2013 marks the 20-year anniversary of Audrey Hepburn’s death and her impact is as significant now as it ever has been. She has become idolised for her glamour as much as for her brilliant performances in several classic films; Breakfast at Tiffany’s and My Fair Lady are often considered to be two of the best ever films from their era, mainly thanks to Audrey’s stellar performances.
Despite living an ultimately tragic life, many agree with Fred Astaire’s statement that Judy Garland was “the greatest entertainer who ever lived". Judy showcased her legendary singing, dancing and acting talent in what is often described as one of the best ever films, The Wizard of Oz. She remained one of the greatest faces in Hollywood throughout her career.
If there has ever been a Hollywood idol, Marilyn Monroe is it. Completely adored by millions of people even today, Marilyn’s stunning good looks, sensual singing style and flirtatious performances have made her one of Hollywood’s everlasting legends. The actress starred in many commercially successful films throughout the 1950s and 1960s, though is perhaps most famously known for her sizzling role in Some like It Hot.
Considered by many to be the greatest actress of all time, Elizabeth Taylor is renowned for her daring roles and immaculate acting style. Known as famously for her jewels and marriages as well as her films, Elizabeth’s talent is perhaps most accurately captured in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and her leading role in Cleopatra.
Despite retiring from acting at the incredibly young age of 26, Grace Kelly is renowned for her impact upon Hollywood. She is one of the few actresses from the Golden Era to have won an Academy Award for a role that saw her play an understated woman rather than a global beauty (The Country Girl, 1954). After acting alongside some of the most famous actors of all time, including Clark Gable, Bing Crosby and Cary Grant, she is still adored for her work and her beauty.
Judi Dench is one of the few actresses who continues to make an impact both on stage and in front of the camera, never compromising her position and talent for either. Her portrayal of Lady Macbeth on stage has resulted in her being named as one of the greatest Shakespearean actresses of all time, and her rolling position as M in the Bond films came to a climax in her excellent performance in Skyfall.
Meryl Streep has become one of the most respected actresses of all time and is considered by many to be one of the greatest actors who have ever lived. She has been nominated for a total of 17 Academy Awards (and won three) and a plethora of other awards that recognise her legendary status. She is an actress able to work with any challenge and is known for her serious and humorous range of roles.
Perhaps best known for her roles in Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music, Julie Andrews epitomises an era of cinema that saw song and dance involved within epic productions. Despite damage to her throat limiting her vocal range, she is still regarded as one of the best all-round entertainers to have worked in cinema and is adored by children and adults alike.
Helen Mirren has become the go-to actress for difficult roles and complex storylines. While her role within Calendar Girls saw her portray an approachable and relatable character, her performances in The Queen, The Last Station, The Madness of King George and Gosford Park showcase her ability to take on more difficult (oft prickly and particular) characters, defined her as one of the most versatile actresses of all time.
The 78-year-old British actress is renowned for her performances on stage as well as on screen, and is perhaps one of Britain’s most loved actresses. She has become known for her roles as no-nonsense characters, particularly as the powerful witch Professor McGonagall in the Harry Potter films and as the Dowager Countess in TV series Downton Abbey. She is never better than when acting in period drama, and this is made evident by her numerous awards and nominations for her role as the Countess of Trentham in Gosford Park.
With every generation, new actresses are discovered and show potential to be seen as the iconic figures of their era. These actresses have already left a huge impact on the world of cinema and show no sign of relenting.
Kate Winslet became a global superstar in her role as Rose in one of the biggest selling movies of all time, Titanic. She has continued to work with challenging roles that push her to the very extremes and is renowned for her very ‘British’ acting style.
Anne Hathaway may have become known for her role in the Princess Diaries, but has recently taken on challenging characters that have seen her tested to her very limits. Playing Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises established her as a blockbuster beauty and her commitment in Les Miserables shows dedication to her art.
Helena Bonham Carter
Helena Bonham Carter is renowned for her bizarre characterisations and dark preferences in cinema, but her talent allows her to explore various different roles. In The King’s Speech, she plays an understated yet powerful character, though her role in Fight Club perhaps defines her daring career most successfully.
Natalie Portman first came to prominence on stage as she portrayed Anne Frank on Broadway, and has since become a staple of complicated cinema. Her role in the seminal film Black Swan earned her an Academy Award for best actress, and the Golden Globes. Should her career continue down this path, she is likely to become one of the greatest actresses of her generation.