Category Archives: 10 Favorite Actresses of the 1950’s

Favorite Actress of the 1950’s ~ #1 ~ Elizabeth Taylor

Hair of ebony, eyes of violet, and stunning today as she was as a child, Elizabeth Taylor was in her prime in the 1950’s. Young and vibrant, and full of life, she was a true Star. 6 Academy Award nominations with two wins, Elizabeth not only starred with some of the most handsome men in Hollywood, she befriended them and married others. Lifelong friends with Rock Hudson, Roddy McDowell, Montgomery Clift and even in his short life, James Dean, Elizabeth reigned in the 50’s as the star everyone wanted to be like and everyone wanted to be with.

Her roles in the 50’s included Southern Belle, Susanna Drake in Raintree County; Maggie the Cat in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof; the insane Catherine Holly in Suddenly Last Summer; the rich easterner turned cattle heiress as Leslie Benedict in Giant; and as the prostitute, Gloria Wondrous, in 1960’s Butterfield8. Her versatility and engaging good looks made her one of the hottest stars that ever hit Hollywood.

Favorite Actresses of the 1950’s ~ Katharine Hepburn ~ #2

By the time the 1950’s came along, Katharine Hepburn was already a legend and film goddess. in the 1951 film she was nominated for the fifth time for her role in African Queen. 1955 she was nominated for the 6th time for her leading role in the film, Summertime, two more nominations came in 1957 and 1959 for the her roles in Suddenly Last Summer and The Rainmaker. In her long career she would be nominated for a total of 12 times, and win a record 4 awards.
Katharine Hepburn was not only a star in the 1950’s but every decade from her debut in 1931 in A Bill of Divorcement, to her last role in 1994 in Love Affair. No favorite list of movie stars would be complete without her.

Favorite Actresses of the 1950’s ~ Grace Kelly ~ #3

Regal, elegant, beautiful, grace… What better name as she was the epitome of grace on the screen and in real life. Grace Kelly was the most powerful female in Hollywood in the 1950’s, next to Elizabeth Taylor. She was wanted by every director and producer. From 1950 to 1956 when she wed Prince Rainer of Monaco and retired from Hollywood, she starred in 11 Motion Pictures, and numerous television programs. She was Alfred Hitchcock’s favorite female leading lady.

After only 4 years in the big screen, Grace walked away as the Academy’s Best Actress for her role in Country Girl, beating out big names such as Jane Wyman, Audrey Hepburn, Dorothy Dandridge and Judy Garland.

My favorite Grace Kelly role was Dial M for Murder. She was just spectacular.

Grace left Hollywood royalty for royalty in 1956, but her name, her talent, her grace lives on.

Favorite Actresses of the 50’s ~ Audrey Hepburn ~ #4

Roman Holiday and Sabrina were two of my favorite Audrey Hepburn movies. Her style, her raw talent and her glamour came to life in those two roles. America loved Audrey. The fifties were the decade that made Audrey Hepburn a household name. Unlike the other starlets in the 50’s, she was not a teen idol, or just a name, she was an actress.

Five time Oscar nominee, and one time winner for her leading role in Roman Holiday, Hepburn became not only an actress but a leading lady in real life. Her humanitarian efforts brought hunger, and poverty to us, and she did something about it. Audrey Hepburn was a rare breed indeed.

Favorite Actresses of the 50’s ~ Bette Davis ~ #5

What favorite list of any decade would be complete without the immortal Bette Davis? From 1931 to 1989, Davis played in over 120 films. But in my opinion, her greatest role was that of Margo Channing in the 1950 classic, All About Eve.

Manipulative, deceptive and mysteriously charming, Bette Davis was the real Margo Channing. She controlled the screen and the role with such venom, it made you love her even more. At the end of the movie, you almost actually felt sorry for her. The role garnered her a 9th out of a career 11 Academy Award nominations, however she lost her bid for a third win that year due to the nominations being a split vote between her and her on screen nemesis, Anne Baxter and the award went to Judy Holliday in Born Yesterday, even though the film All About Eve won 6 out of it’s record 14 nominations.

Favorite Actresses of 50’s ~ Natalie Wood~ #6

From a child star to teen idol to adult actresses Natalie Wood will forever be etched in my mind as James Dean’s girl, Judy in Rebel Without a Cause, and of course as Maria in West Side Story.

Natalie played roles from the sweet little innocent girl to a stripper (Gypsy) and played them well. Unfortunately as she aged, her roles were limited and her performances were lackluster.

Natalie was nominated for three acting Oscars but never won. Ironically she won a Golden Globe in 1957 for Most Promising Female Newcomer, and she had already been making movies almost 15 years by then. Natalie was known as Hollywood’s bad girl in the 1950’s and she dated a slew of Hollywood elite, many of them older, such as her director on Rebel, Nicholas Ray, who according to the book Live Fast Die Young, also slept with James Dean. Natalie also dated Elvis Presley, Warren Beatty, Raymond Burr and Dennis Hopper.

Natalie married actor, Robert Wagner in 1957, They divorced in 1962, later to remarry. Natalie began work on Brainstorm in 1981 with Christopher Walken. She did not live to see it released. On November 29, 1981, she was sailing on the yacht she shared with her husband, Robert Wagner, and their friend Walken, when Natalie fell in the ocean while trying to board the dinghy tied up alongside the yacht and drowned. She was 43 years old.

Favorite Actresses of the 50’s ~ Lana Turner ~ #7

Turner’s film career began — so the story goes — when she was discovered sipping soda at the fountain in Schwab’s Drug Store. She was dubbed “The Sweater Girl” after an on screen appearance walking down the street in a tight skirt and sweater in the appropriately titled 1937 film, “They Won’t Forget.” A favorite pin-up girl during World War II, Turner embodied the beautiful blonde, passionate and troubled, with a shadowy past.

In real life, there were many shadows in Turner’s world. Her father was murdered, reputedly for gambling debts, when she was a child. She struggled with alcoholism all her life and had many famous and a few notorious boyfriends, including billionaire Howard Hughes, pretty-boy actor Tyrone Power, and Tarzan star Lex Barker. Turner eventually married seven times.
In 1958 Turner’s only child, Cheryl Crane, stabbed and killed Johnny Stompanato with a kitchen knife. Turner was trying to break off the relationship. The judge ruled justifiable homicide after hearing evidence of the violence and threats made by Stompanato. Despite the unstable environment of the Turner household, Cheryl was reunited with her mother.

Turner’s scandalous personal life played havoc with her professional advancement in the studio-driven image-conscious world of Hollywood. Her glamour girl reputation overshadowed her talent as an actress. Although directors were aware of her ability, the “women’s roles” Turner was so often type-cast in, prevented her from achieving the greatness many thought her capable of.

Turner’s most notable screen successes were as the “Ziegfeld Girl” (1941), gorgeous in feathers and a fan, as the steamy double-dealing housewife in “The Postman Always Rings Twice” (1946), and later in the noir classic, “Madame X” (1966). She was nominated for an Oscar as Best Actress for “Peyton Place” in 1957. My most favorite role of Lana’s was in 1959’s, Ironically titled “Imitation of Life”

Even after her original film glamour faded, Turner continued to act. She had a recurring role in the nighttime TV Soap Opera, “Falcon Crest” from 1981 to 1990. Until illness stopped her, she performed at dinner theaters around the country.

Her daughter, who grew up to write a book about her traumatic childhood and successful adulthood in partnership with her lesbian lover, was close to her mother in the final years. Cheryl was at her mother’s bedside when Lana Turner died.