A well-known actress since the 1970s, Jessica Lange has received many awards for
her acting skills. She gained public notice while playing roles like that of
Carly Marshall in Blue Sky. Her bright performance was awarded with a Sant Jordi
Award for Best Foreign Actress. She is also famous for her performance as
Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire (1996, TV), which gained her a Golden
Globe award. This is just a taste of what Jessica has accomplished as an
The 64th Sexiest Star in film history according to Empire magazine
(1995), was reported to have given much attention to human rights and
children. She gave support for the right of Monks of Nepal and she
was one of the goodwill ambassadors for the United Nations Children's
Fund and once even spent a week in Congo. Commenting about her
activity, Jessica said, "The fighting in northeastern Congo has
created the worst humanitarian crisis on the planet.
Off screen, Jessica became headlines because of her romantic links. She had a
special relationship with Bob Fosse, director of All That Jazz (1979), in which
she also starred. She was also once involved with Mikhail Baryshnikov (dancer
and actor), from whom she has a daughter. However, Jessica first married
photographer Paco Grande in 1970, but they divorced in 1982. Finally, she met
Sam Shepard (playwright, actor, and director) while filming Frances in 1982 and
the couple remain together still.
Childhood and Family:
The third daughter of Al Lange (salesman, teacher; born in 1913; died in 1989)
and Dorothy Lange (born in 1913), Jessica Phyllis Lange was born on April 20,
1949, in Cloquet, Minnesota. Along with her older sisters (Ann Lange and Jane
Lange) and her younger brother (George Lange, pilot), Jessica had a traveling
childhood. She moved at least 18 times while growing up because her father
changed jobs often.
Young Jessica entered her formal education in her native Cloquet High School in
Cloquet, Minnesota. She received a scholarship to continue her studies at the
University of Minnesota where she majored in Fine Arts. Jessica decided to drop
out after two years at the university and escaped to Paris where she studied
mime and dancing under Etienne Decroux.
The most important things in Jessica's life are her children. She has one
daughter (Alexandra Baryshnikov, born in 1981) from her relationship with
Mikhail Baryshnikov. She also has a daughter (Hannah Jane Shepard, born 1985)
and a son (Samuel Walker Shepard, born on June 14, 1987) with common-law
husband, actor Sam Shepard. Jessica often took her children with her while she
was working in films or plays. Commenting about her relationship with her
children, Jessica said, "They're the only thing I think in my life that ever
really anchored me, that I've ever felt cemented to. And I just enjoy them more
than anyone else in the world. And I'd rather hang out with them than anyone
else. I'd rather be with them than with anyone else. I find them infinitely
Though Jessica is very busy with her work and humanity activities, she still has
time to relax. When she is free, Jessica enjoys photography and gardening.
King Kong Girl
The traveling life of Jessica Lange once sent her to New York where she worked
as a waitress for the Lion Head bar, then signed a contract with Wilhelmina
Agency to be a model in the mid of 1970s. After participating in some auditions,
Jessica finally was cast to play Dwan in the remake of King Kong (1976). She won
a Golden Globe Award for Best Acting Debut-Female that same year.
Though Jessica's debut in acting won her the award, it took almost three years
before she appeared in her next film, Bob Fosse's autobiographical All That Jazz
(1979, played Angelique). She next played a supporting role in How to Beat the
High Co$t of Living (1980) and made her theater debut in a summer stock
production of "Angel on My Shoulder" in North Carolina.
In the year 1981, Jessica broke through into major stardom when she was cast
opposite Jack Nicholson in Bob Rafelson's The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981).
During the same year she also played a role in The Best Little Girl in the World
Coming back to the silver screen, Jessica was seen in Frances (1982, played the
role of Frances Farmer) and Tootsie (1982, played the character of Julie
Nichols). In the following year, Jessica became the first actress since 1942 to
be nominated for two Oscars (Best Actress for Frances and Best Supporting
Actress for Tootsie) in a single year. Jessica also co-produced and starred in
the movie Country (1984). Her bright performance in the film brought her another
Oscar nomination for Best Actress.
Though Jessica was known for her acting on the wide screen, she went back to
perform on TV. She played Maggie in the Showtime production of Tennessee
Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1985). She was also cast as Patsy Cline in
Sweet Dreams (1985) and received a Best Actress Academy Award nomination for her
excellent performance in the film. The beauty Jessica could still be seen in
films. She played the role of Margaret 'Meg' Magrath in Crimes of the Heart
(1986), starred in Far North (1988, helmed by her husband) and she was cast as
Babs Rogers Grey in Everybody's All-American (1988). In 1989, Jessica earned a
Best Actress Oscar nomination for her performance as lawyer Ann Talbot who
defends her father against Nazi war crimes, in Costa-Gavras' The Music Box.
In the early 1990s, Jessica played roles in such films as Men Don't Leave (1990,
as Beth Macauley) , Cape Fear (1991, portrayed Leigh Bowden, starring Nick Nolte
and Robert De Niro) and Night and the City (1992, starred as Helen Nasseros,
opposite De Niro). She also played the lead role of Alexandra Bergson in the CBS
adaptation of Willa Cather's O Pioneers (1992, TV). In the same year, Jessica
made her Broadway debut opposite Alec Baldwin in Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar
In 1994, Jessica won Golden Globe award for Best Actress for her performance as
Carly Marshall in Blue Sky (1994). She continued her acting career by taking
roles in the films Losing Isaiah (1995) and Rob Roy (1995). Jessica also
reprised character Blanche DuBois for a small screen adaptation of A Streetcar
Named Desire and again won a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Leading
Role-Mini-Series or Television Movie in 1996.
During 1996 and 1997, Jessica made a London stage debut as Blanche in A
Streetcar Named Desire, staged by Peter Hall. She also played Martha Baring in
the wide screen thriller Hush (1998) and had the title role in Cousin Bette
(1998). The following year, Jessica undertook her first Shakespearean role as
Tamora, opposite Anthony Hopkins, in Titus (1999).
After appearing on wide screen, Jessica came back to the London stage to star as
Mary Tyrone in Long Day's Journey Into Night in 2000. A year later moviegoers
could see her perform in Prozac Nation (2001), where she played the role of
In 2003, Jessica costarred in the HBO movie Normal by playing the role of Irma.
The role gave her two nominations, an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a
Miniseries or a Movie, and a Golden Globe nomination for best actress in a mini
series or television movie. Jessica also had a small role in Masked and
Anonymous (2003, portrayed Nina Veronica). The last film she was seen in during
2003 was Big Fish, in which she played Albert Finney's wife.
Recently, Jessica returned to Broadway in another Tennessee Williams' play, The
Glass Menagerie. She also can be seen in the movies Don't Come Knocking (2005,
as Doreen), Broken Flowers (2005), Never was (2005, as Katherine Pierson) and
Jessica is scheduled to star in the forthcoming dramatic fantasy, The Mermaids
Singing (2006, as Cliona).
Women in Film Crystal Awards: Crystal Award, 2000.
Sant Jordi Award: Best Foreign Actress, Blue Sky, 1996.
Golden Globe: Best Actress in a Leading Role--Mini-Series or
Television Movie, A Streetcar Named Desire, 1996.
Golden Globe: Best Actress in a Leading Role-Drama, Blue Sky, 1995.
Los Angeles Film Critics Association: Best Actress, Blue Sky, 1994.
Joseph Plateau: Best Actress, 1986.
Joseph Plateau: Best Actress, 1985.
National Society of Film Critics: Best Supporting Actress, Tootsie,
New York Film Critics Circle: Best Supporting Actress, Tootsie, 1982.
Golden Globe: Best Supporting Actress, Tootsie, 1982.
Oscar: Best Supporting Actress, Tootsie, 1982.
Golden Globe: Best Acting Debut-Female, King Kong, 1976.