The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has honored and recognized outstanding cinema achievements since 1929, but believe it or not, some of Hollywood’s greatest stars have never won the big award. Who would have thought that legendary Greta Garbo or Marlene Dietrich never won an Oscar? And the list continues with Irene Dunne, Marilyn Monroe, Brigitte Bardot, Angela Lansbury, Natalie Wood, Meg Ryan, Eleanor Parker, Bette Midler and many more. Here is my Top 10 list of remarkable actresses who were never awarded a competitive Academy Award:
10. Judy Garland
In a career that spanned over four decades, talented Judy Garland performed in more than forty movies. She rose to international stardom portraying Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz and has been since then nominated for numerous awards, including Golden Globe’s, Emmy’s, BAFTA’s and Academy Awards, but has never taken home an Oscar, except an honorary one. AMPAS decided in 1940 to award the Juvenile Award to Judy “for her outstanding performance as a screen juvenile”.
“When she sang, God spoke”, said Whoopi Goldberg. Judy Garland will not be remembered only for her outstanding performances in classic films such as “A Star is Born”, “Meet Me in St. Louis” or “Easter Parade”, but also for her unique voice. Harold Arlen composed what was to be one of Judy’s greatest signature songs: “Over the Rainbow”. Among her hit recordings were “Dear Mr. Gable: You Made Me Love You”, “The Trolley Song”, “For Me and My Gal”, “Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart“ etc.
Judy Garland – Oscar Nominations
1962, Best Actress in a Supporting Role – as Mrs. Irene Hoffman Wallner in Judgment at Nuremberg. Lost to Rita Moreno as Anita in West Side Story
1955, Best Actress in a Leading Role – as Vicki Lester in A Star Is Born. Lost to Grace Kelly as Georgie Elgin in The Country Girl
1940, Honorary Academy Award (Juvenile Award)
9. Julianne Moore
Julianne Moore started her acting career 28 years ago with several minor television and film roles. Her breakout roles as leading actress came during the early 1990s. The Fugitive, Short Cuts, and Boogie Nights brought her international attention. Moore’s successful career continued to gain momentum with substantial roles in movies such as The End of the Affair, Magnolia, Far from Heaven and The Hours. Most recently, the actress starred in 2010’s The Kids Are All Right, one of the most well-received films of the past year.
Julianne Moore won several major awards and has been nominated throughout her acting career for three BAFTA’s, four Saturn Awards, six Golden Globes and five Screen Actors Guild awards. Moore has also had four Oscar nominations, but no wins.
Julianne Moore – Oscar Nominations
2003, Best Actress in a Leading Role – as Cathy Whitaker in Far from Heaven. Lost Nicole Kidman as Virginia Woolf in The Hours.
2003, Best Actress in a Supporting Role – as Laura Brown in The Hours. Lost to Catherine Zeta-Jones as Velma Kelly in Chicago.
2000, Actress in a Leading Role – as Sarah Miles in The End of the Affair. Lost to Hilary Swank as Brandon Teena in Boys Don’t Cry.
1998, Best Actress in a Supporting Role – as Amber Waves in Boogie Nights. Lost to Kim Basinger as Lynn Bracken in L.A. Confidential.
8. Rosalind Russell
There’s no doubt that Rosalind Russel was one of the greatest actresses of her time, on both screen and stage. She has been awarded five Golden Globes, Tony Awards, a Golden Apple Award and many other prestigious trophies. Despite being nominated four times, the Academy has never chosen her as a winner.
Perhaps Russell’s most memorable performances were as newspaper reporter in “His Girl Friday” and as bohemian Mame Dennis in “Auntie Mame”. Although “Auntie Mame” was released in 1958, it remains a cinematic masterpiece for all to enjoy. Roz Russell should have won an Academy Award for the role of her lifetime!
Rosalind Russell – Oscar Nominations
1959, Best Actress in a Leading Role – as Mame Dennis in Auntie Mame. Lost to Susan Hayward as Barbara Graham in I Want to Live!
1948, Best Actress in a Leading Role – as Lavinia Mannon in Mourning Becomes Electra. Lost to Loretta Young as Katrin Holstrom in The Farmer’s Daughter.
1947, Best Actress in a Leading Role – as Elizabeth Kenny in Sister Kenny. Lost to Olivia de Havilland as Miss Josephine Norris in To Each His Own.
1943, Best Actress in a Leading Role – as Ruth Sherwood in My Sister Eileen. Lost to Greer Garson as Mrs. Miniver in Mrs. Miniver.
7. Glenn Close
‘Oscar-less’, yet successful actress, singer and producer Glenn Close is another of Hollywood’s most celebrated personalities. She is famous for her complex roles as femme fatale in Dangerous Liaisons – Marquise de Merteuil – and as sick twisted stalker in Fatal Attraction. Glenn Close also played Cruella de Vil in 101 Dalmatians and its sequel 102 Dalmatians. A list of her awards and nominations would be too long to enumerate here. Glenn has won many awards but never an Academy Award.
Glenn Close – Oscar Nominations
1989, Best Actress in a Leading Role – as Marquise Isabelle de Merteuil in Dangerous Liaisons. Lost to Jody Foster as Sarah Tobias in The Accused.
1988, Best Actress in a Leading Role – as Alex Forrest in Fatal Attraction. Lost to Cher as Loretta Castorini in Moonstruck.
1985, Best Actress in a Supporting Role – as Iris Gaines in The Natural. Lost to Peggy Ashcroft as Mrs. Moore in A Passage to India.
1984, Best Actress in a Supporting Role – as Sarah Cooper in The Big Chill. Lost to Linda Hunt as Billy Kwan in The Year of Living Dangerously.
1983, Best Actress in a Supporting Role – as Jenny Fields in The World According to Garp. Lost to Jessica Lange in Tootsie.
6. Barbara Stanwyck
Barbara Stanwyck acted in more than 90 movies since her debut in 1927. She was admired by Hollywood directors and producers for her professionalism, outstanding grace and beauty. The actress became very quickly a popular leading lady in America’s cinema industry, starring in a series of successful romantic comedies, westerns and film noir classics. Movies such as “Double Indemnity”, “Stella Dallas” or “Ball of Fire” were some of the best films to ever grace the silver screen. Although Barbara Stanwyck never won a competitive Oscar, the Academy awarder her an Honorary Award in 1982 “for superlative creativity and unique contribution to the art of screen acting.”
Barbara Stanwyck – Oscar Nominations
1949, Best Actress in a Leading Role – as Leona Stevenson in Sorry, Wrong Number. Lost to Jane Wyman as Belinda McDonald in Johnny Belinda.
1945, Best Actress in a Leading Role – as Phyllis Dietrichson in Double Indemnity. Lost to Ingrid Bergman Paula Alquist in Gaslight.
1942, Best Actress in a Leading Role – as Sugarpuss O’Shea in Ball of Fire. Lost to Joan Fontaine as Lina in Suspicion.
1938, Best Actress in a Leading Role – as Stella Martin ‘Stell’ Dallas in Stella Dallas. Lost to Luise Rainer as O’Lan in The Good Earth.
5. Michelle Pfeiffer
Chosen by Empire magazine as one of the “100 Movie Stars of All Time” and by People magazine as one of the “50 most beautiful people in the world”, Michelle Pfeiffer rose to stardom during the 1980s and early 1990s with leading roles in “Scarface”, “Dangerous Liaisons”, “The Fabulous Baker Boys”, “Married to the Mob”, “Love Field” etc. Michelle has been Oscar-nominated for three of these movies, but she’s never laid her hands on an Academy Award.
Michelle Pfeiffer – Oscar nominations
1993, Best Actress in a Leading Role – as Lurene Hallett in Love Field. Lost to Emma Thompson as Margaret Schlegel in Howard’s End.
1990, Best Actress in a Leading Role – as Susie Diamond in The Fabulous Baker Boys. Lost to Jessica Tandy as Daisy Werthan in Driving Miss Daisy.
1989, Best Actress in a Supporting Role – as Madame de Tourvel in Dangerous Liaisons. Lost to Geena Davis as Muriel Pritchett in The Accidental Tourist.
4. Thelma Ritter
Thelma Ritter began her acting career at the age of forty in the 1946 “Miracle on 34th Street”. She was a popular supporting actress, probably best known for portraying street smart characters with a sarcastic sense of humor. Thelma Ritter was six times nominated for an Oscar, zero wins. Although her career lasted only twenty years, Thelma Ritter is widely acknowledged for her performances in award winning movies.
Thelma Ritter – Oscar Nominations
1963, Best Actress in a Supporting Role – as Elizabeth Stroud in Birdman of Alcatraz. Lost to Patty Duke as Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker.
1960, Best Actress in a Supporting Role – as Alma in Pillow Talk. Lost to Shelley Winters as Mrs. Petronella Van Daan in The Diary of Anne Frank.
1954, Best Actress in a Supporting Role – as Moe Williams in Pickup on South Street. Lost to Donna Reed as Alma “Lorene” Burke in From Here to Eternity.
1953, Best Actress in a Supporting Role – as Clancy in With a Song in My Heart. Lost to Gloria Grahame as Rosemary in The Bad and the Beautiful.
1952, Best Actress in a Supporting Role – as Ellen McNulty in The Mating Season. Lost to Kim Hunter as Stella Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire.
1951, Best Actress in a Supporting Role – as Birdie Coonan in All About Eve. Lost to Josephine Hull as Veta Louise Simmone in Harvey.
3. Marlene Dietrich
Famous film director Josef von Sternberg is credited with discovering Marlene Dietrich. It was the scandalous role of vamp Lola in Sternberg’s “Blue Angel” that catapulted her to fame. Hollywood producers took advantage of the German’s image as glamorous femme fatal and offered her title roles in movies such as “Morocco”, “Shanghai Express”, “The Scarlett Empress”, “The Devil is a Woman”, “Touch of Evil” and “Desire”. Marlene soon became the screen’s highest-paid actress. This legendary actress continues to fascinate and inspire generations after generations. She was the epitome of pure sophistication and timeless elegance. Although Marlene Dietrich received the industry’s highest accolades for outstanding acting, she was never awarded an Oscar.
Marlene Dietrich – Oscar Nominations
1931, Best Actress in a Leading Role – as Mademoiselle Amy Jolly in Morocco. Lost to Marie Dressler as Min Divot in Min and Bill.
2. Greta Garbo
The American Film Institute named Greta Garbo the 5th greatest female stars of all time, after Katharine Hepburn, Bette Davis, Audrey Hepburn, and Ingrid Bergman. Of all the stars, none has radiated the magnetism of Greta Garbo. After performing in 27 movies, the Hollywood diva mysteriously abandoned the screen when she was only 36. Greta Garbo was one of the few silent movie actresses who made a successful transition to sound. Anna Christie (1930) was her first sound film. Garbo was nominated as Best Actress for both Anna Christie and Madame Rita Cavallini in 1930. She didn’t win any of the four nominations, but was given the Honorary Award in 1955.
Greta Garbo – Oscar Nominations
1955, Honorary Academy Award “For her unforgettable screen performances.”
1940, Best Actress in a Leading Role – as Nina Ivanovna ‘Ninotchka’ Yakushova in Ninotchka. Lost to Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind.
1938, Best Actress in a Leading Role – as Marguerite Gautier in Camille. Lost to Luise Rainer as O-Lan in The Good Earth.
1930, Best Actress in a Leading Role – as Anna Christie in Anna Christie. Also nominated for Best Actress for her role as Rita Cavallini in Romance. Lost to Norma Shearer as Jerry Bernard Martin in The Divorcee.
1. Deborah Kerr
Immensely talented Deborah Kerr is the only six time Best Actress nominee who never won an Academy Award. Ingrid Bergman, Norma Shearer and Sissy Spacek were also nominated six times, but they took home several Oscars. However, The Academy’s Honorary Award was given to Deborah Kerr in 1994 as “an artist of impeccable grace and beauty, a dedicated actress whose motion picture career has always stood for perfection, discipline and elegance.”
The British movie actress achieved great success portraying Anna Leonowens in “The King and I”, as well as Karen Holmes, the unhappy and immoral military wife in “From Here to Eternity”. Kerr’s intense kiss with Burt Lancaster on a beautiful Hawaiian beach made “From Here to Eternity” one of the most passionate films of all time. It ranked #8 on AFI’s “Top 100 Greatest Love Stories of all Time”
Deborah Kerr – Oscar nominations
1994, Honorary Award
1961, Best Actress in a Leading Role – as Ida Carmody in The Sundowners. Lost to Elizabeth Taylor as Gloria Wandrous in BUtterfield 8.
1959, Best Actress in a Leading Role – as Sibyl Railton-Bell in Separate Tables. Lost to Susan Hayward as Barbara Graham in I Want to Live!
1958, Best Actress in a Leading Role – as Sister Angela in Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison. Lost to Joanne Woodward as Eve White/Eve Black/Jane in The Three Faces of Eve.
1957, Best Actress in a Leading Role – as Anna Leonowens in The King and I. Lost to Ingrid Bergman as Anna Koreff/Anastasia in Anastasia.
1954, Best Actress in a Leading Role – as Karen Holmes in From Here to Eternity. Lost to Audrey Hepburn as Princess Ann/Anya Smith in Roman Holiday.
1950, Best Actress in a Leading Role – as Evelyn Boult in Edward, My Son. Lost to Olivia de Havilland as Catherine Sloper in The Heiress.