- Jessica Phyllis Lange
April 20, 1949 (age 72)
- Actor, Model, Film Producer, Photographer, Television Producer
- Sam Shepard
- Dorothy Sahlman, Albert John Lange
Jessica Phyllis Lange (born April 20, 1949) is an American actress who has worked in film, theater, and television. The recipient of several awards including two Oscars, two Emmys, five Golden Globes, and one SAG Award, Lange is one of the most celebrated actors of the modern era.
Lange was discovered by producer Dino De Laurentiis while modeling part-time for the Wilhelmina modelling agency. She made her professional film debut in his 1976 remake of the 1933 action-adventure classic, King Kong. In 1982, she became the first performer in forty years to receive two Oscar nominations within the same year; she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as a soap opera star in Tootsie and was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of the troubled actress, Frances Farmer, in Frances. Lange received three more nominations, for Country (1984), Sweet Dreams (1985) and Music Box (1989), before being nominated a sixth time and winning the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance as a manic depressive housewife in Blue Sky (1994). She later won her first Primetime Emmy Award for her portrayal of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis' famed aunt, Big Edie, in HBO's Grey Gardens (2009) and won her first Screen Actors Guild Award, along with a second Primetime Emmy Award for her performance as a murderous neighbor in FX's anthology horror show American Horror Story (2011–2012).
In addition to acting, Lange is a photographer with two published works. She has also been a foster parent and currently holds a Goodwill Ambassador position for UNICEF, specializing in HIV/AIDS in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in Russia.
Lange was born in Cloquet, Minnesota, on April 20, 1949. Her father, Albert John Lange (1913–1989), was a teacher and traveling salesman, and her mother, Dorothy Florence (née Sahlman; 1913–1998), was a housewife. She has two older sisters, Ann and Jane, and a younger brother, George. Her paternal ancestry originates in Germany and the Netherlands, while her maternal ancestry originates in Finland.
Due to the nature of her father's professions and to his hard-drinking and "extreme personality," her early home life was chaotic. Her family moved over a dozen times to various towns and cities in Minnesota before settling back down in her hometown, where she graduated from Cloquet High School.
In 1967, she received an art scholarship to study art and photography at the University of Minnesota where she met and began dating Spanish photographer, Francisco Grande. After the two married in 1970, Lange left college to pursue a more bohemian lifestyle, opting to travel throughout the United States and Mexico in a pickup truck with Grande. The couple then moved to Paris, France, where they drifted apart. While in Paris, Lange studied mime theater under famed instructor, Étienne Decroux, and joined the Opéra-Comique as a dancer.
In 1973, she returned to the United States and began work in New York City as a waitress at the Lion's Head Tavern in Greenwich Village. While sharing an apartment with Jerry Hall and Grace Jones in Manhattan, she was discovered by fashion illustrator Antonio Lopez and subsequently became a model for the Wilhelmina modelling agency.
It was while modelling that Lange was discovered by Hollywood producer Dino De Laurentiis, who was looking to cast his next leading lady, an ingenue for his remake of King Kong (1933).