for the allied effort in WW II (she had become a United States citizen) and, after the war, limited her cinematic life. But a new career as a singer and performer appeared, with reviews and shows in Las Vegas, touring theatricals, and even Broadway. New success was accompanied by a too close acquaintance with alcohol, until falls in her performance eventually resulted in a compound fracture of the leg. Although the last 13 years of her life were spent in seclusion in her apartment in Paris, with the last 12 years in bed, she had withdrawn only from public life and maintained active telephone and correspondence contact with friends and associates.
8. Ingrid Bergman
Ingrid Bergman was born in Stockholm, Sweden, on August 29, 1915. The woman who would be one of the top stars in Hollywood in the 1940s had decided to become an actress after finishing her formal schooling. She had had a taste of acting at age 17 when she played an uncredited role of a girl standing in line in the Swedish film Landskamp (1932) in 1932 – not much of a beginning for a girl who would be known as “Sweden’s illustrious gift to Hollywood.” Her parents died when she was just a girl and the uncle she lived with didn’t want to stand in the way of Ingrid’s dream. The next year she enrolled in the Swedish Royal Theatre but decided that stage acting was not for her. It would be three more years before she would have another chance at a film. When she did, it was more than just a bit part. The film in question was Munkbrogreven (1935), where she had a speaking part as Elsa Edlund. After several films that year that established her as a class actress, Ingrid appeared in Intermezzo (1936/I) as Anita Hoffman. Luckily for her, American producer David O. Selznick saw it and sent a representative from Selznick International Pictures to gain rights to the story and have Ingrid signed to a contract. Once signed, she came to California and starred in United Artists’ 1939 remake of her 1936 film, Intermezzo: A Love Story (1939), reprising her original role. The film was a hit and so was Ingrid. Her beauty was unlike anything the movie industry had seen before and her acting was superb. Hollywood was about to find out that they had the most versatile actress the industry had ever seen. Here was a woman who truly cared about the craft she represented. The public fell in love with her. Ingrid was under contract to go back to Sweden to film Only One Night (1939) in 1939 and Juninatten (1940) in 1940. Back in the US she appeared in three films, all well-received. She made only one film in 1942, but it was the classic Casablanca (1942) opposite the great Humphrey Bogart.
Ingrid was choosing her roles well. In 1943 she was nominated for an Academy Award for her role in For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943), the only film she made that year. The critics and public didn’t forget her when she made Gaslight (1944) the following year–her role of Paula Alquist got her the Oscar for Best Actress. In 1945 Ingrid played in Spellbound (1945), Saratoga Trunk (1945) and The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945), for which she received her third Oscar nomination for her role of Sister Benedict. She made no films in 1947, but bounced back with a fourth nomination for Joan of Arc (1948). In 1949 she went to Italy to film Stromboli (1950), directed by Roberto Rossellini. She fell in love with him and left her husband, Dr. Peter Lindstrom, and daughter, Pia Lindström. America’s “moral guardians” in the press and the pulpits were outraged. She was pregnant and decided to remain in Italy, where her son was born. In 1952 Ingrid had twins, Isotta and Isabella Rossellini, who became an outstanding actress in her own right, as did Pia. Ingrid continued to make films in Italy and finally returned to Hollywood in 1956 in the title role in Anastasia (1956), which was filmed in England. For this she won her second Academy Award. She had scarcely missed a beat. Ingrid continued to bounce between Europe and the US making movies, and fine ones at that. A film with Ingrid Bergman was sure to be a quality production. In her final big-screen performance in 1978’s Autumn Sonata (1978) she had her final Academy Award nomination. Though she didn’t win, many felt it was the most sterling performance of her career. Ingrid retired, but not before she gave an outstanding performance in the mini-series A Woman Called Golda (1982) (TV), a film about Israeli prime minister Golda Meir. For this she won an Emmy Award as Best Actress, but, unfortunately, she didn’t live to see the fruits of her labor. Ingrid died from cancer on August 29, 1982, her 67th birthday, in London, England.
9. Susan Sarandon
Actress, Thelma & Louise
It was shortly after the 1968 Democratic convention and there was a casting call for a film with several roles for the kind of young people who had disrupted the convention. Two graduates of Catholic University in Washington DC, went to the audition in New York for Joe (1970). Chris Sarandon, who had studied to be an actor, was passed over. His wife Susan got a major role.
That role was as “Susan Compton”, the daughter of ad executive “Bill Compton” (Dennis Patrick). In the movie, “Dad Bill” kills Susan’s drug dealer boyfriend and next befriends “Joe” (Peter Boyle), a bigot who works on an assembly line and who collects guns. Five years later, Sarandon made the film where fans of cult classics have come to know her as “Janet”, who gets entangled with transvestite “Dr. Frank ‘n’ Furter” in The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975). Shortly after that, the Sarandons separated and eventually divorced after twelve years of marriage.
Nearly two decades after beginning her career, Sarandon, at last, actively campaigned for a great role, “Annie” in Bull Durham (1988), flying at her own expense from Rome to Los Angeles. “It was such a wonderful script … and did away with a lot of myths and challenged the American definition of success,” she said. Her romance with the twelve-years-younger Bull Durham (1988) supporting actor, Tim Robbins, produced two sons and put Sarandon in the position of leaving her domestic paradise only to accept roles that really challenged her. The result was four Academy Award nominations in the 1990s and best actress for Dead Man Walking (1995). Her first Academy Award nomination was for Louis Malle’s Atlantic City (1980).
10. Jane Fonda
Actress, Coming Home
Born in New York City in 1937 to legendary screen star Henry Fonda and New York socialite Frances Seymour Brokaw, Jane Seymour Fonda was destined early to an uncommon and influential life in the limelight. Although she initially showed little inclination to follow her father’s trade, she was prompted by Joshua Logan to appear with her father in the 1954 Omaha Community Theatre production of “The Country Girl”. Her interest in acting grew after meeting Lee Strasberg in 1958 and joining the Actors Studio. Her screen debut in Tall Story (1960) (directed by Logan) marked the beginning of a highly successful and respected acting career highlighted by two Academy Awards (for her performances in Klute (1971) and Coming Home (1978)) and five additional Oscar nominations (as Best Actress in They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1969), Julia (1977), The China Syndrome (1979), The Morning After (1986), and Best Supporting Actress in On Golden Pond (1981), which was the only film she made with her father). Her professional success contrasted with her personal life, which was often laden with scandal and controversy. Her appearance in several risqué movies (including Barbarella (1968), directed by her then-husband Roger Vadim) was followed by what was to become her most debated and controversial period: her espousal of anti-establishment causes and especially her anti-war activities during the Vietnam War. Her political involvement continued with fellow activist and husband Tom Hayden in the 1970s and early 1980s. In the 1980s she started the aerobic exercise craze with the publication of the “Jane Fonda’s Workout Book”. After divorcing Hayden and announcing her retirement from the film industry, she married broadcasting mogul Ted Turner in 1991; they split eight years later. In 2005, Fonda penned the bestselling autobiography “My Life So Far” and relaunched her film career with a starring role in the box office hit Monster-in-Law (2005).
11. Judi Dench
Attended Mount School in York, and studied at the Central School of Speech and Drama. She has performed with Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre, and at Old Vic Theatre. She is a ten-time BAFTA winner including Best Actress in a Comedy Series for “A Fine Romance” (1981) in which she appeared with her husband, Michael Williams, and Best Supporting Actress in A Handful of Dust (1988) and A Room with a View (1985) . She received an ACE award for her performance in the television series Mr. and Mrs. Edgehill (1985) (TV). She was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1970, and was created Dame of Order of the British Empire in 1988.
12. Gwyneth Paltrow
The daughter of noted producer Bruce Paltrow and Tony award-winning actress Blythe Danner, Gwyneth Paltrow was born in 1972 in Los Angeles. When Gwyneth was 11, the family moved to Massachusetts where her father began working in summer stock productions in the Berkshires. It was here that she received her early acting training under the tutelage of her parents. After graduating from the all-girls Spence School in New York City, she moved to California where she attended the University of California in Santa Barbara, majoring in Art History. She soon quit, realizing it was not her passion. In 1990 she made her stage debut in the Williamstown Theatre play, “Picnic”. In 1991 she appeared in her first film, Shout (1991), with John Travolta. That same year she met Steven Spielberg, who gave her a small part in his film Hook (1991). Her next roles were in made-for-television films, until she won rave reviews for her performance in Flesh and Bone (1993). In 1994, she entered a relationship with Brad Pitt, the older (by nine years) superstar who gave her a career boost by choosing her to play his wife in the hit thriller Se7en (1995). But it was the title role of Emma Woodhouse in Emma (1996) that fully tapped in to Gwyneth’s capabilities and made her an in-demand actress. She and Pitt broke off their much publicized engagement in 1997, citing as the reason the fact that neither felt that they could pursue their respective careers and at the same time maintain a happy marriage. They remain good friends. Meanwhile, Gwyneth’s career has gone through the roof with the release of five glossy films in 1998, including Great Expectations (1998), Sliding Doors (1998), A Perfect Murder (1998), and John Madden’s masterpiece Shakespeare in Love (1998). Gwyneth’s outstanding performance as Viola in the last film marked her greatest career triumph to date. She won the Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild and Academy Awards for Best Actress in a Leading Role.
13. Angelina Jolie
Angelina Jolie is an Oscar-winning actress who has become popular by taking on the title role in the “Lara Croft” series of blockbuster movies. Off-screen, Jolie has become prominently involved in international charity projects, especially those involving refugees. She often appears on many “most beautiful women” lists, and she has a personal life that is avidly covered by the tabloid press. In her earliest years, Angelina began absorbing the acting craft from her parents – her father is the Oscar-winning actor Jon Voight and her mother is Marcheline Bertrand, who had studied with Lee Strasberg. At age 11, Angelina began studying at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute, where she was seen in several stage productions. She undertook some film studies at New York University and later joined the renowned Met Theatre Group in Los Angeles. At age 16, she took up a career in modeling and appeared in some music videos. Her exotic good looks may derive from her mixed ancestry which is Slovak, French-Canadian, Iroquois and English.
In the mid-1990s, Jolie appeared in various small films where she got good notices, including Hackers (1995) and Foxfire (1996). Her critical acclaim increased when she played strong roles in the made-for-TV movies True Women (1997) (TV), and in George Wallace (1997) (TV) which won her a Golden Globe Award and an Emmy nomination. Jolie’s acclaim increased even further when she played the lead role in the HBO production Gia (1998) (TV). This was the true life story of supermodel Gia Carangi, a sensitive wild child who was both brazen and needy and who had a difficult time handling professional success and the deaths of people who were close to her. Carangi became involved with drugs and because of her needle-using habits she became, at the tender age of 26, one of the first celebrities to die of AIDS. Jolie’s performance in Gia (1998) (TV) again garnered a Golden Globe Award and another Emmy nomination, and she additionally earned a SAG Award.
Angelina got a major break in 1999 when she won a leading role in the successful feature The Bone Collector (1999), starring alongside Denzel Washington. In that same year, Jolie gave a tour de force performance in Girl, Interrupted (1999) playing opposite Winona Ryder. The movie was a true story of women who spent time in a psychiatric hospital. Jolie’s role was reminiscent of Jack Nicholson’s character in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975), the role which won Nicholson his first Oscar. Unlike “Cuckoo”, “Girl” was a small film that received mixed reviews and barely made money at the box office. But when it came time to give out awards, Jolie won the triple crown — “Girl” propelled her to win the Golden Globe Award, the SAG Award and the Academy Award for best leading actress in a supporting role.
With her new-found prominence, Jolie began to get in-depth attention from the press. Numerous aspects of her controversial personal life became news. At her wedding to her Hackers (1995) co-star Jonny Lee Miller, she had displayed her husband’s name on the back of her shirt painted in her own blood. Jolie and Miller divorced, and in 2000, she married her Pushing Tin (1999) co-star Billy Bob Thornton. Jolie had become the fifth wife of a man twenty years her senior. During her marriage to Thornton, the spouses each wore a vial of the other’s blood around their necks. That marriage came apart in 2002 and ended in divorce. In addition, Jolie was estranged from her famous father, Jon Voight.
In 2000, Jolie was asked to star in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001). At first, she expressed disinterest, but then decided that the required training for the athletic role was intriguing. The Croft character was drawn from a popular video game. Lara Croft was a female cross between Indiana Jones and James Bond. When the film was released, critics were unimpressed with the final product, but critical acclaim wasn’t the point of the movie. The public paid $275 million for theater tickets to see a buffed up Jolie portray the adventuresome Lara Croft. Jolie’s father Jon Voight appeared in “Croft”, and during filming there was a brief rapprochement between father and daughter.
One of the Croft movie’s filming locations was Cambodia. While there, Jolie witnessed the natural beauty, culture and poverty of that country. She considered this an eye opening experience, and so began the humanitarian chapter of her life. Jolie began visiting refugee camps around the world and came to be formally appointed as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Some of her experiences were written and published in her popular book “Notes from My Travels” whose profits go to UNHCR.
Jolie has stated that she now plans to spend most of her time in humanitarian efforts, to be financed by her actress salary. She devotes one third of her income to savings, one third to living expenses and one third to charity. In 2002, Angelina adopted a Cambodian refugee boy named Maddox, and in 2005, adopted an Ethiopian refugee girl named Zahara. Jolie’s dramatic feature film Beyond Borders (2003) parallels some of her real life humanitarian experiences although, despite the inclusion of a romance between two westerners, many of the movie’s images were too depressingly realistic — the film was not popular among critics or at the box office.
In 2004, Jolie began filming Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005) with co-star Brad Pitt. The film became a major box office success. There were rumors that Pitt and Jolie had an affair while filming “Smith”. Jolie insisted that because her mother had been hurt by adultery, she herself could never participate in an affair with a married man, therefore there had been no affair with Pitt at that time. Nonetheless, Pitt separated from his wife Jennifer Aniston in January 2005 and, in the months that followed, he was frequently seen in public with Jolie, apparently as a couple. Pitt’s divorce was finalized later in 2005.
Jolie and Pitt announced in early 2006 that they would have a child together, and Jolie gave birth to daughter Shiloh that May. They also adopted a three-year-old Vietnamese boy named Pax. The couple continues to pursue movie and humanitarian projects.
14. Kate Winslet
Ask Kate Winslet what she liked about any of her characters, and the word “ballsy” is bound to pop up at least once. The British actress has made a point of eschewing straightforward pretty-girl parts in favor of more devilish damsels; as a result, she’s built an eclectic resume; that runs the gamut from Shakespearean tragedy to modern-day mysticism and erotica.
Born into a family of thespians — parents Roger Winslet and Sally Bridges-Winslet were both stage actors, maternal grandparents Oliver and Linda Bridges ran the Reading Repertory Theatre, and uncle Robert Bridges was a fixture in London’s West End theatre district — Kate came into her talent at an early age. She scored her first professional gig at 11, dancing opposite the Honey Monster in a commercial for a kids’ cereal. She started acting lessons around the same time, which led to formal training at a performing arts high school. Over the next few years, she appeared on stage regularly and landed a few bit parts in sitcoms. Her first big break came at age 17, when she was cast as an obsessive adolescent in Heavenly Creatures (1994). The film, based on the true story of two fantasy-gripped girls who commit a brutal murder, received modest distribution but was roundly praised by critics.
Still a relative unknown, Winslet attended a cattle call audition the next year for Ang Lee’s Sense and Sensibility (1995). She made an immediate impression on the film’s star, Emma Thompson, and beat out more than a hundred other hopefuls for the part of plucky Marianne Dashwood. Her efforts were rewarded with both a British Academy Award and an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Winslet followed up with two more period pieces, playing the rebellious heroine in Jude (1996) and Ophelia in Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet (1996).
The role that transformed Winslet from art house attraction to international star was Rose DeWitt Bukater, the passionate, rosy-cheeked aristocrat in James Cameron’s Titanic (1997). Young girls the world over both idolized and identified with Winslet, swooning over all that face time opposite heartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio and noting her refreshingly healthy, unemaciated physique. Winslet’s performance also garnered a Best Actress nomination, making her the youngest actress to ever receive two Academy Award nominations.
After the swell of unexpected attention surrounding Titanic (1997), Winslet was eager to retreat into independent projects. Rumor has it that she turned down the lead roles in both Shakespeare in Love (1998) and Anna and the King (1999) in order to play adventurous soul searchers in Hideous Kinky (1998) and Holy Smoke (1999). The former cast her as a young single mother traveling through 1970s Morocco with her daughters in tow; the latter, as a zealous follower of a guru tricked into a “deprogramming” session in the Australian outback. The next year found her back in period dress as the Marquis de Sade’s chambermaid and accomplice in Quills (2000). Kate holds the distinction of being the youngest actor ever honored with four Academy Award nominations (she received her fourth at age 29).
Off camera, Winslet is known for her mischievous pranks and familial devotion. She has two sisters, Anna Winslet and Beth Winslet (both actresses), and a brother, Joss.
In 1998, she married assistant director Jim Threapleton. They had a daughter, Mia Honey Threapleton, in October 2000. They divorced in 2001. She later married director Sam Mendes in 2003 and gave birth to their son, Joe Alfie Winslet-Mendes, later that year. After seven years of marriage, Kate announced that she and Sam amicably separated in February 2010. She was awarded Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 2012 Queen’s Birthday Honours List for her accomplishments in film and television.
15. Hilary Swank
Actress, Million Dollar Baby
Hilary was born in Lincoln, Nebraska. After living in Spokane, Washington, the family moved to Bellingham, Washington, when she was 6.
Hilary was discovered as a child by producer Suzy Sachs, who coached her in acting. When she was nine years old, she starred in her first play as “Mowgli” in “The Jungle Book”. She began to appear regularly in local theater and school plays. She went to school in Bellingham, where she lived with her family, until she was 16. She competed in the Junior Olympics and Washington State championships in swimming; she ranked 5th in the state in all-around gymnastics (which would come in handy for starring in The Next Karate Kid (1994) years later). In 1990, Hilary and her mother moved to Los Angeles, where she enrolled in South Pasadena High School, and started acting professionally. She appeared in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992) but The Next Karate Kid (1994), where she got the part competing against hundreds of other actresses, was her breakout role. Ever since then, she has been much in demand and has worked non-stop in movies. She won the Best Actress Oscar for Boys Don’t Cry (1999). She starred in a few minor films before starring in Clint Eastwood’s boxing drama Million Dollar Baby (2004) that won her a Golden Globe and a SAG Award, as well as her second Academy Award. She is two for two at the Oscars, a feat she shares only with a few other women. Off-screen, she married Chad Lowe on September 28, 1997. An aficionado for anything that involves the outdoors, she enjoys: sky diving, river rafting and skiing.
16. Helena Bonham Carter
Actress, Fight Club
Helena Bonham Carter, daughter of Raymond Bonham Carter, a merchant banker, and Elena Bonham Carter (née Propper de Callejón), a psychotherapist, was born in Golders Green, London, England on May 26, 1966 and is the youngest of three children. She is the great-granddaughter of former Prime Minister Herbert H. Asquith and her blue-blooded family tree also contains Barons and Baronesses, diplomats, and a director, Bonham Carter’s great-uncle Anthony Asquith, who made Pygmalion (1938) and The Importance of Being Earnest (1952), among others. Cousin Crispin Bonham-Carter is also an actor.
After experiencing family dramas that included her father’s stroke-which left him wheelchair-bound-and attending South Hampstead High School and Westminster School in London, Bonham Carter devoted herself to an acting career. That trajectory actually began in 1979 when, at age 13, she entered a national poetry writing competition and used her second place winnings to place her photo in the casting directory “Spotlight.” She soon had her first agent and her first acting job, in a commercial, at age 16. She then landed a role in the made-for-TV movie A Pattern of Roses (1983) (TV), which subsequently led to her casting in the Merchant Ivory films A Room with a View (1985) and Lady Jane (1986), which was her first leading role.
Often referred to as the “corset queen” or “English rose” because of her early work, Bonham Carter has continued to surprise audiences with magnificent performances in a variety of roles from her more traditional corset-clad character in The Wings of the Dove (1997) and Shakespearian damsels to the dark and neurotic anti-heroines of Fight Club (1999) and many of Tim Burton’s films. Though consistently a versatile and engaging actress, Bonham Carter has never won a major American film award. However, she has received a number of critical awards and has been nominated for five Golden Globes, an Oscar, a SAG Award, and two Emmys.
Bonham Carter was nominated for a Golden Globe for the fifth time for her role in partner Tim Burton’s film adaptation of the Steven Sondheim musical, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007), for which Burton and co-star Johnny Depp were also nominated. Since their meeting while filming Planet of the Apes (2001), Bonham Carter and Burton have made four movies together. They live in adjoining residences in London, sharing a connecting hallway, and have two children: Billy Ray Burton, 4, and Nell Burton, who was born December 15, 2007. Ironically, a mutual love of Sweeney Todd was part of the initial attraction for the pair. Despite that, Bonham Carter has said in numerous interviews that her audition process for the role of Mrs. Lovett was the most grueling of her career and that, ultimately, it was Sondheim who she had to convince that she was right for the role.
Image of Katharine Hepburn
17. Katharine Hepburn
Actress, The African Queen
Born May 12, 1907 in Hartford, Connecticut, she was the daughter of a doctor and a suffragette, both of whom always encouraged her to speak her mind, develop it fully, and exercise her body to its full potential. An athletic tomboy as a child, she was also very close to her brother, Tom, and was devastated at age 14 to find him dead, the apparent result of accidentally hanging himself while practicing a hanging trick their father had taught them. For many years after this, Katharine used his birthdate, November 8, as her own. She then became very shy around girls her age, and was largely schooled at home. She did attend Bryn Mawr College, however, and it was here that she decided to become an actress, appearing in many of their productions.
After graduating, she began getting small roles in plays on Broadway and elsewhere. She always attracted attention in these parts, especially for her role in “Art and Mrs. Bottle” (1931); then, she finally broke into stardom when she took the starring role of the Amazon princess Antiope in “A Warrior’s Husband” (1932). The inevitable film offers followed, and after making a few screen tests, she was cast in A Bill of Divorcement (1932), opposite John Barrymore. The film was a hit, and after agreeing to her salary demands, RKO signed her to a contract. She made five films between 1932 and 1934. For her third, Morning Glory (1933) she won her first Academy Award. Her fourth, Little Women (1933) was the most successful picture of its day.
But stories were beginning to leak out of her haughty behavior off- screen and her refusal to play the Hollywood Game, always wearing slacks and no makeup, never posing for pictures or giving interviews. Audiences were shocked at her unconventional behavior instead of applauding it, and so when she returned to Broadway in 1934 to star in “The Lake”, the critics panned her and the audiences, who at first bought up tickets, soon deserted her. When she returned to Hollywood, things didn’t get much better. From the period 1935-1938, she had only two hits: Alice Adams (1935), which brought her her second Oscar nomination, and Stage Door (1937); the many flops included Break of Hearts (1935), Sylvia Scarlett (1935), Mary of Scotland (1936), Quality Street (1937) and the now- classic Bringing Up Baby (1938).
With so many flops, she came to be labeled “box-office poison.” She decided to go back to Broadway to star in “The Philadelphia Story” (1938), and was rewarded with a smash. She quickly bought the film rights, and so was able to negotiate her way back to Hollywood on her own terms, including her choice of director and co-stars. The film version of The Philadelphia Story (1940), was a box-office hit, and Hepburn, who won her third Oscar nomination for the film, was bankable again. For her next film, Woman of the Year (1942), she was paired with Spencer Tracy, and the chemistry between them lasted for eight more films, spanning the course of 25 years, and a romance that lasted that long off-screen. (She received her fourth Oscar nomination for the film.) Their films included the very successful Adam’s Rib (1949), Pat and Mike (1952), and Desk Set (1957).
With The African Queen (1951), Hepburn moved into middle-aged spinster roles, receiving her fifth Oscar nomination for the film. She played more of these types of roles throughout the 50s, and won more Oscar nominations for many of them, including her roles in Summertime (1955), The Rainmaker (1956) and Suddenly, Last Summer (1959). Her film roles became fewer and farther between in the 60s, as she devoted her time to her ailing partner Spencer Tracy. For one of her film appearances in this decade, in Long Day’s Journey Into Night (1962), she received her ninth Oscar nomination. After a five-year absence from films, she then made Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967), her last film with Tracy and the last film Tracy ever made; he died just weeks after finishing it. It garnered Hepburn her tenth Oscar nomination and her second win. The next year, she did The Lion in Winter (1968), which brought her her eleventh Oscar nomination and third win.
In the 70s, she turned to making made-for-TV films, with The Glass Menagerie (1973) (TV), Love Among the Ruins (1975) (TV) and The Corn Is Green (1979) (TV). She still continued to make an occasional appearance in feature films, such as Rooster Cogburn (1975), with John Wayne, and On Golden Pond (1981), with Henry Fonda. This last brought her her twelfth Oscar nomination and fourth win – the latter currently still a record for an actress.
She made more TV-films in the 80s, and wrote her autobiography, ‘Me’, in 1991. Her last feature film was Love Affair (1994), with Warren Beatty and Annette Bening, and her last TV- film was One Christmas (1994) (TV). With her health declining she retired from public life in the mid-nineties. She died at the age of 96 at her home in Old Saybrook, Connecticut.
18. Vivien Leigh
Actress, Gone with the Wind
If a film were made of the life of Vivien Leigh, it would open in India just before World War I, where a successful British businessman could live like a prince. In the mountains above Calcutta, a little princess is born. Because of the outbreak of World War I, she is six years old the first time her parents take her to England. Her mother thinks she should have a proper English upbringing and insists on leaving her in a convent school – even though Vivien is two years younger than any of the other girls at the school. The only comfort for the lonely child is a cat that was in the courtyard of the school that the nuns let her take up to her dormitory. Her first and best friend at the school is an eight-year-old girl, Maureen O’Sullivan who has been transplanted from Ireland. In the bleakness of a convent school, the two girls can recreate in their imaginations the places they have left and places where they would some day like to travel. After Vivien has been at the school for 18 months, her mother comes again from India and takes her to a play in London. In the next six months Vivien will insist on seeing the same play 16 times. In India the British community entertained themselves at amateur theatricals and Vivien’s father was a leading man. Pupils at the English convent school are eager to perform in school plays. It’s an all-girls school, so some of the girls have to play the male roles. The male roles are so much more adventurous. Vivien’s favorite actor is Leslie Howard, and at 19 she marries an English barrister who looks very much like him. The year is 1932. Vivien’s best friend from that convent school has gone to California, where she’s making movies. Vivien has an opportunity to play a small role in an English film, Things Are Looking Up (1935). She has only one line but the camera keeps returning to her face. The London stage is more exciting than the movies being filmed in England, and the most thrilling actor on that stage is Laurence Olivier. At a party Vivien finds out about a stage role, “The Green Sash”, where the only requirement is that the leading lady be beautiful. The play has a very brief run, but now she is a real actress. An English film is going to be made about Elizabeth I. Laurence gets the role of a young favorite of the queen who is sent to Spain. Vivien gets a much smaller role as a lady-in-waiting of the queen who is in love with Laurence’s character. In real life, both fall in love while making this film, Fire Over England (1937). In 1938, Hollywood wants Laurence to play Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights (1939). Vivien, who has just recently read Gone with the Wind (1939), thinks that the role of Scarlett O’Hara is the first role for an actress that would be really exciting to bring to the screen. She sails to America for a brief vacation. In New York she gets on a plane for the first time to rush to California to see Laurence. They have dinner with Myron Selznick the night that his brother, David O. Selznick, is burning Atlanta on a backlot of MGM (actually they are burning old sets that go back to the early days of silent films to make room to recreate an Atlanta of the 1860s). Vivien is 26 when Gone with the Wind (1939) makes a sweep of the Oscars in 1939. So let’s show 26-year-old Vivien walking up to the stage to accept her Oscar and then as the Oscar is presented the camera focuses on Vivien’s face and through the magic of digitally altering images, the 26-year-old face merges into the face of Vivien at age 38 getting her second Best Actress Oscar for portraying Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951). She wouldn’t have returned to America to make that film had not Laurence been going over there to do a film, Carrie (1952) based on Theodore Dreiser’s novel “Sister Carrie”. Laurence tells their friends that his motive for going to Hollywood to make films is to get enough money to produce his own plays for the London stage. He even has his own theater there, the St. James. Now Sir Laurence, with a seat in the British House of Lords, is accompanied by Vivien the day the Lords are debating about whether the St James should be torn down. Breaking protocol, Vivien speaks up and is escorted from the House of Lords. The publicity helps raise the funds to save the St. James. Throughout their two-decade marriage Laurence and Vivien were acting together on the stage in London and New York. Vivien was no longer Lady Olivier when she performed her last major film role, The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (1961).
19. Grace Kelly
Actress, Rear Window
Grace Patricia Kelly was born on November 12, 1929 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to wealthy parents. Her girlhood was uneventful for the most part, but one of the things she desired was to become an actress which she had decided on at an early age. After her high school graduation in 1947, Grace struck out on her own, heading to New York’s bright lights to try her luck there. Grace worked some as a model and made her debut on Broadway in 1949. She also made a brief foray into the infant medium of television. Not content with the work in New York, Grace moved to Southern California for the more prestigious part of acting — motion pictures. In 1951, she appeared in her first film entitled Fourteen Hours (1951) when she was 22. It was a small part, but a start nonetheless. The following year, she landed the role of Amy Kane in High Noon (1952), a western starring Gary Cooper and Lloyd Bridges which turned out to be very popular. In 1953, Grace appeared in only one film, but it was another popular one. The film was Mogambo (1953) where Grace played Linda Nordley. The film was a jungle drama in which fellow cast members, Clark Gable and Ava Gardner turned in masterful performances. It was also one of the best films ever released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Although she got noticed with High Noon, her work with director Alfred Hitchcock, which began with Dial M for Murder (1954) made her a star. Her standout performance in Rear Window (1954) brought her to prominence. As Lisa Fremont, she was cast opposite James Stewart, who played a crippled photographer who witnesses a murder in the next apartment from his wheelchair. Grace stayed busy in 1954 appearing in five films. Grace would forever be immortalized by winning the Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of Georgie Elgin opposite Bing Crosby in The Country Girl (1954). In 1955, Grace once again teamed with Hitchcock in To Catch a Thief (1955) co-starring Cary Grant. In 1956, she played Tracy Lord in the musical comedy High Society (1956) which also starred Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby. The whimsical tale ended with her re-marrying her former husband, played by Crosby. The film was well received and also turned out to be her final acting performance. Grace had recently met and married Prince Rainier of Monaco. By becoming a princess, she gave up her career. For the rest of her life, she was to remain in the news with her marriage and her three children. On September 14, 1982, Grace was killed in an automobile accident in her adoptive home country at age 52.
20. Brigitte Bardot
Brigitte Bardot was born on September 28, 1934 in Paris, France. Her father had an engineering degree and worked with his father in the family business. Her mother was 14 years younger than Brigitte’s father and they married in 1933. Brigitte’s mother encouraged her daughter to take up music and dance, and she proved to be very adept at it. By the time she was 15, Brigitte was trying a modeling career, and found herself in the French magazine “Elle”. Her incredible beauty readily apparent, Brigitte next tried films. In 1952, she appeared on screen for the first time as Javotte Lemoine in Crazy for Love (1952). Two more films followed and it was also the same year she married Roger Vadim. The two had known each other years earlier and she wanted to marry him when she was 17, but her parents quashed any marriage plans until she turned 18. The union lasted only five years.
Capitalizing on her success in French films, Brigitte made her first American production in Act of Love (1953) with Kirk Douglas, but she continued to make films in France. Brigitte’s explosive sexuality took the United States by storm, and the effect she had on millions of American men who had not seen a woman like her in a long, long time–if ever–was electric. Rise to the phrase “sex kitten” and fascination of her in the United States consisted of magazines photographs and dubbed over French films–good, bad or indifferent, her films drew audiences–mainly men–into theaters like lemmings. In 1965, she appeared as herself in the American-made Dear Brigitte (1965) with James Stewart (she only appeared in one scene).
Just before she turned 40, Brigitte retired from movies after filming The Edifying and Joyous Story of Colinot (1973). She prefers life outside of stardom. While it enabled her to become internationally famous, it also carried with it annoyances. It was not anything for her to have “fans” enter her house or wander around the grounds of her home in the hopes of getting a glimpse of her or to take something that belonged to her. Paparazzi constantly hounded her with their cameras. She has been so soft-hearted that some people even have taken advantage of her generosity. After her life in the spotlight, Brigitte went on to become a leading spokesperson for animal rights and started the “Foundation Brigitte Bardot” dedicated solely to that cause. Her work in that realm is, perhaps, far greater than any film she could have made.
21. Li Gong
Born in Shenyang, grew up in Jinan, the daughter of an economics professor. Loved music from childhood, and dreamed of a singing career. After failing to gain entrance to China’s top music school in 1985, applied for and was admitted to the Central Drama Academy in Beijing, from which she graduated in 1989. While still a student, was cast as the female lead in Red Sorghum (1987)(aka “Red Sorghum”), the initial directing effort by Yimou Zhang. China’s best-known actress in the West, she was named Best Actress at the 49th Venice International Film Festival for her role in The Story of Qiu Ju (1992) (aka “The Story of Qiu Ju”). Made a series of successful films with Yimou Zhang, a collaboration that apparently ended with the breakup of their personal relationship in 1995 and Gong’s subsequent marriage to a tobacco company executive.
22. Penélope Cruz
Actress, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Known outside her native country as the “Spanish enchantress”, Penélope Cruz Sánchez was born in Madrid to Eduardo (a retailer) and Encarna (a hairdresser). As a toddler, she was already a compulsive performer, re-enacting TV commercials for her family’s amusement, but she decided to focus her energies on dance. After studying classical ballet for nine years at Spain’s National Conservatory, she continued her training under a series of prominent dancers. At 15, however, she heeded her true calling when she bested more than 300 other girls at a talent agency audition. The resulting contract landed her several roles in Spanish TV shows and music videos, which in turn paved the way for a career on the big screen. Cruz made her movie debut in The Greek Labyrinth (1993) (The Greek Labyrinth), then appeared briefly in the Timothy Dalton thriller “Framed” (1992). Her third film was the Oscar-winning Belle epoque (1992), in which she played one of four sisters vying for the love of a handsome army deserter. The film also garnered several Goyas, the Spanish equivalent of the Academy Awards. Her resume continued to grow by three or four films each year, and soon Cruz was a leading lady of Spanish cinema. Live Flesh (1997) (Live Flesh) offered her the chance to work with renowned Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar (who would later be her ticket to international fame), and the same year she was the lead actress in the thriller/drama/mystery/sci-fi film Open Your Eyes (1997), a huge hit in Spain that earned eight Goyas (though none for Cruz). Her luck finally changed in 1998, when the movie-industry comedy The Girl of Your Dreams (1998) won her a Best Actress Goya. Cruz made a few more forays into English-language film, but her first big international hit was Almodóvar’s All About My Mother (1999), in which she played an unchaste but well-meaning nun. As the film was showered with awards and accolades, Cruz suddenly found herself in demand on both sides of the Atlantic. Her next big project was Woman on Top (2000), an American comedy about a chef with bewitching culinary skills and a severe case of motion sickness. While in the US, she also signed up to star opposite Johnny Depp in the drug-trafficking drama Blow (2001) and opposite Matt Damon in Billy Bob Thornton’s All the Pretty Horses (2000). Cruz says she’s wary of being typecast as a beautiful young damsel, but it’s hard to imagine disguising her wide-eyed charms and generous nature. Fortunately, with Cameron Crowe’s Vanilla Sky (2001) (a remake of Open Your Eyes (1997)) and a John Madden collaboration looming in her future, Damsel Penelope isn’t likely to disappear just yet.
23. Franka Potente
Actress, Run Lola Run
Franka Potente was born on 22 July 1974 in the German town of Dülmen. After her graduation in 1994, she went to the Otto-Falckenberg-Schule, a drama school in Munich, but soon broke off to study at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute in New York. After a notable debut in Nach Fünf im Urwald (1995), the role of the heroine in Run Lola Run (1998), directed by her then longtime companion Tom Tykwer was her national breakthrough. After some other successful movies in Germany, she starred in several Hollywood productions, most prominently The Bourne Identity (2002) and The Bourne Supremacy (2004) and lived one year in Los Angeles. After her return to Berlin, she continues working with German and international directors.
24. Naomi Watts
Actress, King Kong
Naomi Watts was born in Shoreham, England on September 28, 1968 to Peter and Miv Watts. Peter Watts, the road manager to Pink Floyd, died when Naomi was seven and she began to follow her mother and her brother around England until they settled in Australia when she was fourteen. She coaxed her mother into letting her take acting class when they arrived. After bit parts in commercials, she landed her first role in For Love Alone (1986). Naomi met her best friend, Nicole Kidman, when they both auditioned for a bikini commercial and they shared a taxi ride home. In 1991, Naomi starred along Kidman in the sleeper-hit Flirting (1991) directed by John Duigan. Naomi continued her career by starring in the Australian “Brides of Christ” (1991) co-starring Oscar-winners Russell Crowe and Brenda Fricker. In 1993, she worked with John Duigan again in Wide Sargasso Sea (1993) and director George Miller in Gross Misconduct (1993). Tank Girl (1995), in 1995, an adaptation of the comic book was a cult hit, starred Naomi as “Jet Girl”, but it didn’t fare well at the box-office and didn’t do much for her career as a whole. Watts continued to take insignificant parts in movies including the much forgotten film Children of the Corn: The Gathering (1996) (V). It wasn’t until David Lynch cast her in the critically acclaimed film Mulholland Dr. (2001) that she began to become noticed. Her part as an aspiring actress showed her strong acting ability and wide range and earned her much respect, as much as to say by some that she was overlooked for a Oscar nomination that year. Stardom finally came to Naomi in the surprise hit The Ring (2002), which grossed over $100,000,000 at the box-office and starred Watts as a investigative reporter hunting down the truth behind several mysterious deaths seemingly caused by a video tape. While the movie did not fare well with the critics, it launched her into the spotlight. In 2003, she starred in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s 21 Grams (2003) which earned her – what some say is a much overdue Oscar nomination and brought others to call her one of the best in her generation of actors. The same year, she was nominated for 21 Grams (2003), Naomi was chosen to play “Ann Darrow” in director Peter Jackson’s King Kong (2005) which took her to New Zealand for a five month shoot. Watts completed her first comedy in I Heart Huckabees (2004) for director David O. Russell, playing a superficial spokes model – a break from her usual intense and dramatic roles she is known for. In 2005, she reprized her role as the protective-mother-reporter “Rachel Keller” in The Ring Two (2005). The movie, released in March, opened to $35,000,000 at the box office in the first weekend and established her as a box-office draw. Also in 2005, it was decided that her independent movie Ellie Parker (2001) would be re-released in late 2005 after its success at resurfacing at the Sundance Film Festival. The movie, which Naomi also produced, features her in the title role and is a bit biographical, but yet exaggerated take of the life of a struggling actress as she comes to Hollywood and encounters nightmares of the profession (it also features Watts’ own beat-up Honda which she travels around in). In 2006, she starred with Edward Norton in The Painted Veil (2006). In July of 2007, Naomi gave birth to a boy, Alexander Pete in Los Angeles with Liev Schreiber. Since then her career choices have gathered even more critical acclaim with starring roles roles in German director Michael Haneke’s American remake of his thriller Funny Games (2007), David Cronenberg’s Eastern Promises (2007), and the action-thriller, The International (2009/I), released in February 2009. In mid-2008, Watts announced she was expecting her second child with Schreiber and gave birth to another boy, Samuel Kai in New York on December 13.
25. Nicole Kidman
Actress, Moulin Rouge!
Elegant redhead Nicole Kidman, known as one of Hollywood’s top Australian imports, was actually born in Honolulu, Hawaii, to Australian parents Anthony (a biochemist and clinical psychologist) and Janelle (a nursing instructor) Kidman. The family moved almost immediately to Washington, DC, where Nicole’s father pursued his research on breast cancer, and then, three years later, made the pilgrimage to her parents’ native Sydney. Young Nicole’s first love was ballet, but she eventually took up mime and drama as well (her first stage role was a bleating sheep in an elementary school Christmas pageant). In her adolescent years, acting edged out the other arts and became a kind of refuge — as her classmates sought out fun in the sun, the fair-skinned Kidman retreated to dark rehearsal halls to practice her craft. She worked regularly at the Philip Street Theater, where she once received a personal letter of praise and encouragement from audience member Jane Campion (then a film student). Kidman eventually dropped out of high school to pursue acting full-time. She broke into movies at age 16, landing a role in the Australian holiday favorite Bush Christmas (1983). That appearance touched off a flurry of film and TV offers, including a lead in BMX Bandits (1983) and a turn as a schoolgirl-turned-protester in the miniseries “Vietnam” (1987) (for which she won her first Australian Film Institute Award). With the help of an American agent, she eventually made her US debut opposite Sam Neill in the at-sea thriller Dead Calm (1989).
Kidman’s next casting coup scored her more than exposure. While starring as Tom Cruise’s doctor/love interest in the racetrack romance Days of Thunder (1990), she won over the Hollywood hunk hook, line, and sinker. After a whirlwind courtship (and decent box office returns), the couple wed on December 24, 1990. Determined not to let her new marital status overshadow her fledgling career, the actress pressed on. She appeared as a catty high school senior in the Australian film Flirting (1991), then as Dustin Hoffman’s moll in the gangster flick Billy Bathgate (1991). She reunited with Cruise for Far and Away (1992), the story of young Irish lovers who flee to America in the late 1800s, and starred opposite Michael Keaton in the tear-tugger My Life (1993). Despite her steady employment, critics and moviegoers still hadn’t quite warmed to Kidman as a leading lady. She tried to spice up her image by seducing Val Kilmer in Batman Forever (1995), but achieved her real breakthrough with Gus Van Sant’s To Die For (1995). As a fame-crazed housewife determined to eliminate any obstacle in her path, Kidman proved that she had an impressive range and deadly comic timing. She took home a Golden Globe and several critics’ awards for the performance. In 1996, Kidman stepped into a corset to work with her countrywoman and onetime admirer, Jane Campion, on the adaptation of Henry James’s The Portrait of a Lady (1996). A few months later, she tore across the screen as a nuclear weapons expert in The Peacemaker (1997), adding “action star” to her professional repertoire.
She and Cruise then disappeared into a notoriously long, secretive shoot for Stanley Kubrick’s sexual thriller Eyes Wide Shut (1999). The couple’s on-screen shenanigans prompted an increase in public speculation about their sex life (rumors had long been circulating that their marriage was a cover-up for Cruise’s homosexuality); tired of denying tabloid attacks, they successfully sued The Star for a story alleging that they needed a sex therapist to coach them through love scenes. Family life has always been a priority for Kidman. Born to social activists (mom was a feminist; dad, a labor advocate), Nicole and her little sister, Antonia Kidman, discussed current events around the dinner table and participated in their parents’ campaigns by passing out pamphlets on street corners. When her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, 17-year-old Nicole stopped working and took a massage course so that she could provide physical therapy (her mom eventually beat the cancer). She and Cruise adopted two children: Isabella Jane (born in 1993) and Connor Antony (born 1995). Despite their rock-solid image, the couple announced in early 2001 that they were separating due to career conflicts. Her marriage to Cruise ended mid-summer of 2001.
26. Diane Keaton
Actress, The Godfather: Part II
Diane Keaton was a California native who studied Drama at Santa Ana College before dropping out to study at the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York. After appearing in summer stock for several months, she got her first major stage role in the Broadway rock musical “Hair”. As understudy to the lead, she gained attention by not removing any of her clothing. In 1970, Woody Allen cast her in his Broadway play “Play It Again, Sam”, which had a successful run. It was during this time that she became involved with Allen and appeared in a number of his films. The first one was Play It Again, Sam (1972), the screen adaptation of the stage play. That same year Francis Ford Coppola cast her as Kay in the Oscar-winning The Godfather (1972) and she was on her way to stardom. She reprised that role in the film’s first sequel, The Godfather: Part II (1974). She then appeared with Allen again in Sleeper (1973) and Love and Death (1975).
In 1977 she broke away from her comedy image to appear in the chilling Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977), which won her a Golden Globe nomination. It was the same year that she appeared in what many regard as her best performance, in the title role of Annie Hall (1977), which Allen wrote specifically for her (her real last name is Hall, and her nickname is Annie), and what an impact she made. She won the Oscar and the British Award for Best Actress and Allen won the Directors Award from the DGA. She started a fashion trend with her unisex clothes and was the poster girl for a lot of young males. Her mannerisms and awkward speech became almost a national craze. The question being asked, though, was, “Is she just a lightweight playing herself, or is there more depth to her personality?”. For whatever reason, she appeared in but one film a year for the next two years and those films were by Allen. When they broke up she was next involved with Warren Beatty and appeared in his film Reds (1981), as the bohemian female journalist Louise Bryant. For her performance she received nominations for the Academy Award and the Golden Globe. For the rest of the 1980s she appeared infrequently in films, but won nominations in three of them. Attempting to break the typecasting she had fallen into, she took on the role of a confused, somewhat naive woman who becomes the tool of Middle Eastern terrorists in The Little Drummer Girl (1984). To offset her lack of movie work, Diane began directing. She directed the documentary Heaven (1987), as well as some music videos. For television she directed an episode of the popular, but strange, “Twin Peaks” (1990).
In the 1990s she began to get more mature rules, though she reprised the role of Kay Corleone in the third “Godfather” epic, The Godfather: Part III (1990). She appeared as the wife of Steve Martin in the hit Father of the Bride (1991) and again in Father of the Bride Part II (1995). In 1993 she once again teamed with Woody Allen in Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993), which was well received. In 1995 she received high marks for Unstrung Heroes (1995), her first major feature as a director.
27. Uma Thurman
Actress, Kill Bill: Vol. 1
Uma Karuna Thurman, daughter of Robert Thurman and Nena Thurman, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on April 29, 1970. Uma grew up in Amherst, Massachusetts, where her father worked at Amherst College. She left boarding school at just 15, already determined to become an actress. She moved to New York to follow her dream.
A breakthrough role for the tall, blonde actress came when she played Cecile de Volanges in Dangerous Liaisons (1988). More attention came with the NC-17 rated Henry & June (1990), but it was Thurman’s role in the Quentin Tarantino classic Pulp Fiction (1994) that earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Donning a short black wig to play femme fatale Mia Wallace opposite John Travolta’s hit man Vincent Vega, Thurman earned a place in film history.
After roles in The Truth About Cats & Dogs (1996) and the Ted Demme film Beautiful Girls (1996), Thurman met her future husband Ethan Hawke on the set of Gattaca (1997).
Thurman returned to smaller films after playing the villainess Poison Ivy in the reviled Joel Schumacher effort Batman & Robin (1997) and Emma Peel in a remake of The Avengers (1998). She worked with Woody Allen and Sean Penn on Sweet and Lowdown (1999), and starred in Richard Linklater’s drama Tape (2001) opposite Hawke. Thurman also won a Golden Globe award for her turn in the made-for-television film Hysterical Blindness (2002) (TV), directed by Mira Nair.
A return to the mainstream spotlight came when Thurman redeemed with Quentin Tarantino for Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003), a revenge flick the two had dreamed up on the set of Pulp Fiction (1994). She also turned up in the John Woo cautioner Paycheck (2003) that same year. The renewed attention was not altogether welcome because Thurman was dealing with the break-up of her marriage with Hawke at about this time. Thurman handled the situation with grace, however, and took her surging popularity in stride. She garnered critical acclaim for her work in Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004) and was hailed as Tarantino’s muse. Thurman reunited with Pulp Fiction (1994) dance partner John Travolta for the Get Shorty (1995) sequel Be Cool (2005) and played Ulla in The Producers (2005).
28. Faye Dunaway
Faye Dunaway was born on a farm in Bascom, Florida; the daughter of an army officer and a housewife. She graduated high school in 1958, and after a stint as a beauty queen she intended to pursue education at the University of Florida, but switched to acting, earning her degree from Boston University in 1962. She was given the enviable task of choosing between a Fulbright Scholarship to the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts or a role in the Broadway production of “A Man For All Seasons” as a member of the American National Theatre and Academy. She picked the latter, enjoying a fruitful stage career for the next two years. She made her small-screen debut on the television series “Seaway” (1965) and appeared in a few quietly received films before landing the lead role of bank robber Bonnie Parker in Bonnie and Clyde (1967), one of the all-time classics in American cinema. It was that film which catapulted her to superstardom, and from then on she was in demand everywhere, holding her own against some of the biggest macho stars of the period, including Steve McQueen, Jack Nicholson, Robert Redford, and Paul Newman.
29. Natalie Wood
Actress, West Side Story
Natalie Wood appeared in 56 films for TV and the silver screen and received 3 Oscar nominations before turning 25.
Her real name was Natasha Gurdin, and she was born in San Francisco on Wednesday, July 20th, 1938, to Russian émigrés Maria and Nicholas Zakharenko (they had changed their last name to Gurdin before coming to America). Natalie has one sister, Lana Wood, who is younger. They have a half-sister, Olga Viriapaeff, who is older. When she was just four years old, Natalie made her film debut in Happy Land (1943), although she had less than 10 seconds of screen time. When she was seven, she was cast in a major role opposite the legendary Orson Welles in Tomorrow Is Forever (1946). The following year, she starred as Susan Walker in one of the most famous films of all time, Miracle on 34th Street (1947), which for many people has become a traditional viewing every Christmas. Natalie stayed very busy as a child actress and appeared in over 20 films, including The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947), Driftwood (1947), Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay! (1948), The Green Promise (1949), The Jackpot (1950), and Our Very Own (1950),
When she was 16, Natalie got her big break when she was cast as Judy in Rebel Without a Cause (1955), starring opposite 24-year-old James Dean and 16-year-old Sal Mineo. Her performance earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. The film was very popular and is now considered a classic. Both of her co-stars in the film also died young under tragic circumstances, and the main cast has become known as the “tragic three.” The following year, she played a small but crucial role in the classic western The Searchers (1956), which starred John Wayne. Natalie was a rebellious teenager, started smoking and was romantically linked to much older men. Publicly, she dated Dennis Hopper and Elvis Presley, who were only a few years older. Privately, Natalie (age 16) was romantically involved with 43-year-old bisexual director Nicholas Ray, who did not face statutory rape charges because their affair was not made public knowledge until long after it ended. In the spring of 1957, Natalie started a relationship with actor Robert Wagner when she was 18 and he was 27. They married on December 28th of that year. The couple made a film together called All the Fine Young Cannibals (1960), which flopped.
In 1961, Natalie’s career reached a higher level when she starred in two hit films. The first was Splendor in the Grass (1961), a rural period drama in which she and Warren Beatty played teen lovers. Natalie received her second Academy Award nomination for her role, as Best Actress. The other film she made that year was West Side Story (1961), in which she played a Puerto Rican girl who falls in love with a member of her community’s rival gang in New York. In June of that year, 22-year-old Natalie filed for divorce from Wagner. Although he said that their careers conflicted with the marriage, biographer Suzanne Finstad wrote that she caught him “in a compromising position with another man.” Their divorce was finalized in April 1962, and she began a relationship with Warren Beatty. Natalie’s next two films were very successful: the musical Gypsy (1962) and the melodrama Love with the Proper Stranger (1963), in which she played a young shopgirl who faces an unwanted pregnancy. The latter film earned her a third Academy Award nomination. She was only 25 years old. After this she starred in Sex and the Single Girl (1964) (which flopped) and The Great Race (1965), which was a modest commercial success but a critical failure. She delivered some of the best work of her career by playing southern depression-era teens with big dreams in Inside Daisy Clover (1965) and This Property Is Condemned (1966), both of which co-starred Robert Redford and earned her Golden Globe nominations. Although they were not box-office hits, many consider the latter to be Natalie’s greatest performance.
In her personal life, Natalie broke up with Warren Beatty then had a string of short-lived romances with screenwriter Henry Jaglom, actors Michael Caine and Tom Courtenay, and was even engaged to Venezuelan shoe tycoon Ladislav Blatnik. Following an unhappy relationship with an unnamed older married man, Natalie attempted suicide in November of 1966. Then, she began seeing a psychiatrist and, sadly, semi-retired from acting at just 28 years old. After a three-year hiatus, Natalie made a brief return with a role in the 1969 ensemble film Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969). It was a box office hit, but she did not parlay the success into furthering her career. On May 30th, 1969, 30-year-old Natalie married 39-year-old British producer Richard Gregson after dating on and off for two years. He had been married before and already had two children.
On September 29th, 1970, Natalie gave birth to a daughter, Natasha Gregson (later Natasha Gregson Wagner). Ten months later, on August 1, 1971, she and Richard Gregson separated when she found out he was having an affair. Following their separation, Natalie dated politician Jerry Brown. However, she reunited with Robert Wagner on January 26, 1972. On July 16, 1972, 33-year-old Natalie married for the third and final time, to 42-year-old Wagner in Malibu, just three months after her divorce from Gregson was finalized. The couple worked together in a TV movie called The Affair (1973) (TV), which marked Natalie’s first acting role in over four years. On March 9th, 1974, Natalie gave birth to her second child (and her only child with Wagner), daughter Courtney Wagner.
Meanwhile, Natalie turned down the role of Daisy in The Great Gatsby (1974). By 1975, while only in her mid thirties, Natalie was no longer being considered for plum film roles due to the fact that she had been offscreen for so long. The best roles were going to Jane Fonda, who was actually a year older than Natalie, despite the public’s perception to the contrary. She finally appeared in another movie, Peeper (1976), but it wasn’t even widely released in theaters. In 1977, Natalie became inclined to start acting more often, and over the next year she signed on for one feature film and two made-for-TV movies.
In 1979, Natalie saw the release of three projects. “From Here to Eternity” (1979) was a miniseries costarring Kim Basinger and William Devane; it earned Natalie a Golden Globe Award. The Cracker Factory (1979) (TV) provided another meaty role for Natalie, but it was, after all, still just a TV movie. Meteor (1979) was Natalie’s first feature film in an entire decade (excluding Peeper (1976), which wasn’t widely released). However, it was not a comeback for her, as she only had a supporting role and the film was a huge flop both critically and commercially. Her next film, the 1980 sex comedy The Last Married Couple in America (1980), was also a flop, even though Natalie gave a wonderful performance. The poor reception of this film couldn’t have been much of a surprise, though, because Natalie had been off the radar for so long. It was a shame that she had done virtually no movies while in her 30s, which should have been the prime years of her career.
Determined to re-ignite her film career, Natalie went to North Carolina in September 1981 to make Brainstorm (1983), a compelling science fiction drama in which she and Christopher Walken played a husband-and-wife team of scientists who create a device that can record human thoughts. At 43, this marked the first time in 15 years (since she was 28) that Natalie had a serious starring role in a major film. She spent two months working on it before returning to L.A. for Thanksgiving break. Walked accompanied her.
On November 27, 1981, Natalie invited Walken to join herself, Wagner, and boat captain Dennis Davern on a boat trip to Catalina Island. The following day, they dined at a restaurant on Catalina where Natalie became very intoxicated. That night, the four of them returned to their yacht, the “Splendor”. The rest is a mystery, and the stories about how she ended up in the water have been conflicting. On the morning of Sunday, November 29th, 1981, her body was found floating face down in the ocean. Rumors of foul play immediately surfaced, but no charges were filed and her death was declared an accidental drowning. She was 43 years old. She had not completed all of her scenes in Brainstorm (1983). As a result, her character was written out of several scenes, while a stand-in and sound-a-likes were used to replace her in some crucial scenes. The film was finally released in the fall of 1983, to mixed reviews and bad box office. However, unlike the majority of Natalie’s films, it has found a larger audience on DVD.
Since Richard Gregson lived in Europe, Wagner got custody Natalie’s daughter Natasha and raised her. He also cut off all contact with Natalie’s family. In 1984, Lana Wood published the book “Natalie: a Memoir by Her Sister,” in which she expressed her disappointment concerning Wagner’s behavior.
Natalie had only outlived her father, Nick, by one year after he died of a heart failure in November 1980 at age 68. Her mother, Maria, never stopped grieving for Natalie and developed Alzheimer’s disease. She died of pneumonia in Lana’s home in 1998 at age 85.
On May 30, 2012, Natalie’s first grandchild was born, when Natasha gave birth to a daughter, Clover Clementine Watson, named after Natalie’s character in Inside Daisy Clover (1965). The father of Natasha’s baby is her boyfriend, actor Barry Watson.
30. Audrey Tautou
Audrey Justine Tautou (; born 1976 or 1978) is a French film actress, best known for playing the title character in the award-winning 2001 film Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain, Sophie Neveu in the 2006 thriller The Da Vinci Code, Irène in Priceless (2006) and Coco Chanel in Coco avant Chanel. She won the César Award for Most Promising Actress in Venus Beauty Institute (1999).
In 1998, Tautou participated in a Star Search-like competition sponsored by Canal+ called “Jeunes Premiers” (The Young Debut) and won Best Young Actress at the 9th Béziers Festival of Young Actors. Tonie Marshall gave her a role in the César-winning Venus Beauty Institute (1999, aka Vénus beauté (institut)). In 2000, she won the Prix Suzanne Bianchetti as her country’s most promising young film actress.
In 2001, Tautou rose to international fame for her performance as the eccentric lead in the romantic comedy Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain (Amélie). In June 2004, she was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS).
In 2005, Tautou worked in her first full Hollywood production, opposite Tom Hanks, in the film version of Dan Brown’s best-selling novel The Da Vinci Code, directed by Ron Howard and released in May 2006. She acted alongside Gad Elmaleh in Pierre Salvadori’s Hors de prix (Priceless), released 13 December 2006. The film has been compared to Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Tautou starred with Guillaume Canet in Claude Berri’s Ensemble, c’est tout in 2007, an adaptation of the eponymous novel by Anna Gavalda.
Tautou played the lead role in the biopic of fashion designer Coco Chanel, titled Coco avant Chanel, and directed by Anne Fontaine. Filming began in Paris in September 2008, and released in France on 22 April 2009. The script is partially based on Edmonde Charles-Roux’s book “L’Irrégulière” (”The Non-Conformist”). As part of promoting the film, Tautou was named as the next spokesmodel for Chanel No. 5, replacing Nicole Kidman. She was directed in the advertisement by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, with whom she worked on Amélie and A Very Long Engagement. The advertisement was released in 2009 to coincide with the film’s release.
She appeared in the video of “I Love Your Smile”, a song by British singer-songwriter Charlie Winston.
31. Marion Cotillard
Academy Award-winning French actress Marion Cotillard was born on September 30, 1975 in Paris to Jean-Claude Cotillard, an actor, playwright and director, and Niseema Theillaud, an actress and drama teacher. While still a teenager, Cotillard made her cinema debut in the film L’histoire du garçon qui voulait qu’on l’embrasse (1994). Her first prominent screen role was as “Lilly Bertineau” in Taxi (1998/I), a role which she reprised in two sequels.
In 2007, Cotillard received international recognition for her iconic portrayal of legendary French singer Édith Piaf in La vie en rose (2007). The role won Cotillard the Academy Award for Best Actress along with a César (France’s equivalent to the Oscar), a BAFTA Award, and a Golden Globe. That made her only the second actress to win an acting Oscar performing in a language other than English next to Sophia Loren (Two Women (1960)). Only two male performers (Roberto Benigni for Life Is Beautiful (1997) and Robert De Niro for The Godfather: Part II (1974)) have won an Oscar for solely non-English parts.
Cotillard has worked much more frequently in English-language movies following her Academy Award recognition. In 2009, she acted opposite Johnny Depp in Public Enemies (2009), and later that year had a role in musical Nine (2009). The following year, she took on the main antagonist role in Christopher Nolan’s Inception (2010), and in 2011 she had memorable parts in Midnight in Paris (2011) and Contagion (2011). In 2012, Cotillard received wide-spread acclaim at the Cannes Film Festival for her role in Rust and Bone (2012), and reteamed with Christopher Nolan in The Dark Knight Rises (2012).
With long-time boyfriend Guillaume Canet, Cotillard gave birth to her first child, Marcel, in May 2011.
32. Laura Linney
Actress, The Truman Show
Laura Linney was born in New York City on February 5, 1964, into a theatre family. Her father is the prominent playwright Romulus Linney. Although she did not live in her father’s house (her parents having divorced when she was an infant), Linney’s world revolved, in part, around his profession from the earliest age. She graduated from Brown University in 1986 and studied acting at Juilliard and the Arts Theatre School in Moscow and, thereafter, embarked on a career on the Broadway stage receiving favorable notices for her work in such plays as “Hedda Gabler” and “Six Degrees of Separation”.
Linney’s film career began in the early 1990s with small roles in Lorenzo’s Oil (1992) and Dave (1993). She landed the role of Mary Anne Singleton in the PBS film adaptations of Armistead Maupin’s “Tales of the City” series, playing her in “Tales of the City” (1993), “More Tales of the City” (1998) and “Further Tales of the City” (2001). Linney’s first substantial big-screen role was as the ex-girlfriend of Richard Gere’s character in Primal Fear (1996) and her superb performance brought her praise and a better selection of roles. Clint Eastwood chose Linney to play his daughter, another prominent role, in 1997’s Absolute Power (1997), followed by another second billing in the following year’s The Truman Show (1998).
Always a strong performer, Linney truly came into her own after 2000, starting the decade auspiciously with her widely-praised, arguably flawless performance in You Can Count on Me (2000). She found herself nominated for an Academy Award for this, her first lead role, for which her salary had been $10,000. Linney won numerous critics’ awards for her role as Sammy, a single mother whose life is complicated by a new boss and the arrival in town of her aimless brother. On the heels of this success came her marvelous turn as Bertha Dorset in The House of Mirth (2000), clearly the best performance in a film of strong performances. Since then, Linney has frequently been offered challenging dramatic roles, and always rises to the occasion, such as in Mystic River (2003), in which she worked again with Clint Eastwood, and Kinsey (2004), for which she received another Academy Award nomination.
Though not by any means typecast, Linney often plays a woman whose wholesome beauty is deceiving and whose character is ultimately more complex than it seems. Linney is divorced and lives in Connecticut. Although her career now focuses on movies, she continues to appear on the Broadway stage on occasion.
33. Keira Knightley
Actress, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
Keira Christina Knightley was born in the South London suburb of Richmond on March 26th 1985. She is the daughter of actor Will Knightley and actress turned playwright Sharman Macdonald. An older brother, Caleb Knightley, was born in 1979. Brought up immersed in the acting profession from both sides – writing and performing – it is little wonder that the young Keira asked for her own agent at the age of three. She was granted one at the age of six and performed in her first TV role as “Little Girl” in “Screen One: Royal Celebration (#5.4)” (1993), aged seven. It was discovered at an early age that Keira had severe difficulties in reading and writing. She was not officially dyslexic as she never sat the formal tests required of the British Dyslexia Association. Instead, she worked incredibly hard, encouraged by her family, until the problem had been overcome by her early teens.
Her first multi-scene performance came in A Village Affair (1995) (TV), an adaptation of the lesbian love story by Joanna Trollope. This was followed by small parts in the British crime series “The Bill” (1984), an exiled German princess in The Treasure Seekers (1996) (TV) and a much more substantial role as the young “Judith Dunbar” in Giles Foster’s adaptation of Rosamunde Pilcher’s novel Coming Home (1998) (TV), alongside Peter O’Toole, Penelope Keith and Joanna Lumley. The first time Keira’s name was mentioned around the world was when it was revealed (in a plot twist kept secret by director George Lucas) that she played Natalie Portman’s decoy “Padme” to Portman’s “Amidala” in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999).
It was several years before agreement was reached over which scenes featured Keira as the queen and which featured Natalie! Keira had no formal training as an actress and did it out of pure enjoyment. She went to an ordinary council-run school in nearby Teddington and had no idea what she wanted to do when she left. By now, she was beginning to receive far more substantial roles and was starting to turn work down as one project and her schoolwork was enough to contend with. She reappeared on British television in 1999 as “Rose Fleming” in Alan Bleasdale’s faithful reworking of Charles Dickens’ “Oliver Twist” (1999), and travelled to Romania to film her first title role in Walt Disney’s Princess of Thieves (2001) (TV) in which she played Robin Hood’s daughter, Gwyn. Keira’s first serious boyfriend was her Princess of Thieves (2001) (TV) co-star Del Synnott, and they later co-starred in Peter Hewitt’s ‘work of fart’ Thunderpants (2002). Nick Hamm’s dark thriller The Hole (2001) kept her busy during 2000, and featured her first nude scene (15 at the time, the film was not released until she was 16 years old).
In the summer of 2001, while Keira studied and sat her final school exams (she received six A’s), she filmed a movie about an Asian girl’s (Parminder Nagra) love for football and the prejudices she has to overcome regarding both her culture and her religion). Bend It Like Beckham (2002) was a smash hit in football-mad Britain but it had to wait until another of Keira’s films propelled it to the top end of the US box office. Bend It Like Beckham (2002) cost just £3.5m to make, and nearly £1m of that came from the British Lottery. It took £11m in the UK and has since gone on to score more than US$76m worldwide. Meanwhile, Keira had started A-levels at Esher College, studying Classics, English Literature and Political History, but continued to take acting roles which she thought would widen her experience as an actress. The story of a drug-addicted waitress and her friendship with the young son of a drug-addict, Pure (2002/I), occupied Keira from January to March 2002. Also at this time, Keira’s first attempt at Shakespeare was filmed. She played “Helena” in a modern interpretation of a scene from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” entitled The Seasons Alter (2002). This was commissioned by the environmental organisation “Futerra”, of which Keira’s mother is patron. Keira received no fee for this performance or for another short film, New Year’s Eve (2002), by award-winning director Col Spector.
But it was a chance encounter with producer Andy Harries at the London premiere of Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001) which forced Keira to leave her studies and pursue acting full-time. The meeting lead to an audition for the role of “Larisa Feodorovna Guishar” – the classic heroine of Boris Pasternak’s novel Doctor Zhivago (2002) (TV), played famously in the David Lean movie by Julie Christie. This was to be a big-budget TV movie with a screenplay written by Andrew Davies. Keira won the part and the mini-series was filmed throughout the Spring of 2002 in Slovakia, co-starring Sam Neill and Hans Matheson as “Yuri Zhivago”. Keira rounded off 2002 with a few scenes in the first movie to be directed by Blackadder and Vicar of Dibley writer Richard Curtis. Called Love Actually (2003), Keira played “Juliet”, a newlywed whose husband’s Best Man is secretly besotted with her.
A movie filmed after Love Actually (2003) but released before it was to make the world sit up and take notice of this beautiful fresh-faced young actress with a cute British accent. It was a movie which Keira very nearly missed out on, altogether. Auditions were held in London for a new blockbuster movie called Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), but heavy traffic in the city forced Keira to be tagged on to the end of the day’s auditions list. It helped – she got the part. Filming took place in Los Angeles and the Caribbean from October 2002 to March 2003 and was released to massive box office success and almost universal acclaim in the July of that year. Meanwhile, a small British film called Bend It Like Beckham (2002) had sneaked onto a North American release slate and was hardly setting the box office alight. But Keira’s dominance in “Pirates” had set tongues wagging and questions being asked about the actress playing “Elizabeth Swann”. Almost too late, “Bend It”‘s distributors realised one of its two stars was the same girl whose name was on everyone’s lips due to “Pirates”, and took the unusual step of re-releasing “Bend It” to 1,000 screens across the US, catapulting it from no. 26 back up to no. 12. “Pirates”, meanwhile, was fighting off all contenders at the top spot, and stayed in the Top 3 for an incredible 21 weeks. It was perhaps no surprise, then, that Keira was on producer Jerry Bruckheimer’s wanted list for the part of “Guinevere” in a planned accurate telling of the legend of “King Arthur”. Filming took place in Ireland and Wales from June to November 2003. In July, Keira had become the celebrity face of British jeweller and luxury goods retailer, Asprey.
At a photoshoot for the company on Long Island New York in August, Keira met and fell in love with Northern Irish model Jamie Dornan. King Arthur (2004) was released in July 2004 to lukewarm reviews. It seems audiences wanted the legend after all, and not necessarily the truth. Keira became the breakout star and ‘one to watch in 2004’ throughout the world’s media at the end of 2003.
Keira’s 2004 started off in Scotland and Canada filming John Maybury’s time-travelling thriller The Jacket (2005) with Oscar-winner Adrien Brody. A planned movie of Deborah Moggach’s novel, “Tulip Fever”, about forbidden love in 17th Century Amsterdam, was cancelled in February after the British government suddenly closed tax loopholes which allowed filmmakers to claw back a large proportion of their expenditure. Due to star Keira and Jude Law in the main roles, the film remains mothballed. Instead, Keira spent her time wisely, visiting Ethiopia on behalf of the “Comic Relief” charity, and spending summer at various grandiose locations around the UK filming what promises to be a faithful adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic novel Pride & Prejudice (2005), alongside Matthew Macfadyen as “Mr. Darcy”, and with Donald Sutherland and Judi Dench in supporting roles. In October 2004, Keira received her first major accolade, the Hollywood Film Award for Best Breakthrough Actor – Female, and readers of Empire Magazine voted her the Sexiet Movie Star Ever. The remainder of 2004 saw Keira once again trying a completely new genre, this time the part-fact, part-fiction life story of model turned bounty hunter Domino (2005). 2005 started with the premiere of The Jacket (2005) at the Sundance Film Festival, with the US premiere in LA on February 28th. Much of the year was then spent in the Caribbean filming both sequels to Pirates Of The Caribbean. Keira’s first major presenting role came in a late-night bed-in comedy clip show for Comic Relief with presenter Johnny Vaughan. In late July, promotions started for the September release of Pride & Prejudice (2005), with British fans annoyed to learn that the US version would end with a post-marriage kiss, but the European version would not. Nevertheless, when the movie opened in September on both sides of the Atlantic, Keira received her greatest praise thus far in her career, amid much talk of awards. It spent three weeks at No. 1 in the UK box office. Domino (2005) opened well in October, overshadowed by the death of Domino Harvey earlier in the year. Keira received Variety’s Personality Of The Year Award in November, topped the following month by her first Golden Globe nomination, for Pride & Prejudice (2005). KeiraWeb.com exclusively announced that Keira would play Helene Joncour in an adaptation of Alessandro Baricco’s novella Silk (2007).
Pride & Prejudice (2005) garnered six BAFTA nominations at the start of 2006, but not Best Actress for Keira, a fact which paled soon after by the announcement she had received her first Academy Award nomination, the third youngest Best Actress Oscar hopeful. A controversial nude Vanity Fair cover of Keira and Scarlett Johansson kept the press busy up till the Oscars, with Reese Witherspoon taking home the gold man in the Best Actress category, although Keira’s Vera Wang dress got more media attention. Keira spent early summer in Europe filming Silk (2007) opposite Michael Pitt, and the rest of the summer in the UK filming Atonement (2007), in which she plays Cecilia Tallis, and promoting the new Pirates movie (her Ellen Degeneres interview became one of the year’s Top 10 ‘viral downloads’). Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006) broke many box office records when it opens worldwide in July, becoming the third biggest movie ever by early September.
Keira sued British newspaper The Daily Mail in early 2007 after her image in a bikini accompanied an article about a woman who blamed slim celebrities for the death of her daughter from anorexia. The case was settled and Keira matched the settlement damages and donated the total amount to an eating disorder charity. Keira filmed a movie about the life of Dylan Thomas, The Edge Of Love (2008) with a screenplay written by her mother Sharman Macdonald. Her co-star Lindsay Lohan pulled out just a week before filming began, and was replaced by Sienna Miller. What was announced to be Keira’s final Pirates movie in the franchise, Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World’s End (2007), opened strongly in June, rising to all-time fifth biggest movie by July. Atonement (2007) opened the Venice Film Festival in August, and opened worldwide in September, again to superb reviews for Keira. Meanwhile, Silk (2007) opened in September on very few screens and disappeared without a trace. Keira spent the rest of the year filming The Duchess (2008), the life story of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, based on Amanda Foreman’s award-winning biography of the distant relation of Princess Diana. The year saw more accolades and poll-topping for Keira than ever before, including Women’s Beauty Icon 2007 and gracing the covers of all the top-selling magazines. She won Best Actress for Atonement (2007) at the Variety Club Of Great Britain Showbiz Awards, and ended the year with her second Golden Globe nomination. Christmas Day saw – or rather heard – Keira on British TV screens in a new Robbie The Reindeer animated adventure, with DVD proceeds going to Comic Relief.
At the start of 2008, Keira received her first BAFTA nomination – Best Actress for Atonement, and the movie wins Best Film: Drama at the Golden Globes. Seven Academy Award nominations for Atonement soon follow. Keira wins Best Actress for her role as Cecilia Tallis at the Empire Film Awards. In May, Keira’s first Shakespearean role is announced, when she is confirmed to play Cordelia in a big-screen version of King Lear, alongside Naomi Watts and Gwyneth Paltrow, with Sir Anthony Hopkins as the titular monarch. After two years of rumours, it is confirmed that Keira is on the shortlist to play Eliza Doolittle in a new adaptation of My Fair Lady. The Edge Of Love opens the Edinburgh Film Festival on June 18th, and opens on limited release in the UK and US. A huge round of promotions for The Duchess occurs throughout the summer, with cast and crew trying to play down the marketers’ decision to draw parallels between the duchess and Princess Diana. Keira attends the UK and US premieres and Toronto Film Festival within the first week of September. The Duchess opens strongly on both sides of the Atlantic. Two more movies are confirmed for Keira during September – a tale of adultery called Last Night (2010/I), and a biopic of author F Scott Fitzgerald entitled The Beautiful and the Damned (????). Keira spends October on the streets of New York City filming Last Night alongside Sam Worthington and Guillaume Canet. Keira helps to promote the sixtieth anniversary of the UN’s Declaration of Human Rights, by contributing to a series of short films produced to mark the occasion.
In January 2009 it was announced Keira had signed to play a reclusive actress in an adaptation of Ken Bruen’s novel London Boulevard (2010), co-starring Colin Farrell. Keira continues her close ties with the Comic Relief charity by helping to launch their British icons T-shirts campaign. In the same week King Lear was revealed to have been shelved, it was announced that Keira would instead star alongside her Pride & Prejudice co-star Carey Mulligan in an adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel Never Let Me Go (2010). A new short film emerges in March, recorded in the January of 2008 in which Keira plays a Fairy! The Continuing and Lamentable Saga of the Suicide Brothers (2009) was written by Keira’s boyfriend Rupert Friend and actor Tom Mison. It goes on to be shown at the London Film Festival in October and wins Best Comedy Short at the New Hampshire Film Festival. Keira continued to put her celebrity to good use in 2009 with a TV commercial for WomensAid highlighting domestic abuse against women. Unfortunately UK censors refused to allow its broadcast and it can only be viewed on YouTube. May and June asw Keira filming Never Let Me Go and London Boulevard back-to-back.
In October, a new direction for Keira’s career emerged, when it was announced she would appear on the London stage in her West End debut role as Jennifer, in a reworking of Moliere’s The Misanthrope, starring Damian Lewis and Tara Fitzgerald. More than $2m of ticket sales followed in the first four days, before even rehearsals had begun! The play will run from December to March at London’s Comedy Theatre. Meanwhile, in late October it was finally confirmed that Keira had won the role of Eliza Doolittle in a brand new adaptation of My Fair Lady (????). With a script by Emma Thompson and produced by Duncan Kenworthy and Sir Cameron Mackintosh, its director was also finally confirmed as Joe Wright (after Danny Boyle and Stephen Daldry were linked at various stages). Filming is not due to start until late 2010, with Daniel Craig a possible Professor Higgins.
34. Charlize Theron
Charlize Theron grew up on a farm outside Benoni, South Africa, as the only child. She got an education as a ballet dancer and has danced both the “Swan Lake” and “The Nutcracker”. There wasn’t much for a young actress or dancer to do in South Africa, so she soon traveled to Europe and United States of America, where she got job at the Joffrey Ballet in New York. She was also able to work as a photo model. However, an injured knee put a halt to her dancing career.
At the age of 18, her mother made her go to Los Angeles to try a career in the movie industry. She came to Los Angeles without knowing anyone in the city but after two weeks when she was standing in line on Hollywood Boulevard an agent gave her his card. After eight months in Los Angeles she got her first part. Since then, she has taken acting lessons and her career has skyrocketed, most lately in The Devil’s Advocate (1997).
35. Annette Bening
Actress, American Beauty
Annette Bening was born on May 29, 1958 in Topeka, Kansas, the youngest of four children. Her family moved to California when she was young, and she grew up there. She graduated from San Francisco State University and began her acting career with the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, eventually moving to New York where she acted on the stage. She was nominated for a Tony Award in 1987 for the Broadway play “Coastal Disturbances”.
As is often the case, her first big-screen role was in a forgettable movie, The Great Outdoors (1988), in which she had a minor role. Her second film was Milos Forman’s Valmont (1989), a little-seen adaptation of Choderlos de Laclos’s “Les Liaisons Dangereuses.” Bening’s career turned an important corner the following year when she co-starred with Anjelica Huston and John Cusack in Stephen Frears’s powerful, entertaining screen adaptation of Jim Thompson’s novel The Grifters (1990), and her artful turn as a con artist gained her an Academy award nomination as Best Supporting Actress. Shortly thereafter, Warren Beatty cast Bening as Virginia Hill, Bugsy Siegel’s fiery actress moll, in Bugsy (1991), the story of Siegel’s founding of Las Vegas. Although the movie itself did not fare well, it resulted in a relationship with Beatty which led to Bening’s pregnancy and then her marriage to Beatty in 1992 – it was the second marriage for Bening and the first for Beatty. The couple then collaborated on the extravagant flop Love Affair (1994), though her career rebounded with her turn as “Queen Elizabeth” in the highly-regarded 1995 production of Richard III (1995). Notable performances have since included an obsessive, pushy real estate agent in American Beauty (1999) and the eponymous character in István Szabó’s screen adaptation of the W. Somerset Maugham novel Being Julia (2004)– both were duly noted by the Academy with Best Actress Oscar nominations.
Bening has great poise and screen presence and, at her best, can turn in a very strong performance. Although her resume often features long stretches of mediocre productions before the next good part turns up, when it does, it proves worth the wait. Bening has four children with Beatty.
36. Sissy Spacek
As a kid, Sissy Spacek climbed trees, rode horses, swam, and played in the woods. She was born Mary Elizabeth Spacek on December 25, 1949, in Quitman, Texas. Sissy attended Quitman High School and was homecoming queen. After graduating, she embarked on an acting career, gaining interest in the profession through her cousin, actor Rip Torn. Sissy relocated to New York, and through him, enrolled in the New York branch of the Actors Studio. She studied acting at the Lee Strasberg Institute while also pursuing work as a model and singer, appearing in West Village showcases such as the Bitter End for $10 a night. Sissy eventually broke into film and one of her first roles was as Holly in the classic Badlands (1973). The art director on that film was Jack Fisk, with whom she would marry in 1974 and ultimately collaborate on eight films. Sissy followed this landmark film with a star-making and Oscar nominated performance in Carrie (1976), in which she played a humiliated prom queen who goes postal with her telekinesis. Sissy has had an enduring and award winning career in movies and television, which includes an Oscar as Best Actress for Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980). The parents of two grown daughters, Sissy and Jack live on a large horse ranch in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Even though she continued to appear in film and television during the late 1980s and 1990s, Sissy devoted most of those years to her family. Then, in 2001, Sissy returned to the big screen in a major way with a powerful performance in In the Bedroom (2001), which not only earned her a sixth Best Actress Oscar nomination, but a win for Best Actress at the Golden Globes, Independent Spirit Awards, and numerous critics association awards. Sissy continues to work steadily as an actress, but in 2012, her credits expand even further to include a memoir, My Extraordinary Ordinary Life, as well as her directorial debut on the film Sweet Tea.
37. Bette Davis
Actress, All About Eve
Ruth Elizabeth Davis was born April 5, 1908, in Lowell, Massachusetts. Her parents divorced when she was 10. She and her sister were raised by their mother, Ruthie. Bette demanded attention from birth, which led to her pursuing a career in acting. After graduation from Cushing Academy she was refused admittance to Eva Le Gallienne’s Manhattan Civic Repertory because she was considered insincere and frivolous. She enrolled in John Murray Anderson’s Dramatic School and was the star pupil. She was in the off-Broadway play “The Earth Between” (1923), and her Broadway debut in 1929 was in “Broken Dishes”. She also appeared in “Solid South”. Late in 1930, she was hired by Universal. When she arrived in Hollywood, the studio representative who went to meet her train left without her because he could find no one who looked like a movie star. An official at Universal complained she had “as much sex appeal as Slim Summerville” and her performance in The Bad Sister (1931) didn’t impress. In 1932 she signed a seven-year deal with Warner Brothers Pictures. She became a star after her appearance in The Man Who Played God (1932). Warners loaned her to RKO in 1934 for Of Human Bondage (1934), in which she was a smash. She had a significant number of write-in votes for the Best Actress Oscar, but didn’t win. She finally DID win for Dangerous (1935) and Jezebel (1938)). She constantly fought with Warners and tried to get out of her contract because she felt she wasn’t receiving the top roles an Oscar-winning actress deserved, and eventually sued the studio. Returning after losing her lawsuit, her roles improved dramatically. The only role she didn’t get that she wanted was Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind (1939). Warners wouldn’t loan her to David O. Selznick unless he hired Errol Flynn to play Rhett Butler, which both Selznick and Davis thought was a terrible choice. It was rumored she had numerous affairs, among them George Brent and William Wyler, and she was married four times, three of which ended in divorce. She admitted her career always came first. She made many successful films in the 1940s, but each picture was weaker than the last and by the time her Warner Brothers contract had ended in 1949, she had been reduced to appearing in such films as the unintentionally hilarious Beyond the Forest (1949). She made a huge comeback in 1950 when she replaced an ill Claudette Colbert in, and received an Oscar nomination for, All About Eve (1950). She worked in films through the 1950s, but her career eventually came to a standstill, and in 1961 she placed a now famous Job Wanted ad in the trade papers.
She received an Oscar nomination for her role as a demented former child star in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962), which brought her a new degree of stardom in both movies and television through the 1960s and 1970s. In 1977 she received the AFI’s Lifetime Achievement Award and in 1979 she won a Best Actress Emmy for Strangers: The Story of a Mother and Daughter (1979) (TV). In 1977-78 she moved from Connecticut to Los Angeles and filmed a pilot for the series “Hotel” (1983), which she called Brothel. She refused to do the TV series and suffered a stroke during this time. Her daughter Barbara Merrill wrote a 1985 “Mommie Dearest”-type book, “My Mother’s Keeper”. She worked in the later 1980s in films and TV, even though a stroke had impaired her appearance and mobility. She wrote a book “This ‘N That” during her recovery from the stroke. Her last book was “Bette Davis, The Lonely Life”, issued in paperback in 1990. It included an update from 1962 to 1989. She wrote the last chapter in San Sebastian, Spain. When she passed away of cancer on October 6, 1989, in France, many of her fans refused to believe she was gone.
38. Isabelle Adjani
Actress, Queen Margot
Isabelle Yasmine Adjani born in Gennevilliers, Hauts-de-Seine, a suburb of Paris. She born to a Kabyle father from Constantine and Djelfa, Mohammed Cherif Adjani, and a German mother, Augusta, called “Gusti”. She grew up speaking German fluently. After winning a school recitation contest, she began acting in amateur theater by the age of twelve. At the age of 14, she starred in her first motion picture Le Petit bougnat (1970). Adjani has appeared in 30 films since 1970. She holds the record for most César Award for Best Actress (5), which she won for Possession (1981), One Deadly Summer (1983), Camille Claudel (1988), Queen Margot (1994) and Skirt Day (2009). She was also given a double Cannes Film Festival Best Actress Award in 1981. She also received two Academy Award nominations for Best Actress. She performs in French, English, Italian and German. Adjani was made a Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur in 2010.
39. Juliette Binoche
Actress, The English Patient
Juliette Binoche, daughter of an actress and a sculptor, was only 23 when she first attracted the attention of international film critics with The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988). Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times film critic with an international following of his books on film and TV reviews, wrote that she was “almost ethereal in her beauty and innocence”. That innocence was gone by the time Binoche completed Louis Malle’s Damage (1992) (aka “Fatale”). In an interview after the film was released, Binoche said: “Malle was trying direct and wanted something more sophisticated”. A year later, Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Three Colors: Blue (1993) was added to her film credits. After a sabbatical from film-making to become a mother in 1994, Binoche was selected as the heroine of France’s most expensive ($35 million) movie ever: The Horseman on the Roof (1995). More recently, she has made The English Patient (1996), for which she won an Oscar for ‘Best supporting actress’ and Chocolat (2000).
40. Catherine Deneuve
Actress, Dancer in the Dark
Catherine Deneuve was born in Paris, France, the third of four daughters to Renée Dorléac (a retired stage actress) and the second of three daughters to Maurice Dorléac (now deceased). She made her screen debut in Les collégiennes (1957), where she was credited as Catherine Dorléac. She began using her mother’s maiden name professionally in 1960, in order to differentiate herself from her up-and-coming actress sister, Françoise Dorléac.
Although raised Catholic, Deneuve began to defy convention at an early age. In 1961, the 17-year-old starlet left home and moved in with Ukranian director Roger Vadim, who at 33 was twice divorced and almost twice her age. He was also her mentor, and directed her in Vice and Virtue (1963). On June 18, 1963, she gave birth to their son, Christian Vadim, at the age of 19. Within a month after that, the relationship was over and they broke off contact (he had five wives and four children, and died in 2000).
Deneuve’s breakthrough came the following year with the excellent musical The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964), in which she gave an unforgettable performance as a romantic middle-class girl who falls in love with a young soldier but gets imprisoned in a loveless marriage with another man; the director was the gifted Jacques Demy. She followed this up with a riveting performance as a schizophrenic killer in Roman Polanski’s suspense classic Repulsion (1965).
On August 19, 1965, the 21-year-old Deneuve married British photographer David Bailey after a brief courtship. The marriage was soured by mutual infidelities as well as a language barrier (he did not speak French and she was still in the process of becoming fluent in English), eventually ending in an amicable divorce. They remain friends, but Deneuve has shunned the idea of marriage ever since.
Meanwhile, she played a married woman who works as a part-time prostitute every afternoon in Luis Buñuel’s masterpiece, Belle de Jour (1967), then reunited with Demy for another musical, The Young Girls of Rochefort (1967), which co-starred her elder sister, Françoise Dorléac. Shortly before the film’s release, Dorléac was killed in a fatal car accident at the age of 25, leaving Deneuve devastated. Working continuously despite her grief (or perhaps because of it), she reunited with Buñuel for Tristana (1970) and gave a great performance for François Truffaut in Mississippi Mermaid (1969), a kind of apotheosis of her “frigid femme fatale” persona.
Following her separation from Bailey in 1970 (they officially divorced in 1972), Deneuve began an intense relationship with Italian actor Marcello Mastroianni. With four onscreen pairings, they became Europe’s golden couple. On May 28, 1972, Deneuve gave birth to their daughter, Chiara Mastroianni, at the age of 28. The relationship with Mastroianni ended in 1975, but the two remained friends up until his death from pancreatic cancer on December 19, 1996, with Deneuve present at his bedside.
For the most part, Deneuve showed little interest in pursuing a Hollywood career. In her first two American films, she was paired with Jack Lemmon in the romantic comedy The April Fools (1969) and Burt Reynolds in the crime drama Hustle (1975). Though the reviews were decent, both films met with lukewarm box office. To increase her exposure, Deneuve became the face of Chanel No. 5, causing sales of the perfume to soar in the United States.
Deneuve’s magnificent work in Truffaut’s The Last Metro (1980), as a stage actress in Nazi-occupied Paris, was a career milestone and won her a César Award for Best Actress. Deneuve’s third foray into Hollywood came in 1983, when she starred in Tony Scott’s The Hunger (1983) as a stylish, seductive bisexual vampire living in Manhattan who sets out in search of new blood. The film became a cult classic, and her erotic love scene with Susan Sarandon unintentionally made Deneuve a lesbian icon, so much that she would later have to threaten legal action to stop the lesbian magazine Curve from using “Deneuve” as the original title. In 1985, her status as a beauty icon was cemented when her profile was chosen as the model for Marianne, the symbol of the French Republic seen on French coins and stamps. Later, she debuted as a film producer with Strange Place for an Encounter (1988), but has not ventured back into the profession since.
Deneuve’s unchanging beauty and controlled acting skills were perfectly showcased in the romantic melodrama Indochine (1992), in which she played an upper-class plantation owner who falls in love with a young French naval officer (Vincent Perez) in 1930s Vietnam. The film won both the Oscar and Golden Globe for Best Foregin Film during the 1993 awards season, while Deneuve won her second César Award for Best Actress and, at the age of 49, received her first Academy Award nomination, making her one of the distinct few to be nominated for a non-English-speaking performance.
She was very good in André Téchiné’s My Favorite Season (1993), and had more high-caliber leading roles in The Convent (1995) and Place Vendôme (1998). Lars von Trier cast Deneuve in his musical drama Dancer in the Dark (2000), opposite eccentric singer Björk. The film won the Palme d’Or at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival. The following year, she made another rare return to Hollywood with a starring role in The Musketeer (2001), a France-based epic adventure.
Now in her late fifties and a grandmother, she continues to work at a steady pace, notably and most recently in this year’s acclaimed musical 8 Women (2002). Although the elegant and always radiant Deneuve has never appeared on stage, she is universally hailed as one of the “grandes dames” of French cinema, joining a list that includes such illustrious talents as Simone Signoret, Isabelle Huppert, Jeanne Moreau, and the younger Juliette Binoche.
41. Frances McDormand
Actress, Almost Famous
Frances Louise McDormand was born on June 23, 1957 in Chicago, Illinois. She was adopted by Canadian minister Vernan McDormand and his wife Noreen, who raised her in the suburbs of Pittsburgh. She earned her B.A. in Theater from Bethany College in 1979 and her MFA from Yale in 1982. Her career after graduation began onstage, and she has retained her association with the theater throughout her career. She soon obtained prominent roles in movies as well, first starring in Blood Simple. (1984), in which she worked with filmmaker Joel Coen, whom she married that year. She frequently collaborated with Coen and his brother Ethan Coen in their films.
McDormand’s skilled and versatile acting has been recognized by both the critics and the Academy and, in addition to many critics’ awards, she has been nominated for an Academy Award four times – for Mississippi Burning (1988), Fargo (1996) (for which she won the Best Actress Award), Almost Famous (2000) and North Country (2005). Keenly intelligent and possessed of a sharp wit, McDormand is the antithesis of the Hollywood starlet – rather than making every role about Frances McDormand, Frances McDormand dissolves into the characters she plays. Accordingly, she has expressed some reservations about the iconic recognition she has gained from her touching and amusing portrayal of Police Chief Marge Gunderson, the quintessential Minnesota Scandinavian, in Fargo (1996).
McDormand and Coen adopted a son, Pedro, who was born in Paraguay, in 1994. They live in Manhattan, New York.
42. Julie Christie
Actress, Finding Neverland
Julie Christie, the British movie legend whom Al Pacino called “the most poetic of all actresses”, was born in Chukua, Assam, India, on April 14, 1941, the daughter of a tea planter and his Welsh wife Rosemary, who was a painter. The young Christie grew up on her father’s tea plantation before being sent to England for her education. Finishing her studies in Paris, where she had moved to improve her French with an eye to possibly becoming a linguist (she is fluent in French and Italian), the teenager became enamored of the freedom of the Continent. She also was smitten by the bohemian life of artists and planned on becoming an artist before she enrolled in London’s Central School of Speech Training. She made her debut as a professional in 1957 as a member of the Frinton Repertory of Essex.
Christie was not fond of the stage, even though it allowed her to travel, including a professional gig in the United States. Her true métier as an actress was film, and she made her screen debut in the science-fiction television serial “A for Andromeda” (1961) in 1961. Her first feature film role was as Leslie Phillips’s wife in the Ealing-like comedy Crooks Anonymous (1962), which was followed up by an ingénue role in another comedy, The Fast Lady (1962). The producers of the “James Bond” series were sufficiently intrigued by the young actress to consider her for the role that subsequently went to Ursula Andress in Dr. No (1962), but dropped the idea because she was not busty enough.
Christie first worked with the man who would kick her career into high gear, director John Schlesinger, when he choose her as a replacement for the actress originally cast in Billy Liar (1963) (1963). Christie’s turn in the film as the free-wheeling “Liz” was a stunner, and she had her first taste of becoming a symbol if not icon of the new British cinema. Her screen presence was such that the great John Ford cast her as the Irish prostitute, Daisy Battles, in Young Cassidy (1965) (1965). Charlton Heston wanted her for his film The War Lord (1965), but the studio refused her salary demands.
Although Amercan magazines portrayed Christie as a “newcomer” when she made her breakthrough to super-stardom in Schlesinger’s seminal Swinging Sixties film Darling (1965), she actually had considerable work under her professional belt and was in the process of a artistic quickening. Schlesinger called on Christie, whom he adored, to play the role of mode “Diana Scott” when the casting of Shirley MacLaine fell through. (MacLaine was the sister of the man who would become Christie’s long-time paramour in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Warren Beatty, whom some, like actor Rod Steiger, believe she gave up her career for. Her Doctor Zhivago (1965) co-star, Steiger — a keen student of acting — regretted that Christie did not give more of herself to her craft).
As played by Christie, Diana is an amoral social butterfly who undergoes a metamorphosis from immature sex kitten to jaded socialite. For her complex performance, Christie won raves, including the Best Actress Awards from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the British Film Academy. She had arrived, especially as she had followed up Darling (1965) with the role of “Lara” in two-time Academy Award-winning director David Lean’s adaptation of Boris Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago (1965), one of the all-time box-office champs.
Christie was now a superstar who commanded a price of $400,000 per picture, a fact ruefully noted in Charlton Heston’s diary (his studio had balked at paying her then-fee of $35,000). More interested in film as an art form than in consolidating her movie stardom, Christie followed up Doctor Zhivago (1965) with a dual role in Fahrenheit 451 (1966) for director François Truffaut, a director she admired. The film was hurt by the director’s lack of English and by friction between Truffaut and Christie’s male co-star Oskar Werner, who had replaced the more-appropriate-for-the-role Terence Stamp. Stamp and Christie had been lovers before she had become famous, and he was unsure he could act with her, due to his own ego problems. On his part, Werner resented the attention the smitten Truffaut gave Christie. The film is an interesting failure.
Stamp overcame those ego problems to sign on as her co-star in John Schlesinger’s adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd (1967), which also featured two great English actors, Peter Finch and Alan Bates. It is a film that is far better remembered now than when it was received in 1967. The film and her performance as the Hardy heroine “Bathsheba Everdene” was lambasted by film critics, many of whom faulted Christie for being too “mod” and thus untrue to one of Hardy’s classic tales of fate. Some said that her contemporary, Vanessa Redgrave, would have been a better choice as “Bathsheba”, but while it is true that Redgrave is a very fine actress, she lacked the sex appeal and star quality of Christie, which makes the story of three men in love with one woman more plausible, as a film.
Although no one then knew it, the period 1967-68 represented the high-water mark of Christie’s career. Fatefully, like the Hardy heroine she had portrayed, she had met the man who transformed her life, undermining her pretensions to a career as a movie star in their seven-year-long love affair, the American actor Warren Beatty. Living his life was always far more important than being a star for Beatty, who viewed the movie star profession as a “treadmill leading to more treadmills” and who was wealthy enough after Bonnie and Clyde (1967) to not have to ever work again. Christie and Beatty had visited a working farm during the production of Far from the Madding Crowd (1967) and had been appalled by the industrial exploitation of the animals. Thereafter, animal rights became a very important subject to Christie. They were kindred souls who remain friends four decades after their affair ended in 1974.
Christie’s last box-office hit in which she was the top-liner was Petulia (1968) for Richard Lester, a film that featured one of co-star George C. Scott’s greatest performances, perfectly counter-balanced by Christie’s portrayal of an “arch-kook” who was emblematic of the ’60s. It is one of the major films of the decade, an underrated masterpiece. Despite the presence of the great George C. Scott and the excellent Shirley Knight, the film would not work without Julie Christie. There is frankly no other actress who could have filled the role, bringing that unique presence and the threat of danger that crackled around Christie’s electric aura. At this point of her career, she was poised for greatness as a star, greatness as an actress.
And she walked away.
After meeting Beatty, Julie Christie essentially surrendered any aspirations to maintain her screen stardom or her position as a top-drawer working actress (success at the box office being a guarantee of the best parts, even in art films). She turned down They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1969) and Anne of the Thousand Days (1969), two parts that garnered Oscar nominations for the second choices, Jane Fonda and Geneviève Bujold. After shooting In Search of Gregory (1969), a critical and box office flop, to fulfill her contractual obligations, she spent her time with Beatty in California, renting a beach house at Malibu. She did return to form in Joseph Losey’s The Go-Between (1970) (1970), a fine picture with a script by the great Harold Pinter, and she won another Oscar nomination as the whore-house proprietor in Robert Altman’s minor classic McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971) that she made with her lover Beatty. However, like Beatty, himself, she did not seek steady work, which can be professional suicide for an actor who wants to maintain a standing in the first rank of movie stars.
At the same time, Julie Christie turned down the role of the Russian Empress in Nicholas and Alexandra (1971), another film that won the second-choice (Janet Suzman) a Best Actress Oscar nomination. Two years later, she appeared in his landmark mystery-horror film Don’t Look Now (1973), but that likely was as a favor to the director, Nicolas Roeg, who had been her cinematographer on Fahrenheit 451 (1966), Far from the Madding Crowd (1967) and Petulia (1968). In the mid-70s, her affair with Beatty came to an end, but the two remained close friends and worked together in Shampoo (1975) (which she regretted due to its depiction of women) and Heaven Can Wait (1978).
Christie was still enough of a star, due to sheer magnetism rather than her own pull at the box-office, to be offered $1 million to play the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis character in The Greek Tycoon (1978) (a part eventually played by Jacqueline Bisset to no great acclaim). She signed for but was forced to drop out of the lead in Agatha (1979) (which was filled by Vanessa Redgrave) after she broke a wrist roller-skating (a particularly southern Californian fate!). She then signed for the female lead in American Gigolo (1980) when Richard Gere was originally attached to the picture, but dropped out when John Travolta muscled his way into the lead after making twin box-office killings as disco king “Tony Manero” in Saturday Night Fever (1977) and greaser “Danny Zuko” in Grease (1978). Christie could never have co-starred with such a camp figure of dubious talent. When Travolta himself dropped out and Gere was subbed back in, it was too late for Christe to reconsider, as the part already had been filled by model-actress Lauren Hutton.
Finally, the end of the American phase of her movie career was realized when Christie turned down the part of “Louise Bryant” in Reds (1981), a part written by Warren Beatty with her in mind, as she felt an American should play the role. (Beatty’s latest lover, Diane Keaton, played the part and won a Best Actress Oscar nomination). Still, she remained a part of the film, Beatty’s long-gestated labor of love, as it is dedicated to “Jules”.
Julie Christie moved back to the UK and become the UK’s answer to Jane Fonda, campaigning for various social and political causes, including animal rights and nuclear disarmament. The parts she did take were primarily driven by her social consciousness, such as appearing in Sally Potter’s first feature-length film, The Gold Diggers (1983) which was not a remake of the old Avery Hopwood’s old warhorse but a feminist parable made entirely by women who all shared the same pay scale. Roles in The Return of the Soldier (1982) with Alan Bates and Glenda Jackson and Merchant-Ivory’s Heat and Dust (1983) seemed to herald a return to form, but Christie — as befits such a symbol of the freedom and lack of conformity of the ’60s — decided to do it her way. She did not go “careering”, even though her unique talent and beauty was still very much in demand by filmmakers.
At this point, Christie’s movie career went into eclipse. Once again, she was particularly choosy about her work, so much so that many came to see her, essentially, as retired. A career renaissance came in the mid-1990s with her turn as “Gertrude” in Kenneth Branagh’s ambitious if not wholly successful Hamlet (1996). As Christie said at the time, she didn’t feel she could turn Branagh down as he was a national treasure. But the best was yet to come: her turn as the faded movie star married to handyman Nick Nolte and romanced by a younger man in Afterglow (1997), which brought her rave notices. She received her third Best Actress Oscar nomination for her performance, and showed up at the awards as radiant and uniquely beautiful as ever. Ever the iconoclast, she was visibly relieved, upon the announcement of the award, to learn that she had lost!
Christie lived with left-wing investigative journalist Duncan Campbell (a Manchester Guardian columnist) since 1979, first in Wales, then in Ojai, California, and now in London’s East End, before marrying (the date they wed is unknown, and Christie refuses to discuss her private life with the press). In addition to her film work, she has narrated many books-on-tape. In 1995, she made a triumphant return to the stage in a London revival of Harold Pinter’s “Old Times”, which garnered her superb reviews. In the decade since Afterglow (1997), she has worked steadily on film in supporting roles. Christie — an actress who eschewed vulgar stardom — proved to be an inspiration to her co-star Sarah Polley, the remarkably talented Canadian actress with a leftist political bent who also abhors Hollywood. Of her co-star in No Such Thing (2001) and The Secret Life of Words (2005), Polley says that Christie is uniquely aware of her commodification by the movie industry and the mass media during the 1960s. Not wanting to be reduced to a product, she had rebelled and had assumed control of her life and career. Her attitude makes her one of Polley’s heroes, who calls her one of her surrogate mothers. (Polley lost her own mother when she was 11 years old).
Both Christie and Polley are rebels. Sarah Polley had walked off the set of the big-budget movie that was forecasted as her ticket to Hollywood stardom, Almost Famous (2000), to have a different sort of life and career. She returned to her native Canada to appear in the low-budget indie The Law of Enclosures (2000), a prescient art film in that director John Greyson offset the drama with a background of a perpetual Gulf War three years before George W. Bush invaded Iraq, touching off the second-longest war in U.S. history. Taking a hiatus from acting, Polley went to Norman Jewison’s Canadian Film Centre to learn to direct, and direct she has, making well-regarded shorts before launching her feature film debut, Away from Her (2006), which was shot and completed in 2006 but held for release until 2007 by its distributor.
Polley, who had longed to be a writer since she was a child actress on the set of the quaint family show “Avonlea” (1990) wrote the screenplay for her adaptation of Alice Munro’s short story “The Bear Went Over the Mountain” with only one actress in mind: Julie Christie. Polley had first read the short story on a flight back from Iceland, where she had made No Such Thing (2001) with Christie and, as she read, it was Julie whom she pictured as “Fiona”, the wife of a one-time philandering husband, who has become afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease and seeks to save her hubby the pain of looking after her by checking herself into a home. After finishing the screenplay, it took months to get Christie to commit to making the film. Julie turned her down after reading the script and pondering it for a couple of months, saying “No” even though she liked the script. Polley then had to “twist her arm” for another couple of months. But alas, Julie has a weakness for national treasures: just like with Branagh a decade ago, the legendary Julie Christie could not deny the Great White North’s Sarah Polley, and commit she did. Polley then found out why Christie is so reticent about making movies: “She gives all of herself to what she does. Once she said yes, she was more committed than anybody”.
According to David Germain, a cinema journalist who interviewed Christie for the Associated Press, “Polley and Christie share a desire to do interesting, unusual work, which generally means staying away from Hollywood.
The collaboration between the two rebels yielded a small gem of a film. Lions Gate Films was so impressed, it purchased the American distribution rights to the film in 2006, then withheld it until the following year to build up momentum for the awards season.
Julie Christie’s performance in Away from Her (2006) is superb, and already has garnered her the National Board of Review’s Best Actress Award. She will likely receive her fourth Academy Award nomination, and quite possibly her second Oscar, for her unforgettable performance, a labor of love she did for a friend.
We, the Julie Christie fans who have waited decades for the handful of films made by the numinous star: Would we have wanted it any other way? We are the Red Sox fans of the movies, once again rewarded with a world-class masterpiece by our heroine. Perhaps, like all human beings, we want more, but we have learned over the last thirty-five years to be content with the diamonds that are Julie’s leading performances that she gives just once a decade, content to feel that these are a surfeit of riches, our surfeit of riches, so great is their luminescence.
43. Jennifer Jones
Actress, The Song of Bernadette
When Jennifer Jones arrived in Hollywood in 1939, she still called herself Phylis Isley. Her face and especially her eyes drew the attention of the producer David O. Selznick, who did not only allow her a great career but also fell in love with her and finally married Jennifer Jones in 1949. For her role in The Song of Bernadette (1943), she won an Oscar as best actress. Between the years 1946 and 1948, she consolidated her fame as either the innocent adolescent or the passionate lover: e.g. in Cluny Brown (1946), Duel in the Sun (1946) or Portrait of Jennie (1948).
One of the world’s most underrated Academy Award-winning actresses, Jennifer Jones was born Phyllis Lee Isley on 2 March 1919 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
As a young aspiring actress she met and fell for young aspiring actor Robert Walker and they soon married, moving to Chicago in order to fufill their dreams of becoming movie stars. When their plans fell through, Phyllis began working as a model, sporting mainly hats, gloves and jewellery, as well as occasionally finding some work on local radio stations providing her voice to various characters in radio programmes along with her husband. In a last-ditch attempt to pursue her dream, Phyllis travelled to the Selznick studios for a reading that would ultimately change her life. It was that day that she met David O. Selznick and after that particular audition her career began to take shape. Initially, Phyllis thought that the audition had went terribly and stormed out of the studios in tears, only to be chased by Selznick who assured her that she had been fine. Although she wasn’t given that particular part, Phyllis was given a contract with Selznick studios, changing her name to Jennifer Jones, and was cast over thousands of other hopefuls in the role of Bernadette Soubirous in The Song of Bernadette (1943). For her innocent, sweet and moving portrayal of the sickly teenager who sees a vision of the Virgin Mary at Lourdes and devotes her life to her by becoming a nun and then ultimately dies of bone cancer, Jones won the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role on 2 March 1944 – coincidentally her 25th birthday – beating out stiff competition such as Ingrid Bergman (who later became a close friend of hers), Greer Garson, Joan Fontaine and Jean Arthur.
Now a Hollywood star, Jones’ career was marked out and molded for her by Selznick, who would become the love of her life. They began an affair and eventually she left her husband and two sons for the producer that inevitably led Walker to his untimely death through alcohol and drug abuse, instigated due to their separation. As for her career, Jones took on the supporting role of Jane Hilton, a headstrong teenage girl who in the end grows up fast when her fiance is killed in action during WWII, in Since You Went Away (1944). For her performance Jones received a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination, losing out to Ethel Barrymore for None But the Lonely Heart (1944). Jennifer continued to deliver strong performances, receiving further Best Actress Oscar nominations for Love Letters (1945) (she lost out to Joan Crawford for Mildred Pierce (1945)) and Duel in the Sun (1946), (she lost out to Olivia de Havilland for To Each His Own (1946)) which saw her cast against type as seductive half-breed Pearl Chavez.
Throughout the remainder of the 1940s Jones continued to produce memorable performances, such as in Portrait of Jennie (1948), which carried her into the 1950s and saw her receive her fifth and final Oscar nomination for Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955), losing out to Anna Magnani for The Rose Tattoo (1955). However, despite her obvious success within the film industry Jones was a very private person and managed to stay out of the spotlight which dominated so many other actresses of the time. As a result Jones began to become less and less noticed, which increased further when Selznick died in 1965. Films roles began to appear less and less and after a moderately successful supporting performance in The Towering Inferno (1974) Jones decided to make this her swansong and bowed out of the film industry. She did, however, try to revive her film career in later years by campaigning for the role of Aurora Greenway in Terms of Endearment (1983), but Shirley MacLaine was cast instead and as a result won the Best Actress Academy Award for her performance.
Unfortunately now in the 21st Century and in her 90th year, Jennifer Jones is relatively unknown in comparison to the other actresses of her time such as Ingrid Bergman, Katharine Hepburn, Greer Garson, Bette Davis etc. But for those that are aware of her and her extraordinary talent she is alluring to watch and her acting abilities extend far greater than most of her contemporaries.
44. Anne Bancroft
Actress, The Graduate
Anna Maria Italiano was born in the Bronx, New York. She was the second of three daughters born to Michael Italiano (1906-2001) and Mildred DiNapoli (1908-2010).
After changing her name to Anne Bancroft, she made her cinema debut in 1952’s Don’t Bother to Knock (1952). Over the next five years, she appeared in a lot of forgettable movies as a supporting actress. Then, in 1957 she left the film industry and was offscreen until 1962, when she played Annie Sullivan in The Miracle Worker (1962), for which she won an Oscar. Despite her Oscar win, Bancroft was not given the kinds of parts that created big screen stardom. She worked only occasionally during the next 30 years, but did give great performances as a lead actress in The Pumpkin Eater (1964), Young Winston (1972), The Prisoner of Second Avenue (1975), To Be or Not to Be (1983), and 84 Charing Cross Road (1987).
The most famous role of her career was a supporting role, as Mrs. Robinson in The Graduate (1967). Her status as the “older woman” in the film is iconic, although in real life Bancroft was just 35 and only five years older than costar Dustin Hoffman, who at age 30 played a 20 year old being seduced by a woman more than twice his age. Bancroft would later express her frustration over the fact that the film overshadowed her other work.
By the nineties, her transition to full-time supporting actress in feature films was complete. She appeared in such movies as Point of No Return (1993), G.I. Jane (1997), Great Expectations (1998), and Keeping the Faith (2000), but television provided Bancroft with larger and often meatier roles. She starred in seven made-for-TV films during her later years, all of which earned her major award nominations, including an Emmy win for Deep in My Heart (1999) (TV).
Sadly, on June 6, 2005, Anne Bancroft died at age 73 of uterine cancer. Her death surprised many, as she had not released any details of her illness to the public. Among her survivors was her mother Mildred, her husband of forty years (Mel Brooks), and her only child (Max Brooks) who was born in 1972. Her final film, the animated feature Delgo (2008), was released posthumously in 2008 and dedicated to her memory.
45. Sophia Loren
Actress, Two Women
Sophia Loren was born as Sofia Scicolone at the Clinica Regina Margherita in Rome, Italy, on September 20, 1934. Her father Riccardo was married to another woman and refused to marry her mother Romilda, despite the fact that she was the mother of his two children (Sophia and her younger sister Maria Scicolone). Growing up in the slums of Pozzuoli during the second World War without any support from her father, she experienced much sadness in her childhood. Her life took an unexpected turn for the best when, at age 14, she entered into a beauty contest where she placed as one of the finalists. It was there that Sophia caught the attention of film producer Carlo Ponti, some 22 years her senior, whom she eventually married in 1966 once he finally obtained a divorce from his first wife. Perhaps he was the only father figure she ever had. Under his guidance, Sophia was put under contract and appeared as an extra in ten films beginning in 1950, before working her way up to supporting roles. In these early films, she was credited as “Sofia Lazzaro” because people joked her beauty could raise Lazzarus from the dead.
By her late teens, Sophia was playing lead roles in many Italian features such as La favorita (1953) and Aida (1953). In 1957, she embarked on a successful acting career in the United States, starring in Boy on a Dolphin (1957), Legend of the Lost (1957), and The Pride and the Passion (1957) that year. She had a short-lived but much-publicized fling with co-star Cary Grant, who was 31 years her senior. She was only 22 while he was 53, and she rejected a marriage proposal from him. They were paired together a second time in the family-friendly romantic comedy Houseboat (1958). While under contract to Paramount Pictures, Sophia starred in Desire Under the Elms (1958), The Key (1958), The Black Orchid (1958), It Started in Naples (1960), Heller in Pink Tights (1960), A Breath of Scandal (1960), and The Millionairess (1960) before returning to Italy to star in Two Women (1960). The film was a period piece about a woman living in war-torn Italy who is raped while trying to protect her young daughter. Originally cast in the role of the daughter, Sophia fought against type and was re-cast as the mother, proving herself as a genuine actress and displaying her lack of vanity. This performance received international acclaim and was honored with an Academy Award for Best Actress.
Sophia remained a bona fide international movie star throughout the sixties and seventies, making films on both sides of the Atlantic, and starring opposite such leading men as Paul Newman, Marlon Brando, Gregory Peck, and Charlton Heston. Her American films included El Cid (1961), The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964), Arabesque (1966), Man of La Mancha (1972), and The Cassandra Crossing (1976). She gained a wider respect with her Italian films, especially Marriage Italian Style (1964) and A Special Day (1977). During these years she received a second Oscar nomination and won five Golden Globe Awards.
From the eighties onward, Sophia’s appearances on the big screen came few and far between. She preferred to spend the majority of her time raising sons Carlo Jr. (born 1969) and Eduardo (born 1973). Her only acting credits during the decade were five television films, beginning with Sophia Loren: Her Own Story (1980) (TV), a biopic in which she portrayed herself and her mother. She ventured into other areas of business and became the first actress to launch her own fragrance and design of eye wear. In 1982 she voluntarily spent nineteen days in jail for tax evasion.
In 1991 Sophia received an Honorary Academy Award for her body of work, and was declared “one of world cinema’s greatest treasures.” Later that year, she experienced a great loss when her mother Romilda died of cancer at age 77. Her return to mainstream films in Prêt-à-Porter (1994) (“Ready to Wear”) was well-received, although the film as a whole was not. She followed this up with her biggest U.S. hit in years, the comedy Grumpier Old Men (1995) in which she played a sexy divorcée who seduces Walter Matthau. Over the next decade Sophia had plum roles in a few non-mainstream arthouse films like Soleil (1997), Between Strangers (2002) (directed by Edoardo), and Lives of the Saints (2004) (TV). Still beautiful at 72, she posed scantily-clad for the 2007 Pirelli Calendar. Sadly, that same year she mourned the loss of her spouse, Carlo Ponti, who died at age 94. In 2009, after far too much time away from film, she appeared in the musical Nine (2009) opposite Daniel Day-Lewis.
These days Sophia divides her time between Switzerland and Los Angeles where she is close to her sons and their families (Eduardo is married to actress Sasha Alexander). Despite her position as showbiz royalty, she relishes her discrete, low-profile lifestyle, claiming throughout the years “Showbusiness is what I do, not what I am.” With a career that has already spanned six decades and been honored with 50 awards, Sophia Loren remains one of the most beloved and recognizable figures in the international film world.
46. Julie Andrews
Actress, The Sound of Music
Julia Elizabeth Wells was born on October 1, 1935, in England. Her mother and stepfather, both Vaudeville performers, discovered her freakish but undeniably lovely four-octave singing voice and immediately got her a singing career. She performed in music halls throughout her childhood and teens, and at age 20, she launched her stage career in a London Palladium production of “Cinderella”.
Andrew came to Broadway in 1954 with “The Boy Friend”, and became a bona fide star two years later in 1956, in the role of Eliza Doolittle in the unprecedented hit “My Fair Lady”. Her star status continued in 1957, when she starred in the TV-production of Cinderella (1957) (TV) and through 1960, when she played “Guenevere” in “Camelot”.
In 1963, Walt Disney asked Andrews if she would like to star in his upcoming production, a lavish musical fantasy that combined live-action and animation. She agreed on the condition if she didn’t get the role of Doolittle in the pending film production of My Fair Lady (1964). After Audrey Hepburn was cast in My Fair Lady, Andrews made an auspicious film debut in Walt Disney’s Mary Poppins (1964), which earned her an Academy Award for Best Actress.
Andrews continued to work on Broadway, until the release of The Sound of Music (1965), the highest-grossing movie of its day and one of the highest-grossing of all time. She soon found that audiences identified her only with singing, sugary-sweet nannies and governesses, and were reluctant to accept her in dramatic roles in The Americanization of Emily (1964) and Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller Torn Curtain (1966). In addition, the box-office showings of the musicals Julie subsequently made increasingly reflected the negative effects of the musical-film boom that she helped to create. Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967) was for a time the most successful film Universal had released, but it still couldn’t compete with Mary Poppins or The Sound of Music for worldwide acclaim and recognition. Star! (1968) and Darling Lili (1970) also bombed at the box office.
Fortunately, Andrews did not let this keep her down. She worked in nightclubs and hosted a TV variety series in the 1970s. In 1979, Andrews returned to the big screen, appearing in films directed by her husband Blake Edwards, with roles that were entirely different from anything she had been seen in before. Andrews starred in 10 (1979), S.O.B. (1981) and Victor Victoria (1982), which earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role.
She continued acting throughout the 1980s and 1990s in movies and TV, hosting several specials and starring in a short-lived sitcom. In 2001, she starred in The Princess Diaries (2001), alongside then-newcomer Anne Hathaway. The family film was one of the most successful G-Rated films of that year, and Andrews reprised her role as Queen Clarisse Renalid in The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (2004). In recent years, Andrews appeared in Tooth Fairy (2010/I), as well as a number of voice roles in Shrek 2 (2004), Shrek the Third (2007), Enchanted (2007), Shrek Forever After (2010), and Despicable Me (2010).
47. Holly Hunter
Actress, The Incredibles
Holly Hunter was born in Conyers, Georgia, the youngest of seven children whose father was a part-time sporting goods company representative and part-time farmer with a 250 acre farm. Her parents encouraged in her talent at an early age, and her first acting part was as Helen Keller in a fifth-grade play. In 1976 she went to Pittsburgh to pursue a degree in drama from Carnegie Mellon University. After graduating in 1980, she went to New York City, where she met playwright Beth Henley in a stalled elevator. Hunter went on to get roles in a number of Henley’s southern gothic plays, including Crimes of the Heart and The Miss Firecracker Contest. In 1982 the actress went to Los Angeles. She landed her first starring role in the movies in the Coen brothers’ Raising Arizona (1987), a part that is said to have been written with her in mind. She gained stardom in 1987 when she played the driven TV news producer Jane Craig in James L. Brooks’ Broadcast News (1987). In 1993 she earned an Academy Award and worldwide acclaim with her performance as a mute bride to a New Zealand planter in The Piano (1993).
48. Ziyi Zhang
Actress, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Her first appearance in an American movie was in Rush Hour 2 (2001), but as she didn’t speak English, Jackie Chan had to translate everything the director said to her. In that movie, her character’s name, “Hu Li” translated from Mandarin Chinese is “Fox”.
Even though she has been in many kung-fu movies, she is not actually a trained martial artist, so in fact she uses many dance moves in her fight sequences.
Graduated in acting from Central Drama Academy, the top acting college in China.
49. Elizabeth Taylor
Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor was born in London, England, on February 27, 1932. Although she was born an English subject, her parents were Americans, art dealers from St. Louis, Missouri (her father had gone to London to set up a gallery). Her mother had been an actress on the stage, but gave up that vocation when she married. Elizabeth lived in London until the age of seven, when the family left for the US when the clouds of war began brewing in Europe in 1939. They sailed without her father, who stayed behind to wrap up the loose ends of the art business.
The family relocated to Los Angeles, where Mrs. Taylor’s own family had moved. Mr. Taylor followed not long afterward. A family friend noticed the strikingly beautiful little Elizabeth and suggested that she be taken for a screen test. Her test impressed executives at Universal Pictures enough to sign her to a contract. Her first foray onto the screen was in There’s One Born Every Minute (1942), released when she was ten. Universal dropped her contract after that one film, but Elizabeth was soon picked up by MGM.
The first production she made with that studio was Lassie Come Home (1943), and on the strength of that one film, MGM signed her for a full year. She had minuscule parts in her next two films, The White Cliffs of Dover (1944) and Jane Eyre (1943) (the former made while she was on loan to 20th Century-Fox). Then came the picture that made Elizabeth a star: MGM’s National Velvet (1944). She played Velvet Brown opposite Mickey Rooney. The film was a smash hit, grossing over $4 million. Elizabeth now had a long-term contract with MGM and was its top child star. She made no films in 1945, but returned in 1946 in Courage of Lassie (1946). In 1947, when she was 15, she starred in Life with Father (1947) with such heavyweights as William Powell, Irene Dunne and Zasu Pitts.
Throughout the rest of the 1940s and into the early 1950s Elizabeth appeared in film after film with mostly good results. Her busiest year was 1954, with roles in Rhapsody (1954), Beau Brummell (1954), The Last Time I Saw Paris (1954) and Elephant Walk (1954). She was 22 now, and even at that young age was considered one of the world’s great beauties. In 1955 she appeared in the hit Giant (1956) with James Dean.
Sadly, Dean never saw the release of the film, as he died in a car accident in 1955. The next year saw Elizabeth star in Raintree County (1957), an overblown epic made, partially, in Kentucky. Critics called it dry as dust. Despite the film’s shortcomings, Elizabeth was nominated for an Academy Award for her portrayal of Southern belle Susanna Drake. However, on Oscar night the honor went to Joanne Woodward for The Three Faces of Eve (1957). In 1958 Elizabeth starred as Maggie Pollitt in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958).
The film received rave reviews from the critics and Elizabeth was nominated again for an Academy Award for best actress, but this time she lost to Susan Hayward in I Want to Live! (1958). She was still a hot commodity in the film world, though. In 1959 she appeared in another mega-hit and received yet another Oscar nomination for Suddenly, Last Summer (1959). Once again, however, she lost out, this time to Simone Signoret for Room at the Top (1959). Her Oscar drought ended in 1960 when she brought home the coveted statue for her flawless performance in BUtterfield 8 (1960) as Gloria Wandrous, a call girl who is involved with a married man. Some critics blasted the movie but they couldn’t ignore her performance. There were no more films for Elizabeth for three years. She left MGM after her contract ran out, but would do projects for the studio later down the road. In 1963 she starred in Cleopatra (1963), which was one of the most expensive productions up to that time–as was her salary, a whopping $1,000,000.
This was the film where she met her future and fifth husband, Richard Burton (the previous four were Conrad Hilton, Michael Wilding, Michael Todd–who died in a plane crash–and Eddie Fisher). Her next handful of films were lackluster at best, especially 1963’s The V.I.P.s (1963), which was shredded by most critics. Elizabeth was to return to fine form, however, with the role of Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966). Her performance as the loudmouthed, shrewish, unkempt Martha was easily her finest to date.
For this she would win her second Oscar and one that was more than well-deserved, but her films afterward didn’t approach the intensity of that one. Since then she has appeared in several movies, both theatrical and made-for-television, and a number of TV programs. In February 1997 Elizabeth entered the hospital for the removal of a brain tumor. The operation was successful. As for her private life, she divorced Burton in 1974, only to remarry him in 1975 and divorce him, permanently, in 1976. She has had two husbands since, Senator John Warner and Larry Fortensky.
50. Gene Tierney
Gene Tierney was born in Brooklyn, New York, on November 19, 1920, to well-to-do parents. Her father was a very successful insurance broker and her mother was a former teacher. Her childhood was lavish indeed. She also lived, at times, with her equally successful grandparents in Connecticut and New York. She was educated in the finest schools on the East Coast and at a finishing school in Switzerland. After two years in Europe, Gene returned to the US where she completed her education. By 1938 she was performing on Broadway in What a Life! and understudied for The Primerose Path (1938) at the same time. Her wealthy father set up a corporation that was only to promote her theatrical pursuits. Her first role consisted of carrying a bucket of water across the stage, prompting one critic to announce that “Miss Tierney is, without a doubt, the most beautiful water carrier I have ever seen!” Her subsequent roles Mrs O’Brian Entertains (1939) and RingTwo (1939) were meatier and received praise from the tough New York critics. Critic Richard Watts wrote “I see no reason why Miss Tierney should not have a long and interesting theatrical career, that is if the cinema does not kidnap her away”. After being spotted by the legendary Darryl F. Zanuck during a stage performance of the hit show The Male Animal (1940), Gene was signed to a contract with 20th Century-Fox. Her first role as Barbara Hall in Hudson’s Bay (1941) would be the send-off vehicle for her career. Later that year she appeared in The Return of Frank James (1940). The next year would prove to be a very busy one for Gene, as she appeared in The Shanghai Gesture (1941), Sundown (1941), Tobacco Road (1941) and Belle Starr (1941). She tried her hand at screwball comedy in Rings on Her Fingers (1942), which was a great success. Her performances in each of these productions were masterful. In 1945 she was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of Ellen Brent in Leave Her to Heaven (1945). Though she didn’t win, it solidified her position in Hollywood society. She followed up with another great performance as Isabel Bradley in the hit The Razor’s Edge (1946). In 1944 she played what is probably her best-known role (and, most critics agree, her most outstanding performance) in Otto Preminger’s Laura (1944), in which she played murder victim named Laura Hunt. In 1947 Gene played Lucy Muir in the acclaimed The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947). By this time Gene was the hottest player around, and the 1950s saw no letup as she appeared in a number of good films, among them Night and the City (1950), The Mating Season (1951), Close to My Heart (1951), Plymouth Adventure (1952), Personal Affair (1953) and The Left Hand of God (1955). The latter was to be her last performance for seven years. The pressures of a failed marriage to Oleg Cassini, the birth of a daughter who was mentally retarded in 1943, and several unhappy love affairs resulted in Gene being hospitalized for depression. When she returned to the the screen in Advise & Consent (1962), her acting was as good as ever but there was no longer a big demand for her services. Her last feature film was The Pleasure Seekers (1964), and her final appearance in the film industry was in a TV miniseries, “Scruples” (1980). Gene died of emphysema in Houston, Texas, on November 6, 1991, just two weeks shy of her 71st birthday.
51. Giulietta Masina
Actress, Nights of Cabiria
Born in San Giorgio di Piano, Giulietta Masina spent part of her teenage years living with a widowed aunt in Rome, where she cultivated a passion for the theater and studied for a degree in Philosophy. She began her career on the radio with the program “Terzoglio” (1942), about the adventures of newlyweds Cico and Pallina from scripts written by Federico Fellini. The series brought her great success. The following year she married Fellini and became the inspirational muse for many of his films.
She made her cinema debut in Senza pietà (1948), directed by Alberto Lattuada, but really established her reputation with her next few films: Behind Closed Shutters (1951), directed by Luigi Comencini, Variety Lights (1950), which also marked Fellini’s debut as director (the film credits both Fellini and Lattuada); and The Greatest Love (1952), directed by Roberto Rossellini. Her artistic partnership with her husband really took off with the Oscar-winning La strada (1954), followed by Il bidone (1955) and the widely acclaimed Nights of Cabiria (1957), which again won an Oscar and brought her the award for Best Female Performance at the Cannes Film Festival. Over the following years she played many memorable roles in such films as Fortunella (1958), directed by Eduardo De Filippo; …and the Wild Wild Women (1959), directed by Renato Castellani; and later in Juliet of the Spirits (1965) and Ginger and Fred (1986), both directed by Fellini.
From 1966 to 1969 she hosted the immensely popular radio show “Lettere aperte a Giulietta Masina” and starred in the television series “Eleonora” (1973), by Tullio Pinelli, directed by Silverio Blasi, and “Camilla” (1976), directed by Sandro Bolchi, based on the novel by Fausta Cialente, “Un inverno freddissimo” (1966).
She died in Rome in 1994, just a few months after the death of her husband.
52. Anita Ekberg
Actress, La Dolce Vita
Kerstin Anita Marianne Ekberg was born on September 29, 1931 in Malmo, Sweden. Growing up with seven brothers and sisters was not an adventure, but Anita’s adventure began when she was elected Miss Sweden in 1950. She did not win the Miss Universe contest but she got a modeling contract in the United States. She quickly got a film contract with Howard Hughes’s RKO that did not lead anywhere (but Anita herself has said that Hughes wanted to marry her.) Instead, she started making movies with Universal, small roles that more often than not only required her to look beautiful. After five years in Hollywood, she found herself in Rome, where Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita (1960) meant her breakthrough. She stayed in Italy and made around 20 movies during the next ten years, some roles memorable, some to be forgotten. Her two marriages gave her a lot of attention from the press. During the 1970s, the roles became less frequent, but she made a marvellous comeback with Fellini’s Fellini’s Intervista (1987).
Anita Ekberg retired from acting in 2002 after 50 years in the motion picture industry.
53. Piper Laurie
Piper Laurie was born Rosetta Jacobs in Detroit, Michigan, on January 22, 1932, the daughter of a Polish immigrant and his Russian-American wife. Her father was a furniture dealer who moved his family to Los Angeles, California, when she was 6-years-old. Rosetta was a pretty red-haired little girl, but very shy, so her parents sent her to weekly elocution lessons. In addition to her lessons in Hebrew school, she studied acting at a local acting school, and this eventually led to work at Universal Studios.
Universal had signed her as a contract player when she was only 17-years-old, and changed her screen name to Piper Laurie. She was cast in the movie, Louisa (1950), and became very close friends with her costar, Ronald Reagan. She was then cast in Francis Goes to the Races (1951) with Donald O’Connor, Son of Ali Baba (1952) with Tony Curtis, and Ain’t Misbehavin’ (1955) with Rory Calhoun. The studio tried to enhance her image as an ingénue with press releases stating that she took milk baths and ate gardenia petals for lunch. Although she was making $2,000 per week, her lack of any substantial roles discouraged her so much that by 1955 when she received another script for a Western and “another silly part in a silly movie”, she dropped the script in the fireplace, called her agent and told him she didn’t care if they fired her, jailed her or sued her.
From there, she went to New York City to study acting, and worked on live television, starring in The Hallmark Hall of Fame version of “Twelfth Night” (1957), “The Days of Wine and Roses” (1958) with Cliff Robertson, which debuted on Playhouse 90 on October 2, and as “Kirsten” in the Playhouse 90 version of “Winterset” (1959). In 1961, she got the part of Paul Newman’s crippled girlfriend in the classic film, The Hustler (1961). She was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for that role of “Sarah Packard”. That same year, she was interviewed by a writer/reporter for the New York Herald Tribune, Joe Morgenstern. She liked his casual dress and lifestyle and, 9 months later, they were married. When she did not receive any substantial acting offers after The Hustler (1961), she retreated with her husband to Woodstock, New York, where she pursued domestic activities such as baking (her grandfather’s trade) and raising her only daughter, Anne, born in 1971. In 1976, she accepted the role of “Margaret White”, the eccentric religious zealot mother of a shy young psychic girl named Carrie (1976), played by Sissy Spacek. Piper received her second supporting Oscar nomination for this role. She and her husband divorced in 1981, she moved to Southern California and obtained many film and television roles.
She got a third Oscar nomination for her role as “Mrs. Norman” in Children of a Lesser God (1986), and won an Emmy that same year for her acting in Promise (1986) (TV), a television movie with James Garner and James Woods. She has appeared in more than 60 films, from 1950 to the present. Ms. Laurie has appeared in many outstanding television shows from “The Best of Broadway” in 1954, to roles on “Playhouse 90” in 1956, roles on “St. Elsewhere” (1982), “Murder, She Wrote” (1984), “Matlock” (1986), “Beauty and the Beast” (1987), “ER” (1994), “Diagnosis Murder” (1993) and “Frasier” (1993). Her daughter, Anne Grace, has made her a grandmother, and though she lives in Southern California, she frequently visits her daughter in New York.
54. Anouk Aimée
She is the daughter of the actress Geneviève Sorya. In 1948 she played the part of Juliette in Les amants de Vérone (1949). In the following years (fifties and beginning sixties) she made various films (e.g. Modigliani of Montparnasse (1958) and La Dolce Vita (1960)) but had only with Lola (1961) of Jacques Demy and A Man and a Woman (1966) of Claude Lelouch major success. With the latter she had the chance to establish herself in America but did not use this opportunity. Therefore she was only participating in second row productions in Europe and America.
55. Halle Berry
Actress, X-Men: The Last Stand
Halle Berry was born in Cleveland, Ohio to U.S. African father Jerome Berry, a former hospital attendant, and U.S. European mother Judith Berry, a retired psychiatric nurse. Halle also has an older sister named Heidi Berry. Halle first came into the spotlight at seventeen years when she won the Miss Teen All-American Pageant, representing the state of Ohio in 1985 and, a year later in 1986, when she was the first runner-up in the Miss U.S.A. Pageant. After participating in the pageant, Halle became a model. It eventually led to her first weekly TV series, 1989’s “Living Dolls” (1989), where she soon gained a reputation for her on-set tenacity, preferring to “live” her roles and remaining in character even when the cameras stopped rolling. It paid off though when she reportedly refused to bathe for several days before starting work on her role as a crack addict in Spike Lee’s Jungle Fever (1991) because the role provided her big screen breakthrough. The following year, she was cast as Eddie Murphy’s love interest in Boomerang (1992), one of the few times that Murphy was evenly matched on screen. In 1994, Berry gained a youthful following for her performance as sexy secretary “Sharon Stone” in The Flintstones (1994). She next had a highly publicized costarring role with Jessica Lange in the adoption drama Losing Isaiah (1995). Though the movie received mixed reviews, Berry didn’t let that slow her down, and continued down her path to super-stardom. In 1998, she received critical success when she starred as a street smart young woman who takes up with a struggling politician in Warren Beatty’s Bulworth (1998). The following year, she won even greater acclaim for her role as actress Dorothy Dandridge in made-for-cable’s Introducing Dorothy Dandridge (1999) (TV), for which she won a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a TV Movie/Mini-Series. In 2000, she received box office success in X-Men (2000) in which she played “Storm”, a mutant who has the ability to control the weather.
56. Natalie Portman
Actress, V for Vendetta
Natalie Portman was born Natalie Hershlag on June 9, 1981 in Jerusalem, Israel to a Jewish family. She is the only child of a doctor father (from Israel) and an artist mother (from Cincinnati, Ohio), who also acts as Natalie’s agent. She left Israel for Washington, D.C., when she was still very young. After a few more moves, her family finally settled in New York, where she still lives to this day. She graduated with honors, and her academic achievements allowed her to attend Harvard University. She was discovered by an agent in a pizza parlor at the age of 11. She was pushed towards a career in modeling but she decided that she would rather pursue a career in acting. She was featured in many live performances, but she made her powerful film debut in the movie Léon: The Professional (1994) (aka “Léon”). Following this role Natalie won roles in such films as Heat (1995), Beautiful Girls (1996), and Mars Attacks! (1996).
It was not until 1999 that Natalie received worldwide fame as Queen Amidala in the highly anticipated US$431 million-grossing prequel Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999). She then she starred in two critically acclaimed comedy dramas, Anywhere But Here (1999) and Where the Heart Is (2000), followed by Closer (2004/I), for which she received an Oscar nomination. She reprised her role as Padme Amidala in the last two episodes of the Star Wars prequel trilogy: Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002) and Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005). She received an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in Black Swan (2010).
57. Michelle Pfeiffer
Michelle Pfeiffer was born in Santa Ana, California to Dick and Donna Pfeiffer. She has an older brother and two younger sisters – Dedee Pfeiffer, and Lori Pfeiffer, who both dabbled in acting and modeling but decided against making it their lives’ work. She graduated from Fountain Valley High School in 1976, and attended one year at the Golden West College, where she studied to become a court reporter. But it was while working as a supermarket checker at Vons, a large Southern California grocery chain, that she realized her true calling. She was married to actor/director Peter Horton (“Gary” of “thirtysomething” (1987)) in 1981. They were later divorced, and she then had a three year relationship with actor Fisher Stevens. When that did not work out, Pfeiffer decided she did not want to wait any longer before having her own family, and in March 1993, she adopted a baby girl, Claudia Rose. On November 13th of the same year, she married lawyer-turned-writer/producer David E. Kelley, creator of “Picket Fences” (1992), “Chicago Hope” (1994), “The Practice” (1997), and “Boston Public” (2000). On August 5, 1994, their son John Henry was born.
58. Emily Watson
Actress, Breaking the Waves
The daughter of an architect and an English professor, Emily Watson was born and raised in London. After a self-described sheltered upbringing, Watson attended university for three years in Bristol, studying English literature. She applied to drama school and was rejected on her first attempt.
After three years of working in clerical and waitress jobs she was finally accepted. In 1992, she took a position with the Royal Shakespeare Company where she met her future husband, Jack Waters. Continuing stage work, Watson landed her first screen role as Bess McNeill in Breaking the Waves (1996) after Helena Bonham Carter pulled out of the role. For this initial foray into movies, Watson was nominated for an Academy Award. She continued to gain success in Britain in the leading roles in Metroland (1997) and The Mill on the Floss (1997) (TV), but her first popular film in the United States came in 1997 when she played Daniel Day-Lewis’s long-suffering love interest in The Boxer (1997).
In the next two years she won critical acclaim for her portrayal of cellist Jacqueline du Pré in Hilary and Jackie (1998) and landed a small part in the ensemble cast of Tim Robbins’s Cradle Will Rock (1999). Critical acclaim and North American success came together for Watson in 1999 with the release of Angela’s Ashes (1999), the film adaptation of Frank McCourt’s bestselling book of the same name. She achieved top billing as Angela McCourt, the hardworking mother of several children and wife of a drunken husband in depression-era Ireland. After less-celebrated roles in 2000’s Trixie (2000) and The Luzhin Defence (2000), Watson again returned to an ensemble cast in Robert Altman’s Gosford Park (2001).
Watson’s status as a leading actress in major Hollywood productions was cemented in 2002 with her roles in Red Dragon (2002), the third installment of Thomas Harris’ Hannibal Lechter series; the futuristic Equilibrium (2002); and, most notably, in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Punch-Drunk Love (2002), playing opposite Adam Sandler. While returning to the stage in 2002 and 2003 on both sides of the Atlantic, Watson has expressed interest in again working with Anderson. Emily Watson lives in London, England, UK, with her husband, Jack Waters.
59. Tilda Swinton
The iconoclastic gifts of the visually striking and fiercely talented Scottish actress Tilda Swinton, who was born on November 5th, 1960, have been appreciated by a more international audience of late. Born into a patrician military family, she was educated at an English and a Scottish boarding school. Tilda subsequently studied Social and Politcal Science at Cambridge University and graduated in 1983 with a degree in English Literature. During her time as a student, she performed countless stage productions and proceeded to work for a season in the Royal Shakespeare Company. A decided rebel when it came to the arts, she left the company after a year as her approach shifted dramatically: With a taste for the unique and bizarre, she found some genuinely interesting gender-bending roles come her way, such as the composer Mozart in Pushkin’s “Mozart and Salieri”, and as a working class woman impersonating her dead husband during World War II, in Karges’ “Screenplay: Man to Man: Another Night of Rubbish on the Telly (#7.5)” (1992). In 1985 the pale-skinned, carrot-topped actress began a professional association with gay experimental director Derek Jarman. She continued to live and work with Jarman for the next nine years, developing seven critically acclaimed films. Their alliance would produce stark turns, such as turner-prize nominated Caravaggio (1986), The Last of England (1988), The Garden (1990), Edward II (1991), and Wittgenstein (1993). Jarman succumbed to complications from AIDS in 1994. His untimely demise left a devastating void in Tilda’s life for quite some time. Her most notable performance of that period however comes from a non-Jarman film: For the title role in Orlando (1992), her nobleman character lives for 400 years while changing sex from man to woman. The film, which Swinton spent years helping writer/director Sally Potter develop and finance, continues to this day to have a worldwide devoted fan following. Over the years she has preferred art to celebrity, opening herself to experimental projects with new and untried directors and mediums, delving into the worlds of installation art and cutting-edge fashion. Consistently off-centered roles in Female Perversions (1996), Love Is the Devil: Study for a Portrait of Francis Bacon (1998), Teknolust (2002), Young Adam (2003), Broken Flowers (2005) and Béla Tarr’s The Man from London (2007) have only added to her mystique. Hollywood too has picked up on this notoriety and, since the birth of her twins in 1997, she has successfully moved between the deep-left-field art-house and quality Hollywood blockbusters. The thriller The Deep End (2001), earned her a number of critic’s awards and her first Golden Globe nomination. Such mainstream U.S. pictures as The Beach (2000/I) with Leonardo DiCaprio, fantasy epic Constantine (2005) with Keanu Reeves, her Oscar-decorated performance in Michael Clayton (2007) alongside George Clooney and of course her iconic White Witch in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005) have cemented her place as one of cinema’s most outstanding women.
60. Laura Dern
Actress, Jurassic Park
Laura Dern was born on February 10, 1967 into a moviemaking family – her father is Bruce Dern and her mother is Diane Ladd. Dern was exposed to movie sets and the movie industry from infancy, and obtained several bit parts as a child. Her parents divorced when Dern was two and Dern lost contact with her father for several years as a result.
Her parents’ background and her own early taste of the moviemaking world soon convinced the young Dern to pursue acting herself. Like so many young actors, her decision may have been influenced by social awkwardness — the child of 60s counterculture parents, she was steeped in Eastern mysticism and political radicalism, and was seen as an oddball by her more conservative classmates. Her gawky physical appearance didn’t help – even before her teens, she had achieved most of her impressive 5′ 10″ height, was rail-skinny (other than precociously wide hips), had huge feet and a slouching posture, and for all this was often teased by classmates. Perhaps the nine-year-old Dern found refuge by studying acting at the Lee Strasberg Theater Institute.
The first success for the young Dern came in 1980, with a role in Adrian Lyne’s Foxes (1980), a teen movie starring Jodie Foster. She followed this with several small parts, or parts in small movies, such as Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains (1982) and Teachers (1984), as a student who has an affair with a teacher. (Her mother objected to her active presence on movie sets at age thirteen, which required Dern to sue for emancipation so she could play her role in “The Fabulous Stains”). Her next roles, as the blind girl who befriends the deformed boy in Mask (1985), and as a teenaged girl whose sexual awakening collides with a mysterious older man in Smooth Talk (1985), gave her career an important boost. Dern appeared to have made it with a leading role in David Lynch’s acclaimed Blue Velvet (1986), but it was four years before her next notable film, and this was the bizarre Wild at Heart (1990), also directed by Lynch.
The following year, Dern starred in Rambling Rose (1991), which would become her signature performance, as a sexually-precocious, free-spirited young housemaid in the South in the 1930s. Dern earned an Oscar nomination for her performance, and so did her mother and co-star, Diane Ladd. Dern continues to win prominent roles on the big screen, often in smaller, highly-regarded human dramas such as October Sky (1999), I Am Sam (2001) and We Don’t Live Here Anymore (2004), although she is perhaps most widely known for her repeat role as Ellie Sattler in the summer adventure movies Jurassic Park (1993) and Jurassic Park III (2001), or for her guest performance on “Ellen” (1994), as the woman to whom Ellen finally comes out as a lesbian.
Dern’s pre-teen gawkiness matured into lithe beauty, but this doesn’t prevent Dern from fearlessly throwing herself into a wide variety of roles which are sometimes unflattering, an excellent example being her unflinchingly comic portrayal of an intensely annoying loser whose pregnancy becomes a social and political football in Citizen Ruth (1996). This results in Dern being one of the most interesting actors working in Hollywood today.
Having previously dated such Hollywood talent as Treat Williams, Renny Harlin, Kyle MacLachlan, Jeff Goldblum and Billy Bob Thornton, Dern eventually married musician Ben Harper in 2005. Early in her career, Dern was roommate to Marianne Williamson, the spirituality guru. Dern attended two days of college at UCLA and one semester at USC.
61. Ellen Page
Ellen Philpotts-Page was born on February 21, 1987, in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Page wanted to start acting at an early age and attended the Neptune Theater School. She began her career at the age of 10 on the award-winning television series “Pit Pony” (1999), for which she received a Gemini nomination and a Young Artist Awards nomination. Later, Page appeared in Marion Bridge (2002), which won the award for Best Canadian First Feature at the Toronto International Film Festival. She won a Gemini Award for her role of Lilith in the first season of “ReGenesis” (2004), a one-hour drama for TMN/Movie Central, and for the cable feature, Mrs. Ashboro’s Cat (2004) (TV), for Best Performance in a Children’s or Youth Program or Series. In addition, Page appeared in the cult hit TV series “Trailer Park Boys” (2001).
As the lead in David Slade’s Hard Candy (2005), which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, Page garnered much praise for her tour de force performance as a 14-year-old girl who meets a 30-year-old photographer on the Internet and then looks to expose him as pedophile. Films that followed included the title role of Bruce McDonald’s The Tracey Fragments (2007); An American Crime (2007), also starring Catherine Keener; and the third installation of the X-Men franchise, X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), where she played Kitty Pryde.
With her breakout role in Jason Reitman’s hit comedy Juno (2007), about an offbeat teenager who finds herself unexpectedly pregnant, Page received Academy Award, BAFTA, Golden Globe and SAG Best Actress nominations, and won the Independent Spirit Award for her performance. She followed up that turn with the lead in Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut, the roller-derby comedy-drama Whip It (2009), Christopher Nolan’s psychological thriller Inception (2010), the independent film Peacock (2010), and the dark comedy Super (2010), opposite Rainn Wilson and Liv Tyler.
Page co-starred alongside Jesse Eisenberg, Alec Baldwin, and Greta Gerwig in the Woody Allen ensemble comedy To Rome with Love (2012), and is set for the thriller The East (2013), a story centered on a contract worker tasked with infiltrating an anarchist group, only to find herself falling for its leader.
62. Greta Garbo
Greta Lovisa Gustafsson was born in Stockholm, Sweden on September 18, 1905. She was 14 when her father died, leaving the family destitute. Greta was forced to leave school and go to work in a department store. The store used her for her modeling abilities for newspaper ads. She had no film aspirations until she appeared in an advertising short at that same department store while she was still a teenager. This led to another short film when Erik A. Petschler, a comedy director, saw the film. He gave her a small part in the film, _Luffarpetter (1922)_. Encouraged by her own performance she applied for and won a scholarship in a Swedish drama school. While there she appeared in two films, En lyckoriddare (1921) and _Luffarpetter (1922)_ the following year. Both were small parts, but it was a start. Finally famed Swedish director, Mauritz Stiller, pulled her from drama school for the leading role in Gösta Berlings saga (1924). At 18, Greta was on a roll. Following The Joyless Street (1925) both Greta and Stiller were offered contracts with MGM. Her first US film was Torrent (1926). It was a silent film where she didn’t have to speak a word of English. After a few more films, such as The Temptress (1926), Love (1927), and A Woman of Affairs (1928), Greta starred in Anna Christie (1930) (her first “talkie”), which not only gave her a powerful screen presence, but also gave her an Academy Award nomination as Best Actress. Unfortunately she didn’t win. Later that year she filmed Romance (1930) which was somewhat of a letdown, but bounced back as lead role in Susan Lenox (1931) with Clark Gable. The film was a hit and led to another exciting title role in Mata Hari (1931). Greta continued to give intensified performances in whatever was handed her. The next year Greta was cast in another hit Grand Hotel (1932). But it was MGM’s Anna Karenina (1935) where she, perhaps, gave the performance of her life. She was absolutely breathtaking in the title role as a woman torn between two lovers and her son. Greta starred in Ninotchka (1939) which showcased her comedic side. It wasn’t until two years later she made what was to be her last film that being Two-Faced Woman (1941), another comedy. After World War II, Greta, by her own admission, felt that the world had changed perhaps forever and she retired, never again to face the camera. She would work for the rest of her life to perpetuate the Garbo mystique. Her films, she felt, had their proper place in history and would gain in value. She abandoned Hollywood and moved to New York City. She would jet-set with some of the world’s best known personalities such as Aristotle Onassis and others. She spent time gardening flowers and vegetables. In 1954, Greta was given a special Oscar for past unforgettable performances. She even penned her biography in 1990. On April 15, 1990, Greta died of natural causes in New York and with it the “Garbo Mystique”. She was 84.
63. Meg Ryan
Actress, Sleepless in Seattle
Blond-haired, blue-eyed with an effervescent personality, Meg Ryan graduated from Bethel high school, Bethel in June 1979. Moving to New York, she attended New York University where she majored in journalism. To earn extra money while working on her degree, Meg went into acting using her new name Meg Ryan. In 1981, she had her big screen debut with a brief appearance as Candice Bergen’s daughter in George Cukor’s last film Rich and Famous (1981). She tried out and was cast as Betsy in the day time television soap “As the World Turns” (1956). She was part of the cast from 1982 to 1984. Meg also had a part in the television series “One of the Boys” (1982), but this show was soon canceled. In 1984, she moved to tinsel town and landed a job in the western Television Series “Wildside” (1985). Meg’s small part in the blockbuster movie Top Gun (1986) led to her being cast in Steven Spielberg’s Innerspace (1987) where she co-starred with Dennis Quaid. She again co-starred with Quaid in the remake of D.O.A. (1988) and they married on Valentine’s Day in 1991. In 1989, Meg appeared in When Harry Met Sally… (1989) and the scene at the restaurant became famous. Meg was nominated for both the Golden Globe and the BAFTA. In 1990, she co-starred with Tom Hanks in Joe Versus the Volcano (1990) and this time she played three roles as DeDe/Angelica/Patricia. She appeared again with Tom in the very successful Sleepless in Seattle (1993) for which she was again nominated for the Golden Globe. In 1994, Meg decided to act against type when she appeared as the alcoholic wife and mother in When a Man Loves a Woman (1994). After that, she went back to “cute” with both I.Q. (1994) and French Kiss (1995). In 1994, Meg won the Harvard Hasty Pudding Award as “Woman of the Year” and was voted as being one of “The 50 most beautiful people in the world 1994” by People Magazine.
64. Lauren Bacall
Actress, The Big Sleep
Lauren Bacall was born Betty Joan Perske on September 16, 1924, in New York City. Her parents were middle-class, with her father working as a salesman and her mother as a secretary. They divorced when she was five. When she was a school girl, Lauren originally wanted to be a dancer, but later, she became enthralled with acting, so she switched gears to head into that field. She had studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York after high school, which enabled her to get her feet wet in some off-Broadway productions.
Once out of school, Lauren entered modeling and, because of her beauty, appeared on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar, one of the most popular magazines in the US. The wife of famed director Howard Hawks spotted the picture in the publication and arranged with her husband to have Lauren take a screen test. As a result, which was entirely positive, she was given the part of Marie Browning in To Have and Have Not (1944), a thriller opposite the great Humphrey Bogart, when she was just 19 years old. This not only set the tone for a fabulous career but also one of Hollywood’s greatest love stories (she married Bogart in 1945). It was also the first of several Bogie-Bacall films.
After 1945’s Confidential Agent (1945), Lauren received second billing in The Big Sleep (1946) with Bogart. The mystery, in the role of Vivian Sternwood Rutledge, was a resounding success. Although she was making one film a year, each production would be eagerly awaited by the public. In 1947, again with her husband, Lauren starred in the thriller Dark Passage (1947). The film kept movie patrons on the edge of their seats. The following year, she starred with Bogart, Edward G. Robinson, and Lionel Barrymore in Key Largo (1948). The crime drama was even more of a nail biter than her previous film. In 1950, Lauren starred in Bright Leaf (1950), a drama set in 1894. It was a film of note because she appeared without her husband – her co-star was Gary Cooper. In 1953, Lauren appeared in her first comedy as Schatze Page in How to Marry a Millionaire (1953). The film, with co-stars Marilyn Monroe and Betty Grable, was a smash hit all across the theaters of America.
After filming Designing Woman (1957), which was released in 1957, Humphrey Bogart died on January 14 from throat cancer. Devastated at being a widow, Lauren returned to the silver screen with The Gift of Love (1958) in 1958 opposite Robert Stack. The production turned out to be a big disappointment. Undaunted, Lauren moved back to New York City and appeared in several Broadway plays to huge critical acclaim. She was enjoying acting before live audiences and the audiences in turn enjoyed her fine performances.
Lauren was away from the big screen for five years, but she returned in 1964 to appear in Shock Treatment (1964) and Sex and the Single Girl (1964). The latter film was a comedy starring Henry Fonda and Tony Curtis. In 1966, Lauren starred in Harper (1966) with Paul Newman and Julie Harris, which was one of former’s signature films. Alternating her time between films and the stage, Lauren returned in 1974’s Murder on the Orient Express (1974). The film, based on Agatha Christie’s best-selling book was a huge hit. It also garnered Ingrid Bergman her third Oscar. Actually, the huge star-studded cast helped to ensure its success. Two years later, in 1976, Lauren co-starred with John Wayne in The Shootist (1976). The film was Wayne’s last – he died from cancer in 1979.
In 1981, Lauren played an actress being stalked by a crazed admirer in The Fan (1981). The thriller was absolutely fascinating with Lauren in the lead role. After that production, Lauren was away from films again, this time for seven years. In the interim, she again appeared on the stages of Broadway. When she returned, it was for the filming of 1988’s Mr. North (1988). After Misery (1990), in 1990, and several made for television films, Lauren appeared in 1996’s My Fellow Americans (1996). It was a wonderful comedy romp with Jack Lemmon and James Garner as two ex-presidents and their escapades.
Despite her advanced age and deteriorating health, she made a small-scale comeback in the English-language dub of Hayao Miyazaki’s Howl’s Moving Castle (2004) (“Howl’s Moving Castle,” based on the young-adult novel by Diana Wynne Jones) as the Witch of the Waste, but future endeavors for the beloved actress are increasingly rare.
65. Joanne Woodward
Joanne Gignilliat Trimmier Woodward was born on February 27, 1930, in Thomasville, Georgia, to Wade Woodward and Elinor Gignilliat Trimmier Woodward in a modest household. Her one older brother, Wade Jr., who was the favorite of her father, eventually became an architect. Elinor Woodward was a quite a movie buff and enjoyed going to picture shows often. Joanne claims she was nearly born in the middle of a Joan Crawford movie (Our Modern Maidens (1929)). Her mother wanted to name her Joan, but being Southern, she changed it to Joanne.
Thomasville was a typical small town in southern Georgia, around ten miles from the Florida border. Joanne was born right into the Great Depression. Her father was an administrator in the Thomasville school system, and her family was raised Episcopalian. Joanne’s mother being an avid movie lover, it wasn’t a surprise that Joanne wanted to go into the acting profession. Her father wasn’t too keen on the idea, but her mother saw it coming and was thrilled. Joanne and her mother both adored the movie Wuthering Heights (1939) starring Laurence Olivier, and in 1939 Elinor took her daughter to the premiere of Gone with the Wind (1939) in Atlanta. Pulling up in a limo with the love of his life, Vivien Leigh (who starred in Gone with the Wind (1939)), Laurence Olivier was shocked when 9-year-old Joanne hopped right into the limo and sat in his lap without any warning. Years later when Joanne was famous, Olivier keenly remembered this incident. She later worked with Olivier in Come Back, Little Sheba (1977) (TV).
In her teens, Joanne entered and won many Georgia beauty contests. Her mother said that “she was the prettiest girl in town”. But all Joanne wanted to do was act, and she saw beauty contests as the first step toward her dream. When she was of age, she enrolled in Louisiana State University, majoring in drama. After graduation and doing small plays, Joanne headed to New York and studied acting with Sanford Meisner. The first thing he tackled was Joanne’s southern drawl.
Soon, Joanne was starring in television productions and theater. One day, she was introduced by her agent to another young actor at her level by the then-unknown name of Paul Newman. Paul’s first reaction was, “Jeez, what an extraordinarily pretty girl”. Joanne, while admitting that he was very good-looking, didn’t like him at first sight, but she couldn’t resist him. Soon they were working closely together as understudies for the Broadway production of “Picnic” and got along very well. They would have long conversations about anything and everything. Then both their movie careers took off: Joanne with Count Three and Pray (1955) and Paul with The Silver Chalice (1954). Also adding to the tension was Paul’s wife, Jackie, who refused to get a divorce when Paul asked her for one. He wanted to marry Joanne; Jackie would simply not have it. Eventually, Jackie saw the anguish this was causing Paul and agreed to a divorce. Less than a week after the divorce was final, Paul married Joanne in Las Vegas on January 29, 1958, just months before Joanne won her Best Actress Oscar for The Three Faces of Eve (1957), in which she plays a woman with multiple personality disorder.
On April 8, 1959, Joanne gave birth to their first child, Elinor Teresa Newman, named after her and Paul’s mothers. They both continued on with their careers, doing movies both together and apart. Two more children followed: Melissa Steward Newman on September 17, 1961, and Claire Olivia Newman on April 21, 1965. Since then, Joanne has been extremely busy in theater, film and television as well as ballet performances and very involved with charities and taking care of her family. In 2003, Joanne starred in a movie with Paul on HBO.
66. Marilyn Monroe
Soundtrack, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
Her mother was a filmcutter at RKO Studios who, widowed and mentally ill, abandoned her to sequence of foster homes. She was almost smothered to death at two, nearly raped at six. At nine, the LA Orphans’ Home paid her a nickel a month for kitchen work while taking back a penny every Sunday for church. At sixteen, she worked in an aircraft plant and married a man she called Daddy; he went into the military, she modeled, they divorced in 1946. She owned 200 books (including Tolstoy, Whitman, Milton), listened to Beethoven records, studied acting at the Actors’ lab in Hollywood, and took literature courses at UCLA downtown. 20th Century Fox gave her a contract but let it lapse a year later. In 1948, Columbia gave her a six-month contract, turned her over to coach Natasha Lytess and featured her in the B movie Ladies of the Chorus (1948) in which she sang two numbers. Joseph L. Mankiewicz saw her in a small part in The Asphalt Jungle (1950) and put her in All About Eve (1950), resulting in 20th Century re-signing her to a seven-year contract. Niagara (1953) and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) launched her as a sex symbol superstar. When she went to a supper honoring her in the The Seven Year Itch (1955), she arrived in a red chiffon gown borrowed from the studio (she had never owned a gown). That same year, she married and divorced baseball great Joe DiMaggio (their wedding night was spent in Paso Robles, CA). After The Seven Year Itch (1955), she wanted serious acting to replace the sexpot image and went to New York’s Actors Studio. She worked with director Lee Strasberg and also underwent psychoanalysis to learn more about herself. Critics praised her transformation in Bus Stop (1956) and the press was stunned by her marriage to playwright Arthur Miller. True to form, she had no veil to match her beige wedding dress so she dyed one in coffee; he wore one of the two suits he owned. They went to England that fall where she made The Prince and the Showgirl (1957) with Laurence Olivier, fighting with him and falling further prey to alcohol and pills. Two miscarriages and gynecological surgery followed. So did an affair with Yves Montand. Work on her last picture The Misfits (1961), written for her by departing husband Miller was interrupted by exhaustion. She was dropped from the unfinished Something’s Got to Give (1962) due to chronic lateness and drug dependency. August 4, 1962 Marilyn Monroe’s day began with threatening phone calls. Dr. Ralph Greenson, Marilyn Monroe’s physician, came over the following day and quoted later in a document “felt it was possible that Marilyn Monroe had felt rejected by some of the people she had been close to”. Apart from being upset that her publicist slept too long, she seemed fine. Pat Newcombe, who had stayed the previous night at Marilyn’s house, left in the early evening as did Greenson who had a dinner date. Marilyn was upset he couldn’t stay, and around 7:30pm she telephoned him while he was to tell him that her second husband’s son had called him. Peter Lawford also called Marilyn, inviting her to dinner, but she declined. Lawford later said her speech was slurred. As the dark and depressing evening for Marilyn wore on there were other phone calls, including one from Jose Belanos, who said he thought she sounded fine. According to the funeral directors, Marilyn died sometime between 9:30pm and 11:30pm. Her maid unable to raise her but seeing a light under her locked door, called the police shortly after midnight. She also phoned Ralph Greenson who, on arrival, could not break down the bedroom door. He eventually broke in through French windows and found Marilyn dead in bed. The corner stated she had died from acute barbiturate poisoning, and it was a ‘probable suicide’.
67. Barbara Stanwyck
Actress, Double Indemnity
Today Barbara Stanwyck is remembered primarily as the matriarch of the family known as the Barkleys on the TV western “The Big Valley” (1965), wherein she played Victoria, and from the hit drama “The Colbys” (1985). But she was known to millions of other fans for her movie career, which spanned the period from 1927 until 1964, after which she appeared on television until 1986. It was a career that lasted for 59 years. She was born Ruby Stevens on July 16, 1907, in Brooklyn, New York. She went to work at the local telephone company for $14 a week, but she had the urge (a dream–that was all it was) somehow to enter show business. When not working, she pounded the pavement in search of dancing jobs. The persistence paid off. Barbara was hired as a chorus girl for the princely sum of $40 a week, much better than the wages she was getting from the phone company. She was 17, and she was going to make the most of the opportunity that had been given her.
In 1928 Barbara moved to Hollywood, where she was to start one of the most lucrative careers filmdom had ever seen. She was an extremely versatile actress who could adapt to any role. Barbara was equally at home in all genres, from melodramas, such as Forbidden (1932) and Stella Dallas (1937), to thrillers, such as Double Indemnity (1944), one of her best films, also starring Fred MacMurray (as you have never seen him before). She also excelled in comedies such as Remember the Night (1940) and The Lady Eve (1941). Another genre she excelled in was westerns, Union Pacific (1939) being one of her first and TV’s “The Big Valley” (1965) (her most memorable role) being her last. In 1983, she played in the ABC hit mini-series “The Thorn Birds” (1983), which did much to keep her in the eye of the public. She turned in an outstanding performance as Mary Carson.
Barbara was considered a gem to work with for her serious but easygoing attitude on the set. She worked hard at being an actress, and she never allowed her star quality to go to her head. She was nominated for four Academy Awards, though she never won. She turned in magnificent performances for all the roles she was nominated for, but the “powers that be” always awarded the Oscar to someone else. However, in 1982 she was awarded an honorary Academy Award for “superlative creativity and unique contribution to the art of screen acting.” Sadly, Barbara died on January 20, 1990, leaving 93 movies and a host of TV appearances as her legacy to us.
68. Anna Magnani
Actress, Rome, Open City
Anna Magnani was born in Rome, Italy (not in Egypt, as some biographies claim), on March 7, 1908. She was the illegitimate child of Marina Magnani and an unknown father, often said to be from Alexandria, Egypt, but whom Anna herself claimed was from the Calabria region of Italy although she never knew his name. Raised in poverty by her maternal grandmother in Rome after her mother left her, Anna worked her way through Rome’s Academy of Dramatic Art by singing in cabarets and nightclubs, then began touring the countryside with small repertory companies. Although she had a small role in a silent film in the late 1920s, she was not known as a film actress until 1941’s _Teresa Venerdì(1941)_, directed by Vittorio De Sica. Her breakthrough film was Roberto Rossellini’s Rome, Open City (1945) (aka Open City), generally regarded as the first commercially successful Italian neo-realist film of the postwar years and the one that won her an international reputation. From then on, she didn’t stop working in films and television, winning an Academy Award for her performance in the screen version of Tennessee Williams’ The Rose Tattoo (1955), a part that was written for her by her close friend Williams. She worked with all of Italy’s leading directors of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. She was renowned for her earthy, passionate, woman-of-the-soil roles. She and Rossellini were lovers for some years after Open City, until he began his infamous affair with Ingrid Bergman. Anna had one child out of wedlock by Italian actor Massimo Serato. The boy was later stricken with polio and Anna dedicated her life to caring for him. Her one marriage, to Italian director Goffredo Alessandrini in the mid-’30s, lasted only a short while and ended in an annulment. Her last film was Federico Fellini’s Fellini’s Roma (1972). She died in Rome of a pancreatic tumor the next year.
69. Ava Gardner
Actress, The Killers
Born on a tobacco farm, where she got her lifelong love of earthy language and going barefoot, Ava grew up in the rural South. At age 18, her picture in the window of her brother-in- law’s New York photo studio brought her to the attention of MGM, leading quickly to Hollywood and a film contract based strictly on her beauty. With zero acting experience, her first 17 film roles, 1942-5, were one-line bits or little better. After her first starring role in B-grade Whistle Stop (1946), MGM loaned her to Universal for her first outstanding film, The Killers (1946). Few of her best films were made at MGM which, keeping her under contract for 17 years, used her popularity to sell many mediocre films. Perhaps as a result, she never believed in her own acting ability, but her latent talent shone brightly when brought out by a superior director, as with John Ford in Mogambo (1953) and George Cukor in Bhowani Junction (1956). After 3 failed marriages, dissatisfaction with Hollywood life prompted Ava to move to Spain in 1955; most of her subsequent films were made abroad. By this time, stardom had made the country girl a cosmopolitan, but she never overcame a deep insecurity about acting and life in the spotlight. Her last quality starring film role was in The Night of the Iguana (1964), her later work being (as she said) strictly “for the loot”. In 1968, tax trouble in Spain prompted a move to London, where she spent her last 22 years in reasonable comfort. Her film career did not bring her great fulfillment, but her looks may have made it inevitable; many fans still consider her the most beautiful actress in Hollywood history.
70. Kim Novak
Kim Novak was born in Chicago, Illinois on February 13, 1933 with the birth name of Marilyn Pauline Novak. She was the daughter of a former teacher turned transit clerk and his wife, also a former teacher. Throughout elementary and high school, Kim did not get along well with teachers. She even admitted that she didn’t like being told what to do and when to do it. Her first job, after high school, was modeling teen fashions for a local department store. Kim, later, won a scholarship in a modeling school and continued to model part time. Kim worked odd jobs as an elevator operator and a sales clerk. The jobs didn’t seemed to work out so she fell back on modeling, the one job she did well. After a stint on the road as a spokesperson for an appliance company, Kim decided to go to Los Angeles and try her luck at modeling there. Ultimately, her modeling landed her an appearance as an uncredited extra in The French Line (1953). Later a talent agent arranged for a screen test with Columbia Pictures and won a six month contract. After taking some acting lesson, Kim appeared in her first film, Pushover (1954), which was a critical and financial failure. Later that year, Kim appeared in Phffft (1954) with Jack Lemmon and Judy Holliday. Her next role was as “Kay Greylek” in 5 Against the House (1955), followed by the Otto Preminger film The Man with the Golden Arm (1955). Kim’s next film, Picnic (1955), was her breakthrough to stardom. Kim did a superb job of acting in the film as did her costars. In 1957, Kim played “Linda English” in the movie Pal Joey (1957) with Frank Sinatra and Rita Hayworth. The film did well at the box-office, but was condemned by the critics. Kim really didn’t seem that interested in the role. She even said she couldn’t stand people such as her character. In 1958, Kim appeared in Vertigo (1958), directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The film was one in which a retired detective, played by James Stewart, follows a suicidal blonde half his age (Kim). He later finds out that Kim was only masquerading as that person, and is actually a brunette shopgirl who set him up as part of a murder scheme. The film was a flop upon release, but is now considered a classic. Her next film was Bell Book and Candle (1958).
By the early 1960s, Kim’s star was beginning to fade, even though she was still only in her 20s. She was being overpowered by the rise of new stars or stars that were remodeling their status within the film community. With a few more nondescript films between 1960 and 1964, she landed the role of “Mildred Rogers” in the remake of Of Human Bondage (1964). The film debuted to good reviews. In 1965, Kim married Richard Johnson whom she met while filming The Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders (1965). They divorced a year later, but remain friends. Kim stepped away from the cameras for a while, returning in 1968 to star in The Legend of Lylah Clare (1968). It was a resounding flop. After that, Kim basically didn’t see herself as having a career, even though she was only 35. After appearing in the flop The Great Bank Robbery (1969), Kim was away for another four years until returning in 1973. That year she appeared in a segment of the abysmal British anthology horror film Tales That Witness Madness (1973), and was seen in a television movie called The Third Girl from the Left (1973) (TV), playing a Las Vegas showgirl. She starred in another television film, Satan’s Triangle (1975) (TV), and had a small role in The White Buffalo (1977), a western. In 1978 she co-starred with David Bowie in Just a Gigolo (1978), which flopped. She did gain some attention for her role in the mystery/thriller The Mirror Crack’d (1980), but it did nothing for her career. For the rest of the eighties, Kim was out of movies and only had a few television gigs. In 1983 she appeared in the ensemble TV movie Malibu (1983) (TV). She was wasted in a cameo role in one episode of the short-lived “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” (1985) redux.
From 1986 to 1987, Kim played “Kit Marlowe” in 19 episodes of the TV series “Falcon Crest” (1981). In 1990 she had a leading role in the little-seen movie The Children (1990), where she starred opposite Ben Kingsley. Kim’s last film to date was 1991’s Liebestraum (1991), in which she played a terminally ill woman with a past. The film was a major disappointment in every aspect. Since then, she has rejected many offers to appear in films and on TV.
Since 1976, Kim has been married to Robert Malloy (born 1940), a veterinarian. She now lives on a ranch in Oregon and is an accomplished artist who expresses herself in oil paintings and sculptures. Kim and her husband raise lamas and horses, and frequently ski and go canoeing.
Kim began writing an autobiography in 2000, but it was lost when her house caught on fire, destroying the computer that contained her only draft. She later said that the fire was a sign that she shouldn’t be writing an autobiography. In a rare 2007 interview, the still-stunning former actress said she would consider returning to acting “if the right thing came along”. However, as of 2012, her last film remains Liebestraum (1991).
71. Doris Day
Actress, The Man Who Knew Too Much
One of America’s most prolific actresses was born Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff in Cincinnati, Ohio. Her parents divorced while she was still a child and she lived with her mother. Like most little girls, Doris liked to dance. She aspired to become a professional ballerina, but an automobile accident that crushed a leg ended whatever hopes she had of dancing on stage. It was a terrible setback, but after taking singing lessons she found a new vocation, and began singing with local bands. She met trombonist Al Jorden, whom she married in 1941. Jorden was prone to violence and they divorced after two years, not long after the birth of their son Terry. In 1946, Doris married George Weidler, but this union lasted less than a year. Day’s agent talked her into taking a screen test at Warner Bros. The executives there liked what they saw and signed her to a contract (her early credits are often confused with those of another actress named Doris Day, who appeared mainly in B westerns in the 1930s and 1940s). Her first starring movie role was in Romance on the High Seas (1948). The next year, she made two more films, My Dream Is Yours (1949) and It’s a Great Feeling (1949). Audiences took to her beauty, terrific singing voice and bubbly personality, and she turned in fine performances in the movies she made (in addition to several hit records). She made three films for Warner Bros. in 1950 and five more in 1951. In that year, she met and married Martin Melcher, who adopted her young son Terry, who later grew up to become Terry Melcher, a successful record producer. In 1953, Doris starred in Calamity Jane (1953), which was a major hit, and several more followed: Lucky Me (1954), Love Me or Leave Me (1955), The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) and what is probably her best-known film, Pillow Talk (1959). She began to slow down her filmmaking pace in the 1960s, even though she started out the decade with a hit, Please Don’t Eat the Daisies (1960).
Her husband, who had also taken charge of her career, had made deals for her to star in films she didn’t really care about, which led to a bout with exhaustion. The 1960s weren’t to be a repeat of the previous busy decade. She didn’t make as many films as she had in that decade, but the ones she did make were successful: Do Not Disturb (1965), The Glass Bottom Boat (1966), Where Were You When the Lights Went Out? (1968) and With Six You Get Eggroll (1968). Martin Melcher died in 1968, and Doris never made another film, but she had been signed by Melcher to do her own TV series, “The Doris Day Show” (1968). That show, like her movies, was also successful, lasting until 1973. After her series went off the air, she made only occasional TV appearances. Today, she runs the Doris Day Animal League in Carmel, California, which advocates homes and proper care of household pets. What else would you expect of America’s sweetheart?
72. Gena Rowlands
Actress, The Notebook
Born to Edwyn Myrwyn Rowlands, a banker and a state legislator (Assembly, 1927-1935; Senate, 1935-1939), and his wife Mary Allen Neal, a painter, she was raised in Cambria, Wisconsin, until her father was appointed to a position in the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1939. After the Washington years, the family moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1942.
Attended the University of Wisconsin from 1947 to 1950, when she left for New York City to study drama at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
73. Rita Hayworth
Spanish dancer Eduardo Cansino’s daughter Margarita trained as a dancer from early childhood. At age 12, mature-looking Rita joined Eduardo’s stage act, in which she was spotted three years later by Fox studio head Winfield R. Sheehan, leading to her first studio contract and film debut at age 16 in Dante’s Inferno (1935). Fox dropped her after five small roles, but expert, exploitative promotion by first husband Edward Judson soon brought Rita a new contract at Columbia Pictures, where studio head Harry Cohn changed her name to Hayworth and approved raising her hairline by electrolysis. After 13 mainly minor roles, Columbia lent her to Warner Bros. for her first big success, The Strawberry Blonde (1941); her splendid dancing with Fred Astaire in You’ll Never Get Rich (1941) made her a star.
In person Rita was shy, quiet and unassuming; only when the cameras rolled did she turn on the explosive sexual charisma that in Gilda (1946) made her a superstar. To Rita, though, domestic bliss was a more important, if elusive, goal, and in 1949 she interrupted her career for marriage–unfortunately an unhappy one almost from the start–to playboy Prince Aly Khan. Her films after her divorce from Khan include perhaps her best straight acting performances, Miss Sadie Thompson (1953) and They Came to Cordura (1959). From 1960 (age 42), early onset of Alzheimer’s disease (undiagnosed until 1980) limited Rita’s powers; the last few roles in her 60-film career were increasingly small. Almost helpless by 1981, Rita was cared for by daughter Yasmin Khan until her death at age 68.
74. Simone Signoret
The face of Simone Signoret on the Paris Metro movie posters in March 1982 looked even older than her 61 years. She was still a box office draw, but the film, L’étoile du Nord (1982), would be her last theatrical release. She played the landlady. Signoret had a long film apprenticeship during World War II, mostly as an extra and occasionally getting to speak a single line. She was working without an official permit during the Nazi occupation of France, because her father, who had fled to England, was Jewish. Working almost all the time, she made enough as an extra to support her mother and three younger brothers. Her breakthrough to international stardom came at the age of 38 with the British film Room at the Top (1959). Her Alice Aisgill, an unhappily married woman who hopes she has found true love, radiated real warmth in all of her scenes, not just those in bed. She was the same woman as Dedee, a prostitute who finds true love in Dédée d’Anvers (1948), a film directed by Signoret’s first husband, Yves Allégret, a decade earlier. Hollywood beckoned throughout the 1950s, but both Signoret and her second husband, Yves Montand, were refused visas to enter the United States; their progressive political activities did not sit well with the ultra-conservative McCarthy-era mentality that gripped the US at the time. They got visas in 1960 so Montand, as a singer, could perform in New York and San Francisco. They were in Los Angeles in March 1960 when Signoret received the Oscar for best actress and stayed on so Montand could play opposite Marilyn Monroe in Let’s Make Love (1960). The Signoret film that is shown most often on TV and that got a theatrical re-release in 1995, four decades after it was made is the French thriller Diabolique (1955). The chilly character Signoret plays is proof of her acting ability. More typical of her persona is the countess in Ship of Fools (1965), a film that also starred Vivien Leigh–more than doubling its chances of being in a video store or library film collection.
75. Gina Lollobrigida
Actress, Beat the Devil
Gina Lollobrigida was born in Subiaco, Italy. Gina, destined to be called “The Most Beautiful Woman in the World”, possibly had St. Brigid as part of her surname. She was the daughter of a furniture manufacturer, and grew up in the pictorial mountain village. The young Gina did some modeling and, from there, went on to participate successfully in several beauty contests. In 1947, she entered a beauty competition for Miss Italy, but came in third. The winner was Lucia Bosé (born 1931), who would go on to appear in over 50 movies, and the first runner-up was Gianna Maria Canale (born 1927), who would appear in almost 50 films. After appearing in a half-dozen films in Italy, it was rumored that, in 1947, film tycoon Howard Hughes had her flown to Hollywood; however, this did not result in her staying in America, and she returned to Italy (her Hollywood breakout movie wouldn’t come until six years later in the John Huston film, Beat the Devil (1953)). Back in Italy, in 1949, Gina married Milko Skofic, a Slovenian (at the time, “Yugoslavian”) doctor, by whom she had a son, Milko Skofic Jr. They would be married for 22 years, until their divorce in 1971. As her film roles and national popularity increased, Gina was tagged “The Most Beautiful Woman in the World”, after her signature movie, Beautiful But Dangerous (1955) (aka “Beautiful But Dangerous”). Gina was nicknamed la “Lollo”, as she embodied the prototype of Italian beauty. Her earthy looks and short “tossed salad” hairdo were especially influential and, in fact, there’s a type of curly lettuce named “Lollo” in honor of her cute hairdo. Her film, Come September (1961), co-starring Rock Hudson, won the Golden Globe as the World’s Film Favorite. In the 1970s, Gina was seen in only a few films, as she took a break from acting and concentrated on another career: photography. Among her subjects were Paul Newman, Salvador Dalí and the German national soccer team. A skilled photographer, Gina had a collection of her work, “Italia Mia”, published in 1973. Immersed in her other passions (sculpting and photography), it would be 1984 before Gina would grace American TV on “Falcon Crest” (1981). Although Gina was always active, she only appeared in a few films in the 1990s. In June, 1999, she turned to politics and ran, unsuccessfully, for one of Italy’s 87 European Parliament seats, from her hometown of Subiaco. Gina was also a corporate executive for fashion and cosmetics companies. As she told “Parade” magazine in April, 2000: “I studied painting and sculpting at school and became an actress by mistake”. (We’re glad she made that “mistake”). Gina went on to say: “I’ve had many lovers and still have romances. I am very spoiled. All my life, I’ve had too many admirers”.
76. Jean Seberg
One month before her 18th birthday, this blonde actress landed the title role in Otto Preminger’s Saint Joan (1957) after a much-publicized contest involving some 18,000 hopefuls. The failure of that film and the only moderate success of her next, Bonjour tristesse (1958), combined to stall Seberg’s career, until her role in Jean-Luc Godard’s landmark feature, Breathless (1960), brought her renewed international attention. Seberg gave a memorable performance as a schizophrenic in the title role of Robert Rossen’s Lilith (1964), costarring Warren Beatty. Her most famous film as a lead actress was the western-musical Paint Your Wagon (1969).
During this time Seberg became involved in anti-war politics and was the target of an undercover campaign by the FBI to discredit her because of her association with several members of the Black Panther party. Bad press and several personal problems nearly ruined her career, and she only acted in foreign films from then on. She was found dead under mysterious circumstances in a Paris suburb in September 1979, and her precise date of death remains unknown. She was 40 years old.
Seberg was survived by both of her parents, two younger siblings, three ex-husbands, and a 16-year-old son named Diego. On August 23, 1970, she gave birth to a daughter named Nina, who was the product of an extramarital affair she had with a college student named Carlos Navarra; Nina died two days after her birth as a result of Jean overdosing on sleeping pills during her pregnancy.
Born in Sweden on April 28, 1941, Ann-Margret Olsson came to America at age five. She began taking dance lessons at age eight, showing natural ability from the start. Her parents were very supportive and encouraged her to enter talent contests, and in 1957, she performed live on national television at age 16. After attending Northwestern University for a year, she left for Las Vegas to pursue a career as a singer. She was discovered by George Burns and soon afterward got both a record deal at RCA and a film contract at 20th Century Fox. In 1961, her single “I Just Don’t Understand” charted in the Top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100 Charts. Her acting debut followed the same year as Bette Davis’ daughter in Frank Capra’s remake Pocketful of Miracles (1961). A year later, she starred in the musical State Fair (1962) and won a Golden Globe Award for “Most Promising Newcomer” before her breakthrough the following year.
With the blockbuster successes of Bye Bye Birdie (1963) and Viva Las Vegas (1964), Ann-Margret became a Top 10 Box Office star, teen idol, cultural icon, and was dubbed “the female Elvis Presley”. A flood of highly-marketed pictures followed, including Kitten with a Whip (1964), Bus Riley’s Back in Town (1965), The Cincinnati Kid (1965), Made in Paris (1966) and The Swinger (1966). Most of these movies capitalized on her sex bomb image rather than her acting capabilities. She could not escape being typecast because of her great looks. As a result, her film career cooled down in the late 1960s, and she turned to Las Vegas sing-and-dance shows and television specials for new projects. After a few less-publicized films, she struck gold with the groundbreaking drama Carnal Knowledge (1971) and scored her first Oscar nomination. A near-fatal accident at a Lake Tahoe show in 1972 only momentarily stopped her career. After her recovery, she returned in full-force and was Oscar-nominated again for her intense performance in Tommy (1975), the rock opera film of the British rock band The Who. She followed with a variety of impressive and entertaining films such as Joseph Andrews (1977), Magic (1978) and The Villain (1979).
Her film career remained steady into the 1980s, with strong turns in The Return of the Soldier (1982), Twice in a Lifetime (1985) and 52 Pick-Up (1986). However, these were outnumbered by poorly received comedies like Lookin’ to Get Out (1982), a film now only notable for featuring the screen debut of future superstar Angelina Jolie. She started to make some television films, and received the first of many Emmy nominations for her performance in Who Will Love My Children? (1983) (TV). A late career highlight for her was Grumpy Old Men (1993), as the object of desire of Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. She continues to act in movies today.
78. Kathy Bates
Kathleen Doyle Bates was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, the youngest of three daughters born to Langdon Doyle Bates, a mechanical engineer, and his homemaker wife Bertye Talbot. Kathy’s great-great Irish grandfather, who emigrated to New Orleans, once served as President Andrew Jackson’s doctor. She discovered acting appearing in high school plays and studied drama at Southern Methodist University, graduating in 1969. With her mind firmly set, she moved to New York City in 1970 and paid her dues by working everything from a cash register to taking lunch orders. She scored a tour-de-farce performance alongside Christopher Walken at Buffalo’s Studio Arena Theatre in Lanford Wilson’s world premiere of “Lemon Sky” in 1970 — but she also had a foreshadowing of the heartbreak to come when the successful show relocated to New York’s off-Broadway Playhouse Theatre without Kathy. Walken wound up winning a Drama Desk award.
By the mid-to-late 1970s Kathy was trotting the boards frequently as a rising young actress of the New York and regional theater scene. She appeared in “Casserole” and “A Quality of Mercy” (both 1975) before earning exceptional reviews for her role of Joanne in “Vanities”. She took her first Broadway curtain call in 1980’s “Goodbye Fidel,” which lasted only six performances. She then went directly into replacement mode when she joined the cast of the already-established and highly successful “Fifth of July” in 1981.
Kathy made a false start in films with Taking Off (1971), in which she was billed as “Bobo Bates”. She didn’t film again until Straight Time (1978), starring Dustin Hoffman, and that part was not substantial enough to cause a stir. Things turned hopeful, however, when Kathy and the rest of the female ensemble were given the chance to play their respective Broadway parts in the film version of Robert Altman’s Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (1982). It was a juicy role for Kathy and film audiences finally started noticing the now 34-year-old.
Still and all, it was the New York stage that continued to earn Kathy awards and acclaim. She was pure textbook to any actor studying how to disappear into a role. Her characters ranged from free and life-affirming to downright pitiable. Despite winning a Tony Award nomination and Outer Critic’s Circle Award for her stark, touchingly sad portrait of a suicidal daughter in 1983’s “‘night, Mother” and the Obie and Los Angeles Drama Critics Award for her powerhouse job as a romantic misfit in “Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune,” Kathy had no box-office pull and was hardly a strong consideration when the roles finally went to film.
Kathy Bates was forever losing out when her award-winning stage characters transferred to the screen. First Sissy Spacek took on her potent role as the suicidal Jessie Cates in ‘night, Mother (1986), then Michelle Pfeiffer seized the moment to play her dumpy lover character in Frankie and Johnny (1991). It would take Oscar glory to finally rectify the injustice.
It was her fanatical turn as the drab, chunky, porcine-looking psychopath Annie Wilkes, who kidnaps her favorite author (James Caan) and subjects him to a series of horrific tortures, that finally turned the tide for her in Hollywood. With the 1990 shocker Misery (1990), based on the popular Stephen King novel, Bates and Caan were pure box office magic. Moreover, Kathy captured the “Best Actress” Oscar and Golden Globe award, a first in that genre (horror) for that category. To add to her happiness she married Tony Campisi, also an actor, in 1991.
Quality film scripts now started coming her way and the 1990s proved to be a rich and rewarding time for her. First, she and another older “overnight” film star, fellow Oscar winner Jessica Tandy, starred together in the modern portion of the beautifully nuanced, flashback period piece Fried Green Tomatoes (1991). She then outdid herself as the detached and depressed housekeeper accused of murdering her abusive husband (David Strathairn) in Dolores Claiborne (1995). Surprisingly, she was left out of the Oscar race for these two excellent performances. Not so, however, for her flashy political advisor Libby Holden in the movie Primary Colors (1998) and her quirky, liberal mom in About Schmidt (2002), receiving “Best Supporting Actress” nominations for both
Kathy has also done prolific work on TV as a seven-time Emmy nominee, and has taken to directing a couple of TV-movies on the sly. She was nominated for a DGA award after helming an episode of “Six Feet Under”, in which she also had a recurring role. While some of her more recent movie parts have been generally unworthy of her talents, she has more than made up for it in TV-movies playing everything from cruel-minded caricatures (Little Orphan Annie’s Miss Hannigan) to common, decent, every day folk.
Divorced from her husband since 1997, Kathy has been the Executive Committee Chair of the Actors Branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Board of Governors.
79. Whoopi Goldberg
Self, Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey
Goldberg was born Caryn Elaine Johnson in the Chelsea section of Manhattan on November 13, 1955. She worked in a funeral parlor and as a bricklayer while taking small parts on Broadway. She moved to California and worked with improv groups, including Spontaneous Combustion, and developed her skills as a stand-up comedienne. She came to prominence doing an HBO special and a one-woman show as Moms Mabley. She has been known in her prosperous career as a unique and socially conscious talent with articulately liberal views. Among her boyfriends were Ted Danson and Frank Langella. She was married three times and was once addicted to drugs.
Goldberg first came to prominence with her starring role in The Color Purple (1985). She received much critical acclaim, and an Oscar nomination for her role and became a major star as a result. Subsequent efforts in the late 1980s were, at best, marginal hits. These movies mostly were off-beat to formulaic comedies like Burglar (1987), The Telephone (1988), and Jumpin’ Jack Flash (1986).
She made her mark as a household name and a mainstay in Hollywood for her Oscar-winning role in the box office smash Ghost (1990). Whoopi Goldberg was at her most famous in the early 1990s, making regular appearances on “Star Trek: The Next Generation” (1987). She admitted to being a huge fan of the original “Star Trek” (1966) series and jumped at the opportunity to star in “Next Generation”.
Goldberg received another smash hit role in Sister Act (1992). Her fish-out-of-water with some flash seemed to resonate with audiences and it was a box office smash. Whoopi starred in some highly publicized and moderately successful comedies of this time, including Made in America (1993) and Soapdish (1991). Goldberg followed up to her success with Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (1993), which was well-received but did not seem to match up to the first.
As the late 1990s approached, Goldberg seemed to alternate between lead roles in straight comedies such as Eddie (1996) and The Associate (1996), and took supporting parts in more independent minded movies, such as The Deep End of the Ocean (1999) and How Stella Got Her Groove Back (1998). Goldberg never forgot where she came from, hosting many tributes to other legendary entertainment figures. Her most recent movies include Rat Race (2001) and the quietly received Kingdom Come (2001). Goldberg contributes her voice to many cartoons, including The Pagemaster (1994) and “Captain Planet and the Planeteers” (1990), as Gaia, the voice of the earth. Alternating between big-budget movies, independent movies, tributes, documentaries, and even television movies (including Theodore Rex (1995)).
Whoopi Goldberg is accredited as a truly unique and visible talent in Hollywood. Perhaps she will always be remembered as well for Comic Relief, playing an integral part in almost every benefit concert they had. Currently, Whoopi Goldberg is the center square in “Hollywood Squares” (1998) and frequently hosts the Academy Awards. She also is an author, with the book “Book”.
80. Jessica Lange
Actress, Big Fish
On April 20, 1949, Jessica Lange was born in Cloquet, Minnesota, USA, where her father worked as a traveling salesman. She obtained a scholarship to study art at the University of Minnesota, but instead went to Paris to study drama. She moved to New York, working as a model for many years, until producer Dino De Laurentiis cast her as the female lead in King Kong (1976). The film attracted much unfavorable comment and, as a result, Lange was off the screen for three years. She was given a small but showy part in Bob Fosse’s All That Jazz (1979), before giving a memorable performance in Bob Rafelson’s The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981), as an adulterous waitress. The following year, she won rave reviews for her exceptional portrayal of actress Frances Farmer in Frances (1982) and a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for her work in Sydney Pollack’s Tootsie (1982) (as a beautiful soap-opera actress). She was also outstanding as country singer Patsy Cline in Karel Reisz’s Sweet Dreams (1985) and as a lawyer who defends her father and discovers his past in Music Box (1989). Other important films include Martin Scorsese’s Cape Fear (1991) (as a frightened housewife) and Tony Richardson’s Blue Sky (1994), for which she won a Best Actress Academy Award as the mentally unbalanced wife of a military officer. She made her Broadway debut in 1992, playing “Blanche” in Tennessee Williams “A Streetcar Named Desire”.
In addition to acting, Lange is a photographer with two published works,and is a humanitarian, holding a position as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF, specializing in the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the Congo and Russia.
81. Juliette Lewis
Actress, Natural Born Killers
Juliette Lewis has been recognized as one of Hollywood’s most talented and versatile actors of her generation since she first stunned audiences and critics alike with her Oscar-nominated performance as “Danielle Bowden” in Cape Fear (1991). To date, she has worked with some of the most revered directors in the industry, including Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen, Lasse Hallström, Oliver Stone and Garry Marshall. Whether lending dramatic authenticity or a natural comedic flair to her roles, Lewis graces the screen with remarkable range and an original and captivating style.
Lewis was born in Hollywood and, by the age of 6, she knew she wanted to be a performer. At 12, Lewis landed her first leading role in the Showtime miniseries Home Fires (1987) (TV). After appearing in several TV sitcoms including “The Wonder Years” (1988), she made her move to film, starring with Chevy Chase in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989) and with Jennifer Jason Leigh in the drama Crooked Hearts (1991). At 16, Lewis starred opposite Brad Pitt in the critically acclaimed television movie Too Young to Die? (1990) (TV), catching the attention of Martin Scorsese, who cast her in his thriller Cape Fear (1991). Her powerful scenes with Robert De Niro captured the quiet complexities of adolescence and earned her an Oscar nomination and Golden Globe nomination for “Best Supporting Actress”. Her auditorium scene with De Niro goes down in movie-making history as one of cinema’s classic scenes.
Lewis next worked with Woody Allen in Husbands and Wives (1992), playing a self-assured college coed with a penchant for older men and, particularly, her married professor. She quickly followed suit with a succession of starring roles in a variety of blockbusters and critically acclaimed projects including Kalifornia (1993), Romeo Is Bleeding (1993), What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993) and Natural Born Killers (1994), Oliver Stone’s controversial media satire about two mass murderers who become legendary folk heroes. Lewis’s other credits include the Nora Ephron comedy Mixed Nuts (1994), with Steve Martin and Adam Sandler; the sci-fi action film Strange Days (1995) with Ralph Fiennes and Angela Bassett; Quentin Tarantino’s vampire tale From Dusk Till Dawn (1996) with George Clooney; The Evening Star (1996) with Shirley MacLaine; the Garry Marshall-directed The Other Sister (1999), and Todd Phillips’ Old School (2003), co-starring opposite Luke Wilson, Vince Vaughn, and Will Ferrell as well as Starsky & Hutch (2004).
In addition to her film career, Lewis has continued to add roles to her growing list of television credits with a performance in Showtime’s My Louisiana Sky (2001) (TV), for which she secured an EMMY nomination, and a starring role in the Mira Nair-directed HBO’s film Hysterical Blindness (2002) (TV), alongside Uma Thurman and Gena Rowlands.
After a six-year hiatus from film to pursue her burgeoning music career exclusively, Lewis announced her return to acting with a handful of upcoming movies.
Juliette starred alongside Ellen Page, Marcia Gay Harden, Kristen Wiig and Jimmy Fallon in the comedy Whip It (2009). The film was released by Fox Searchlight on October 2nd, 2009. Directed by Drew Barrymore, the film tells the story of an ex-beauty pageant contestant that leaves her crowns behind after joining a roller derby team. Lewis plays “Iron Maven”, the star of a top derby team. Next, she joined the cast of the acclaimed European animated thriller Metropia (2009), as the voice of “Nina”. She also appeared in the romantic comedy The Switch (2010/I), opposite Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman and Patrick Wilson. The film tells the story of a single mother (Aniston) who decides to have a child using a sperm donor. Juliette plays “Debbie Epstein”, the best friend of Aniston’s character. Lewis also appears in Sympathy for Delicious (2010), Mark Ruffalo’s directorial debut. The film follows a paralyzed DJ, struggling to survive on the streets of LA who turns to faith healing and mysteriously develops the ability to cure the sick. Juliette plays “Ariel”, costarring alongside Orlando Bloom, Mark Ruffalo and Laura Linney. The film took home the US Dramatic Special Jury Prize at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. Most recently, Juliette Lewis appears in the indie-drama Conviction (2010/II), which stars Hilary Swank, Melissa Leo, Minnie Driver and Sam Rockwell. She plays “Roseanna Perry” in the true story of an unemployed single mother (Swank) who saw her brother begin serving a life sentence in 1983 for murder and robbery. The role has won Lewis praise from audiences and critics, alike, for her performance, with USA Today saying, “Juliette Lewis has an indelible role” and the San Francisco Chronicle saying “Her character work should be studied in schools. Just remarkable”.
In addition to Conviction (2010/II), Lewis also makes a cameo in Todd Phillips’ comedy, Due Date (2010), starring Robert Downey Jr., Michelle Monaghan and Zach Galifianakis.
Beginning in 2004, Juliette took a hiatus from acting to embark on a musical journey. After six years, two full length albums and countless high profile tours and festival gigs with her band, ‘Juliette & the Licks’, Juliette set out on a solo career. Releasing “Terra Incognita” last fall, the album has taken her all across the world from Europe to Japan to Turkey, Australia, North America and Canada. For more information on Juliette Lewis’ music, please visit her MySpace page.
Juliette Lewis currently resides in Los Angeles.
82. Julia Roberts
Actress, Notting Hill
Julia Fiona Roberts, born in Smyrna, Georgia, never dreamed she would become the most popular actress in America. As a child, due to her love of animals, Julia originally wanted to be a veterinarian, but later studied journalism. When her brother, Eric Roberts, achieved some success in Hollywood, Julia decided to try acting. Her first break came in 1988 when she appeared in two youth-oriented movies Mystic Pizza (1988) and Satisfaction (1988). The movies introduced her to a new audience who instantly fell in love with this pretty woman. Julia’s biggest success was in the signature movie Pretty Woman (1990), for which Julia got an Oscar nomination, and also won the People’s Choice award for Favorite Actress. Even though Julia would spend the next few years either starring in serious movies, or playing fantasy roles like Tinkerbell, the movie audiences would always love Julia best in romantic comedies. With My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997) Julia gave the genre fresh life that had been lacking in Hollywood for some time. Offscreen, after a brief marriage, Julia has been romantically linked with several other actors. Julia has also become involved with UNICEF charities and has made visits to many different countries, including Haiti and India, in order to promote goodwill. Julia is one of the most popular and sought-after talents in Hollywood.
83. Emma Thompson
Actress, Sense and Sensibility
Emma Thompson was born in London on April 15, 1959, into a family of actors – her father was Eric Thompson, who has passed away, and her mother, Phyllida Law, has co-starred with Thompson in several films (her sister, Sophie Thompson, is an actor as well). Thompson’s wit was earlier cultivated by a cheerful, clever, creative family atmosphere, and she was a popular and successful student. She attended Cambridge University, studying English Literature, and was part of the university’s Footlights Group, the famous group where, previously, many of the Monty Python members had first met.
Thompson graduated in 1980 and embarked on her career in entertainment, beginning with stints on BBC radio and touring with comedy shows. She soon got her first major break in television, on the comedy skit program “Alfresco” (1983), writing and performing along with her fellow Footlights Group alums Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie. She also worked on other TV comedy review programs in the mid-1980s, occasionally with some of her fellow Footlights alums, and often with actor Robbie Coltrane.
Thompson found herself collaborating again with Fry in 1985, this time in his stage adaptation of the play “Me and My Girl” in London’s West End, in which she had a leading role, playing Sally Smith. The show was a success and she received favorable reviews, and the strength of her performance led to her casting as the lead in the BBC television miniseries “Fortunes of War” (1987), in which Thompson and her co-star, Kenneth Branagh, play an English ex-patriate couple living in Eastern Europe as the Second World War erupts. Thompson won a BAFTA award for her work on the program. She married Branagh in 1989, continued to work with him professionally, and formed a production company with him. In the late 80s and early 90s, she starred in a string of well-received and successful television and film productions, most notably her lead role in the Merchant-Ivory production of Howards End (1992), which confirmed her ability to carry a movie on both sides of the Atlantic and appropriately showered her with trans-Atlantic honors – both an Oscar and a BAFTA award.
Since then, Thompson has continued to move effortlessly between the art film world and mainstream Hollywood, though even her Hollywood roles tend to be in more up-market productions. She continues to work on television as well, but is generally very selective about which roles she takes. She writes for the screen as well, such as the screenplay for Ang Lee’s Sense and Sensibility (1995), in which she also starred as Elinor Dashwood, and the teleplay adaptation of Margaret Edson’s acclaimed play Wit (2001) (TV), in which she also starred.
Thompson is known for her sophisticated, skillful, though her critics say somewhat mannered, performances, and of course for her arch wit, which she is unafraid to point at herself – she is a fearless self-satirist. Thompson and Branagh divorced in 1994, and Thompson is now married to fellow actor Greg Wise, who had played Willoughby in Ang Lee’s Sense and Sensibility (1995). Thompson and Wise have one child, Gaia, born in 1999.
84. Geena Davis
Geena Davis was born Virginia Elizabeth Davis on January 21, 1956 in Wareham, Massachusetts. As a child, she dreamed of being an actress. While in high school, she felt left out and had low self-esteem because, at 6 feet, she was the tallest girl in school. After high school graduation, Geena entered New England College in New Hampshire and then transferred the next year to Boston University, where she majored in drama. In 1979, she graduated and moved to New York to start her career. Her career consisted of sales clerk and waitress. She worked at Ann Taylor, where she eventually rose to Saturday window mannequin while trying to get a job with a modeling agency. Eventually signed by the Zoli Agency, she wound up as a model in the Victoria Secret’s Catalogue. Ever vigilant, Sydney Pollack was looking for new talent in the catalogue when he spotted Geena and cast her in Tootsie (1982). With good reviews, Geena moved to Los Angeles where she was cast as Wendy in the short-lived but critically acclaimed television series “Buffalo Bill” (1983). Her next appearance on television was in her own series “Sara” (1985), which was also good, but soon canceled.
Geena then returned to the big screen in the below-average Transylvania 6-5000 (1985) followed by the successful Chevy Chase movie Fletch (1985). From there on, she was on a roll with second husband Jeff Goldblum in the horror remake The Fly (1986). More successful were Tim Burton’s dark comedy Beetlejuice (1988) and The Accidental Tourist (1988). For the last film, she was the surprise winner of the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. More fun movies followed with the flying-saucer-in-the-pool Earth Girls Are Easy (1988) and everyone-loves-a-clown Quick Change (1990) with Bill Murray. The very successful Thelma & Louise (1991), directed by Ridley Scott, again garnered nominations for the Academy Award and Golden Globe. A League of Their Own (1992), with Tom Hanks and directed by Penny Marshall, was the turning point as her next film, Hero (1992/I), was only average. Then she married director Renny Harlin and they set up a production and development company called “The Forge”. Their first film was Speechless (1994), which flopped at the box office.
Undeterred, Renny decided to film the big-budget Cutthroat Island (1995), starring Geena as pirate leader Morgan, which also flopped. Geena has since starred in the thriller The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996) and played Eleanor Little in Stuart Little (1999) and Stuart Little 2 (2002). In 2008, after being missed from the big screen for some years, she ventured to Sydney, Australia, playing the foul-mouthed mother of Harry Cook and Harrison Gilbertson to shoot the dark comedy Accidents Happen (2009).
85. Christina Ricci
Actress, Sleepy Hollow
Precocious, outspoken child-teen starlet of the 1990s, Christina Ricci was born in 1980 in Santa Monica, California, the youngest of four children of a lawyer father and realtor mother. She made her screen debut at the age of 9 in Mermaids (1990), in which she worked with Cher. Her breakthrough adult role was in The Ice Storm (1997), in which she plays a nymphet who skillfully seduces two brothers. She worked with Johnny Depp and Casper Van Dien in the Tim Burton film Sleepy Hollow (1999). Candid and controversial, as well as a highly skilled actress, Christina was much in demand by film makers in the late 1990s. However the superstardom that she seemed to be on the brink of in the 21st century never came to pass, as she is now mostly relegated to acting in television shows or doing cartoon voice-overs.
86. Winona Ryder
Actress, Edward Scissorhands
Winona Ryder was born Winona Laura Horowitz and named after the town in which she was born, Winona, Minnesota. She grew up in a ranch commune in Northern California which had no electricity. She is the goddaughter of Timothy Leary. Her parents were friends of Beat poet Allen Ginsberg and once edited a book called “Shaman Woman Mainline Lady”, an anthology of writings on the drug experience in literature, which included one piece by Louisa May Alcott. Winona Ryder was later to star as Jo March in this author’s Little Women (1994).
Ryder moved with her parents to Petaluma, California when she was ten and enrolled in acting classes at the American Conservatory Theater. At age 13, she had a video audition to the film Desert Bloom (1986), but did not get the part. However, director David Seltzer spotted her and cast her in Lucas (1986). When telephoned to ask how she would like to have her name appear on the credits, she suggested Ryder as her father’s Mitch Ryder album was playing the background. Ryder was selected for the part of Mary Corleone in The Godfather: Part III (1990), but had to drop out of the role after catching the flu from the strain of doing the films Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael (1990) and Mermaids (1990) back to back. She said she did not want to let everyone down by doing a substandard performance. She later made The Age of Innocence (1993), which was directed by Martin Scorsese, whom she believes to be “the best director in the world”.
87. Marisa Tomei
Actress, The Wrestler
Marisa Tomei was born on December 4, 1964, in Brooklyn, New York to mother Patricia “Addie” Tomei, an English teacher, and father Gary Tomei, a lawyer. Marisa also has a brother, actor Adam Tomei. As a child, Marisa’s mother frequently corrected her speech so as to eliminate her heavy Brooklyn accent. As a teen, Marisa attended Edward R. Murrow High School and graduated in the class of 1982. She was one year into her college education at Boston University when she dropped out for a co-starring role on the CBS daytime drama, “As the World Turns” (1956). Her role on that show paved the way for her entrance into film: in 1984, she made her film debut with a bit part in The Flamingo Kid (1984). Three years later, Marisa became known for her role as “Maggie Lawton”, Lisa Bonet’s college roommate, on the sitcom “A Different World” (1987). Her real breakthrough came in 1992, when she co-starred as Joe Pesci’s hilariously foul-mouthed, scene-stealing girlfriend in My Cousin Vinny (1992), a performance that won her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Later that year, she turned up briefly as a snippy “Mabel Normand” in director Richard Attenborough’s biopic, Chaplin (1992), and was soon given her first starring role in Untamed Heart (1993). A subsequent starring role — and attempted makeover into Audrey Hepburn — in the romantic comedy, Only You (1994), with Robert Downey Jr. proved only moderately successful. Marisa’s other 1994 role as Michael Keaton’s hugely pregnant wife in The Paper (1994) was well-received, although the film as a whole was not. Fortunately for Tomei, she was able to rebound the following year with a solid performance as a troubled single mother in Nick Cassavetes Unhook the Stars (1996), which earned her a Screen Actors Guild nomination. Also in 1996, she made a famous guest appearance on the popular sitcom, “Seinfeld” (1990), as herself. She turned in a similarly strong work in Welcome to Sarajevo (1997) and, in 1998, did some of her best work in years as a sexually liberated, unhinged woman in Slums of Beverly Hills (1998). Marisa co-starred with Mel Gibson in the hugely successful romantic comedy, What Women Want (2000), and, during the 2002 movie award season, she proved her first Oscar win was no fluke when she was nominated a second time for the critically-acclaimed dark drama, In the Bedroom (2001).
Fresh off her second Oscar nomination, Marisa began acting in more mainstream films, but only a couple of them stuck out. She appeared in the ensemble romantic comedy, Someone Like You… (2001), with Ashley Judd, Hugh Jackman, and Greg Kinnear, then in The Guru (2002) and the animated feature, The Wild Thornberrys Movie (2002). She returned to prominence in the hit comedy, Anger Management (2003), with Adam Sandler, alongside Jack Nicholson and performed “The Vagina Monologues” onstage in 2004. That same year, she appeared opposite Jude Law in a remake of Alfie (2004). Also in 2004, she also made a guest appearance on the animated TV phenomenon, “The Simpsons” (1989), as “Sara Sloane”, a movie star who falls in love with “Ned Flanders”. In 2006, she went on to do 4 episodes for “Rescue Me” (2004). She played “Angie”, the ex-wife of “Tommy Calvin” (Denis Leary)’s brother, “Johnny” (Dean Winters). The following year, she starred as a sexy bar owner in the comedy, Wild Hogs (2007), alongside John Travolta, Tim Allen, Martin Lawrence and William H. Macy. The film was a huge box-office hit, and later that year, at age 42, Marisa took on a provocative role in legendary filmmaker Sidney Lumet’s melodramatic picture, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007). Usually modest, Marisa did several nude scenes with her costars, Ethan Hawke and Philip Seymour Hoffman, including a racy sex scene with Hoffman. After working on War, Inc. (2008) with John Cusack, Marisa then took on another provocative role as an aging stripper in the highly-acclaimed film, The Wrestler (2008), opposite Mickey Rourke. Her great performance earned her many awards from numerous film societies for Best Supporting Actress, a third Academy Award nomination, as well as nominations for a Golden Globe and a BAFTA. Many critics heralded this performance as a standout in her career.
88. Samantha Morton
Actress, John Carter
Samantha Morton has established herself as one of the finest actors of her generation, winning Oscar nominations for her turns in Woody Allen’s Sweet and Low Down” (1999) and Jim Sheridan’s “In America” (2002). She has the talent to become one of the major performers in the cinema of this young century.
Samantha Morton was born May 13, 1977 in Nottingham, England to parents who divorced when she was three years old. Peter and Pamela Morton took other spouses and made Samantha part of a mixed family of 13: She has eight brothers and sisters. She turned to play-acting early in her life, while she was a school-girl.
At 13, she left regular school to train as an actress at the Central Junior Television Workshop, where she learned her craft for three years. It was at the end of her training then that she decided that a life as a professional actress was for her.
She honed her skills in television roles, working her way up from series television to TV-movies and prestigious mini-series, such as Emma (1996) (TV) and Jane Eyre (1997) (TV). Her first major film role, Under the Skin (1997), won her the Best Actress Award from the Boston Film Critics Society. Woody Allen cast her as Hattie, the “dumb” (unspeaking) lover of Sean Penn’s caddish jazz guitarist in Sweet and Lowdown (1999), a beautiful performance in a role that could have flummoxed a less-talented performer. Penn was Oscar-nominated for his performance, but it was Morton’s Hattie that was central to the success of the film, Allen’s last unqualified success. She provided the moral and narrative center of the film. It was quite a remarkable performance for a 21-year old as she had to do all her acting with her face, having been shorn of her voice. The role of Hattie won Morton a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award nomination.
Ironically, Morton had never seen a Woody Allen movie before. (She grew up watching the TV and listening to the radio.) She agreed to do the film after reading the script (as she says, well-written roles for women are hard to find), and the movie made her a hot commodity in Hollywood after she won the Oscar nomination. (She lost out to the ultra-hyped Angelina Jolie.) Morton was offered many roles, but was very choosy as she was not in acting as a game with a payoff of stardom and money.
She had consolidated her reputation by following the Allen film up with work in indie features that showed that she was not only talented, but quite courageous as a performer. She played a heroin addict in the underrated Jesus’ Son (1999) and gave a brilliant performance in Morvern Callar (2002), the story of a Scottish supermarket clerk coping with her boyfriends suicide.
Steven Spielberg cast her opposite superstar Tom Cruise as the clairvoyant in Minority Report (2002), in which she more than held her own opposite Cruise and the special effects. (She took the role as Cruise and Speilberg are favorites of hers). As good as she was, Morton was better served by Irish director Jim Sheridan, Sheridan cast her as a character modeled after his wife in an autobiographical picture more in line with persona and that made better use of her talents. Her performance as the young Irish mother coping with life in New York City in In America (2002) won her numerous critics’ awards and another Oscar nod, this time as Best Actress.
At this point, one feels that the odds of her winning the Oscar are even or better. Samantha Morton continues to deliver fine work in provocative films such as Michael Winterbottom’s Code 46 (2003), though she is branching out towards the mainstream, taking a role in the remake of that perennial family favorite, Lassie (2005).
89. Renée Zellweger
Actress, Bridget Jones’s Diary
Renée Kathleen Zellweger was born on April 25, 1969, in Katy, Texas, USA to parents Emil Erich Zellweger, a Swiss-born engineer who married Renée’s mother Kjellfrid Irene Andreassen, a Norwegian-born former nurse and midwife in 1963. Renée also has a brother named Drew Zellweger, a marketing executive born on February 15, 1967. Renée got interested in acting in high school while working on the drama club. She also took an acting class at the University of Texas (Austin), where she began looking towards acting as a career. After graduation, she wanted to continue acting, but Hollywood is a tough town to break into, so Renée decided to stay in Texas, and auditioned for roles around Houston, where she managed to grab roles in such films as Reality Bites (1994) and Empire Records (1995).
While on the set for the sequel, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1994), she befriended Matthew McConaughey, another Hollywood up-and-comer. He was working on a project at the time that Renée was interested in, auditioned for, and won the role in the film Love and a .45 (1994), which earned her enough critical praise that she decided to move to Los Angeles. Another role in The Whole Wide World (1996) followed which led to her big break. Cameron Crowe was busy casting his next film, Jerry Maguire (1996), starring Tom Cruise. Crowe was considering such actresses as Cameron Diaz, Bridget Fonda, Winona Ryder, and Marisa Tomei, when he heard of Zellweger’s performance in The Whole Wide World (1996). He auditioned Zellweger and was sure he’d found his Dorothy Boyd.
Renée followed her huge success with a few small independent films and after receiving further critical praise, she felt confident enough to reenter the world of big-budget Hollywood films. She starred opposite Meryl Streep in the tear-jerker One True Thing (1998). She also took a role in Me, Myself & Irene (2000), opposite Jim Carrey, and soon after began dating Carrey. The two denied their relationship at first, but finally gave in and admitted it; today they are no longer together. Also in 2000, she starred in the title role in Nurse Betty (2000), where she won a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Comedy/Musical. In 2001, she received even more critical and commercial success in the title role in Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001). She received her first Academy Award nomination for her role, which was followed by her second Oscar-nominated role in the musical Chicago (2002). She then again wowed audiences with her fierce yet warm portrayal of Ruby Thewes in the film adaptation of Cold Mountain (2003), which won Zellweger an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, which was her first Academy Award.
90. Maggie Cheung
Actress, In the Mood for Love
Maggie Cheung was born on September 20, 1964, in Hong Kong, and moved at the age of eight with her family to England. After finishing secondary school, she returned to Hong Kong, where she began modeling and appearing in commercials. In 1983 she participated in the Ms. Hong Kong pageant, winning first runner-up, which proved not to be a detriment since she went on to become a star of both Hong Kong television and film.
91. Milla Jovovich
Actress, Resident Evil
Milla Jovovich is an Ukrainian-born actress, supermodel, fashion designer, singer and public figure, who was on the cover of more than a hundred magazines, and starred in such films as The Fifth Element (1997), Ultraviolet (2006), and the Resident Evil (2002) franchise. She was born Milica Natasha Jovovich on December 17, 1975, in Kiev, Ukraine, Soviet Union (now Kiev, Ukraine). Her Serbian father, Bogdan Jovovich, was a medical doctor in Kiev. There he met her mother Galina Jovovich, a Russian actress. At the age of 5, in 1981, Milla with her parents emigrated from the Soviet Union, moving first to London, UK, then to Sacramento, California, and eventually settled in Los Angeles. There her parents worked as housecleaners for the household of director Brian De Palma. Her parents separated, and eventually divorced, because her father was arrested and spent several years in prison.
Young Milla Jovovich was brought up by her single mother in Los Angeles. In addition to her native Russian, she also speaks Serbian and English. However, in spite of her cosmopolitan background, Milla was ostracized by some of her classmates, as a kid who emigrated from the Soviet Union amidst the paranoia of the Cold War. Many emotional scars had affected her behavior, but she eventually emerged as a resilient, multi-talented, albeit rebellious and risk-taking girl. She was coached by her actress mother since her childhood, first at home, then studied music, ballet, and acting in Los Angeles. In 1994, she appeared on the cover of ‘High Times’ in the UK, at the age of 18.
She shot to international fame after she was spotted by the photographer Richard Avedon at the age of 11, and was featured in Revlon’s “Most Unforgettable Women in the World” advertisements, and on the cover of the Italian fashion magazine ‘Lei’ which was her first cover shoot. She made her first professional model contract at the age of 12, and soon made it to the cover of ‘The Face’, ‘Vogue’, ‘Cosmopolitan’ and many other magazines. The total number of her magazine covers worldwide was over one hundred by 2004, and keeps counting. In 2004, she made $10.4 million, becoming the highest paid supermodel in the world.
Milla Jovovich was torn between two professions, before she eventually became one of the very few supermodels who also developed a steady and serious film career. In 1988, at age 12, she made her film debut credited as Milla in a supporting role in Two Moon Junction (1988) by writer/director Zalman King. During the 1980s and early 1990s, she played several supporting roles as a teenage actress in film and on television, then starred in Return to the Blue Lagoon (1991). In 1997, she co-starred opposite Bruce Willis in the sci-fi blockbuster The Fifth Element (1997), then she starred as the title character of The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc (1999). In the early 2000s, Milla had a few years of uncertainty in her acting career due to uneven quality of her films, as well as some hectic events in her private life. However, she managed to overcome her personal crisis. With the leading role as Alice in Resident Evil (2002) and its two sequels, she established herself as a film star, and her success in acting career eventually matched her success as a supermodel.
Outside of her acting and modeling professions, Milla Jovovich released several critically acclaimed musical recordings, making her debut as a singer, songwriter and musician with the 1994 release of ‘The Divine Comedy’. She also gave several live performances with her band Plastic Has Memory and was featured on ‘Hollywood Goes Wild’. Her vocal recordings appeared on soundtracks of several films. She has been writing music and lyrics to her song-demos, playing her guitar and sampling other sounds from her computer, and allowing free download and remix of her songs from her website.
For many years Milla Jovovich has been maintaining a healthier lifestyle, practicing yoga and meditation, trying to avoid junk food, and cooking for herself. Since she was a little girl, Milla has been writing a private diary, a habit she learned from her mother. She has been keeping a record of many good and bad facts of her life, her travels, her relationships, and all important ideas and events in her career, planning eventually to publish an autobiography. After dissolution of her two previous marriages, Milla Jovovich became engaged to film director Paul W.S. Anderson; their daughter, Ever Anderson, was born on November 3, 2007.
92. Emma Stone
Actress, The Help
Stone began acting as a child as a member of the Valley Youth Theatre in Phoenix, Arizona, where she made her stage debut in a production of Kenneth Grahame’s “The Wind in the Willows”. She appeared in many more productions through her early teens until, at the age of 15, she decided that she wanted to make acting her career.
The official story is that she made a PowerPoint presentation, backed by Madonna’s “Hollywood” and itself entitled “Project Hollywood”, in an attempt to persuade her parents to allow her to drop out of school and move to Los Angeles. The pitch was successful and she and her mother moved to LA with her schooling completed at home while she spent her days auditioning.
She had her TV breakthrough when she won the part of Laurie Partridge in the VH1 talent/reality show “In Search of the Partridge Family” (2004) which led to a number of small TV roles in the following years.
Her movie debut was as Jules in Superbad (2007) and, after a string of successful performances, her leading role as Olive in Easy A (2010) established her as a star.
93. Patricia Arquette
Actress, True Romance
With her expressive blue eyes, soft, Southern-tinged voice and an acting range that can carry her from hysterically funny to terrifying in seconds, Patricia Arquette is one of the most underrated, talented actresses of her generation. Though she’s been working for years, she’s always stayed just under the radar of true stardom, despite a 1995 marriage to Nicolas Cage. Patricia was born in Chicago, though the family soon moved to a commune near Arlington, Virginia. Her parents Lewis Arquette and Brenda Denaut had 4 other children: Rosanna, Richmond, Alexis, and David. At 15, Patricia ran away from home to live with Rosanna and, after initial insecurity, got her start in Pretty Smart (1987). A year later, she gained attention for her starring role in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987), considered by many to be the best film of the Nightmare series. In 1989, Patricia’s son, Enzo (father is Paul Rossi), was born. Soon after, her career took off, and she has since appeared in such critically acclaimed movies as True Romance (1993), Beyond Rangoon (1995), Ethan Frome (1993), Lost Highway (1997) and Flirting with Disaster (1996). She won a CableACE award in 1991 for her portrayal of a deaf epileptic in Wildflower (1991) (TV). In 1997, after her mother died of breast cancer, Patricia took the lead in the fight against the disease. She’s run in the annual Race for the Cure and in 1999 was the Lee National Denim Day spokesperson.
94. Anne Hathaway
Actress, Les Misérables
Anne Jacqueline Hathaway (born November 12, 1982) is an American actress. After several stage roles, she appeared in the 1999 television series Get Real. She played Mia Thermopolis in The Princess Diaries (2001). Over the next three years, Hathaway reprised that role for The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement, and starred in family films, appearing as the title character in Ella Enchanted, both in 2004. Hathaway is also an Emmy winning actress for her voice-over performance in The Simpsons.
Hathaway had dramatic roles in Havoc and Brokeback Mountain, both in 2005. She starred in The Devil Wears Prada (2006) and in Becoming Jane (2007) as Jane Austen. In 2008, she was acclaimed for her lead role in Rachel Getting Married, for which she won awards and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress. In 2010, she starred in the box office hits Valentine’s Day and Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland, as well as Love and Other Drugs. In 2011, she had a voice role in the animated film Rio and starred in Lone Scherfig’s adaptation of One Day. She is scheduled to play Selina Kyle (Catwoman) in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises.
People magazine named her one of its breakthrough stars of 2001, and she first appeared on its list of the world’s 50 Most Beautiful People in 2006.
95. Rachel McAdams
Actress, Sherlock Holmes
Born on November 17, 1978, in London, Ontario, Canada, Rachel McAdams became involved with acting as a teenager and by the age of 13 was performing in Shakespearean productions in summer theater camp; she went on to graduate with honors with a BFA degree in Theater from York University. After her debut in an episode of Disney’s “The Famous Jett Jackson” (1998), she co-starred in the Canadian TV series “Slings and Arrows” (2003), a comedy-drama about the trials and travails of a Shakespearean theater group, and won a Gemini award for her performance in 2003.
Her breakout role as Regina George in the hit comedy Mean Girls (2004) instantly catapulted her onto the short list of Hollywood’s hottest young actresses. She followed that film with a star turn opposite Ryan Gosling in the adaptation of the Nicholas Sparks bestseller The Notebook (2004), which was a surprise box office success and became the predominant romantic drama for a new, young generation of moviegoers. After filming, McAdams and Gosling became romantically involved and dated through mid-2007. McAdams next showcased her versatility onscreen with the manic comedy Wedding Crashers (2005), the thriller Red Eye (2005), and the holiday drama The Family Stone (2005).
McAdams then explored the independent film world with Married Life (2007), which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and also starred Pierce Brosnan, Chris Cooper and Patricia Clarkson. Starring roles in the military drama The Lucky Ones (2008), the newspaper thriller State of Play (2009), and the romance The Time-Traveler’s Wife (2009) followed before she starred opposite Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law in Guy Ritchie’s international blockbuster Sherlock Holmes (2009). McAdams played the plucky producer of a failing morning TV show in Morning Glory (2010), the materialistic fiancée of Owen Wilson in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris (2011), and returned to romantic drama territory with the hit film The Vow (2012) opposite Channing Tatum. The actress also stars with Ben Affleck in Terrence Malick’s To the Wonder (2012) and alongside Noomi Rapace in ‘Brian DePalma”s thriller Passion (2012).
In 2005, McAdams received ShoWest’s “Supporting Actress of the Year” Award as well as the “Breakthrough Actress of the Year” at the Hollywood Film Awards. In 2009, she was awarded with ShoWest’s “Female Star of the Year.” As of 2011, she has been romantically linked with her Midnight in Paris co-star Michael Sheen.
96. Jennifer Connelly
Actress, Requiem for a Dream
Jennifer Connelly grew up in Brooklyn Heights, just across the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan, except for the four years her family spent in Woodstock, New York. Back in Brooklyn Heights, she attended St. Ann’s school. Her father was in the garment industry, and a close friend of the family was an advertising executive. When Jennifer was 10, the friend suggested that her parents take her to a modeling audition. She began appearing in newspaper and magazine ads (among them, “Seventeen” magazine) and soon moved on to television commercials. A casting director saw the girl and introduced her to Sergio Leone, who was seeking a young girl to dance in his gangster epic Once Upon a Time in America (1984). After graduation, she enrolled at Yale, and then transferred two years later to Stanford. Her first film appearance after that was a British TV series “Tales of the Unexpected” (1979) in 1984. Her first movie appearance was in Dario Argento’s Phenomena (1985). Has appeared in a rock video “I Drove All Night,” a Roy Orbison song, co-starring Jason Priestley. Is appearing in an upcoming Miller Beer commercial. Released a single called “Monologue of Love” in Japan in the mid-1980s, in which she sings in Japanese a charming little song with semi-classical instruments arrangement. B-side is “Message Of Love,” which is an interview with music in background. Trained in classical theater and improvisation, studying with the late drama coach Roy London, Howard Fine, and Harold Guskin. She did television commercials in Japan. Was “engaged” in an unconventional sense, i.e., no real plans to marry, to Billy Campbell, her co-star in The Rocketeer (1991). They were together on and off for about five years. Lives in New York. She’s 5’7″, speaks fluent Italian and French. Was a member of Gold’s Gym in Venice for a year or two, but is no longer active. Enjoys physical activities such as swimming, gymnastics, bike riding. Is an outdoors person — camping, hiking and walking. Is interested in Quantum Physics and philosophy. Is fairly level-headed and grounded as a person and is not overly seduced by the Hollywood fantasy. Likes horses, Pearl Jam, SoundGarden, Jesus Jones. Occasionally wears a small picture of the The Dalai Lama on a necklace. Favorite colors: cobalt blue, forest green, and “very pale green/gray — sort of like the color of the sea”. Likes to draw.
97. Kirsten Dunst
Kirsten Caroline Dunst is an American actress, who also holds German citizenship. She was born on April 30, 1982 in Point Pleasant, New Jersey, to parents Inez (née Rupprecht) and Klaus Dunst. She has a younger brother named Christian Dunst, born in 1986.
Her career began at the age of 3 when she started modelling and appearing in commercials. She made her feature film debut with an uncredited role at age 6 in the ‘Oedipus Wrecks’ segment of Woody Allen’s 1989 film New York Stories (1989). Shortly after, in the same year, her family moved to Los Angeles, where her film career took off. She received her first film credit in The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990).
In 1994, she made her breakthrough performance in Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (1994), alongside such stars as Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise. Her performance earned her a Golden Globe nomination, the MTV Award for Best Breakthrough Performance and the Saturn award for Best Young Actress. In 1995, she was named one of People Magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People. Over the next few years, she made a string of hit movies including Little Women (1994), Jumanji (1995) and Small Soldiers (1998).
In 2000, she received rave reviews for her role as “Lux Lisbon” in Sofia Coppola’s independent film, The Virgin Suicides (1999) and proved her status as a leading actress in the comedy hit, Bring It On (2000). She also graduated from Notre Dame High School in Los Angeles in June of that year.
In 2002, she landed one of her best known roles as Peter Parker’s love interest, Mary Jane Watson, in Spider-Man (2002). She continued her role in _Spider-Man (2004)_ and _Spider-Man (2007)_.
She went to land roles in such films as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), the romantic comedy Wimbledon (2004), and in ‘Cameron Crowe (I)”s ‘Elizabethtown (2005)’. She also played the title character in Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette (2006).
Dunst won the Best Actress Award at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival for her performance as Justine in ‘Lars Von Trier”s Melancholia (2011). In 2012, she appeared in Walter Salles’ film adaptation of On the Road (2012) and the independent comedy Bachelorette (2012). She also has several films in production, including Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring (2013) and The Two Faces of January (2013).
Her charity work includes designing a necklace to raise funds for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation as well as supporting various cancer charities.
98. Diane Lane
Actress, The Perfect Storm
Diane Lane was born on January 22, 1965, in New York. Her parents are acting coach Burt Lane and nightclub singer/centerfold Colleen Farrington. Diane was acting from a very young age and made her stage debut at the age of six. Her work in such acclaimed theater productions as “The Cherry Orchard” and “Medea” led to her being called to Hollywood. She was 13 when she was cast by director George Roy Hill in his wonderful 1979 film A Little Romance (1979), opposite Sir Laurence Olivier. The film only did so-so commercially, but Olivier praised his young co-star, calling her the new Grace Kelly. After her well-received debut, Diane found herself on magazine covers all over the world, including “Time”, which declared her the “new young acting sensation”. However, things quietened down a bit when she found herself in such critical and financial flops as Touched by Love (1980), Cattle Annie and Little Britches (1981), National Lampoon’s Movie Madness (1982), Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains (1982) and, most unmemorably, Six Pack (1982), all of which failed to set her career on fire.
She also made several TV movies during this period, but it was in 1983 that she finally began to fulfill the promise of stardom that had earlier been predicted for her. Acclaimed director Francis Ford Coppola took note of Diane’s appeal and cast her in two “youth”-oriented films based on S.E. Hinton novels. Indeed, Rumble Fish (1983) and The Outsiders (1983) have become cult classics and resulted in her getting a loyal fan base. The industry was now taking notice of Diane Lane, and she soon secured lead roles in three big-budget studio epics. She turned down the first, Splash (1984) (which was a surprise hit for Daryl Hannah). Unfortunately, the other two were critical and box-office bombs: Walter Hill’s glossy rock ‘n’ roll fable Streets of Fire (1984) was not the huge summer success that many had thought it would be, and the massively troubled Coppola epic The Cotton Club (1984) co-starring Richard Gere was also a high-profile flop. The back-to-back failure of both of these films could have ended her career there and then — but thankfully it didn’t. Possibly “burned out” by the lambasting these films received and unhappy with the direction her career was taking, she “retired” from the film business at age 19, saying that she had forgotten what she had started acting for. She stayed away from the screen for the next three years. Ironically, the two films that were the main causes of her “retirement” have since grown in popularity, and “Streets of Fire” especially seems to have found the kind of audience it couldn’t get when it was first released.
The process of rebuilding her career was a slow and gradual one. First came the obscure and very sexy straight-to-video thriller Lady Beware (1987), followed by the critically acclaimed but little seen The Big Town (1987) with Matt Dillon and Tommy Lee Jones. In the former, Diane plays a very mysterious and sexy stripper and her memorable strip sequence is a highlight of the film. Despite her sexy new on-screen image, it wasn’t until 1989’s smash hit TV mini-series “Lonesome Dove” (1989) that Diane made another big impression on a sizable audience. Her performance in the hugely popular and critically acclaimed western epic as a vulnerable “whore with a heart” won her an Emmy nomination and much praise. Film producers were interested in her again. Another well-received TV production, Descending Angel (1990) (TV), was followed by smaller roles in major films like Richard Attenborough’s Chaplin (1992) and Mike Binder’s Indian Summer (1993), and larger parts in small independent films like My New Gun (1992), Vital Signs (1990) and Knight Moves (1992). Indeed, the latter two films co-starred her then-husband, Christopher Lambert, with whom she had a daughter named Eleanor.
Diane was now re-established in Hollywood and started to appear in higher-profile co-starring roles in some big-budget, major movies like Walter Hill’s Wild Bill (1995), the Sylvester Stallone actioner Judge Dredd (1995), the Robin Williams’s comedy Jack (1996) and Murder at 1600 (1997) co-starring Wesley Snipes. However, all of these still did not quite make Diane a “big-name star” and, by 1997, she found herself, possibly by choice, back in smaller, personal projects.
Her next role as a frustrated 1960s housewife in the independent hit A Walk on the Moon (1999) deservedly won her rave notices and, at last, gave her career the big lift it needed. The cute but tear-jerking comedy My Dog Skip (2000) also proved to be a small-scale success. However, it was the £330-million worldwide grossing blockbuster hit The Perfect Storm (2000) that finally made Diane Lane the household name that she always should have been.
After the worldwide success of “The Perfect Storm”, she was more in demand than ever. She played Leelee Sobieski’s sinister junkie guardian in the slick thriller The Glass House (2001), and co-starred with Keanu Reeves in the #1 smash hit Hard Ball (2001). However, her greatest career moment was still to come with her lead role in the enormous critical and commercial hit Unfaithful (2002), in which she superbly portrayed Richard Gere’s adulterous wife. Her performance won the respect of critics and audiences alike.
She is very well regarded within the industry, adored by film fans, and has a credibility and quality that is all too rare today. Her immense talent at playing human and real characters, her “drop dead gorgeous” beauty and down-to-earth grittiness guarantees that she will stay on top, and she guarantee has already shown the kind of resilience that will keep her working for a long, long time.
99. Julie Delpy
Actress, Before Sunset
Julie Delpy was born in Paris, France, in 1969 to show business parents.
She was first featured in Jean-Luc Godard’s Détective (1985) at the age of fourteen. She has starred in many American and European productions since then, including Disney’s The Three Musketeers (1993), Killing Zoe (1993), and Three Colors: White (1994).
She graduated from NYU’s film school, and wrote and directed the short film Blah Blah Blah (1995), which screened at the Sundance Film Festival. She is currently a resident of Los Angeles.
100. Amy Adams
Actress, The Fighter
Amy Lou Adams was born in Italy, to American parents Kathryn and Richard Adams, while her father was a U.S. serviceman. She was raised in a Mormon family of seven children in Castle Rock, Colorado.
Adams sang in the school choir at Douglas County High School and was an apprentice dancer at a local dance company, with the ambition of becoming a ballerina. However, she worked as a greeter at The Gap and as a Hooters hostess to support herself before finding work as a dancer at Boulder’s Dinner Theatre and Country Dinner Playhouse in such productions as “Brigadoon” and “A Chorus Line”. It was there that she was spotted by a Minneapolis dinner-theater director who asked her to move to Chanhassen, Minnesota for more regional dinner theater work.
Nursing a pulled muscle that kept her from dancing, she was free to audition for a part in Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999), which was filming nearby in Minnesota. During the filming, Kirstie Alley encouraged her to move to Los Angeles, where she soon won a part in the Fox television version of the film, Cruel Intentions (1999), in the part played in the film by Sarah Michelle Gellar, “Kathryn Merteuil”. Although three episodes were filmed, the troubled series never aired. Instead, parts of the episodes were cobbled together and released as the direct-to-video Cruel Intentions 2 (2000) (V). After more failed television spots, she landed a major role in Catch Me If You Can (2002), playing opposite Leonardo DiCaprio. But this did not provide the break-through she might have hoped for, with no work being offered for about a year. She eventually returned to television, and joined the short-lived series, “Dr. Vegas” (2004).
Her role in the low-budget independent film Junebug (2005) (which was shot in 21 days) got her real attention, including an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress as well as other awards. The following year, her ability to look like a wide-eyed Disney animated heroine helped her to be chosen from about 300 actresses auditioning for the role of “Giselle” in the animated/live-action feature film, Enchanted (2007), which would prove to be her major break-through role. Her vivacious yet innocent portrayal allowed her to use her singing and dancing talents. Her performance garnered a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy.
Adams next appeared in the major production, Charlie Wilson’s War (2007), and went on to act in the independent film, Sunshine Cleaning (2008), which premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. Her role as “Sister James” in Doubt (2008/I) brought her a second Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress, as well as nominations for a Golden Globe, a Screen Actors Guild award, and a British Academy Film award. She appeared as Amelia Earhart in Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (2009) and as a post-9/11 hot line counselor, aspiring writer, amateur cook and blogger in Julie & Julia (2009). More recently, she starred with Jason Segel in The Muppets (2011) and alongside Clint Eastwood in Trouble with the Curve (2012).