What Happened To Golden Age Of Hollywood Icons After Their Heyday

The Golden Age of Hollywood was a magical time between the 1910s and 1960s that produced a lot of big-name stars. Actresses like Cary Grant and Elizabeth Taylor were international sensations.

But what happened to the stars after their heyday during the Golden Age of Hollywood? Keep reading to find out!

Bette Davis

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Warner Bros; Jim Smeal/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images
Warner Bros; Jim Smeal/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Two-time Academy Award-winning actress Bette Davis starred in multiple films throughout the Golden Age of Hollywood. Moving from the stage to the silver screen in the 1930s, Davis found herself starring in films such as Of Human Bondage, Jezebel, and Dark Victory.

Davis’ last performance was in the dark comedy Wicked Stepmother. The actress passed away in 1989.

Cary Grant

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Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer; Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer; Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

From the 1930s until the 1960s, Cary Grant was one of the Golden Age’s leading men. Some of his more notable projects during that time were The Philadelphia Story, North By Northwest, and None but the Lonely Heart.

In his later years, Grant strayed away from film, opting to tour the country in a one-man show called A Conversation with Cary Grant. He passed away in 1986.

Rita Hayworth

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Columbia Pictures; Ron Eisenberg/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Columbia Pictures; Ron Eisenberg/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Rita Hayworth was one of the most glamorous actresses of the 1940s, becoming a top pin-up girl for soldiers during World War II and starring in films such as Gilda, Only Angels Have Wings and Cover Girl.

Sadly, Hayworth was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease in 1980 and passed away a few years later, in 1987. Her last performance was as Señora De La Plata in the 1972 film The Wrath of God.

Humphrey Bogart

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Warner Bros; Earl Leaf/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Warner Bros; Earl Leaf/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

With his numerous performances during the Golden Age of Hollywood, Humphrey Bogart is considered one of the greatest male actors of his time. And with projects such as Casablanca, To Have and Have Not, and Dark Passage, it’s not hard to see why.

He stayed in Hollywood throughout his life, starring in the films The Barefoot Contessa and Sabrina before his death in 1957.

Gene Kelly

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Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer; Kypros/Getty Images
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer; Kypros/Getty Images

Gene Kelly was known for his energetic acting style, dancing, and popular films made throughout the Golden Age of Hollywood. Some of his most notable roles include Don Lockwood in Singin’ in the Rain, Joe Brady in Anchors Aweigh, and Harry Palmer in For Me and My Gal.

His last project was the 1991 animated musical Cats Don’t Dance, for which he did the choreography. Kelly passed away in 1996.

Catherine Deneuve

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Les Films Paramount; Pierre Suu/Getty Images
Les Films Paramount; Pierre Suu/Getty Images

Catherine Deneuve is considered one of the best European actors, having starred in multiple films throughout her career, primarily playing the mysterious and aloof women in projects such as Benjamin.

The French actress is still very involved in the entertainment industry, having appeared in many projects, modeling gigs, and even releasing a few music samples.

Katharine Hepburn

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Sunset Boulevard/Getty Images; Michael Brennan/Getty Images
Sunset Boulevard/Getty Images; Michael Brennan/Getty Images

Katharine Hepburn’s Hollywood breakthrough came in 1932 when she starred in the film A Bill of Divorcement. From there, she appeared in numerous other pictures, including Little Women, The Philadelphia Story, and Morning Glory, for which she won an Academy Award.

Hepburn continued to appear in projects later in her life, with her last appeared being in the television film One Christmas. She passed away in 2003.

Ingrid Bergman

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Warner Bros; Tom Wargacki/WireImage
Warner Bros; Tom Wargacki/WireImage

During her long career, Ingrid Bergman won numerous awards for her performances, including three Academy Awards, two Primetime Emmys, four Golden Globes, and more. Some of her more famous roles include Casablanca, Gaslight, and Joan of Arc.

Bergman never slowed down, appearing in projects such as the television miniseries A Woman Called Golda up until her death in 1982.

Britt Ekland

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Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer; Jeff Spicer/Getty Images for EON Productions, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, and Universal Pictures
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer; Jeff Spicer/Getty Images for EON Productions, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, and Universal Pictures

Actress Britt Ekland became famous overnight after her marriage to actor Peter Sellers. From there, she appeared in numerous films, including Machine Gun McCain and The Night They Raided Minsky’s during the Golden Age of Hollywood.

Now, Ekland can be seen primarily on the small screen. In 2020, she appeared in season four of the travel documentary series The Real Marigold Hotel.

Debbie Reynolds

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Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer; Earl Gibson III/WireImage
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer; Earl Gibson III/WireImage

Actress Debbie Reynolds broke through Hollywood during the Golden Age, snagging the lead role in Singin’ in the Rain. From there, she starred in numerous films including How The West was Won.

In the early 2000s, Reynolds gained new, younger fans with her role in the Halloweentown series. Then, in 2016, an HBO documentary starring Reynolds and her daughter Carrie Fischer was released; Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. Reynolds passed away in 2016.

Linda Harrison

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Twentieth Century Fox; Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images
Twentieth Century Fox; Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images

Actress Linda Harrison gained international recognition when she starred as Nova in Planet of the Apes. She even reprised her role in Beneath the Planet of the Apes.

While none of her projects were ever nearly as popular, Harrison still found herself in various films throughout her career. In 2021, she played the role of Quinia Brutus in Midnight Massacre.

Kirk Douglas

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Walt Disney Pictures; Harry Langdon/Getty Images
Walt Disney Pictures; Harry Langdon/Getty Images

Kirk Douglas made his film debut in the 1946 movie The Strange Love of Martha Ivers. From there, his face was a prominent fixture in the Golden Age of Hollywood as he starred in films such as Detective Story, Champion, and Spartacus.

He continued to appear in projects during his later years, with his last performance being the television movie Empire State Building Murders. Douglas passed away in 2020 at the age of 103.

Grace Kelly

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Paramount Pictures; Slim Aarons/Getty Images
Paramount Pictures; Slim Aarons/Getty Images

While Grace Kelly might be known for marrying the Prince of Monaco, she was also one of the big faces during the Golden Age of Hollywood. An Academy Award-winning actress, Kelly starred in critically acclaimed films such as The Country Girl, Rear Window, and Mogambo.

Her last performance was in the 1956 film High Society. After the cameras stopped rolling, she retired and became the Princess of Monaco until her death in 1982.

Shirley Eaton

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Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer; David M. Benett/Getty Images
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer; David M. Benett/Getty Images

Shirley Eaton was an actress in the 1950s and 1960s, best known for her role as Bond Girl Jill Masterson in Goldfinger. Instead of pursuing a long career in Hollywood, Eaton opted to retire early, in 1969, to raise a family.

During retirement, Eaton wrote an autobiography called Golden Girl, a picture book of Goldfinger set photos called Golden Girl Shirley Eaton: Her Reflections, and a book full of her artwork and sculptures called Shirley Eaton, Bond’s Golden Girl.

Fred Astaire

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Columbia Pictures; Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images
Columbia Pictures; Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Widely considered one of the greatest onscreen dancers in cinematic history, Fred Astaire starred in multiple films throughout the Golden Age of Hollywood. Some of his more popular films include Sing Time, Funny Face, and Shall We Dance.

He continued on in Hollywood throughout his life, with his last performance being the 1981 film Ghost Story. Astaire passed away in 1987.

Elizabeth Taylor

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Twentieth Century Fox; Kevin Mazur/WireImage
Twentieth Century Fox; Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Elizabeth Taylor is arguably one of the best-known actresses to come out of the Golden Age of Hollywood. She starred in numerous critically acclaimed films, such as Cleopatra, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. The latter won her an Academy Award for Best Actress.

Her last public performance before retirement was in 2007, in the play Love Letters opposite James Earl Jones. Taylor passed away in 2011.

Nancy Sinatra

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GAB Archive/Redferns; David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images
GAB Archive/Redferns; David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images

The eldest daughter of Frank Sinatra, Nancy Sinatra followed in her father’s footsteps into the entertainment industry. Both a singer and an actress, Nancy found herself with a number one hit in “These Boots Are Made for Walkin'” as well as starring in films such as The Wild Angels.

In 2020, she launched an online shop called Nancy’s Bootique, starred in the documentary Jay Sebring…Cutting to the Truth, and announced the release of some archived music.

Mickey Rooney

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Archive Photos/Getty Images; L. Cohen/WireImage
Archive Photos/Getty Images; L. Cohen/WireImage

From 1939 to 1941, Mickey Rooney was a huge box office draw. He starred in numerous films during that time, including Love Finds Andy Hardy, Thoroughbreds Don’t Cry, and National Velvet.

After his stardom during the Golden Age, Rooney served in the United States Army during World War II. After the war, he returned to Hollywood, appearing in numerous children’s movies like Night at the Museum and The Muppets. He passed away in 2014.

Dean Martin

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Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images; Denny Keeler/Getty Images
Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images; Denny Keeler/Getty Images

“The King of Cool” Dean Martin was one of the “it guys” during the Golden Age of Hollywood. Part of the Rat Pack, Martin was a well-known singer and actor, hosting his own variety show and starring in films such as My Friend Irma, The Caddy, and Road to Bali.

Martin continued to perform with the Rat Pack later in his career but finally stepped down in 1991. He passed away four years later.

Monique Van Vooren

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Bettmann/CORBIS/Bettmann Archive; Walter McBride/WireImage
Bettmann/CORBIS/Bettmann Archive; Walter McBride/WireImage

Monique van Vooren is a Belgian-American actress who started her career on Broadway during the 1950s. Some of her more prolific roles included Man on the Moon and John Murray Anderson’s Almanac.

Her film career took off during the ’50s and ’60s, too, with her performances in movies and television shows such as Tarzan and the She-Devil, Happy Anniversary, and The United States Steel Hour. Van Vooren passed away in 2020.

Vivien Leigh

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Warner Bros; Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images
Warner Bros; Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

Vivien Leigh is arguably one of the better-known actresses to come out of the Golden Age of Hollywood, thanks to her performance as Scarlett O’Hara in the period drama Gone with the Wind.

She continued to perform in Hollywood and on the stage for the remainder of her life, with her last onscreen performance being the 1965 film Ship of Fools.

James Dean

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Warner Bros; Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Warner Bros; Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Actor James Dean was a cultural icon during the Golden Age of Hollywood, especially with socially rebellious teenagers. He was even popular with critics! His films Rebel Without a Cause, East of Eden, and Giant were all widely praised upon their release.

Sadly, Dean passed away in a car crash in 1955, with his last film appearance being Giant.

Orson Welles

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RKO Radio Pictures; PIERRE GUILLAUD/AFP via Getty Images
RKO Radio Pictures; PIERRE GUILLAUD/AFP via Getty Images

Orson Welles might be best-known for his role as Charles Foster Kane in Citizen Kane, but he did a lot more with his life after his career during the Golden Age of Hollywood. He performed in and made numerous films, resulting in Welles being considered one of the greatest and most influential filmmakers ever.

After 50 years of development, Welles’s final film was in 2018, The Other Side of the Wind.

Judy Garland

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Warner Bros; Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images
Warner Bros; Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

Judy Garland had a critically acclaimed career spanning over 45 years, a lot of which were in the Golden Age of Hollywood with titles such as The Wizard of Oz, Meet Me in St. Louis, and A Star is Born.

Later in her life, Garland moved over to television and more singing-related projects, hosting The Judy Garland Show on CBS and performing at concerts such as the iconic one at Carnegie Hall. Garland passed away in 1969.

Ava Gardner

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International Film Distributors; Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
International Film Distributors; Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

After her starlit career during the Golden Age of Hollywood in films such as Mogambo, The Night of the Iguana, and The Barefoot Contessa, Ava Gardner continued on in Hollywood until the 1980s.

That decade she starred in three films, with her last one being Regina Roma. After the film, she stepped away from Hollywood and the spotlight. Gardner passed away in 1990.

Marlon Brando

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20th Century Fox; Vinnie Zuffante/Getty Images
20th Century Fox; Vinnie Zuffante/Getty Images

In 1951, Marlon Brando made his first on-screen appearance in A Streetcar Named Desire. From there, he became one of the big stars of the Golden Age. Unfortunately, his career to a turn when the Golden Age came to an end.

His box office numbers began to dwindle in the early 1970s before his resurgence as the Don in The Godfather. Brando’s final film was the 2001 movie The Score. He passed away three years later, in 2004.

Hedy Lamarr

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Paramount Pictures; Tom Wargacki/WireImage
Paramount Pictures; Tom Wargacki/WireImage

Hedy Lamarr became a meg-star with her performances throughout the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s with projects such as Algiers, The Female Animal, and The Strange Woman. After the Golden Age, things kind of went downhill for Lamarr.

She became secluded, not bothering to accept roles even though scripts were sent to her door. By the time of her death in 2000, Lamarr was only talking to people via telephone.

Laurence Olivier

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United Artists; Bryn Colton/Getty Images
United Artists; Bryn Colton/Getty Images

Laurence Olivier might have started off as an accomplished stage actor, but he made a name for himself during the Golden Age of Hollywood, appearing in numerous critically acclaimed movies.

Later in life, he went back to the stage as well as offering his voice for documentary narrations, most notably the 1973 26-episode documentary The World at War. Olivier passed away in 1989.

Joan Crawford

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Bert Six/John Kobal Foundation/Getty Images; Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Bert Six/John Kobal Foundation/Getty Images; Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

During the Golden Age of Hollywood, Joan Crawford went from being one of the highest-paid actresses to being deemed “box office poison.” Even so, it did not stop her from pursuing a long career in front of the camera.

But she only appeared in one film after that age of Hollywood ended, Trog, a 1970 sci-fi film where she played Dr. Brockton. She also published a book a year later, My Way of Life. Crawford passed away in 1977, three years after her final public appearance.

Jean Harlow

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Bettmann/Getty Images; Bettmann/Getty Images
Bettmann/Getty Images; Bettmann/Getty Images

One of the biggest stars of classic Hollywood cinema is Jean Harlow. Known for her onscreen “vamp” persona, Harlow starred in numerous films throughout the Golden Age, including Hell’s Angels, Reckless, and Suzy.

Sadly, she never really made it out of the Golden Age, becoming ill while filming Saratoga and passing away in 1937.

Doris Day

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Warner Bros; Jim Smeal/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images
Warner Bros; Jim Smeal/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Doris Day was one of the biggest stars in Hollywood, playing roles such as the title role in Calamity Jane and Jo Conway McKenna in The Man Who Knew too Much.

She retired from film in 1968 and moved on to television, where she hosted her own show, The Doris Day Show. Aside from entertainment, Day was actively involved in animal rights, founding the Doris Day Animal Foundation in 1978. She passed away in 2019.