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15 Best Dramatic Actresses, 1930 to 1970??


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I'm going to focus on acting, period, rather than just dramatic. It's all the same thing.


Deborah Kerr

Carole Lombard

Greer Garson

Kate Hepburn

Irene Dunne

Rosalind Russell


I could stop there. Nobody else comes close. But for the second tier...


Jean Simmons

Vivien Leigh

Beulah Bondi

Claudette Colbert

Shirley Booth


I've probably forgotten some really good people. But that should get me started.



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I always loved Ellen Burstyn froom the 1970's!! Great dramatic actress!


Burstyn won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1974 for her performance in the movie "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore". She received her first Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress in 1971 for the film "The Last Picture Show", and was subsequently nominated for Best Actress in 1973 for the horror movie "The Exorcist", in 1978 for "Same Time, Next Year", in 1980 for "Resurrection", and for "Requiem for a Dream" in 2000.

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Hi Randy! Here's my list (and it was harder than if I could choose an across-the-board star; in choosing a favorite actress it's their ability and flair for comedy that counts as much for me as for drama. Not so with actors):


1. Vivien Leigh

2. Greta Garbo

3. Bette Davis

4. Barbara Stanwyck

5.Thelma Ritter

6. Sara Allgood

7.. Susan Hayward

8. Katharine Hepburn

9. Marilyn Monroe

10. Ingrid Bergman

11. Deborah Kerr

12. Rita Hayworth

13. Gene Tierney

14. Natalie Wood

15. Gloria Grahame


Edited because I can't believe I left off Barbara Stanwyck. I totally forgot about her.


Message was edited by: MissGoddess

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1. Ingrid Bergman

2. Bette Davis

3. Deborah Kerr

4. Simone Signoret

5. Greta Garbo

6. Jeanne Moreau

7. Olivia de Havilland

8. Maggie Smith

9. Jean Simmons

10. Angela Lansbury

11. Jean Simmons

12. Piper Laurie

13. Vanessa Redgrave

14. Dorothy Dandridge

15. Ida Lupino

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loverly list april!!


hey randy yet another great question! you are just full of them lately.


1. greer garson

2. loretta young

3. kate hepburn

4. angela lansbury

5. dana wynter

6. ethel barrymore

7. helen hayes

8. junie allyson(i know she was the girl next door, but think about it, Little Women, Glenn Miller Story, all those other great ones)

9. myrna loy

10. irene dunne

11. bette davis

12. barbara stanwyk

13. eleanor parker

14. clara bow

15. deborah kerr

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1. Bette Davis


The rest in no particular order.


2. Norma Shearer

3. Olivia de Havilland

4. Greer Garson

5. Susan Hayward

6. Irene Dunne

7. Claudette Colbert

8. Joan Crawford

9. Thelma Ritter

10. Eleanor Parker

11. Ingrid Bergman

12. Shelley Winters

13. Barbara Stanwyck

14. Myrna Loy

15. Lee Remick


Honorable Mentions:


Ida Lupino

Anne Bancroft

Ann Sheridan

Judy Garland



I know I'm forgetting others. There's so many good ones that it's kinda hard to keep them all straight.

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IMO these are the best dramatic actresses:

1. Bette Davis

2. Barbara Stanwyck

3. Garbo

4. Ingrid Bergman

5. Katharine Hepburn

6. Joan Crawford

7. Ida Lupino

8. Susan Hayward

9. Deborah Kerr

10. Joanne Woodward

11. Geraldine Page

12. Angela Lansbury

13. Piper Laurie

14. Agnes Moorhead

15. Anne Bancroft


I would say very honorable mention must go to the likes of: Olivia DeHavilland, Norma Shearer, Greer Garson, Myrna Loy, Irene Dunne, Ann Harding, Audrey Hepburn and a lot of European actresses...


And those who came into their own in the 70's & 80's...90's: Jane Fonda, Ellen Burstyn, Vanessa Redgrave, Meryl Streep, Angela Bassett, Alfre Woodard...


And today: Laura Linney, Julia Stiles...

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1) Garbo is the greatest in my opinion, icnomparable. She was a true an immense tragedienne in films like "Camille", "Anna Karenina", "Woman of Affairs", "Mata Hari", "Love", "Flesh and the Devil", "The painted veil" etc.

2) Bette Davis, one of the greatest dramatic actresses ever, just to mention a few of her great dramatic achievements in "Now Voyager", "The letter", "The little foxes" etc.

3) Vivien Leigh, her two great cinematic performances "Gone with the wind" and especially "Streetcar named desire)

4) Simone Signoret in my opinion France's greatest film actress, unforgettable in films like "Room at the top", "Casque d'or" etc

5) Katharine Hepburn. Although her temperament was more inclined towards comedy, she often rose to the challenge and gave great dramatic performances in films like "African Queen" and "Lond Day's journey into night"

6) Barbara Stanwyck, one of the most gifted dramatic actresses of the screen. Her "Stella Dallas" is one of my favorite performances of all times.

7) Mich?le Morgan, an absolutely marvellous French actress of the thirties onwards with wonderful performances in films like "Les orgeilleux" with G?rard Philippe or "Les bonnes causes"

8) Arletty another French great in films like "Les enfants du paradis" and "Les visiteurs du soir"

9) Susan Hayward. Magnificent in "I'll cry tomorrow"

10) Marilyn Monrore, so vulnerable and moving in "The misfits"

11) Margaret Sullavan. She did not make many films but was unforgettable in "The three comrades"

12) Vanessa Redgrave (although she gave her very greatest performances on stage as I had the great luck to know), she was thrilling in "Isadora".

13) Ingrid Bergman, magnificent in "Notorious" and Bergman's "Autumn Sonnata"

14) Jane Fonda, absolutely wonderful, modern and vital in "Klute"

15) Fay Dunaway, fascinating in "Bonnie and Clyde" and "Chinatown"

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Oh I know how you feel about Garbo and I appreciate it. Of course she was great (though it seems every time we say that we will attract some unwelcome thread, from "New York" or whatever about "overrating" etc. Some people simply cannot accept greatness!

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You guys really have great taste. It is so cool to read other's opinions on this subject. These gals are not my overall 15 favorites, but in dramatic movies i will say, in this order, :


1. Bette Davis

2. Susan Hayward

3. Ida Lupino

4. Joan Crawford

5. Greer Garson

6. Merle Oberon

7. Olivia de Havilland

8. Jennifer Jones

9. Kay Francis

10. Joan Fontaine

11. Greta Garbo

12. Lana Turner

13. Linda Darnell

14. Ann Sheridan

15. Eleanor Parker


Hi Miss G.; Hi Theresa; Hi CM; Hi everybody...

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Hi Randy! I forgot to mention Merle Oberon and Jennifer Jones, and of course, Olivia de Havilland. They were all very good, especially Olivia. I loved her in The Heiress and The Proud Rebel. She gave understated but deeply felt (and quite different) performances in each.

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