Jessica Lange became an actress on her own. She, unlike Jane or Peter Fonda, did not have the support of a family member or a mentor in launching her acting career. She also did not have the advantage of having studied acting for a full four years in a college or university environment. She did, however, study acting for a while at the University of Minnesota, but left before graduation and went to Paris to study mime. At age 24, in 1973 she returned to the United Studies and settled in New York City where she took up acting lessons and supported herself by working as a waitress and also modeled for the Wilhelmina Modeling Agency.
After three years, in 1976, of studying acting and modeling she got a part in the remake of “King Kong”, the Dino De Laurentiis-directed film. She clearly was not ready for an acting career yet. Her performance in the film was apparently horrible, and she was widely castigated by the press for her horrendous performance. It did not help, that not only her performance, but the entire film was a flop. But the experience was a great lesson for Jessica. She vowed that her next performance would be much better, and she set out on improving her acting by continuing to take more acting lessons.
Five years later, in 1981, Lange got another opportunity in her next film, another remake, “The Postman Always Rings Twice”. She made an impressive return. Her 1976 performance in “King Kong” had taught her an apparently valuable lesson.
In her next film, “Frances”, in 1982, she portrayed actress Frances Farmer. Her performance was highly praised and she was nominated by the Academy Awards Organization for Best Actress. Unfortunately for her, she did not win. That same year she also had a supporting role in the more famous film, “Tootsie”, where she played opposite Dustin Hoffman. For her role in that film she was nominated by the Academy Awards Organization for Best Supporting Actress, which she won. So within two years of becoming a professional actress, not counting the “King Kong” debacle, she won her first Academy Award.
During the remainder of the eighties and nineties she continued numerous roles in a variety of films, such as, among others, “Sweet Dreams” in 1985, “Music Box” in 1989, and ”Blue Sky” in 1994. For the latter film she was nominated and won the Best Actress Academy Award.
In 1992, Lange played opposite Alec Baldwin in the Broadway stage play, “A Streetcar Named Desire”. “A Streetcar Named Desire”, in which Lange also played, appeared on television in 1995. She enjoyed performing on stage, and in the year 2000 appeared on the London stage as Mary Tyrone in Eugene O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Journey into Night”. In 2005 she returned to Broadway in Tennessee Williams’ Play, “The Glass Menagerie”.
During her entire acting career she has appeared in 37 films or other theatrical productions. She was a producer for one film, “Country” in 1984, and she has appeared in close to 50 other television appearances, guest appearances and other theatrical endeavors.
Jessica Lange was born in Cloquet, Minnesota, on April 20, 1949. Her father was of Dutch and German descent and her mother was Finnish. Her home life, while she was young, was apparently rather erratic because her father was a traveling salesman and the family moved about frequently. Lange was married to Paco Grande from 1970 to 1981. She has a daughter, Alexandra, with Mikhail Baryshnikov. Since 1982 she has lived with playwright/actor Sam Shepard, with whom she has two children, Hanna and Walker. Lange lives in New York City. She is also a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF.
Jessica Lange, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jessica_Lange
Jessica Lange, www.answers.com/topic/jessica-lange
Jessica Lange, www.imdb.com/name/nm0001448
Jessica Lange, www.danceage.com/biography/sdmc_Jessica_Lange (link no longer active)
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