Some stars would shine brightly no matter when they were born. Elizabeth Taylor would mesmerize anyone with her black hair, violet eyes and larger than life personality. Kate Winslet would win fans with her acting range and attainable good looks. Other stars leave the public scratching their heads in disbelief as to how they ever became famous. Janet Leigh looked best in black and white. Melanie Griffith’s acting was one note.
However, many stars are somewhere in between. They were able to capture the hearts of audiences during a specific era that seemed to be made for them – almost as if the cosmic forces aligned. For example, Clark Gable was truly the King of Hollywood in his day. But in our time, he would never make it. His protruding ears would be a deal breaker. Rock Hudson would never thrive, either. The media today makes it their business to know everything about everyone, so he would never be able to downplay his homosexuality and play a heartthrob at the same time.
Women actresses suffer from the same phenomenon. Marcia Brady captured the hearts of TV viewers in the 70s, and for decades afterwards due to reruns. But would she thrive today? The same question can be asked of Carrie Fisher. Had she not starred in Star Wars, would her persona be relevant in this day and age? Read on for the answers to these (and other) burning questions about classical actresses.
15. Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe is the most attractive woman that was ever born. Even in one thousand years, people will still marvel at her beauty. However, she was known to suffer from mental illness and being in the limelight just seemed to exacerbate her problems. It’s very likely that Monroe wouldn’t be able to handle the public scrutiny of today. She was hounded by the paparazzi in the 1950s and 1960s, but the photogs of today are merciless – as is the media criticism. Monroe would likely be unable to handle the stress and either retreat from fame or suffer from even worse addiction problems.
14. Carrie Fisher
Carrie Fisher was immortalized on film in the Star Wars franchise. But she would never make it today for the simple reason that she’s rather lacking in the looks department. Her only hot moment was in the gold bikini she wore when she was under Jabba the Hutt’s control. Otherwise, she’s average looking at best. In the 1970s, actresses were more earthy looking which opened the door for more women to excel. Today, looks are a prerequisite to have a starring role. And not just any looks will do – an actress needs to be tall and thin, with feminine features and a big rack. Fisher has none of those, so today any role she got would be as second banana at best.
13. Maureen McCormick
Maureen McCormick is beloved the world over for playing Marcia Brady on The Brady Bunch. Marcia was squeaky-clean, and McCormick portrayed that image in real life, too. Although McCormick later divulged that she had a major addiction problem, and even sold her body, she only showed the public her ‘girl next door’ face. Today, that sort of behavior just doesn’t sell. What makes an actress big these days are rocky relationships, rehab and s*x tapes. Her acting skills are although rather one-note. She can play a goody-goody like no one else, but that’s about it. That’s probably the biggest reason her career stalled after The Brady Bunch was canceled.
12. Jennifer Grey
Jennifer Grey was a-maz-ing in Dirty Dancing. Audiences loved her portrayal of “Baby” and her dance moves. But her unique looking face left a lot to be desired. These days, the on-screen dancing queens are stereotypically beautiful. Just look at Julianne Hough and Natalie Portman. You’ve got to feel bad for Grey, though. When she tried to alter her appearance to be more commercially beautiful, her career never regained its momentum. Even a stint on Dancing with the Stars couldn’t fix things. Also, it didn’t help that Grey and her co-star Patrick Swayze, didn’t get along in real life. On-set romances always advance careers. Prime examples include Kristin Stewart and Rob Pattinson, LeAnn Rimes and Eddie Cibrian, and Emma Stone and Andrew Gardfield.
11. Gwyneth Paltrow
Gwyneth Paltrow was the it-girl in 1998 thanks to the movie Shakespeare in Love. But that was nearly 20 years ago! Today, it’s doubtful if she would make such a splash in Hollywood. Her light features and super skinny frame aren’t what’s “in” today. Audiences are more enchanted with curvaceous leading ladies like Scarlet Johanssen, and dark beauties like Mila Kunis. Paltrow has been able to remain in the spotlight, but it isn’t because of successful movies. She sure doesn’t have the career that Sandra Bullock and Cameron Diaz have. When Paltrow makes the news these days, it’s due to marital difficulties, her bizarre musings on her website Goop, and her elitist attitude.
10. Molly Ringwald
Molly Ringwald owned the 1980s, with such hits as The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles. But out of nowhere her career was obliviated. It is widely speculated that she grew an ego the size of Kansas and was difficult to work with. It’s been said that movie studios and directors didn’t like working with her. As a result, she stopped getting roles. While many stars are rumored to be PIAs, others are known for being so pleasant to work with that their careers flourish. Tori Spelling keeps getting roles because she’s surprisingly down to earth, Heather Locklear is known for showering the cast and crew she works alongside with gifts, and Drew Barrymore is regarded as having a lovely personality.
9. Audrey Hepburn
Audrey Hepburn is classically beautiful with her petite frame and European features. Women and men throughout the world still admire her cosmopolitan style, as well as her acting prowess. But today, her delicate beauty would likely be overlooked. Hepburn’s good looks should be a staple in the industry, but today it seems that all people demand are actresses with bleached hair and amped-up chests. How society has deviated from Hepburn’s ideal is strange and disturbing. Another reason why Hepburn would likely not make it today is for the fact that there aren’t roles good enough for her acting ability. These days, movies don’t have the sophistication of Hitchcock. One could hardly imagine Hepburn in Transformers or the remake of Ghostbusters.
8. Lucille Ball
Lucille Ball was the original funny lady. She was best-known for her physical comedy on I Love Lucy. The show was a classic, and is still aired all over the world. Today, she would never make it. Female comedians these days are all about vulgar jokes, from the men they’ve slept with to the alarming amounts of vodka they drink. Just look at Amy Schumer and Chelsea Handler. The only gals that get away with physical comedy are plus-sized like Melissa McCarthy and Rebel Wilson, who play their weight for laughs. Ball would never be able to sustain a career today making candy on a conveyor belt or getting a loving cup stuck on her head.
7. Katharine Hepburn
Katharine Hepburn would never make it as an actress today, largely due to her distinctive voice. When she was young, she spoke with a clipped, faux-British accent that was all the rage on camera. Of course she could have adapted, but it’s been reported that Hepburn needed that accent for a couple of reasons. One was to slow her down, because when she spoke in her normal speech her words came out too quickly. The second was to add to her persona – she was her voice, and her voice was her. Regional accents aren’t tolerated on film anymore, unless the role specifically calls for it. That’s why Charlize Theron can’t speak with her Afrikaan-accented English, and Hugh Jackman suppresses his Australian accent. Once Hepburn got older, her speech was even more distinctive as she developed a vocal tremor. For all of Hollywood’s liberalness, it is rather intolerance of speech anomalies. A perfect example is Dick Clark. He hosted New Year’s Rockin’ Eve for decades, but was quickly dismissed after a stroke left him with imprecise speech.
6. Farrah Fawcett
Farrah Fawcett is an icon. Her toothy grin, hot body and blonde locks sets hearts afire in the 1970s. Her style is still copied today – and that’s the problem. In the 1970s, her looks were unique as she set the trend for feathered hair. But these days, every girl is still copying her. Thus, Fawcett would never make it today because she wouldn’t stand out. It would be difficult to tell her apart from other starlets that have cascading hair, from youngsters like Gigi Hadid to seasoned vets like Sarah Jessica Parker.
5. Grace Kelly
Grace Kelly is held up as a true beauty from the inside out. She grew up in Philadelphia high society, was the picture of class on film and in person, and married a prince. Today, her fairytale life wouldn’t be an asset. Every actress today makes headlines with tales of childhood abuse, addiction troubles and sexual escapades. Kelly wouldn’t be able to keep up with the seedy PR machines that other celebs have, and her career would likely falter. Even her classical beauty wouldn’t be enough today. Her graceful looks wouldn’t be appreciated, as stars like Kim Kardashian and Miley Cyrus have captured the spotlight with over the top, kooky looks.
4. Sophia Loren
Sophia Loren was a unique beauty when she burst on the scene decades ago. Audiences were enamored with her olive skin and slanted eyes. She was a different sort of beauty from what people were accustomed to. Her peers were blonde and blue eyed, like Grace Kelly and Marilyn Monroe. In contrast, Loren gave fans a taste of the exotic. Not only did she look decadent, but her mannerisms were seductive. However, she likely wouldn’t thrive today. There are many dark beauties that would be competition for her, such as Sofia Vergara and Penelope Cruz.
3. Ingrid Bergman
Ingrid Bergman is regarded as one of the best actresses from Hollywood’s golden era due to her role in Casablanca. But if you ask Grandpa what he thought of her, he’d tell you that she was overrated. As it turns out, the older generation is less than impressed with her performances. She is widely criticized by the senior population as having wooden acting skills. Seniors today think her career was just luck, and that she was able to rise due to her European charms. If today’s generation watched more of her work, they’d likely agree.
2. Bette Davis
Bette Davis owned Hollywood back in the day. She could play a range of characters, and was most successful when she was portraying ones who were unsympathetic, sardonic and downright mean. Audiences loved to hate her. In fact, many Hollywood A-listers hated her in real life due to her confrontational nature. That would certainly present a challenge to her today, as word would spread like wildfire about her true personality. With cameras everywhere, her tantrums would likely be recorded, and they’d be aired everywhere from TMZ to Good Morning America. Studios just can’t protect stars like they used to. Another stumbling block would likely be her legendary eyes. Back in the day, they were prized for their large, mysterious aura. Today, Davis would be labeled as having “crazy eyes.”
1. Meryl Streep
Meryl Streep is regarded as being the most versatile actress alive today. She’s acted in all sorts of roles, from a tortured woman in Sophie’s Choice to a wicked witch in Into the Woods. But if she was starting out today as an ingénue, it’s doubtful that her career would flourish. Streep is known for many things, but looks aren’t one of them. It is very difficult for young actresses to make it big in Hollywood if they aren’t beautiful in some way, shape, or form. Megan Fox was a total hottie when she skyrocketed to fame in Transformers with her tanned skin and short shorts. Emma Watson turned heads once she became of age with her classical British features. Even Emma Stone garnered a lot of admirers early on because she worked the whole redhead thing. But Streep never had much to offer in terms of raw sex appeal, which would leave her out in the cold as a young up-and-comer today. She should actually try acting in a movie as a vixen – if she could pull that off (especially at her age), then audiences would really regard her as the best actress ever!