10 Pop Divas Who Rocked It On Film (Or Tried)
These gay icons made the switch from the pop charts to film ”“ with varying degrees of success.
BY ADAM SANDELMAY 16 2015 1:55 PM ET
Queen Latifah digs deep into the soul of 1920s bisexual blues singer Bessie Smith in HBO’s new biopic Bessie. Although she’s already chalked up a long list of screen credits, including an Oscar-nominated turn in Chicago, Latifah is the latest in a long line of pop stars who’ve made the jump to film, occasionally playing legendary singers from days gone by.
While some gay icon divas such as Barbra Streisand and Liza Minnelli started out as actors, moving effortlessly between film roles and pop hits, Hollywood has a long tradition of putting pop stars into movies in hopes that their chart-topping prowess will translate to box office gold.
Here are ten pop divas who made the switch from music to the movies ”“ with varying degrees of success.
Mariah Carey: Glitter (2001)
The chart-topping diva of the ”˜90s did not set the film world on fire in this rags-to-riches tale of a rising pop star. In fact, it’s considered one of the biggest bombs of all time. In this case, all that glitters is not gold.
Tina Turner: Tommy (1975)
The force-of-nature Tina Turner is shown off to great advantage in Ken Russell’s psychedelic film version of The Who’s rock opera. She’s the gypsy, the acid queen, and by god, you believe it.
Dolly Parton: Nine to Five (1980)
The country-legend-turned-pop-star’s on-stage charisma translated beautifully to film ”“ and she holds her own against Oscar winner Jane Fonda and comic genius Lily Tomlin in this office revenge tale. She also earned an Oscar nod for writing the film’s toe-tapping title song.
Diana Ross: Lady Sings the Blues (1972)
The former Supreme proved herself a serious actress in her Oscar-nominated film debut as the legendary, tragic blues singer Billie Holiday.
Cher: Moonstruck (1987)
After her Oscar-nominated supporting role in Silkwood, the “Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves” singer came into her own, and won a Best Actress Oscar, in this enchanting tale of a dowdy widow who comes alive through an unlikely romance with a troubled baker, who just happens to be the brother of her fiancÃ©.
Christina Aguilera: Burlesque (2010)
Cher (Wagon Wheel Watusi!) plays mentor to newbie Aguilera ”“ who rocks her film debut ”“ in this cheesy, but wildly entertaining, tale of an up-and-coming burlesque star climbing to the top in Hollywood.
Whitney Houston: The Bodyguard (1992)
There’s no good reason why this story of Kevin Costner as a bodyguard in charge of Houston’s pop diva should have worked ”“ except that it does. The movie’s smash hit soundtrack includes some of Houston’s greatest hits, including “I Have Nothing” and her epic version of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You.”
Bette Midler: The Rose (1979)
The beloved gay icon made a stunning Oscar-nominated film debut as a troubled but talented Janis Joplin-esque rock star whose personal demons tear away at her, despite the adoration of millions of fans.
Beyonce: Dreamgirls (2006)
Jennifer Hudson stole the spotlight and won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her take on troubled diva Effie White (based on The Supremes’ Florence Ballard), but Beyonce still shimmers and shines as the Diana Ross-esque star of a 1960s girl group.
Madonna: Evita (1996)
It took a few tries (forget Shanghai Surprise and Who’s That Girl), but the Queen of Pop finally found her groove playing Argentina’s first lady Eva Peron in this film version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s overwrought musical play. She even won a Golden Globe for her performance.