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40 Old Hollywood Actresses Who Aged Beautifully – Hollywood Starlets Then and Now – GoodHousekeeping.com

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Proof that growing old is nothing to be afraid of.
What do Diahann Carroll, Audrey Hepburn, and Bette Davis all have in common? All these starlets looked unbelievable in their 60s, 70s, and older. They rose to the top with good looks and tons of talent, and stayed there. We’re taking a look back, while also taking notes, at the actresses that have aged beautifully through the years — and we hope we’ll have the same luck!
Known as much for her unabashed sensuality as her big, blonde hair, Mae made a name for herself in vaudeville before transitioning into the burgeoning film scene at the age of 39.
Throughout the rest of her life, Mae continued enchanting audiences with her charismatic personality, golden locks, and bold makeup, eventually releasing a best-selling autobiography in 1959 aptly titled Goodness Had Nothing to Do With It.
At the age of 20, the Swedish actress came to America at the behest of director Mauritz Stiller. And despite not knowing any English, she eventually went on to become one of the era’s most prominent starlets — though she felt a strong aversion towards the publicity that accompanied her status.
Greta maintained her elusiveness towards the paparazzi and reporters after retiring from acting at the age of 35, eventually purchasing a seven-room apartment in New York City where she lived for the rest of her life.
In the 1950s, the singer and actress appeared as supporting characters in productions including Porgy & Bess and Carmen Jones, but eventually starred in the title role of Julia in 1968. This achievement made her the first Black actress to star in her own series on TV in a role other than a domestic worker.
With her golden locks and glowing complexion, Diahann continued to stun audiences for years — including during her appearance at the 2013 Emmy Awards when she spoke about being nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award. Sadly, she died in 2019 at the age of 84.
Not only was Katharine considered one of the most influential actresses of all time, starring in successful films The Philadelphia Story and Morning Glory, she also had an enormous impact on fashion. The actress wore pants long before most women would dare do so in public and refused to cater to the press.
Katharine continued starring in films and on television for the rest of her long life (94 years!), even receiving a Screen Actors Guild nomination for her role in One Christmas at the age of 87. While her hair color may have changed, her cool style and breathtaking bone structure never left her.
The Puerto Rican actress broke boundaries and records as the only Hispanic actress ever to win the big four in entertainment awards: an Emmy, a Tony, a Grammy, and an Oscar. She’s best known for her role in 1961’s West Side Story, but Rita has also appeared in countless other productions due to her wide range of talents.
These days, Rita, now in her 80s, is still going strong in the entertainment industry. In 2015, she appeared in the critically-acclaimed show Jane the Virgin and the TV movie A Gift of Miracles, all while proving gray hair is absolutely gorgeous.
Who could forget those eyes? With her unique beauty and striking onscreen presence, Bette became one of the most profitable stars at Warner Bros. by her 30s, with box office successes like Marked Woman and Jezebel.
Bette continued receiving acclaim throughout her long career, with her final Academy Award nomination being for her role in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) at the age of 54. While that character wasn’t an appealing one, she maintained the same gorgeously distinctive look from the 1960s onward.
America’s quintessential child star, curly little Shirley charmed audiences starting at just age 3 with her role in Educational Pictures Baby Burlesks. After huge box office successes with films including Heidi, The Little Princess, and Curly Top, Shirley announced her retirement from acting at the youthful age of 22.
Shirley made sporadic appearances in films and on television, but eventually made a switch to politics. In 1976, she was appointed the first female Chief of Protocol of the United States, proving not all child actors wind up with reality shows and wild scandals.
The iconic Swedish actress first made a name for herself in Intermezzo: A Love Story (1939), but was launched to eternal icon status for her role as Ilsa in Casablanca (1942) alongside Humphrey Bogart.
Ingrid went on to have an enormously successful career, winning numerous awards including three Oscars and four Golden Globes. Her final role was as Golda Meir in the television mini-series A Woman Called Golda in 1982, the year she passed away from breast cancer.
With her smug smirk and sex symbol status, this femme fatale helped popularize the glamorous waves that we now associate with Hollywood’s Golden Era.
Although her film career declined in the early 1950s, Veronica achieved success in theater — and maintained the same quietly enigmatic smile for the rest of her years.
No list of classic Hollywood actresses could possibly be complete without Audrey Hepburn. With her beloved roles in Breakfast At Tiffany’s, Gigi, and Sabrina — among many others — and iconic sense of style, she influenced fashion and film for decades to come.
Is it even fair that somebody so beautiful could stay consistently stunning throughout her entire life? The next time you feel stressed out about your crows feet, just remember that Audrey Hepburn eventually had them and looked just as lovely as ever.
The Italian actress captivated audiences with both her acting chops and ultra-feminine looks, eventually becoming one of the biggest sex symbols of her time.
Still gorgeous as ever, Sophia can’t help but turn heads wherever she (and her fantastic grin) goes. And what’s more — she actually still acts, most recently appearing in the 2013 short film La Voce Umana at the age of 78.
Dorothy first appeared on the scene in the singing group The Dandridge Sisters and soon after transitioned into film. After starring in the 1954 film Carmen Jones, she made history as the first Black actress to be nominated for an Oscar in a leading role.
In the final years of her life, the actress reprised her role as a singer at some of the most exclusive nightclubs across the country.
After beginning her career as a model for Harper’s Bazaar, Lauren scored her breakout role in To Have and Have Not, opposite Humphrey Bogart. A few years later, the two got married and proceeded to star in more films with one another. She’s most famous for her roles in The Big Sleep, How to Marry a Millionaire, and Key Largo, as well as for her husky voice.
Not only did Lauren continue to turn heads, but her career proved successful into her later years as well. At the age of 72, the actress was awarded her first Golden Globe award for her role in The Mirror Has Two Faces in 1996.
After starting her career as a chorus girl at the Cotton Club in Harlem, Lena launched a successful career as a nightclub singer, eventually becoming the highest-paid Black entertainer at the time. In 1943, the singer signed a contract with MGM Studios and made her film debut later that year.
Lena’s experience as a Black leading lady in Hollywood set her up for one of her biggest roles: That of an activist. The actress and singer was an active participant in the civil rights movement and continued her career throughout the ’60s and ’70s. Lena’s star power never faded and her final performance was a concert in New York City in 1994.
Anna May Wong made her on-screen debut in The Red Lantern when she was just 14 years old and soon became Hollywood’s first Asian American film star. Her beauty was undeniable and she achieved much success as a leading lady in the ’20s and ’30s, although she was consistently marginalized in the industry.
After retiring in 1947, Anna May returned to the screen in 1951 to star as the first Asian American television lead, in a show called The Gallery of Madame Liu-Tsong. She passed away in 1961 at the young age of 55.

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