The iconic actresses between the late 1920s and the early 60s have shaped the face of Hollywood forever. It seems like this golden era is something that the new generation continuously tries to live up to, with the likes of Emma Stone, Lily Collins, and Emma Watson as its current front-runners.
On this list, you will find former leading ladies who rose to become the most iconic actresses in Hollywood history. Their timeless beauty was only made even more popular by their choice to play strong and independent women in movies. So in particular order, here are five gifted actress from Hollywood’s golden age.
Iconic Actresses of Old Hollywood
5. Ingrid Bergman
There won’t be a list filled with iconic actresses without Ingrid Bergman. Her performance in Casablanca alone is enough to make people see how big the impact of her timeless beauty on old Hollywood is. But there is really more to this Swedish born actress than just her looks, as Bergman was solidified as a legend when she won two Academy Best Actress awards for her roles in Anastasia and Gaslight.
Little do people know, Bergman actually had difficulty launching her career at first. Filmmakers had a problem with her accent and her thick eyebrows. Bergman proved them wrong of course and enjoyed a legendary career throughout her time in Hollywood. She died of breast cancer on August 29, 1982.
4. Bette Davis
Recognized as the second-greatest female star by the American Film Institute, Bette Davis truly lives up to her title. She may not play the most likable characters, but one thing is for sure: Davis has given justice to all of her roles.
Her first Oscar award was for the film Dangerous, in which she plays down-on-her-luck Broadway actress Joyce Heath. She went on to become the first actress to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award from AFI and the first female president of the Academy of Modern Arts and Sciences. All these accolades and recognition are enough to name Davis as one of the most iconic actresses of Hollywood’s golden age, and she holds that title even after her death on October 6, 1989, due to breast cancer.
3. Audrey Hepburn
As one of the most iconic actresses on this list, Audrey Hepburn is more than just a fashion icon. She also happens to be one of the most passionate humanitarians in history. When she was young, Hepburn helped the Dutch resistance during World War II, and as her career came to a close, she completely traded the spotlight to assist third-world nations with UNICEF as their global ambassador.
Hepburn did hold a piece of history with her, though, as she was named as the first actress to win a BAFTA, Oscar, and Golden Globe for her role in Roman Holiday. Unlike the many actors today, Hepburn was very private about her personal life and died from appendiceal cancer at the young age of 63.
2. Marilyn Monroe
To say Marilyn Monroe was one of the most iconic actresses of the golden age is an understatement, Monroe was practically the sex symbol of this era and rose up to be the pop culture icon she is today. Unfortunately, much of Monroe’s talents were fitted in “dumb blonde” roles. She notably played such characters in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Some Like it Hot, and How to Marry a Millionaire, which became one of her biggest box-office hits.
Monroe’s first dramatic role was in her husband Arthur Miller‘s movie, The Misfits. Ironically, her health was failing at this time and she was said to be addicted to barbiturates when filming took place. Monroe eventually died of an overdose at the age of 36.
1. Katharine Hepburn
Katharine Hepburn holds the record for most Oscar wins, and she’s closely followed behind by Bette Davis. This prompted the AFI to not only crown her as the most important female star of American Film but also the First Lady of Cinema. Throughout her career, Hepburn truly captured what it is like to chase after a dream. As soon as her popularity died down after winning an Oscar for Morning Glory, she thrived to get more roles and eventually achieved this when she teamed up with her constant on-screen partner Cary Grant for The Philadelphia Story. Hepburn continued to shine as one of the most iconic actresses of all time, and up until her last performance in 1994’s Love Affair, she never lost her powerful screen presence. Hepburn eventually died on June 29, 2003, of natural causes.