And now it is time to delve into the world of famous divas of the Silver Screen, the role of the screen actress has changed dramatically over the formative years of cinema. Originally playing little more than an extra in the early movies, just supplying glamour to the lead actor. The modern actresses are as important as any member of the cast, and many of these screen goddesses are paid millions to star in a lead role. Here we look at some of the classic actresses that helped elevate the women’s role in cinema.
Lauren Bacall was one of cinemas first real sex symbols, men used to queue up outside cinemas to catch a glimpse of their heroine no matter what film she was in. Bacall’s fist starring role was when she was just 19 in Howard Hawk’s classic, To Have and to Have Not. It was during the making of this film that she met her future husband Humphrey Bogart, and they went on to co-star in a further three films, The Big Sleep, Key Largo and Dark Passage. She also starred alongside Kirk Douglas in Young Man with a Horn. Lauren Bacall’s sultry demeanor and stunning looks made her a huge star, and she was still making films in 2003.
Born in Sweden, Ingrid Bergman starred in some of the most iconic films in the 1940’s. It was the director, David Selznick who first saw Bergman in Intermezzo and took her to Hollywood. Many people recognise Bergman from the iconic war film Casablanca, where she too starred alongside Humphrey Bogart. Other films highlighted just how talented Bergman was, Spellbound, Notorious and Under Capricorn cemented the Swedish actress as one of the all-time greats. During her tenure, Ingrid Bergman won two Best Actress Oscars for the films Gaslight and Anastasia, and in 1974 she also won Best Supporting Actor for Murder on the Orient Express.
The American Film Institute nominated Bette Davis as Hollywood’s second ever greatest female star. Davis was best cast as a slightly deranged and unbalanced character, which suited her looks and demeanor. Bette Davis achieved her first Oscar for her role in the film Dangerous, and her second straight after in Jezebel. Her role as the terminally ill woman in Dark Victory won her wide acclaim from the film industry, Davis had made her mark in Hollywood. The 1940’s bought fame and fortune thick and fast to Davis, huge screen hits such as, The Letter and Voyager rocketed her up to one of the top actresses in the world.
Joan Crawford was a Texas girl and loved to portray independent young women, who achieved things in life through their own hard work and devotion. This was quite close to the mark in the America of the mid-twenties at the time. One of her greatest Co-Stars was Clark Gable and the pair took cinema theaters by storm, two of their greatest films was Dancing Lady and Possessed. Into the 1940’s, Joan Crawford’s popularity started to wane, and she started to diversify in the roles she played, this lead to cinema classics like, Mildred Pierce for which she won an Oscar. Perhaps her best ever role was in the blockbuster, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane.
These actresses were some of the very best that ever appeared on the big screen, each of them bought a unique identity to their roles and made many different types of films.