What would Hollywood be without all of its leading ladies? It’d certainly be less glamorous. Without the beauty, charm, and charisma that these talented women brought to the stage, the camera, and the microphone, we wouldn’t even have a fraction of all the entertainment classics that served as a foundation for what we have today. These starlets achieved icon status for a variety of reasons in their prime, but there’s a reason that we’re still talking about them today. Here is a rare collection of vintage photos of some of your favorite Hollywood starlets.
Some of them have been acting since childhood, just like the actress coming up who got three Oscar nominations before the age of 25!
Linda Harrison is best remembered for her role as Nova in 1968’s Planet of the Apes alongside Charlton Heston. She became such an icon for the franchise that she starred in the sequel Beneath the Planet of the Apes and even made a cameo in Tim Burton’s 2001 remake.
Harrison was also married to film producer Richard D. Zanuck, known for bringing films like Jaws and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to life.
Lynda Carter made her way into the hearts of Americans everywhere as Wonder Woman and her secret identity Diana Prince. For the latter half of the ’70s, Wonder Woman aired on ABC (and later, CBS) and was a huge hit.
Everyone remembers the very first episode in which two Amazons battle it out by shooting at each other, deflecting bullets with their bracelets. Of course, the tricky blonde one wins and once she removes her disguise, we are first introduced to Diana.
Here is the charming Natalie Wood having fun at her swimming pool in the backyard of her Los Angeles home back in 1957. By that time, she had already earned her first Academy Award nomination for her role as Judy in Rebel Without a Cause.
It was the first of three nominations received, all before reaching the age of 25! Wood started out as a child actress, most notably in the 1947 film Miracle on 34th Street.
It may have helped young Natalie to work with another ravishing actress, who is coming up on this list!
Remember Susan Anton? Time magazine named Anton one of the “Most Promising Faces of 1979,” despite the fact that she was relatively unknown at the time. Anton went from being a pageant queen (she was Miss California in 1969), to doing commercials (remember Muriel Cigars?), to getting her own variety show, Presenting Susan Anton.
She later went on to films such as Goldengirl, Spring Fever, and Cannonball Run II. She was also a singer whose biggest hit was 1980’s “Killin’ Time.”
For all of Audrey Hepburn’s exquisiteness, she did know how to kick back from time to time. Here she is laughing it up with a donkey on the set of 1955’s War and Peace. Hepburn starred in the film adaptation of the Tolstoy novel as Natasha Rostova, and was later nominated for both a BAFTA and a Golden Globe.
Hepburn loved animals, as evidenced by this photo. She even had a pet fawn named Pippin!
Maureen O’Hara was one of the last surviving starlets from Hollywood’s Golden Age. Her illustrious career is hallmarked not only by her fiery red hair, but also her frequent collaborations with director John Ford.
She also starred in plenty of films alongside her close friend John Wayne, the most popular of which has to be 1950’s Rio Grande. O’Hara played Kathleen Yorke, the estranged wife of Lieutenant Colonel Kirby Yorke, who was portrayed by John Wayne.
Coming up is an actress who might have a good answer to that question: “What one thing would you take with you on a deserted island?”
Pam Grier is regarded in Hollywood as one of the greatest female action heroines in history. Grier got her start acting in “blaxploitation” films of the 1970’s, playing bold, assertive female characters like in 1973’s Coffy, in which she played a revenge-seeking nurse who is after drug dealers.
She went on to play other iconic roles in Foxy Brown and Sheba, Baby, but didn’t get the recognition she long deserved until her starring role in Quentin Tarantino’s 1997 film Jackie Brown.
Margret Nolan was sort of a James Bond girl. Though she was up for the glittering role of Jill Masterson in 1964’s Goldfinger, she ultimately lost the part to Shirley Eaton. Nolan was given a smaller role of Dink, Bond’s masseuse, in the film.
Still, producers used Nolan as a model for the title sequence, ads, and soundtrack cover for the film. Nolan was painted gold and wore a red bikini for the shoots, so it’s not like she missed out entirely on that part.
Dawn Wells was the sweetheart of Gilligan’s Island. Wells played Mary Ann Summers, a farm girl from Wichita, Kansas. Mary Ann’s backstory was always ambiguous, and even in the theme song, she was referred to by name and not occupation like everyone else.
Wells was crowned Miss Nevada in 1959 and went on to represent Nevada at the 1960 Miss America pageant. Shortly after, she had several minor television roles before getting cast on Gilligan’s Island.
Soon you’ll see another actress whose screams are what helped her rise to stardom.
If you knew of Jaclyn Smith in 1977, you probably knew her as Kelly Garrett on Charlie’s Angels. Smith has the distinction as being the only original female lead to maintain her role for the entire duration of the series, which ran from 1976 to 1981.
Aside from her prolific acting career, Smith was also a businesswoman known for pioneering the concept of celebrities selling their own brands of clothes and perfumes. In 1985, Smith did this by entering a partnership with Kmart.
Back in the ’60s and ’70s, Wanda Ventham was as popular as her son, Benedict Cumberbatch, is now. Back then, Ventham was known for her roles as Colonel Virgina Lake in the British television series, UFO, and for her appearances in the long-running Doctor Who series.
In 2014, she and husband Timothy Carton played the parent of Sherlock Holmes in the BBC adaptation of Sherlock, which stars none other than her son, Benedict Cumberbatch.
Jamie Lee Curtis
Jamie Lee Curtis is the original scream queen. The daughter of Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh, Jamie Lee got her career started in 1970s horror flicks. Her most notable role was her film debut in 1978’s Halloween as Laurie Strode.
Curtis started to gain notoriety outside of the horror genre in 1983 when she acted in Trading Places alongside Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd. And she reprised the iconic Laurie Strode for the 2018 installment of Halloween!
While some actresses were known for their screams, others were known for being catty as you’ll soon see…
There are only a handful of celebrities who are so lucky to be known simply by their first name and Ann-Margret is one them. The actress is known for her roles in The Cincinnati Kid, Bye Bye Birdie, and Viva Las Vegas. This photo was taken on the set of Viva Las Vegas.
While filming Viva Las Vegas Ann-Margret was rumored to be in a romance with Elvis, which seemed fitting since the actress was known for her throaty voice and affinity for motorcycles.
Here is Catherine Bach on the set of The Dukes of Hazzard in 1980. Her shorts leave very little to the imagination and are quite fitting for Daisy Duke, which was Bach’s character on the show and the most memorable role of her career.
Daisy Duke was originally supposed to wear a tight turtleneck, go-go boots, and a poodle skirt, but Bach wanted to bring her own outfit. Though producers were concerned about the length of her shorts, it certainly worked out!
Julie Newmar entered American popular consciousness with her hourglass figure wrapped up in her svelte Catwoman costume for two seasons of the ’60s TV version of Batman. Newmar strategically placed Catwoman’s belt on her hips as opposed to her waist in order to accentuate her figure.
Before Batman, Newmar won a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play in the late ’50s. She won for her role as Katrin Sveg in The Marriage-Go-Round.
Coming up is another leading lady on this list who also got to play Catwoman!
Donna Summer rose in the 1970s as the Queen of Disco. Born LaDonna Adrian Gaines, Summer used the Anglicized version of her first husband’s name, Sommer. Summer was the first artist to have three consecutive double albums hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart and 14 No. 1 singles within a 12-month period.
Her hits include “Love to Love You Baby,” “Last Dance,” and “Hot Stuff.” It’s no wonder she’s won five Grammy Awards!
Vikki Dougan was the real-life Jessica Rabbit. She started out as a model with a prolific career, before taking on bit parts in films. In 1953, publicist Milton Weiss had the idea to boost Dougan’s name by having her wear custom-made backless dresses that showed off her figure.
Soon, it became her trademark, with people saying: “Vikki Dougan makes the best exits in town.” Nicknamed “The Back,” it was Dougan who inspired the voluptuous wife of Roger Rabbit.
Michelle Pfeiffer was still trying to make it as an actress in this photo from the set of B.A.D. Cats in 1980. Coincidentally, it was her role of Catwoman aka Selina Kyle in 1992’s Batman Returns that she started garnering critical acclaim.
Pfeiffer admitted that she needed to learn how to act and primarily cashed in on her looks in the beginning of her career. It wasn’t until she played wife Elvira Hancock in 1983’s Scarface that people started taking her seriously.
Many actresses start out as models, just like the one coming up who was reportedly paid $25 for a photo of her leg on a movie poster!
Raquel Welch played the title role in 1971’s Hannie Caulder. The international star redefined what it meant to be a sex symbol during the ’60s and ’70s. Welch was a bronzed, brunette, Italian force of nature, while Hollywood was rife with blonde bombshells.
Not only was she more exotic than other Hollywood starlets, but Welch also made a name for herself playing strong female characters during a time when Hollywood wanted its female stars in submissive roles.
Sheena Easton became known for her hit songs “Modern Girl” and “Morning Train (Nine to Five)” during the 1980s. She first came to prominence after being featured on an episode of The Big Time: Pop Singer, one of the first reality television programs in the United Kingdom.
Over the course of her career, Easton has won two of the six Grammys for which she was nominated. The first was “Best New Artist” in 1981.
Linda Gray was best known for her role as Sue Ellen Ewing on CBS’s Dallas, which ran from 1978 to 1989. The role earned her nominations for both the 1981 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series and two Golden Globes.
Before her iconic role, Gray started out as a model. You may have seen her on posters for The Graduate. Though it’s presumably Anne Bancroft’s legs in the photo, it is actually Gray who posed for it.
Can you guess who is the red-headed beauty coming up that has acted in over 60 films in less than 40 years?
Senta Berger is an Austrian actress with tremendous acting experience both on stage and in film. In 1962, she briefly came to Hollywood and went on to work with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Charlton Heston, John Wayne, Dean Martin, and others.
One of her more notable works is 1966’s Cast a Giant Shadow, in which she starred alongside Kirk Douglas. Berger played Magda Simon, a soldier in the Israeli army during Israel’s War of Independence in 1948.
Here is Faye Dunaway as Bonnie Parker in the 1967 film Bonnie and Clyde, based on the real-life criminals. Dunaway received her first Academy Award nomination for the role, and won a BAFTA for it.
Though she was also known for roles in The Arrangement, Chinatown, and Network (for which she won her first Oscar), she transitioned into more mature roles later in her career. Most notable was her controversial portrayal of Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest.
Rita Hayworth looks like she’s just recognized someone she knows in this restaurant photo, snapped in 1944. That was the same year she was the star of Cover Girl alongside Gene Kelly. Hayworth played Rusty in the Technicolor musical which is widely regarded as her greatest work.
Of course, Hayworth is one of the most legendary actresses of Hollywood’s Golden Age, starring in 61 films over 37 years of her career.
Coming up is an actress who is one of very few performers to achieve the Triple Crown of Acting!
This is a young Jessica Lange at the Cannes Film Festival in 1981. At the time, Lange was an up and coming actress who had already had considerable success in her film debut, 1976’s King Kong. She later went on to win the Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year for the role.
As Lange’s career progressed, she would become known for her roles in Tootsie, Frances, and Blue Sky, for which she won the Oscar for Best Actress.
Here is a young Angie Dickinson in 1955. At the time, Dickinson was just starting out in her career and primarily worked in television. Her acting debut was on an episode of Death Valley Days.
Dickinson would make her big-screen breakthrough a few years later in Rio Bravo. She played “Feathers,” a flirtatious gambler attracted to John Wayne’s character in the movie. Coincidentally, Wayne was one of Dickinson’s childhood friends!
Helen Mirren portrayed a loose woman in this photo from 1975. At the time, Mirren was primarily a stage actress who got her start with the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1967. Throughout her career, Mirren would transition from the stage to the camera and go on to become one of just a few performers who’ve achieved the Triple Crown of Acting.
She received an Oscar for 2006’s The Queen, an Emmy for British TV show Prime Suspect, and a Tony for The Audience.
You won’t believe the outfit that another “Dallas” star wore in a photo we’ll see soon.
Brigitte Bardot is the blonde bombshell of France, known internationally as a sex symbol during the ’50s and ’60s. It seems there’s nothing Badot can’t do – she’s billed as an actress, singer, dancer, and model extraordinaire — who later became a famed animal rights activist.
Bardot first gained international acclaim for the controversial 1957 film And God Created Woman. By 1973, Bardot had acted in 47 films and a handful of musicals and decided to retire to focus on animal rights.
Marilyn Monroe was also a sex symbol during the 1950s and perhaps the most iconic Hollywood starlet on this list. Born Norma Jeane Mortenson, the comic blonde bombshell was married and working at a munitions factory when she was discovered and told she should be a model.
She soon became one of the most popular female leads in Hollywood. Despite her outgoing nature, however, Monroe was reportedly shy as a child and those insecurities followed her into adulthood.
Victoria Principal is best remembered for her role as Pamela Ewing on Dallas. Over the nine years in the role, Principal was nominated for two Golden Globe Awards.
Though Principal had acted since the age of five in TV commercials, she intended to study medicine. But in her first year of college, Principal was seriously injured in a car accident. After recovering, instead of having to redo her first year of studies, she packed up for New York City to pursue acting!
Coming up is an actress who knows a little thing or two about dying for true love…
This is Bernadette Peters spotted at a New York City event in 1989. By then, Peters already had a significant and prolific career. Born Bernadette Lazzara in 1948, Peters was only nine when she gained an Actors Equity Card, using her father’s first name as her last name to avoid ethnic stereotyping.
Peters is best known for her stage work throughout the ’60s, before transitioning to film and television through the ’70s and returning to the stage in the ’80s.
If you don’t recognize Cassandra Peterson in this photo, you probably might if she were wearing a black wig, vampy goth makeup, and a revealing black gown. Peterson is best remembered for her character Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.
Peterson got her start as Elvira on KHJ-TV, a Los Angeles television station that aired her show, Elvira’s Movie Macabre. Peterson would host the weekly horror movie presentation dressed as Elvira and using her distinct “Valley girl” voice.
Olivia Hussey is a British actress who is best known for her role as Juliet in Franco Zeffirelli’s 1968 film version of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Hussey brought so much life to the role that it gave her international stardom, as well as a Golden Globe Award.
In 1977, she teamed up with Zeffirelli again to play Mary, Mother of Jesus in Jesus of Nazareth. That is only a scratch on the lens of what is Hussey’s prolific career.
“Game of Thrones” fans might be shocked to see an upcoming vintage photo of one of the show’s actresses!
Sophia Loren is yet another international star known for her hourglass figure and beautiful face. She was only 16 years old when she began acting in 1950, only deciding to do so at the suggestion she she take acting lessons after entering a beauty pageant.
Six years later, she hit the jackpot when she was signed to a five-picture contract with Paramount in 1956. It was all she needed to become an international star!
Tina Louise is best known for her role as Ginger Grant on Gilligan’s Island. The movie star was always glamming it up and name-dropping despite the fact that she was stranded and helpless on an island.
Before getting the role that made her famous, Grant started out as a pin-up model in Hollywood alongside Jayne Mansfield. The two were some of the most popular spokeswomen for the Frederick’s of Hollywood catalog!
Before she began playing Olenna Tyrell on Game of Thrones, Diana Rigg was one of the most popular British starlets of the ’60s. The renowned actress is best remembered for her role as Emma Peel in the late ’60s British series The Avengers.
You may not have ever heard of that television show, but if this actress still looks familiar, here’s why. Rigg went on to play Countess Teresa di Vicenzo, James Bond’s wife, in 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
Soon you’ll see a Hollywood legend who even got a show named after her!
Lauren Hutton is pictured in this photo attending the Academy Awards in 1975. Hutton, at this point, was already a top model who dabbled in acting. In the late ’60s, Hutton moved to New York City to pursue modeling but was initially dismissed by many agencies for the signature gap in her teeth.
Revlon saw beauty behind the distinctive gap and signed her to a $250,000 contract in 1973. Hutton continues to model despite the fact that she’s well into her seventies.
Italian native Gina Lollobrigida was one of the most prominent European actresses in the ’50s and ’60s. She was even sought out by Howard Hughes, who invited her to Hollywood in 1950. Lollobrigida insisted on staying in Europe, but still acted in American films filmed in Europe.
Later in her career, Lollobrigida became a photojournalist. The hallmark of that part of her career was when she somehow gained access to Fidel Castro for a shoot.
Doris Day is an undisputed Hollywood legend. Day got her start as a big band singer, finding her first hit with 1945’s “Sentimental Journey.” Considering her success as a performer, it wasn’t long before Day found herself on film.
Day’s film debut was in 1948’s Romance on the High Seas, which was just the first in her 20-year movie career. After Calamity Jane and a slew of other films, Day went on to star in CBS’s The Doris Day Show.
This is Anita Ekberg in the 1958 film noir Screaming Mimi. Ekberg stars in the film as Virginia Wilson aka Yolanda Lange, who gets attacked by a sanitorium escapee before being admitted herself.
Ekberg was a former Miss Sweden who became a famous European actress, primarily based in Italy. In America, she worked for Paramount Pictures. Due to her voluptuous figure and stunning good looks, Ekberg was sometimes billed as “Paramount’s Marilyn Monroe.”