Over the years I’ve grown to love the Golden Age of cinema more and more. As my love for movies has matured, I’ve found myself appreciating film history and the great classics that came from that special time. I also discovered just how many beautiful actresses there were during that period. So I thought it would be cool to do a Phenomenal 5 that looked at the beautiful women of the Golden Age of movies. Talk about hard, this could easily be a Phenomenal 20 but you know the rules. As a point of clarity, by the Golden Age I’m referring to the end of the silent era all the way to the early to mid 60s. Now that’s a lot of years so obviously this isn’t the definitive list. But these five Golden Age actresses are without a doubt phenomenally beautiful.
#5 – DEBBIE REYNOLDS
There was always something so adorable about Debbie Reynolds. She had such pep and energy but she was also a beautiful actress. Now some may point to the fact that Reynolds made several movies past the Golden Age. I would counter that by saying the bulk of her best films came within that wonderful era. She made her first film in 1948 but it was “Singin’ in the Rain” from 1952 that made her a star. In this classic her beauty matches her song and dance skills as she steals one scene after another. She would go on to make 22 films throughout the 1950s and she seemed to get prettier with each one. Whether she was dancing alongside Gene Kelly in “Singin’ in the Rain” or roughing it on the frontier in “How the West was Won”, Debbie Reynolds was an astounding beauty.
#4 – MARILYN MONROE
Seriously, did you expect me to have a list of Golden Age beauties and not include Marilyn Monroe? For many, she is the first name to pop up when having a conversation about beautiful actresses. While I think you can debate Monroe’s acting abilities, there’s no denying that she was a gorgeous woman. In fact some believe her popularity as a major sex symbol was greater than her popularity as an actress. What ever the case, Marilyn Monroe became a cinematic icon and her beauty adorned magazine covers, wall calendars, and several great films including “The Seven Year Itch” and “Some Like it Hot”. Sadly Monroe died at the young age of 36 with so much ahead of her. But she left us with memories of one of the most beautiful women ever to grace the big screen.
#3 – GRACE KELLY
Not many women can say they had an opportunity to be a celebrated actress and a royal princess. Well Grace Kelly could and you can add ‘one of the most beautiful women in film history’ to the list as well. Kelly only appeared in eleven pictures but many became true classics. She appeared in two of my very favorite Alfred Hitchcock films “Dial M for Murder” and “Rear Window”. She also appeared in other wonderful movies such as “High Noon” and “To Catch a Thief”. Regardless of the movie, she was absolutely stunning and it’s hard to take your eyes off of her. She retired from acting at the early age of 26 and went to be the Princess of Monaco. She had a tragic end to her life but she left behind so many reminders of her great talents and her incredible beauty. There’s no way I could leave her off this list.
#2 – AUDREY HEPBURN
While she may not be one of the sexy blonde bombshells that took Hollywood by storm, to me Audrey Hepburn is one of the most beautiful actresses of her era or any era. It was easy to be attracted to Hepburn’s peppy and graceful charms on the screen. It was even easier to be mesmerized by her physical beauty – the dark hair, the big eyes, the darling smile. Her sprightly attitude fits perfectly with her glamorous appearance and throughout her movies you couldn’t help but be swept away by her presence. From her early films such as “Roman Holiday” and “Sabrina” to later Golden Age films like “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and “Charade”, Hepburn dazzled audiences during her amazing run. Some may downplay this choice, but I think Audrey Hepburn is nothing short of stunning.
#1 – INGRID BERGMAN
I still remember the first time I saw Ingrid Bergman in “Casablanca”. I thought she was one of the most beautiful women I had ever seen in the movies. Nothing has changed. I still feel the same way. Much like Kelly and Hepburn, Bergman had an undeniable grace and elegance to her. But she also had a beauty that could command and sometimes take over the screen. Her look wasn’t showy or overtly sexy like Monroe and others. The Swedish beauty possessed a subtle and natural allure. Don’t believe me? Well just watch her in “Casablanca”, “Gaslight”, and “Notorious”. Bergman would often times take on roles that would require her to hide her beauty. But even then you couldn’t help but recognize her as a gorgeous leading lady.
So there are my five choices. So many other beautiful Golden Age actresses come to mind. Who did I miss? Please take time to share your pick.
Found myself saying – yep, yep, yep… Can’t disagree with any of your choices and I’m not sure I’d even change the order. I think Grace Kelly had that radiant beauty that, alongside Marilyn Monroe, had the mystique and eventual legendary status thanks to their well publicized private lives and untimely, tragic deaths.
I think all five of these have what I call effortless beauty. They were just gorgeous women whose beauty really stood out on screen.
One thing these pics highlight is just how good black and white photography was, and how that “effortless beauty” exploded from the screen.
YES!!! I was talking about this same thing elsewhere. You’re so right!
women just don’t look like this anymore.
Nice list Keith, Kelly and Monroe do it for me here, they’re simply gorgeous. I’d probably also sling Lauren Bacall on there too.
Thanks man! I thought about early Bacall (especially since Bogart is my favorite actor EVER). Several others include Lana Turner, Kim Novak, Donna Reed, and Vivian Leigh
Yeah Kim Novak’s a winner, definitely. good call!
Another great list! 😀 Solid. All gorgeous–for sure! And I agree that Audrey is beautiful!
I will have to put Kathrine Hepburn up there. She may not be the “typical” beauty–but her intelligence, strength and confident presence makes her one of my all time favorites. Absolutely lovely.
All her movies are wonderful–my favs? Philadelphia Story–Adam’s Rib–Holiday–and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. If you haven’t seen them–they’re a good intro to the incomparable Ms. Hepburn.
Oh yes, Kate was great. The Philadelphia Story is the best romantic comedy ever (in my opinion). I’ll always love her most for African Queen!
Put me down for an Audrey Hepburn. I also second Lana Turner.
Wasn’t Audrey stunning? I swear she was a beautiful, beautiful woman!
All great choices, I’m something of a Marilyn fan and so I was pleased to see her on here 😀
Oh she has to be on here doesn’t she? Soooo beautiful!
Audrey Hepburn is stunning!!
Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes!!!!!!!
I checked this list out specifically to make sure to included Grace Kelly. And I would terrible things to Audrey Hepburn. Terrible, terrible things.
Grace Kelly? I would lose any ounce of the very little credibility I have if she wasn’t on the list! LOL!
Great picks, Keith! Grace Kelly would be my top choice, but these are all very beautiful actresses.
Oh I love them all. Grace was gorgeous. Just watching her in “Rear Window” is a joy!!!
Great list! 2 words – Grace Kelly. 🙂 ( and yeah, it is a joy to watch her in Rear Window )
I’m telling you bro, Grace Kelly is getting tons of love in the comments. Can’t say I disagree.
I like all of these though I’d probably swap Debbie Reynolds with Vivien Leigh, she’s soooo beautiful whilst Debbie is more like ‘cute’ to me. Glad to see Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn and Ingrid Bergman, those ladies are the epitome of beauty and grace. The thing with Kelly though, she’s almost TOO beautiful it’s distracting. That’s what I felt when I saw To Catch a Thief, even Cary Grant is not nearly as beautiful as she was.
Great comments. I did a lot of swapping around, moving ladies on and off the list, etc. Debbie stayed on the list mainly because of incredibly she aged. She seemed to get more beautiful! Funny you mentioned Vivian Leigh. She was VERY close to making this list. She was my wife’s clear #1!
My wife and I also talked about how my top three weren’t the buxom bombshells but beauty, grace, and elegance combined. I guess that’s what attracted to me to them.
Grace Kelly ❤ I can't believe Nicole Kidman is playing her, 10 years ago maybe it would work but now…January Jones isn't much of an actress but she would be a better choice.
I’m with ya. I’m not sold on Kidman as Kelly. Of course for me it would be hard for anyone to match Grace Kelly! 🙂
Excellent choices, and great tribute to some of the most beautiful women to ever grace the screen.
Thanks a bunch! There were so many gorgeous women during the Golden Age of cinema. I hated to leave some of the name off!
Great list, man. All very beautiful ladies. Monroe and Kelly are my favorites. I’d add Vivien Leigh.
Leigh is my wife’s very favorite! She let me know that Vivian should be tops on the list! lol
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Unbelievable … top three exactly as I would have picked ! So many to pick from … Vivien Leigh, Gene Tierney and something about Greer Garson (her eyes were always smiling) … Well done …
Thank you! You’re right though. So many to pick from. Lana Turner is another who I’ve always found to be simply beautiful. I could go on and on.
I would have picked Gene Tierney as number 1. Although the 5 choices posted are all beautiful, I feel that Gene’s bone structure and emerald eyes makes her shine above all.
Gene Tierney -Absolutely #1