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All the Times Women Made TV & Film History Dating Back to 1915

Shanee Edwards is a screenwriter who earned her master's degree at UCLA Film School. She recently won the Next MacGyver television writing competition to create a TV show about a female engineer. Her TV pilot, Ada and the Machine, is cur...

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Cracks in the glass ceiling

Design: Michaela Early/SheKnows; images: Getty Images, NBC
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Cracks in the glass ceiling

Women in entertainment are shaking things up and making history — with Viola Davis as the first black woman to be nominated for an Oscar three times, Anna Kendrick set to play a female Santa Claus and Israeli actress Gal Gadot to star as Wonder Woman in her own stand-alone superhero movie. But these women aren't, by any means, the first to break stereotypes or shatter glass ceilings. Here are 17 other exciting female firsts.

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First woman to play Hamlet on film

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First woman to play Hamlet on film

Asta Nielsen was the first woman to play Shakespeare's famous Prince Hamlet on film in 1921.

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First woman to be pregnant on TV

CBS
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First woman to be pregnant on TV

Mary Kay Stearns was really pregnant on the show Mary Kay & Johnny. The show ran from 1947 to 1950.

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First black actress to star in TV sitcom

ABC
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First black actress to star in TV sitcom

Ethel Waters was the first black actress to star in her own comedy TV show, The Beulah Show, in 1950.

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First woman to play the president on film

Galaxy Pictures
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First woman to play the president on film

Ernestine Barrier was the first woman to play the U.S. president in the 1953 film Project Moonbase.

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First black actress to star in a TV drama

CBS
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First black actress to star in a TV drama

Cecely Tyson was the first black actress to star in a TV drama, Eastside, Westside, in 1963.

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First woman to share interracial kiss on TV

NBC
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First woman to share interracial kiss on TV

Nichelle Nichols, with William Shatner, shared the first interracial kiss on TV's Star Trek in 1968.

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First miscarriage storyline on TV

CBS
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First miscarriage storyline on TV

Sally Struthers was the first woman to deal with a miscarriage on TV in the show All in the Family in 1971.

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First prime time TV character to have an abortion

CBS
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First prime time TV character to have an abortion

Bea Arthur became the first woman to have a legal abortion on prime-time TV on the show Maude in 1972.

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First TV movie about a female superhero

Warner Bros. TV
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First TV movie about a female superhero

In the 1974 Wonder Woman, Cathy Lee Crosby starred in the first TV movie about a female superhero.

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First feature film about a female superhero

TriStar Pictures
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First feature film about a female superhero

Supergirl, played by Helen Slater, was the first superhero feature film to star a female character in 1984.

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First woman to use the word 'period' on TV

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First woman to use the word 'period' on TV

Courteney Cox was the first person to say the word "period" on TV in a Tampax commercial in 1985.

 

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First woman to come out as gay on TV

Touchstone TV
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First woman to come out as gay on TV

Ellen DeGeneres was the first actress to come out as gay on TV in the show Ellen in 1997.

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First lesbian kiss on a soap opera

ABC
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First lesbian kiss on a soap opera

In 2003, Eden Riegel and Olga Sosnovska engaged in the first lesbian kiss on an American soap opera, All My Children.

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First woman to play major league baseball on TV

Fox TV
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First woman to play major league baseball on TV

Kylie Bunbury stars in the TV show Pitch, about the first woman to play baseball in the Major Leagues.  

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First black woman to play president on TV

Universal TV
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First black woman to play president on TV

State of Affairs' Alfre Woodard was the first black actress to play the U.S. president on TV.

 

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First female-driven Wall Street movie

Sony Pictures Classics
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First female-driven Wall Street movie

Anna Gunn and Alysia Reiner star in Equity, the first movie focused on the women of Wall Street.

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