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

by Shanee Edwards
Feb 24, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. ET

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.

1 /17: First woman to go nude in a mainstream movie

1/17 :First woman to go nude in a mainstream movie

Audrey Munson was the first woman to bare it all in the film The Inspiration way back in 1915.

2 /17: First woman to play Hamlet on film

2/17 :First woman to play Hamlet on film

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

3 /17: First woman to be pregnant on TV

3/17 :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.

4 /17: First black actress to star in TV sitcom

4/17 :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.

5 /17: First woman to play the president on film

5/17 :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.

6 /17: First black actress to star in a TV drama

6/17 :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.

7 /17: First woman to share interracial kiss on TV

7/17 :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.

8 /17: First miscarriage storyline on TV

8/17 :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.

9 /17: First prime time TV character to have an abortion

9/17 :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.

10 /17: First TV movie about a female superhero

10/17 :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.

11 /17: First feature film about a female superhero

11/17 :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.

12 /17: First woman to use the word 'period' on TV

12/17 :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.

 

13 /17: First woman to come out as gay on TV

13/17 :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.

14 /17: First lesbian kiss on a soap opera

14/17 :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.

15 /17: First woman to play major league baseball on TV

15/17 :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.  

16 /17: First black woman to play president on TV

16/17 :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.

 

17 /17: First female-driven Wall Street movie

17/17 :First female-driven Wall Street movie

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