close-button

27+ Entertainers that Can't be Forgotten

Ray Zhang Entertainment /
Greatest Entertainers All Time
David Redfern / Staff via Getty Images

What would we do without Hollywood and all of its glory? Chances are, we'd be a little bored. From iconic musicians to history-making actors and movie directors, here are some of the most memorable entertainers of all time.

Billie Holiday

It's hard to tell what the music industry would look like today without the influence of this iconic singer. Born Eleanora Fagan, Billie Holiday is widely recognized as one of the people who helped shape today's jazz and swing tunes.

Greatest entertainers all timeGreatest entertainers all time
V&A Images / Contributor via Getty Images

After her passing in 1959, Billie was awarded four Grammys and inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame and the National Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame. And according to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which also boasts Holiday as a member, she "changed jazz forever."

Whitney Houston

"God gave me a voice to sing with, and when you have that, what other gimmick is there?" Whitney once said. A higher power might've blessed the artist with talent, and she then graced the rest of the world with her timeless voice. Let's take a dip into Houston's history-making career.

Best entertainers all timeBest entertainers all time
Jo Hale / Stringer via Getty Images

According to the Recording Academy, Whitney's debut album was the first record by a female to yield three No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 hits. And Business Insider stated that Houston is amongst the top-selling artists of all time. It's no wonder the late singer earned a spot on this list.

Robert De Niro

A list of top entertainers of all time wouldn't be complete without some of Hollywood's top actors, and Robert De Niro makes the cut. He has won two Academy Awards, a Golden Globe, a Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award, and the Kennedy Center Honor.

Best singers all timeBest singers all time
Theo Wargo / Staff via Getty Images

The celebrated thespian was even awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016. "[He] has brought to life some of the most memorable roles in American film during a career that spans five decades," reads the Obama White House website. From The Godfather Part II to Raging Bull, we couldn't agree more.

John Lennon

It's hard for some people to think about musical icons and not have The Beatles come to mind. So it probably makes sense that one of those legendary band members would make their way onto this list of top entertainers in history. After a life of music and activism, John Lennon became a counterculture icon of the 60s and 70s.

Greatest entertainers in historyGreatest entertainers in history
New York Times Co. / Contributor via Getty Images

David Bowie once called the late singer "his greatest mentor," and we can't imagine a bigger compliment. Other artists, like Santana and Shirley Manson, have spoken about how Lennon influenced them. Not to mention all of the people who have covered John's Imagine: Neil Young, Elton John, Stevie Wonder... The list goes on.

Chuck Berry

With a nickname like the "Father of Rock and Roll," some might think it's a no-brainer to label Chuck Berry one of the most memorable of all time. The man, the myth, the legend was the first musician ever inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.

Greatest singers all timeGreatest singers all time
George Rose / Contributor via Getty Images

"After Elvis Presley, only Chuck Berry had more influence on the formation and development of rock & roll," reads the Hall of Fame's website. With hits like Maybellene and one-of-a-kind showmanship, he inspired not just a genre but a whole way of performing music.

Al Pacino

Al Pacino is arguably more than a Hollywood actor - he is a cultural icon. The man's career spans over five decades, and he is the face of some of the world's most well-known films. From 1972's The Godfather to 1983's Scarface, we can't imagine the cinema industry without him.

Best actors all timeBest actors all time
Kevin Winter / Staff via Getty Images

He is one of the few actors to have won the "Triple Crown of Acting." That is, an Academy Award, Emmy Award, and Tony Award in the acting categories. On top of that, Al Pacino is one of the most Oscar-nominated male performers in history. Consider us impressed.

Stevie Wonder

This talented act is a natural-born entertainer who signed with Motown's Tamla label at just 11 years old. A year later, Stevie Wonder hit the ground running and never slowed down: his 1963 song Fingertips reached Number One, and the hits kept coming after that.

Greatest actors all timeGreatest actors all time
Kevin Winter/One Voice: Somos Live! / Handout via Getty Images

At the time of this article's writing, Stevie is one of only three artists in Grammy history to win Album of the Year a whopping three times. Oh, and he was awarded another 22 of the golden trophies in other categories. "I am consumed by music," wonder once said. "I can see music."

Ella Fitzgerald

This icon's career spanned around six decades and resulted in hundreds of beautiful songs. Fitzgerald won thirteen Grammy Awards and was nicknamed the First Lady of Song and Queen of Jazz. It's widely agreed that Ella changed the course of jazz and music as a whole.

Hollywood icons, top entertainersHollywood icons, top entertainers
William Gottlieb / Contributor via Getty Images

"She loved performing. She loved it. And the audience knew it right away," Tony Bennet, who called Ella his "idol," once said. "The minute she walked out on that stage, they knew she was ready to give them the best she could ever imagine for them. She couldn't wait to get on that stage."

Robin Williams

More than once, movie lovers have voted this late Hollywood figure the Greatest Comedy Actor of All Time on Ranker. And with a legacy like no other, Williams also earns a spot on this list of top entertainers. He got his start in San Francisco's stand-up scene in the 1970s.

Top singers in historyTop singers in history
Rick Diamond / Contributor via Getty Images

And the rest is history. Robin put smiles on countless faces with hilarious roles like Mrs. Doubtfire. He brought tears to our eyes with Dead Poets Society and Good Will Hunting. And Williams somehow made us laugh and cry in 1987's Good Morning, Vietnam.

Elton John

According to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Elton John "has delivered everything we want from a rock star and more - wild rock anthems, searing ballads, undiluted exuberance, duck costumes - for almost fifty years. And he shows no sign of stopping."

Top entertainers in historyTop entertainers in history
Ian Gavan / Stringer via Getty Images

It's that kind of sentiment that gets the artist a spot on this list. In 1992, Elton broke Elvis Presley's record for most consecutive years on the Top 40 of Billboard's singles chart. And it's not only his tunes that have inspired generations: it's John's bold style and performances.

Steven Spielberg

At the time of this article's writing, Spielberg is the highest-grossing movie director of all time. Multiple sites report that the Hollywood icon made over ten billion dollars at the box office thanks to his hard work and priceless talent. So what are some of Steven's movie hits that landed him a spot on this list?

Best of Hollywood, celebritiesBest of Hollywood, celebrities
DAN GROSHONG / Staff via Getty Images

How about the classic E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial, which grossed over $700 million according to box office receipts. Or what about Jurassic Park, which made over a billion and got its own theme ride and franchise at Universal Studios. It's safe to say Steven Spielberg has a creative mind like no other.

Madonna

Some might say Madonna is the gift that keeps on giving. She has continued to reinvent herself and put on stunning performances for decades. In 2016, Billboard named the singer their No. 1 Billboard Dance Club Songs artist over the last - wait for it - 40 years.

Most iconic entertainers everMost iconic entertainers ever
Michael Campanella / Stringer via Getty Images

At the time, Madonna had the most No. 1s of any artist on any of Billboard's charts. And she hasn't only dominated the club scene. With 28 Grammy nominations and seven wins, the Like A Virgin singer is widely celebrated for her entertainment talents.

Prince

Billboard magazine once called Prince the most talented musician of his generation. And they're not the only musical publication to regard him so highly. With a reputation like that, it's no wonder he's on our list of top entertainers of all time.

Iconic singers, actors, HollywoodIconic singers, actors, Hollywood
Jonathan Daniel / Staff via Getty Images

Let's take a look at some of the artists' accomplishments. Aside from being inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, Prince was nominated for a total of 38 Grammys and won seven. He also won a Golden Globe and an Oscar for his musical contributions to film. We could go on and on...

Alfred Hitchcock

Surprised to see this old-time movie director amongst all of these actors and musicians? We can understand that. But considering Hitchcock's priceless contributions to the world of film, he secures a spot on this list of top entertainers. Who knows what the entertainment industry would look like without him?

Most iconic celebrities everMost iconic celebrities ever
Baron / Stringer via Getty Images

According to Ranker, many regard Hitchcock as one of the icons of film. Known as the "Master of Suspense," the movie genius had a career that spanned six decades and directed more than 50 feature movies. With 46 Oscar nominations and six wins, he went down in history for his trendsetting film techniques.

David Bowie

Not all heroes wear capes (although we wouldn't be surprised if Ziggy Stardust wore one at some point or another). Such is the case with this talented entertainer. For some fans of his generation - and now - David Bowie broke traditional gender and dress roles and helped people accept their authentic selves.

Greatest entertainers all timeGreatest entertainers all time
Michael Putland / Contributor via Getty Images

Bowie's cultural impact and musical talents, and Rolling Stone calling him one of the top rock stars of all time, earned him and his alter egos a spot on this list. David released 25 studio albums, was nominated for nineteen Grammy Awards, and won five.

Louis Armstrong

According to Smithsonian Music, many musical scholars call Louis Armstrong the first great jazz soloist. And with the irreplaceable influence of jazz on the music industry and society in general, that title gets Mr. Armstrong a well-earned place as one of the unforgettable entertainers in history.

Best entertainers all timeBest entertainers all time
Bettmann / Contributor via Getty Images

Louis became an American icon throughout his career, known for his trumpet playing, unique singing abilities, and charisma on stage. According to PBS, Armstrong also became a symbol of the civil rights struggle that was taking place in the U.S. during that time.

Judy Garland

Judy Garland is widely regarded as one of the iconic entertainers of Hollywood's Golden Age. And with the long-term influence those years have had on today's film industry, that got her a spot on our list. The actress is arguably most remembered for playing Dorothy in 1939's Wizard of Oz.

Greatest entertainers in historyGreatest entertainers in history
FPG / Staff via Getty Images

But Garland did much more than taking on the Wicked Witch of the West. Known for her diverse talents, she was also a singer and a dancer. In fact, Judy was the first woman to win a Grammy for Album of the Year, awarded for 1961's Judy at Carnegie Hall.

Paul McCartney

Rolling Stone named him the second most significant songwriter of all time, and multiple publications have wondered if he's the top musician of all time. Paul McCartney shot to fame with The Beatles and carried on a more than successful career even after the band broke up.

Greatest singers all timeGreatest singers all time
Roberto Ricciuti / Contributor via Getty Images

McCartney can play the bass, guitar, keyboards, and drums. Not to mention, he's a killer songwriter. Some might say he and John Lennon's power as a songwriting duo have yet to be beaten or replicated. With timeless hits such as And I Love Her and Yesterday, Paul's legacy might live on forever.

Dolly Parton

BBC called this talented gal the world's "best-loved celebrity." Dolly's endless influence, musical abilities, and all-around beloved character land her on this list of top entertainers in history. Labeled a singer, songwriter, actress, author, and businesswoman, we wonder: is there anything Parton can't do?

Best singers all timeBest singers all time
David Redfern / Staff via Getty Images

The Hollywood icon first saw success as a songwriter for other artists. But with the release of 1967's Hello, I'm Dolly, it became clear there was no going back from the spotlight. She has had 25 tracks reach No. 1 on the Billboard country charts and has Recording Industry Association of America-certified gold, platinum, and multi-platinum awards.

Aretha Franklin

The BBC claimed Aretha as the greatest singer in U.S. history, and Rolling Stone labeled her the "greatest voice." With a reputation like that, Franklin goes down as one of the best entertainers ever. The late starlet started off singing gospel throughout her childhood.

Greatest actors all timeGreatest actors all time
Ron Howard / Contributor via Getty Images

By 18 years old, Aretha was signed by Columbia Records and later moved on to Atlantic Records. She eventually became known as the "Queen of Soul" in the late 1960s and captured America's heart. In total, the singer had 112 singles reach the Billboard charts. Not too shabby!

Sammy Davis, Jr.

Next up on our list is the one and only Sammy Davis, Jr, who PBS called one of the most important entertainers of the 1900s. And voters on Ranker seemed to agree. So who was this legend of a musician? Well, for starters, he was also a dancer and actor - the total triple threat.

Best actors all timeBest actors all time
Robert Abbott Sengstacke / Contributor via Getty Images

Sammy had tunes reach the top of Billboard Hot 100, starred in Broadway musicals, and even had his own television show titled The Sammy Davis Jr. Show. This entertainer's social and cultural impacts are priceless: he broke barriers for other artists in the segregated entertainment industry.

Frank Sinatra

"Without any question, he was the greatest interpretative singer who ever lived, in any music," claimed radio personality Jonathan Schwartz. Mr. Sinatra touched hearts and charmed ears with his soulful singing. But don't take our word for it - just look at the numbers.

Hollywood icons, top entertainersHollywood icons, top entertainers
Silver Screen Collection / Contributor via Getty Images

Frank is regarded as one of the best-selling musicians ever, with over 150 million records sold worldwide. He was nominated for 31 Grammys and won nine. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. The multi-talented artist also earned multiple Academy Awards for a successful acting career.

Elvis Presley

And to Mr. Presley, we would just like to say, "Thank you, thank you very much." Rolling Stone called him one of the top memorable singers of all time, and with his invaluable contributions to the world of entertainment, The King gets a comfy spot on our list.

Top singers in historyTop singers in history
Michael Ochs Archives / Stringer via Getty Images

Presley is one of the biggest cultural icons of the 1900s. The Mississippi-born performer broke the unwritten rules of performance style with his unique dancing and interpretations of songs. The three-time Grammy winner also had a successful acting career.

Ray Charles

This talented man is constantly listed as one of the best artists ever, from Rolling Stone articles to random music fans' blogs. After rising to fame, Ray was often called "the Genius" due to his unparalleled musical abilities and contributions. In addition, he is largely considered the pioneer of soul music.

Top entertainers in historyTop entertainers in history
Jack Vartoogian/Getty Images / Contributor via Getty Images

But Charles impacted more than the soul genre; the singer was also a successful pop music artist, proving he had no limits. As a result, Ray was inducted into the American Academy of Achievement in 1975 and won the Golden Plate Award and the Academy of Achievement gold medal.

Bette Davis

The BBC called this icon one of the most significant Hollywood actresses of all time. Bette Davis appeared in over 100 films, television, and theater productions throughout her lifetime and had a career that spanned over five decades. And she didn't stick to only one kind of genre.

Best of Hollywood, celebritiesBest of Hollywood, celebrities
Bettmann / Contributor via Getty Images

The starlet proved she could do it all by successfully taking on roles in crime melodramas, historical films, suspense horror movies, and even sometimes comedies. Davis was also the first actor ever to garner a total of ten Academy Award nominations.

Jimi Hendrix

It's no secret Jimi Hendrix is often regarded as the best guitarist of all time. But with his incredible stage presence, he is arguably also one of the top entertainers ever. Not only did the artist kneel and play the guitar between his legs, but he also played the instrument with his teeth.

Most iconic celebrities everMost iconic celebrities ever
David Redfern / Staff via Getty Images

Doesn't get much more entertaining (and impressive) than that. Hendrix was also a great singer and composer. Amongst his long list of accolades are a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, an induction into the Grammy Hall of Fame, and a long-lasting legacy.

Freddie Mercury

According to scientific research, Freddie Mercury is the top-skilled singer of all time. We're not kidding. A team of Austrian, Czech, and Swedish scientists found that his vibrato was much higher than the average. Mercury's stood at 7.04 Hz while the average is 5.4 to 6.9.

Most iconic entertainers everMost iconic entertainers ever
George Rose / Contributor via Getty Images

A voice like that makes him one of the top entertainers ever. But that's not all. Freddie also changed the face of music with his unconventional and dramatic stage style, making him a cultural icon still endlessly talked about today. Want a deeper look into Mercury's life? Take a peek at Bohemian Rhapsody, the 2018 film about the late singer.

Michael Jackson

What would a list of unforgettable entertainers ever be without the King of Pop? Arguably incomplete. Despite the many controversies surrounding this artist, Michael is continually regarded as one of the most important cultural icons of the 20th century. And it seems that the world can't stop listening to his music.

Iconic singers, actors, HollywoodIconic singers, actors, Hollywood
Steve Granitz / Contributor via Getty Images

Jackson impacted the industries of dance, music, and even fashion throughout his internationally celebrated forty-year career. It's hard to know how many other artists' styles were greatly influenced by Michael and what the music world would look like without him.

Johnny Cash

According to Ranker, Johnny is regarded by many as one of the best entertainers of all time. And if that wasn't special enough, the man's writing abilities also received a stamp of approval after the Daily Mail reported that people voted an old love letter from Cash to his wife as the most endearing love letter ever. Talk about couple goals.

Greatest entertainers all timeGreatest entertainers all time
RB / Staff via Getty Images

Johnny rose to fame as a singer, songwriter, and actor. He was nominated for 35 Grammy Awards and won thirteen. "It's been a great spiritual experience sharing my feelings with my audience," Cash once said. "And that's what performing is. It's communicating your feelings through lyrics, recitation, or dialogue between songs."

Tina Turner

Dubbed the Queen of Rock 'n' Roll, it might be far from surprising to find Tina Turner on this list of best entertainers in history. The Guardian even called her a revolutionary. The celebrated performer got her start with Ike Turner's Kings of Rhythm in 1957.

Best entertainers all timeBest entertainers all time
Rob Verhorst / Contributor via Getty Images

Then she became the lead singer of Ike & Tina Turner. An abundantly successful solo career followed. The musician sold over 100 million records, making her one of the best-selling of all time. Turner also won twelve Grammy Awards and three Grammy Hall of Fame awards.