The 5 Actresses Who Made A Name For Themselves Starring In Christmas Movies

TODAY -- Pictured: Candace Cameron-Bure on Friday, November 22, 2019 -- (Photo by: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Actresses like Donna Reed and Rosemary Clooney immediately come to mind when one thinks of stars whose careers took off after their unforgettable roles in our favorite Christmas movies.

But they aren’t the only ones as we take a look back at these leading ladies and more who can credit their big breaks in Hollywood to their roles in Holiday classics.

For starters, let’s look at Reed — who’s best known for her role as Mary Hatch in the most wonderful Christmas movie of all time, Frank Capra’s 1946 “It’s A Wonderful Life,” alongside Jimmy Stewart.

The young actress got her start out of college when she landed a part on the big screen in “The Getaway” in 1941, MSN.com noted. She would go on to score numerous supporting roles before she got the part in Capra’s film at the age of 25 that would change everything.

The role catapulted her career and in 1953 she scored her first Oscar for her part in the 1953 film “From Here to Eternity.” She later appeared in numerous movies before becoming very successful on the small screen, especially for her performances on her TV show “The Donna Reed Show,” starting in 1958. 

Another Christmas queen would have to be Natalie Wood, who reminded us all to never stop believing in the magic of Santa Claus as Susan Walker in the 1947 “Miracle on 34th Street,” alongside Maureen O’Hara.

Wood — who was just eight years old when she got the part — had already appeared in two other movies prior to landing her most famous role. Following the holiday classic, she went on to receive numerous film offers and became a huge box office success, appearing in movies like “The Searchers” and “West Side Story,” IMDb noted. Later in her career, she found success on the small screen and appeared in numerous made-for-TV movies and miniseries.


One leading lady that will forever be part of the Christmas season is George Clooney’s aunt Rosemary Clooney. She got her start in the music industry after winning a singing competition in her hometown of Cincinnati. At the age of 21, she moved to New York City and found success with her music. But at the age of 26, she took on the role of Betty Haynes in “White Christmas,” alongside screen legends Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye.

The movie is filled with numerous songs and dance numbers, with Clooney’s sultry voice being well showcased. Her performance in the holiday classic made the film a huge success and made Clooney a star on the big screen as well.

Before Zoey Deschannel lit up the big screen in “Elf,” she was just getting her foot in the door in the entertainment world. She had appeared in two other movies, but it wasn’t until she ended up scoring the unforgettable role of Jovie across from Will Ferrell in the 2003 holiday movie that her career really took off.  She’s since gone on to appear in numerous films and has found success on both the big and small screen.

Rounding out our list is Candace Cameron Bure. While most people got to know the young actress for her role in the hit TV series “Full House,” she really found success when she began appearing in Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel, earning her the title of Queen of Christmas.

During her time with the network, she appeared in a total of 10 Hallmark Christmas movies, with some of the most memorable ones being “Let It Snow” and “Christmas Under Wraps.”

Her success at the network helped catapult her career, and in 2022, she left Hallmark to develop, produce, and star in faith-based stories for the up and coming Great American Family Network.

Related: The Eight Best Classic Christmas Movies To Watch And Why

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