The 1950s were part of the Golden Age of Hollywood, an era marked by glamorous, big-budget productions and a focus on actors and actresses as the main appeal of the movies. The stars of the 1950s -- especially the great actresses of the era -- are still remembered for their dramatic performances, equally dramatic personal lives and classic looks.
After playing minor roles in films and stage shows, British actress Audrey Hepburn opened the 1950s with a starring role in the Broadway play Gigi (1951). Her film career took off with an Oscar-winning performance in Roman Holiday (1953), opposite Gregory Peck. Her other films during the 1950s included Sabrina (1954), War and Peace (1956), Funny Face (1957) and The Nun's Story (1959). Hepburn continued to be a major star in the 1960s, but devoted much of her later life to charity work. She died of cancer in Switzerland in 1993.
Born Norma Jeane Mortenson in 1926, Marilyn Monroe became the foremost sex symbol of the 1950s. From minor parts in films like All About Eve (1950), she rose to starring roles. She is particularly well-known for comedies such as Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), The Seven Year Itch (1955) and Some Like It Hot (1959). Monroe struggled with celebrity and had a tumultuous private life. She was married three times, including to baseball star Joe DiMaggio and playwright Arthur Miller. Marilyn Monroe died in 1962 of a drug overdose; whether it was accidental or self-inflicted remains unclear.
Already a successful actress in youthful roles, Elizabeth Taylor made a successful transition to adult roles in the 1950s, becoming one of Hollywood's most glamorous leading ladies. She was nominated for the Academy Award for best actress in 1957, 1958 and 1959, but didn't win until 1960, for Butterfield 8. Taylor is as famous for her turbulent personal life as for her films; she was married four times during the 1950s alone. Her first husband was hotel heir Conrad Hilton; after divorcing him, she married British actor Michael Wilding. A third marriage, to producer Mike Todd, ended with his death; Taylor subsequently married singer and TV personality Eddie Fisher. Elizabeth Taylor died in Los Angeles in 2011.
Grace Kelly's film career was short-lived -- she acted only from 1950 to 1956 -- but during that time she became one of the industry's most prominent leading ladies. Major roles in films such as High Noon (1952), Dial M for Murder (1954), Rear Window (1954) and To Catch a Thief (1955) established Kelly's reputation as one of the most powerful women in Hollywood. Kelly was particularly associated with British director Alfred Hitchcock. She made the transition from Hollywood royalty to actual royalty in 1956, when she married Prince Rainier III of Monaco. Princess Grace retired from acting following her marriage. She was killed in an automobile accident in 1982.