I love the Academy Awards but they can also often times be the most frustrating things. Looking back on the history of motion picture’s biggest awards there are always those winners that leave you shaking your head. But there have also been some glaring snubs. I thought it would be nice to look at 5 great actresses that have never won an Academy Award. Now it’s important to note that I’m not counting lifetime achievement Oscars (Oscars awarded apologetically to deserving performers who never received one during their career). These are ladies who never received a Best Actress or Best Supporting Actress Oscar but who certainly deserved to. Now there are several that deserve to be mentioned so this isn’t the definitive list. But there is no denying that these five wonderful actresses are nothing short of phenomenal.


Deborah Kerr was a wonderful performer who received an amazing 6 Oscar nominations but yet never won the award. This lovely Scottish actress starred in many films in both England and the United States. She’s perhaps best known for her performances in “An Affair to Remember” with Cary Grant, “The King and I” with Yul Brynner, and “From Here to Eternity” with Burt Lancaster. But she also did great work in “Separate Tables”, “King Solomon’s Mines”, “The Sundowners”, and my personal favorite film of her’s “Black Narcissus”. When you look back on Deborah Kerr’s body of work, it’s truly amazing that she never won at least one Academy Award.


This Irish redhead had a penchant for playing tough fiery women. Her career started it the Hitchcock film “Jamaica Inn”. She later played roles in “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and in John Ford’s Oscar winner “How Green Was My Valley”. She would go on to star in several other of Ford’s pictures opposite of John Wayne including “Rio Grande” and “The Wings of Eagles”. She would team up with Wayne in other well-known features including “McLintock!”, “Big Jake”, and of course “The Quiet Man”. But O’Hara is probably best known for her wonderful performance in the Christmas classic “Miracle on 34th Street”. Maureen O’Hara starred in a lot of sub-par pictures but she was almost always good and there are some of her performances that were simply fantastic.


Judy Garland was an amazing entertainer known both for her incredible singing voice and sharp acting chops. It’s a shame that her personal story is one of the saddest in Hollywood history. Garland will forever be remembered for her role of Dorothy in 1939’s “The Wizard of Oz”. But she also gave many other memorable performances in films such as “Babes in Arms”, “Meet Me in St. Louis”, and “The Harvey Girls”. Sadly, personal demons caused several problems for her career. But after to trying to get her issues under control, she returned to film with the exceptional “A Star is Born” and “Judgement at Nuremburg”. She only managed a couple more movies before she died at the age of 47. There is no telling how many more wonderful films she could have made if her difficult life had not caught up with her.


An accomplished actress who was nominated for four Academy Awards, Barabara Stanwyck was an underappreciated performer who never received the Oscar prize she was due. Stanwyck played a wide assortment of roles dating all the way back to 1929 and she starred opposite of some of Hollywood’s leading men including Clark Gable, Henry Fonda, Gary Cooper, and Humphrey Bogart. She gave strong performances in the films such as “Stella Dallas”, “Sorry. Wrong Number”, “Christmas in Connecticut”, and the underrated “The Two Mrs. Carrolls”. But it was her work in the spectacular “Double Indemnity” that really drew me to this wonderful actress. She was simply fantastic and it’s a shame that she didn’t get her due until later.


Greta Garbo’s career dates back to the silent movie era but her greatness onscreen really showed itself later. Surprisingly, Garbo made less that 30 feature films but in that short time she gave some incredible performances. She received four Oscar nominations including two in 1930 for “Romance” and “Anna Christie”, her first “talkie”. But my favorite performance from Garbo came in 1932’s “Grand Hotel”. Before retiring she would deliver several other fine performances in “Anna Karenina”, “Camille”, and the comedy “Ninotchka”. Garbo had amazing acting skills and a stunning screen presence. Greta Garbo never liked publicity and when she retired she stayed far away from the spotlight. But she left us with some great performances and it’s incredible that she never won an Academy Award.

There are several wonderful actresses that didn’t make this list. Do you agree with my picks or are there others you would choose? Please take time to share your thoughts.


  1. I’m embarrassed to say the only actress I recognize on this list is Judy Garland (who I’m surprised she hasn’t won an Oscar!). These women look like wonderful performers – which film would you recommend I see first?

    • Thanks a lot. The actors will get their props in the coming weeks. If I were you, I would check out “Double Indemnity” first. It is a wonderful picture. I also love Garbo’s “Grand Hotel” and Kerr’s “Black Narcissus”. Give them a watch. I would love here your take on them.

  2. Excellent choices. It really is astonishing that such greats as Kerr, Stanwyck, and Garbo never won; they gave such consistently superb performances. Other actresses who also never won awards and deserved them are Doris Day, Sylvia Sidney, and Ann Harding.

  3. I’m still mesmerized by Deborah Kerr’s performance in “Edward My Son”. The span of that role still haunts me. As least she was nominated for it. I’m glad of that.

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