Top Movie Stars of the 1940s

Who were the Top Movie Stars of the 1940s statistically?  This page will attempt to answer that question.  Our main source of information was our massive Ultimate Movie Ranking (UMR) that looked at over 1,300 movies made from 1940 to 1949.  Granted this is far from all the movies made during that time frame….but it does cover most of the major movie releases in that decade.  To see that massive page…check out 1940s Box Office Grosses.

We have included four lists of information.  List one looks at the Top 15 stars by adjusted domestic box office (the Top Star might surprise you).  List two looks at the Top 15 stars by highest average rating per movie according to critics and audiences.   List three looks at the Top 15 Stars by highest average UMR score per movie.  List four shows our entire table of all the stars we looked at while complying these lists.

Top 15 Adjusted Domestic Box Office Leaders 1940 – 1949

  1. Van Johnson $4835.70 million in adjusted domestic gross
  2. Bing Crosby $4613.20 million in adjusted domestic gross
  3. Dorothy Lamour $4349.30 million in adjusted domestic gross
  4. Walter Brennan $4125.00 million in adjusted domestic gross
  5. Dana Andrews $4053.00 million in adjusted domestic gross
  6. John Wayne $3987.20 million in adjusted domestic gross
  7. Bob Hope $3978.00 million in adjusted domestic gross
  8. Ray Milland $3865.70 million in adjusted domestic gross
  9. Gary Cooper $3817.60 million in adjusted domestic gross
  10. Humphrey Bogart $3675.00 million in adjusted domestic gross
  11. Spencer Tracy $3606.20 million in adjusted domestic gross
  12. Judy Garland $3529.20 million in adjusted domestic gross
  13. Cary Grant $3502.00 million in adjusted domestic gross
  14. Fred MacMurray $3478.40 million in adjusted domestic gross
  15. Walter Pidgeon $3410.90 million in adjusted domestic gross

Top 15 Average Critic/Audience Rating Leaders 1940 – 1949

  1. Joseph Cotten 75.10% critic and audience voting
  2. Burt Lancaster 74.50% critic and audience voting
  3. Edward G. Robinson 74.30% critic and audience voting
  4. Humphrey Bogart 73.90% critic and audience voting
  5. Cary Grant 73.60% critic and audience voting
  6. Katharine Hepburn 73.20% critic and audience voting
  7. Ingrid Bergman 73.10% critic and audience voting
  8. Bing Crosby 73.00% critic and audience voting
  9. Gary Cooper 72.70% critic and audience voting
  10. Irene Dunne 72.60% critic and audience voting
  11. Judy Garland 72.60% critic and audience voting
  12. Bette Davis 72.50% critic and audience voting
  13. Gregory Peck 72.40% critic and audience voting
  14. Claude Rains 72.30% critic and audience voting
  15. Peter Lorre 71.90% critic and audience voting

Top 15 Average UMR Score Per Movie

  1. Katharine Hepburn 64.50
  2. Teresa Wright 64.48
  3. Gregory Peck 62.67
  4. Ingrid Bergman 62.19
  5. Gary Cooper 62.11
  6. Judy Garland 61.73
  7. Bing Crosby 61.22
  8. Greer Garson 60.30
  9. Bob Hope 60.08
  10. Cary Grant 59.60
  11. Clark Gable 59.15
  12. Olivia de Havilland  58.39
  13. Bette Davis 58.31
  14. Spencer Tracy 57.70
  15. Joseph Cotten 57.67

Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman in 1946’s Notorious

Top Movie Stars 1940-1949 Main Table

The really cool thing about this table is that it is “user-sortable”. Rank the movies anyway you want.

  • Sort by actor or actress
  • Sort by movies made between 1940 and 1949
  • Sort by average adjusted domestic box office per movie
  • Sort by total adjusted domestic box office from 1940 to 1949
  • Sort by how many Oscar® nominations and how many Oscar® wins each performers’ movies earned
  • Sort by average Ultimate Movie Rankings (UMR) Score.  UMR puts box office, reviews and awards into a mathematical equation and gives each movie a score.
RankActorMoviesB.O. Avg (mil) B.O. Total (mil)Avg RatingOscar Noms / WinsAvg UMR Score
Van Johnson27$ 179.1$4835.7066.3 %025 / 0454.09
Bing Crosby19$ 242.8$4613.2073.0 %032 / 0961.22
Dorothy Lamour31$ 140.3$4349.3063.9 %011 / 0049.17
Walter Brennan25$ 165.0$4125.0069.9 %042 / 0455.47
Dana Andrews30$ 135.1$4053.0066.8 %038 / 1150.29
John Wayne28$ 142.4$3987.2066.3 %029 / 0251.94
Bob Hope20$ 198.9$3978.0070.8 %011 / 0160.08
Ray Milland31$ 124.7$3865.7063.9 %024 / 0648.34
Gary Cooper16$ 238.6$3817.6072.7 %050 / 0662.11
Humphrey Bogart25$ 147.0$3675.0073.9 %021 / 0756.74
Spencer Tracy19$ 189.8$3606.2068.8 %016 / 0257.70
Judy Garland17$ 207.6$3529.2072.6 %013 / 0261.73
Cary Grant20$ 175.1$3502.0073.6 %036 / 0659.60
Fred MacMurray32$ 108.7$3478.4060.5 %018 / 0044.50
Walter Pidgeon23$ 148.3$3410.9064.7 %039 / 1251.58
Paulette Goddard26$ 127.4$3312.4061.5 %026 / 0245.86
Ingrid Bergman13$ 254.2$3304.6073.1 %051 / 1062.19
Betty Grable19$ 170.1$3231.9063.4 %012 / 0253.63
Maureen O'Hara23$ 140.5$3231.5064.1 %024 / 1051.71
Robert Young30$ 105.5$3166.3065.6 %010 / 0146.90
Mickey Rooney19$ 166.1$3155.9064.5 %014 / 0455.31
Barbara Stanwyck22$ 141.8$3119.6067.9 %016 / 0054.18
Sydney Greenstreet24$ 129.0$3096.0069.8 %016 / 0351.48
Anthony Quinn22$ 139.6$3071.2067.6 %009 / 0251.61
Lionel Barrymore20$ 152.5$3050.0067.6 %022 / 0249.69
Claude Rains24$ 126.9$3045.6072.3 %035 / 0852.68
Lana Turner16$ 188.1$3009.6065.9 %009 / 0256.61
Alan Ladd21$ 140.2$2944.2066.2 %005 / 0051.86
Linda Darnell24$ 121.9$2925.6065.3 %017 / 0549.30
Errol Flynn20$ 145.1$2902.0064.8 %015 / 0152.91
John Garfield22$ 131.0$2882.0068.1 %022 / 0551.25
Gene Tierney20$ 143.9$2878.0067.1 %022 / 0352.44
Claudette Colbert17$ 169.0$2873.0069.4 %023 / 0254.32
Randolph Scott29$ 98.3$2850.7059.4 %010 / 0043.04
Donald Crisp19$ 148.1$2813.9070.4 %029 / 0754.87
Red Skelton20$ 139.9$2798.2061.4 %006 / 0249.07
Abbott & Costello25$ 109.3$2732.5069.0 %000 / 0049.33
Greer Garson13$ 206.0$2678.0068.3 %037 / 0860.30
Gene Kelly15$ 178.1$2671.5066.4 %018 / 0356.58
Peter Lorre21$ 125.6$2637.6071.9 %015 / 0352.07
Ronald Reagan22$ 118.9$2615.8059.6 %009 / 0142.85
Gregory Peck12$ 212.9$2554.8072.4 %035 / 0862.67
Donna Reed21$ 120.9$2538.9065.9 %022 / 0347.98
Virginia Mayo17$ 148.7$2527.9065.3 %018 / 0849.43
Tyrone Power15$ 167.4$2511.0066.4 %020 / 0554.95
Edward G. Robinson22$ 113.8$2503.6074.3 %012 / 0152.65
Ginger Rogers16$ 156.3$2500.8063.2 %011 / 0152.56
Joseph Cotten15$165.1$2476.5075.10%045 / 0757.67
Esther Williams12$ 205.5$2466.0063.7 %003 / 0156.89
Van Heflin19$ 127.4$2420.6069.0 %010 / 0250.92
Bette Davis17$ 139.0$2363.0072.5 %033 / 0358.31
Olivia de Havilland 16$ 146.8$2348.8070.7 %026 / 0758.39
Clark Gable11$ 209.3$2302.3069.3 %002 / 0059.15
Henry Fonda20$ 115.1$2302.0068.3 %010 / 0250.82
Vincent Price13$ 176.5$2294.5068.3 %036 / 1156.79
Susan Hayward22$ 104.0$2288.0062.7 %016 / 0145.22
Lucille Ball19$ 118.6$2253.4063.4 %003 / 0046.75
Teresa Wright10$ 223.60$2236.0068.4%044 / 1464.48
Robert Mitchum17$ 129.9$2208.3064.9 %011 / 0149.90
Rita Hayworth18$ 121.8$2192.4067.4 %020 / 0350.64
Betty Hutton14$ 152.6$2136.4063.9 %006 / 0052.56
Paul Henreid15$ 138.9$2083.5069.8 %014 / 0451.28
Gail Russell18$ 115.1$2071.8063.4 %007 / 0046.97
Glenn Ford23$ 89.8$2065.4062.9 %003 / 0042.99
Victor Mature17$120.8$2053.6063.6%012 / 0344.97
Kathryn Grayson12$ 170.3$2043.6060.9 %008 / 0150.81
Vincent Minnelli12$ 169.2$2030.4067.6 %007 / 0053.48
Joan Fontaine13$ 150.7$1959.1069.0 %023 / 0556.91
Rosalind Russell18$ 106.9$1924.2063.1 %012 / 0047.29
Don Ameche21$ 91.6$1923.6061.2 %011 / 0043.19
Katharine Hepburn10$ 191.6$1916.0073.2 %011 / 0364.50
Shirley Temple15$ 127.5$1912.5064.9 %012 / 0246.91
James Cagney12$ 159.2$1910.4068.5 %014 / 0455.68
Irene Dunne11$ 171.1$1882.1072.6 %020 / 0255.93
Myrna Loy12$ 155.8$1869.6071.5 %009 / 0852.70
Fred Astaire11$ 168.3$1851.3070.4 %016 / 0155.52
Robert Taylor14$ 128.3$1796.2061.3 %007 / 0149.22
Charles Laughton18$ 98.9$1780.2064.1 %006 / 0145.78
James Stewart15$ 118.1$1771.5071.4 %012 / 0353.58
Jennifer Jones8$ 208.5$1668.0072.6 %030 / 0659.35
Dick Powell18$ 91.8$1652.4062.1 %004 / 0043.19
Robert Ryan18$ 91.6$1648.8063.3 %013 / 0144.56
Elizabeth Taylor10$ 160.9$1609.0066.6 %012 / 0353.28
William Powell13$ 122.0$1586.0066.5 %004 / 0048.73
William Holden18$ 88.0$1584.0059.0 %000 / 0041.11
Joan Bennett21$ 74.5$1564.9062.5%002 / 0040.60
Joel McCrea16$ 93.2$1491.2068.3 %007 / 0146.77
Fredric March12$ 122.8$1473.6068.3 %014 / 0747.73
Victor Mature17$ 88.1$1409.6063.7 %007 / 0143.78
Deanna Durbin15$ 92.8$1392.0066.2 %011 / 0045.92
Joan Crawford12$ 115.4$1384.8065.8 %009 / 0149.81
Wallace Beery16$ 85.0$1360.0058.0 %000 / 0040.25
Dorothy McGuire7$177.9$1245.2071.3%012 / 0462.16
Danny Kaye6$ 205.5$1233.0073.0 %006 / 0161.81
Frank Sinatra8$ 144.5$1156.0063.4 %009 / 0250.96
Burt Lancaster9$ 123.2$1108.8074.5 %005 / 0054.33
Robert Montgomery12$ 89.0$1068.0065.2 %011 / 0245.27
Marlene Dietrich9$ 114.3$1028.7061.7 %008 / 0047.14
Ava Gardner12$ 84.2$1010.4062.4 %004 / 0042.24
Lauren Bacall5$ 196.9$984.5084.1 %001 / 0166.83
Jean Arthur8$ 121.9$975.2071.9 %018 / 0153.65
Clifton Webb5$ 192.4$962.0077.2 %010 / 0266.35
Ronald Colman7$ 134.1$938.7072.4 %022 / 0254.49
Laurence Olivier8$ 113.8$910.4075.8 %030 / 0958.58
Natalie Wood9$ 100.6$905.4065.7 %005 / 0346.93
Priscilla Lane11$ 78.9$867.9065.1 %003 / 0041.47
Kirk Douglas8$ 107.8$862.4071.4 %012 / 0351.64

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101 thoughts on “Top Movie Stars of the 1940s

  1. How about Dorothy McGuire

    Claudia 185
    A Tree Grows in Brooklyn 212
    The Enchanted Cottage 136
    The Spiral Staircase 183
    Claudia and David 110
    Till the End of Time 171
    Gentleman’s Agreement 246

    1243 in total .if your others were correct ,she should be ranked No.93

    1. Hey Li…..you are 100% correct…..this list is mainly made up of the actors/actresses I had in my database. When I did later decade versions of this page, I started including other actors/actresses into the table. I went ahead and added in Dorothy McGuire to this table….and she is indeed in 93rd place. Good to see our page makes it easy to do research they made you did McGuire’s 1940s movies. Makes us happy.

  2. JOHN

    I again watched Road House last night and I feel that the advice of Dalton therein is worth repeating. Referring to bull-in-the-china-shop bouncers who caused havoc and devastation in the night clubs they were supposed to be protecting Dalton lectured his own team of subordinate heavies that ”People looking for a good time don’t want to come to a slaughterhouse so firmly escort troublemakers to the door but BE NICE – until you get outside.”

    1. Bob
      Why not just say what you mean instead of insinuations. What does “people looking for a good time don’t want to come to a slaughterhouse” have to do with a discussion of top box office performances of the 1940’s. It seems to me that anyone who doesn’t want to read my posts doesn’t have to. I can certainly stop posting if that is the desire.

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