I just turned 13 when I first discovered the movies of the golden years of Hollywood in the 70s, 1977 to be exact. I was extremely fascinated with the oldies. Of course I grew up watching Rogers & Hammerstein musicals in the 60s but that was just to sing along...
Magnificent Obsession (1954) was the film that enticed me completely to get glued to the classics. I decided that Jane Wyman would be my favorite actress and Rock Hudson, my favorite actor. They were the favored stars in my early years. Jane Wyman doesn't fair too badly in my current list now. Rock Hudson? I still like Magnificent Obsession and All that Heaven Allows but I have trouble watching him with Doris Day (Pillow Talk, Lover Come Back Send Me No Flowers...), Gina Lollobrigida (they did make an attractive pair), and the rest.
It just dawned on me that my preference for an actress was on the basis of:
1. the brilliance of Technicolor and breathtaking Cinemascope of the 50s: the actresses of this era photographed very well.
2. the grandiosity of MGM musical productions and a strong bias to it: the only best dancer for me was Cyd Charisse. Jane Powell sang, danced and acted. She had it all too.
3. the chemistry created with the lead actor: James Stewart, Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Paul Newman, Howard Keel, Stewart Granger & Cary Grant.
A. Favorite Actresses (c. 70s):
After Jane Wyman, came Kim Novak (for Bell, Book and Candle 1958), Cyd Charisse (The Band wagon 1953, It's Always Fair Weather 1954, Silk Stockings 1957), Audrey Hepburn (Funny Face 1957), Jean Simmons (with the exception of Until They Sail 1957 b/w & This Earth is Mine 1959), Jane Powell (Seven Brides for Seven Brothers 1954), Doris Day (Calamity Jane 1953) and Deborah Kerr (Prisoner of Zenda 1952 & An Affair to Remember 1957). Consistent with the criteria established.
Almost reaching my golden years (just a few more), criteria for preference has remarkably changed. Hmmm, much has yet to be explored.
Next... (work in progress): Exploring the Changes
B. Favorite Actresses (C.2000 - present)
1. Barbara Stanwyck
2. Claudette Colbert
3. Irene Dunne
4. Cyd Charisse
5. Olivia de Havilland
6. Joan Crawford
7. Joan Fontaine
8. Greer Garson
9. Gene Tierney
10. Merle Oberon
11. Virginia Mayo