In 1940, there were approximately 175,000 movie theatres across America. For many people, movies were an entertaining escape from reality, particularly during World War II, which lasted until 1945. During the 1940s, a new breed of glamorous female actresses emerged, including Rita Hayworth, Ava Gardner and Lauren Bacall, who lit up the silver screen with their talent and beauty.
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Rita Hayworth (born Margarita Carmen Cansino) was a famous film icon and pin-up girl of the 1940s. Hayworth originally started her career as a dancer, and she got her first Hollywood big break in the 1941 Columbia film "The Strawberry Blonde." Hayworth later went on to star in films and musicals such as "Cover Girl" with Gene Kelly and "Gilda" with Glenn Ford.
Vivien Leigh was a talented film star who played the leading lady in four Hollywood feature films between 1940 and 1949. In 1940, Leigh married the prolific film actor and director Lawrence Olivier, who starred alongside her in the 1941 movie "That Hamilton Woman." In 1945, an epic adaptation of George Bernard Shaw's "Caesar and Cleopatra" was released, in which Leigh portrayed Cleopatra. Her final film of the 1940s was the romantic yet tragic "Anna Karenina," in which she acted alongside Ralph Richardson.
Ava Gardner was a beautiful brunette who was first discovered by a talent agent who saw her photograph on the wall of her brother's photo studio. Throughout the 1940s, she appeared in 28 films, although many of her early appearances were just small, walk-on roles. Her big break came from the 1946 film "The Killers," in which she played the mysterious Kitty Collins. A year later, she performed alongside Clark Gable in the MGM movie "The Hucksters."
Cary Grant (born Archibald Alexander Leach) was an English actor who became a successful Hollywood star. Grant made 20 Hollywood films in the 1940s, including "The Philadelphia Story," "His Girl Friday," "The Talk of The Town" and "Notorious." Grant received two Best Actor Oscar nominations in the 1940s, for the 1941 film "Penny Serenade" and the 1944 film "None But the Lonely Heart." During his entire career, Grant appeared in 72 movies, making him one of the most prolific movie stars of all time.
Lauren Bacall (born Betty Joan Perske) started her career as a model and later became a film actress and Broadway star. During the 1940s, she made six films, with the most famous being the 1947 film noir movie "The Big Sleep," in which she starred alongside her husband, Humphrey Bogart. A year later, she was cast in the Warner Brother movie "Dark Passage," which was directed by Delmer Davis.
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