Consistently exhibits the brilliance of her acting talent to make first-class performances in any projects she is involved throughout her long career, Jessica Phyllis Lange indeed has earned respect from both critics and moviegoers to emerge as one of the most prominent female thespians of her generation. A comely, fine-shaped figure of Polish also Finnish ancestry, she was born as the third daughter of Al and Dorothy Lange on April 20, 1949 in a small city of Cloquet, Minnesota. Along with her three siblings, the girl passed her early life living nomadically around more than ten different places to follow her father carrying out his job as a traveling salesman before returned to her hometown and attended its Cloquet High School. Afterwards earned a scholarship to University of Minnesota by the fall 1967, she took art studies with the intention to fulfill her aspiration of becoming a painter, but quickly discovered that the college environment did not fit her restless nature and so decided to quit in the middle of her freshman year.
Pondering on what she would do next, Jessica unexpectedly found herself to be captivated by the art of mime upon watching Jean-Louis Barrault's performance in a screening of a classic French film "Les Enfants du Paradis" (1945) aka "The Children of Paradise." Desired to learn as many as she could about this artistic gesture, she recklessly headed for Paris to come under the guidance of great mime teacher Etienne Decroux and spent a couple years there to master the technique thoroughly. Since mime is in fact closely related to acting, it was not really surprising when this mesmerizing blond eventually sparked a profound interest in the latter field which then prompted her to take acting classes in New York soon after she made her return to U.S. However, life in the big city was indeed tough to undergo, let alone making a way in show business, so it forced her to instead become a model for Wihelmina Agency rather than that of an actress on a sole purpose: to cover all of her expenses.
Nevertheless, fate finally led Jessica to experience the taste of acting as she was recommended by the agency to producer Dino DeLaurentis who at that time was searching for a fresh face for the female lead in his remake of the 1933 “King Kong.” Initially not DeLaurentis' first choice to play the role, the brown-eyed beauty however managed to display her charm on the screen test, therefore changed the man's opinion and subsequently secured the part to appear opposite Jeff Bridges in the 1976 version of that giant ape. Though the picture was a commercial success with over $52 million domestic gross, reviews were mixed while the publicity on her was quite harsh despite her achievement of winning a Golden Globe Award for Best Acting Debut in a Motion Picture – Female by the year 1977. Taking a temporary withdrawal, it was not until 1979 that public could see her back to the screen through Bob Fosse's musical feature of “All That Jazz.”
Slowly but sure, Jessica steered her film career to a better direction with a few yet memorable performances in the two following years, notably that in “The Postman Always Rings Twice” (1981) which enabled her to encounter her breakthrough as a result of the rave response either critics or audience had directed toward her. 1983 even saw her star shining more radiantly when she strived to score both Best Actress in Supporting and Leading Role nominations at the 55th Annual Academy Awards, becoming the third actress to do so after Fay Bainter and Teresa Wright. Won the former one for her enactment in “Tootsie” (1982), this fair-haired lady amazingly once again became the Oscar nominee by 1985 in the category of Best Actress in Leading Role through her 1984 vehicle, “Country”, to then repeat the same attainment in 1986 also 1990, each for her performance in “Sweet Dream” (1985) and “Music Box” (1989).
Finally acquired the honor in 1995 through “Blue Sky”, Jessica continued to collect other prestigious accolades throughout the rest of 1990s, gaining a nomination at Emmy Awards while receiving a Golden Globe Award in 1996 through TV movie feature of “A Streetcar Named Desire” (1995). With all the outstanding accomplishments she had achieved, surely it was easy for her to grab roles in any kind of movies yet she firmly fixed her attention to much smaller productions instead of big-budgeted ones. “I don't do films that gross $100 million or whatever,” she admitted earnestly. “I have made decisions based from purely an actor's point of view. I could be making a lot more money now if I had chosen a different kind of movie, but none of that matters to me.” Regardless of her choice, she delightfully kept maintaining her knack in delivering fine portrayals of the characters she explored in her subsequent projects which included “A Thousand Acres” (1997), “Cousin Bette” (1998), and “Titus” (1999).
Once more obtained a nomination for another Emmy Award in 2003 and that of Golden Globes by 2004 through her satisfying turn in an HBO production of “Normal” (2003), Jessica kept running her acting career smoothly afterwards, appearing in “Masked & Anonymous” also “Big Fish” which both came up in 2003 then teamed up with Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, and Julie Delpy to film “Broken Flowers” (2005). Next starred alongside Tim Roth plus Gabriel Mann in “Don't Come Knocking” (2006), she moved on with her two other 2006 pictures of “Bonneville” and “The Mermaids Singing” before took part in Michael Sucsy's drama flick entitled “Grey Gardens” (2007). As for her love life, Jessica first married to photographer Paco Grande in 1970, but their relationship gradually got worsened so she turned her heart to Russian dancer also actor named Mikhail Baryshnikov in 1976 and even bore him a daughter, Alexandra, in 1981. By the time her divorce papers were finalized, however, she fell into the arms of Sam Shepard and has since lived together happily with their two children, Hannah Jane and Samuel Walker Shepard.