LIFE With Actresses on the Brink of Fame

Seen here in a 1954 photo that ended up on the cover of LIFE, Moreno debuted on Broadway at 13 before making it big years later in the film version of West Side Story.
Loomis Dean—TIME & LIFE Pictures/Getty Images
Seen here in a 1954 photo that ended up on the cover of LIFE, Moreno debuted on Broadway at 13 before making it big years later in the film version of West Side Story.
Actresses
1939
1961

There’s nothing quite like charting the ascent of a major new Hollywood player, and as the premier pictorial weekly of its era, LIFE magazine was uniquely positioned to feature more than a few famous faces early in their careers, well before they became bona fide stars.

Here, LIFE.com offers a gallery of some of moviedom’s most celebrated (and gorgeous) young talents on the very brink of life-altering fame, from Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn to Kim Novak, Ann-Margret, Liz Taylor, Rita Moreno, Catherine Deneuve and other film legends.

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