Modern Screen’s Top 20 Stars of 1953

This post was written for TMP’s Historical Context series, in which I share excerpts from my collection of vintage publications.

The February 1954 issue of Modern Screen included “Top 10” lists, featuring the ten most popular actors and actresses of the previous year. This list was fan-voted and a recurring feature of the magazine, published annually. These were the results (and I’ve added the names of the films each of these people starred in during 1953, which helped bolster their popularity and place them on the list).

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Cover girl Susan Hayward appears on the list of actresses at number five. (Scanned by Lindsey for TMP)

THE LADIES

  1. June Allyson
    Film appearance(s) in 1953: Battle Circus (with Humphrey Bogart), Remains to be Seen (with Van Johnson)

    “The Queen this year is our June. She slipped from her seat of state in 1952 after holding it for two years, to make room for Jane Powell – who holds fourth rank this time.”

  2. Elizabeth Taylor
    Film appearance(s) in 1953: The Girl Who Had Everything (with William Powell and Fernando Lamas)
  3. Marilyn Monroe
    Film appearance(s) in 1953: Niagara (with Joseph Cotten), Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (with Jane Russell), How to Marry a Millionaire (with Betty Grable and Lauren Bacall)

    “A newcomer to the poll (but no surprise to anyone, especially to you who put her there) is the most talked-of doll of 1953 – Marilyn Monroe. Right now she’s busy proving her claim to third place by turning out top-notch comedy performances.”

  4. Jane Powell
    Film appearance(s) in 1953: Small Town Girl (with Farley Granger), Three Sailors and a Girl (with Gordon MacRae)
  5. Susan Hayward
    Film appearance(s) in 1953: The President’s Lady (with Charlton Heston), White Witch Doctor (with Robert Mitchum)
  6. Doris Day
    Film appearance(s) in 1953: By the Light of the Silvery Moon (with Gordon MacRae), Calamity Jane (with Howard Keel)
  7. Lana Turner
    Film appearance(s) in 1953: Latin Lovers (with Ricardo Montalban)
  8. Barbara Stanwyck
    Film appearance(s) in 1953: Jeopardy (with Barry Sullivan), Titanic (with Clifton Webb), All I Desire (with Richard Carlson), Blowing Wild (with Gary Cooper), The Moonlighter (with Fred MacMurray)
  9. Ann Blyth
    Film appearance(s) in 1953: All the Brothers Were Valiant (with Robert Taylor and Stewart Granger)
  10. Betty Grable
    Film appearance(s) in 1953: The Farmer Takes a Wife (with Dale Robertson), How to Marry a Millionaire (with Marilyn Monroe and Lauren Bacall)
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Photos of the top two stars of the year adorn the first page of the article. (Scanned by Lindsey for TMP)

THE FELLAS

  1. John Wayne
    Film appearance(s) in 1953: Three Lives (with Jane Wyman, Randolph Scott and Charlton Heston), Trouble Along with Way (with Donna Reed), Island in the Sky (with Lloyd Nolan), Hondo (with Geraldine Page)

    “The Duke is King once more. You crowned him for the first time in 1951 and none of the cute youngsters has deposed him yet.”

  2. Alan Ladd
    Film appearance(s) in 1953: Botany Bay (with James Mason), Desert Legion (with Richard Conte), Shane (with Jean Arthur), Paratrooper (with Leo Genn)

    “The Crown Prince, again, is Alan Ladd; his European-made movies (you’re seeing them now) are the latest proof of his consistent top performances.”

  3. Bing Crosby
    Film appearance(s) in 1953: Scared Stiff (uncredited), Little Boy Lost (with Claude Dauphin)
  4. Rock Hudson
    Film appearance(s) in 1953: The Lawless Breed (with Julie Adams), Seminole (with Barbara Hale), Sea Devils (with Yvonne De Carlo), The Golden Blade (with Piper Laurie), Gun Fury (with Donna Reed), Back to God’s Country (with Marcia Henderson), Beneath the 12-Mile Reef (uncredited narration)
  5. Jeff Chandler
    Film appearance(s) in 1953: Girls in the Night (uncredited narration), The Great Sioux Uprising (with Faith Domergue), East of Sumatra (with Marilyn Maxwell), War Arrow (with Maureen O’Hara)
  6. Robert Taylor
    Film appearance(s) in 1953: Ride, Vaquero! (with Ava Gardner), All the Brothers Were Valiant (with Ann Blyth), Knights of the Round Table (with Ava Gardner)
  7. Clark Gable
    Film appearance(s) in 1953: Never Let Me Go (with Gene Tierney), Mogambo (with Ava Gardner)
  8. Tony Curtis
    Film appearance(s) in 1953: Houdini (with Janet Leigh), The All American (with Lori Nelson, Richard Long and Mamie Van Doren), Forbidden (with Joanne Dru)

    “And your favorite couple, our figures tell us, is Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh. We couldn’t agree with you more heartily.”

  9. Gregory Peck
    Film appearance(s) in 1953: Roman Holiday (with Audrey Hepburn)
  10. Dale Robertson
    Film appearance(s) in 1953: The Silver Whip (with Rory Calhoun), The Farmer Takes a Wife (with Betty Grable), Devil’s Canyon (with Virginia Mayo), City of Bad Men (with Jeanne Crain)

Promising new stars:

  • Keefe Brasselle
    Film appearance(s) in 1953: The Eddie Cantor Story (with Marilyn Erskine and Aline MacMahon)
  • Elaine Stewart
    Film appearance(s) in 1953: Take the High Ground! (with Richard Widmark and Karl Malden)
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