Jessica Lange (born April 20, 1949) is a two-time Academy Award-,
four-time Golden Globe-winning American stage and screen actress. With a career
that has spanned thirty-five years and six Oscar nominations, she may be most
notable for her performances in Frances, Tootsie, Sweet Dreams and Blue Sky.
Jessica, the third of four children, was born in Cloquet, Minnesota, the daughter of Dorothy Florence (née Sahlman) and Albert John Lange, who was a teacher and salesman. Her maternal grandparents were of Finnish descent, while her paternal grandparents were German and Dutch. Jessica Lange studied art briefly at the University of Minnesota before going to Paris, France, where she studied mime with Étienne Decroux. She returned to New York City, New York in 1973 and took acting lessons while working as a waitress and a fashion model for the Wilhelmina Models agency.
Jessica in King Kong (1976)In 1976, Dino De Laurentiis cast her in his motion picture remake of King Kong, which started and almost ended her career. Although the King Kong remake was a top moneymaker for Paramount Pictures, critics were not kind to the film and Lange did not appear in another film for three years, when Bob Fosse cast her as the glamorous figure of death in All That Jazz (1979). The unfavorable reviews were devastating but critics took notice with her impressive turn in Bob Rafelson's remake of The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981).
Jessica Lange's performance in her next film, Frances (1982), in which she portrayed actress Frances Farmer, was highly lauded and earned her a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress. She received two Academy Award nominations that year, the other for Best Supporting Actress in the comedy Tootsie (1982), for which she won. She continued giving impressive performances through the 1980s and 1990s in films such as Sweet Dreams (1984) (playing country/western singer Patsy Cline), Music Box (1989), Men Don't Leave (1990), and Blue Sky (1994), for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress.
In 1992, Jessica made her Broadway-theatre début in New York City opposite Alec Baldwin in Tennessee Williams's A Streetcar Named Desire. Jessica Lange appeared in the West End in London, United Kingdom, in 2000, as Mary Tyrone in Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night. In 2005, she returned to Broadway in another Tennessee Williams play, The Glass Menagerie with Christian Slater.
Jessica Lange is a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). She has also been a public critic of former U.S. President George W. Bush, once calling his administration, "a self-serving regime of deceit, hypocrisy and belligerence."
Jessica was married to photographer Paco Grande from 1970-1981. Since 1982, she has lived with playwright/actor Sam Shepard. She has three children, Aleksandra (born 1981) from her relationship with dancer/actor Mikhail Baryshnikov, and Hannah Jane (born 1985) and Walker Samuel (born 1987) with Shepard.
Jessica currently lives in New York City.
This Jessica Lange Biography Page is Copyright © 2004 - 2009 Chuck Ayoub