My Top 10 Female Old Hollywood Icons

Today I would like to do a countdown of my favorite Old Hollywood females.    They are actresses who portrayed a lot of incredible characters, and even royal figures! 

Number 10: Gloria Swanson

 ~Swanson was an icon of the silent era of Old Hollywood.    She would famously become known to a new generation thanks to her turn as the aging star in Sunset Boulevard.   Her way of living was ahead of the curve, as she touted living a healthy lifestyle long before it became mainstream.

Number 9: Theda Bara

 ~Bara is remembered as Hollywood’s first Vamp!   In fact the term of “vamp” referring to a sexual femme fatale character began with Theda’s turn in the silent film A Fool There Was.   Sadly this is one of the only full length films we have left of her, as most of her films are now lost!

Number 8: Rita Hayworth

 ~Rita Hayworth is a great example of an actress who could play both light hearted comedy and film noir era femme fatales.    Her pairings with Fred Astaire are fun, but I prefer her in the darker roles.

Number 7: Bette Davis

 ~Bette Davis was a true Hollywood icon!   She could wield such power from a simple line, and was feisty and strong.    Yet there was still an ability to show vulnerability that made her acting multi-dimensional.    Until her death she was a Grand Dame of Hollywood, looked upon as a font of wisdom for newer generations of cinema stars! 

Number 6: Vivien Leigh

~Vivien Leigh was a true old Hollywood icon who was a British woman who is best remembered for her two southern belle characters.   First in 1939’s powerhouse Gone with the Wind and then in A Streetcar Named Desire!

Number 5: Sharon Tate

 ~Sharon Tate is an icon that is sadly most remembered for her tragic demise.    I have long absolutely adored her films, even before I was old enough to know of the Manson family and the Tate-LaBianca murders.   She was a bright and shining star who could deliver a powerful performance!   If she hadn’t met her tragic end she could have become one of the greatest of actresses.    She already had the raw talent.    Her story has long resonated with me, and I still enjoy her films (and watching her in them is both beautiful and melancholic).

Number 4: Clara Bow

 ~Clara Bow was an icon of the silent screen, and was literally the first “It Girl.”   The term “It Girl” actually referred to her character in the film It.   This is not the killer clown film, of course, but instead a silent romantic comedy.   “It” referred in the film to sex appeal!

Number 3: Marilyn Monroe

 ~Marilyn Monroe is one of the best known faces, even today.    She was much more than a pretty face, and was actually more talented (and definitely more intelligent) than she was ever given credit for.

Number 2: Elizabeth Taylor

 ~Elizabeth Taylor was simply a powerhouse actress.   In my opinion she was such an incredible actress that even in a sub-par movie, she could make it worth watching!    She had the amazing power to become a wide array of characters, but I favor her as powerful queens and Tennessee Williams characters!

Number 1: Jean Harlow

~Jean Harlow was the original blonde bombshell!   She also played characters who were in many ways throughly modern, and embraced being both beautiful and strong!   She also starred in one of the first self aware Hollywood parodies in 1933’s Bombshell!

Honorable Mention: Brigitte Bardot 

~I chose not to include Bardot in this list, as she is an actress who worked primarily in her native France.    However, she is a true icon of French cinema and the sexual revolution!    I adore her films, and she truly is my favorite French film icon!

~I hope you have enjoyed my list of favorite Old Hollywood females!    Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!