24 Actresses From The Golden Age Of Hollywood

They were sexpots and showgirls, scheming wives and perfect mothers, melodious singers, riotous comedians, and scream queens. One thing the actresses who graced the big screen in the '40s, '50s, and early '60s all shared was a level of glamour we still aspire to today. While some of the brightest stars of this golden age died young, and some burned out more recently, we want to take a moment to salute the ladies who are still with us.

They may be closer in age to our grandmothers, but they're cemented in our minds at the peak of youth. How surreal it must be for them to hear today's young stars say they want to evoke "Old Hollywood" style on the red carpet. And, what must they think when an actress half their age complains there aren't enough roles for older women?

You may be surprised to learn that a few of these actresses gave voice to some of the cartoons of our youth. Others have appeared on shows like Grey's Anatomy and Law & Order: SVU, just to keep those young docs and detectives on their toes. And, a few, due to health reasons or because they're ready to escape the spotlight, are enjoying their retirement in peace. Whatever they're doing these days, they certainly set out some gorgeous heels for today's actresses to fill.
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Olivia de Havilland (July 1, 1916)

It's hard to believe now that this poised actress was just 23 when she played Melanie in Gone With the Wind (1939). After famously losing an Oscar to her sister, Joan Fontaine, in 1942, she won for To Each His Own (1946) and The Heiress (1949).
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Photo: Peter Brooker/REX USA.
Following the death of Luise Rainer last year, de Havilland became the oldest living Academy Award winner at age 98. Her last big role was the 1986 miniseries Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna. She currently lives in Paris.
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Photo: Rex USA.
Maureen O'Hara (August 17, 1920)

The Irish actress held her own against Charles Laughton in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939) at age 19, and gained many a fan in films ranging from swashbucklers (The Black Swan, 1942) and Westerns (Rio Grande, 1950), to family films like Miracle on 34th Street (1947) and The Parent Trap (1961).
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Photo: Everett/REX USA.
The 94-year-old received an Honorary Award from the Academy at the 2014 Governors Awards last November.
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Photo: REX USA.
Margaret O'Brien (January 15, 1937)

Known best for her childhood roles in Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), Little Women (1949), and The Secret Garden (1949), O'Brien received a Juvenile Academy Award in 1944. But she was also one of the first generations to have a difficult time transitioning to grown-up roles.
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Photo: Everett/REX USA.
The 78-year-old's most recent role is in a new adaptation of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, which also features the late Mickey Rooney.
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Photo: Collection/REX USA.
Debbie Reynolds (April 1, 1932)

She was just 19 when she starred in 1952's Singin' in the Rain and went on to make a slew of popular movies, including The Unsinkable Molly Brown and The Singing Nun.

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Photo: Rob Latour/REX USA.
In more recent decades, Reynolds’ been a favorite TV guest star (earning an Emmy nod for playing Grace's mother on Will & Grace), though you're just as likely to know her as the voice of Rugrats' Lulu Pickles — or as Carrie Fisher's mom.
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Photo: Rex USA.
Angela Lansbury (October 16, 1925)

Though most of us either know the distinguished Brit as the titular sleuth in Murder, She Wrote, the voice of Mrs. Potts in Beauty and the Beast, or a Broadway legend, she first did her time as a B-list movie actress, costarring in Gaslight (1944), National Velvet (1944), and The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945).
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Photo: Carolyn Contino/BEImages.
The 89-year-old just finished touring in a revival of Noel Coward's play Blithe Spirit.
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Photo: Everett/REX USA.
Rhonda Fleming (August 10, 1923)

With Westerns (Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, 1957), 3-D thrillers, musicals (A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, 1949), and a Hitchcock film (Spellbound, 1945) under her belt, Fleming certainly has a diverse, if not necessarily award-winning filmography.
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Photo: M L MARV/REX USA.
The 91-year-old has been married six times, most recently tying the knot in 2003.
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Photo: REX USA.
Jane Powell (April 1, 1929)


Powell landed a movie contract after competing in the radio show Hollywood Showcase: Stars over Hollywood — just so you know shortcuts to stardom aren't just a phenomenon of this reality-TV era. Her biggest movie roles were in Royal Wedding (1951) and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954), but you might also know her as Alan Thicke's mother on Growing Pains.
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Photo: Carolyn Contino/BEImages.
The 86-year-old still makes her way to the stage once in a while, as she did at the Hollywood Bowl with Pink Martini in 2010.
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Photo: Everett \/REX USA.
June Lockhart (June 25, 1925)

Nick at Nite viewers of a certain age may be somewhat shocked to learn that Timmy's mother from Lassie was once the She-Wolf of London (1946). Though she had small parts in big movies like Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), we're glad she found her home on television.
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Photo: JSSImages/BEImages.
The 89-year-old is still appearing in the occasional small film, with titles like Zombie Hamlet (2012) that sound too awesome to be true.
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Photo: REX USA.
Leslie Caron (July 1, 1931)

Getting spotted by Gene Kelly in a ballet production, then being cast to star in An American in Paris (1951) is not a bad way to start your acting career. The French starlet went on to make other classics such as Daddy Long Legs (1955) and Gigi (1958).
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Photo: Richard Young/REX USA.
Caron was stunning as ever in Chocolat (2000) and Le divorce (2003), and earned an Emmy for her guest stint on Law & Order: SVU in 2007. She's now 84.
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Photo: Rex USA.
Mitzi Gaynor (September 24, 1931)

Gaynor, trained as a ballerina, sang and danced her way into There's No Business Like Show Business (1954), Les Girls (1957), and most famously, a starring role in South Pacific (1958). She was known in later years for making a number of glitzy, musical TV specials.
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Photo: Rex USA.
In the past few years, the 83-year-old toured the country with a one-woman show called Razzle Dazzle: My Life Behind the Sequins.
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Photo: Everett/Rex USA.
Eva Marie Saint (July 4, 1924)

After getting her start in the early days of television, the 20-year-old actress made her mark opposite Marlon Brando in 1954's On the Waterfront, winning a Best Supporting Actress Oscar. She cemented her spot in film history in Hitchcock's North by Northwest in 1959.
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Photo: Matt Baron/BEImages.
The 90-year-old New Jersey native most recently had a role in 2014's Winter's Tale and voiced Katara in Nickelodeon's The Legend of Korra.
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Photo: Everett/REX USA.
Diahann Carroll (July 17, 1935)

Carroll was another star who got her start by winning a reality show: Chance of a Lifetime in 1954. The 18-year-old went on to get small parts in Carmen Jones (1954), Porgy and Bess (1959), and Paris Blues (1961), before becoming the first African American to win a Tony Award (in 1962 for No Strings).
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Photo: Matt Baron/BEImages.
She's best known for her titular part in the TV show Julia (1968-71), but has rarely been away from the small screen since. Carroll most recently appeared on-screen in recurring roles on Grey's Anatomy in 2005 and White Collar in 2009. The actress is 79.
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Photo: Everett/REX USA.
Joan Collins (May 23, 1933)

Before she donned those infamous shoulder pads to become Dynasty's Alexis Carrington, Collins was a seductive movie star, taking the lead in The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing (1955) and Esther and the King (1960).
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Photo: Rob Latour/REX USA.
Like her sister Jackie, she's also a best-selling author, and just played up her British roots with a guest spot as the Grand Duchess of Oxford in The Royals.
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Photo: Rex USA.
Shirley Jones (March 31, 1934)

From wholesome musical leading lady (1955's Oklahoma!, 1956's Carousel, 1962's The Music Man) to prostitute (Elmer Gantry, which won her the Oscar in 1960) to The Partridge Family matriarch to loopy grandma (Raising Hope), Jones has packed in a lot in her eight decades.
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Photo: Crollalanza/REX USA.
Jones, who is 81, has more on the way, too — with projects in production listed through 2017 on her IMDb page.
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Photo: Rex USA.
Doris Day (April 3, 1924)

The wholesome blonde was a pop star before she became a movie star. Once she hit the big screen, she earned acclaim for her comic turns in movies like The Pajama Game (1957) and Pillow Talk (1959), though she was also a hit in Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956). She retired after the five-year run of her sitcom, The Doris Day Show, ended in 1973.
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Photo: 65 Degrees/Manny Espinoza/Splash.
Day just celebrated her 91st birthday (although, some say she's actually 93) in Carmel, CA.
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Photo: Henry Lamb/Photowire/BEImages.
Joanne Woodward (February 27, 1930)

After winning the Academy Award for The Three Faces of Eve in 1957, the Georgia-born actress married Paul Newman and went on to star in 10 movies with her husband of 50 years, including The Long Hot Summer (1958).
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Photo: Collection/REX USA.
Lately, the 85-year-old has been sticking to voice work, her last on-screen role was in the TV movie Empire Falls in 2005 (for which she received a Golden Globe nomination).
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Photo: Rex USA.
Brigitte Bardot (September 28, 1934)

The French sex symbol had an incredibly prolific two decades in French film, making the biggest splash with 1957's And God Created Woman. She retired from acting completely in 1973.
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Photo: ERIC FEFERBERG/Getty Images.
These days, she makes headlines as an animal rights activist and outspoken critic of immigration (particularly by Muslims) to France.
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Photo: Everett/Rex USA.
Sophia Loren (September 24, 1934)

The Italian beauty was already a star in Italy before she broke out internationally with films like Houseboat (1958, opposite Cary Grant), and Two Women (1960), the devastating film about a mother and daughter who are gang-raped by soldiers during WWII, which won her an Oscar.
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Photo: Jim Smeal/BEImages.
Loren (who’s now 80) has slowed down just a little in recent years, but appeared in Nine in 2009, and starred in an Italian miniseries about her mother in 2010.
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Photo: David Fisher/Rex USA.
Kim Novak (February 13, 1933)

She starred in one of the greatest movies of all time, Hitchcock's 1958 masterpiece Vertigo, but Novak's relationship with Hollywood was never smooth sailing. Though she made movies on and off until 1991, she often quit the business altogether, and recently said it was bipolar disorder that made working in Hollywood difficult for her.


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Photo: Rex USA.
Now, the 82-year-old is thriving as a painter.
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Angie Dickinson (September 30, 1931)

The North Dakota native got her start in TV Westerns, but soon took her talents to the big screen in Rio Bravo (1959) and the original Ocean's 11 (1960). After a decade of hit movies, she moved back to TV for her groundbreaking role in Police Woman (1974-78).
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Photo: Peter Brooker/REX USA.
The 83-year-old Dickinson’s most recent on-screen appearance was in the 2009 TV movie Mending Fences.
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Photo: Rex USA.
Shirley MacLaine (April 24, 1934)

MacLaine has had an extremely rare career, in that she's just as famous for her early roles, like 1960's The Apartment, as for those she played in middle age (her Oscar winning turn in 1983's Terms of Endearment) and later in life (2011's Bernie, and her fabulous guest spot on Downton Abbey).
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Photo: Matt Baron/BEImages.
At age 80, MacLaine’s every bit as spritely as she was in the early '60s, and we're all dying to know her secret.
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Photo: Everett/REX USA.
Rita Moreno (December 11, 1931)

Despite being pigeonholed by racial prejudice in Hollywood, the Puerto Rican legend has defied all odds and earned that coveted EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony). Her first was an Oscar for 1962's West Side Story. Where's the Grammy from? The Electric Company Album in 1973.


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Photo: Everett/REX USA.
The 84-year-old hasn't stopped working for a minute — her latest project was the Hallmark movie A Gift of Miracles, which aired in February.
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Photo: McCallum/REX USA.
Tippi Hedren (January 19, 1930)

Before Dakota Johnson entered the Red Room of Pain, before Melanie Griffith picked up a briefcase, there was Tippi — the grandmother of all scream queens. She made her screen debut in The Birds (1963) and followed it up with another Hitchcock favorite, Marnie.
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Photo: Matt Baron/BEImages.
These days, when Hedren's not filming guest spots on TV, the 85-year-old keeps busy as the founder of big-cat sanctuary Shambala Preserve.
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Photo: Rex USA.
Ann-Margret (April 28, 1941)

The Swedish-born triple threat played an All-American cutie at the tail end of the Golden Age, in Bye Bye Birdie (1963) and the Elvis classic Viva Las Vegas (1964).
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Photo: REX USA.
Ann-Margaret (who turns 74 this month) has been acting and singing steadily, most recently appearing in a recurring role on Ray Donovan.
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