Jane Alexander

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Jane Alexander
JaneAlexanderMarch08.jpg
Alexander in March 2008
BornJane Quigley
(1939-10-28) October 28, 1939 (age 74)
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
OccupationActress, author
Years active1970–present
Spouse(s)Robert Alexander (m. 1962–74)
Edwin Sherin (m. 1975)
 
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Jane Alexander
JaneAlexanderMarch08.jpg
Alexander in March 2008
BornJane Quigley
(1939-10-28) October 28, 1939 (age 74)
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
OccupationActress, author
Years active1970–present
Spouse(s)Robert Alexander (m. 1962–74)
Edwin Sherin (m. 1975)

Jane Alexander (born October 28, 1939) is an American actress, author, and former director of the National Endowment for the Arts. Although perhaps best known for playing the female lead in The Great White Hope on both stage and screen, she has played an array of roles in theater, film and television, and has committed herself to a variety of charitable causes. Alexander has won a Tony, two Emmys and has been nominated for an Academy Award four times.

Early life[edit]

Alexander was born Jane Quigley in Boston, Massachusetts, daughter of Ruth Elizabeth (née Pearson), a nurse, and Thomas B. Quigley, an orthopedic surgeon.[1] She graduated from Beaver Country Day School, an all-girls school in Chestnut Hill outside of Boston, where she discovered her love of acting.[2]

Encouraged by her father to go to college before embarking on an acting career, Alexander attended Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York, where she concentrated on theater but also studied mathematics with an eye toward computer programming, in the event that she failed as an actress. Also while at Sarah Lawrence, she shared an apartment with Hope Cooke who would become Queen Consort of Sikkim. Alexander spent her junior year studying at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, where she participated in the Edinburgh University Dramatic Society. The experience, together with apparently good reviews of her performances, solidified her determination to continue acting.[2]

Career[edit]

Alexander in the 1960s

Alexander's major break in acting came in 1967 when she played Eleanor Backman in the original production of Howard Sackler's The Great White Hope at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. Like her co-star, James Earl Jones, she went on to play the part both on Broadway (1968), winning a Tony Award for her performance, and in the film version (1970), which earned her an Oscar nomination.[3] Alexander's additional screen credits include All the President's Men (1976), Kramer vs. Kramer (1979), and Testament (1983), all of which earned her Oscar nods, Brubaker (1980), The Cider House Rules (1999), and Fur (2006), in which she played Gertrude Nemerov, mother of Diane Arbus, played in the film by Nicole Kidman.

The play The Time of Your Life was revived in March 17, 1972 at the Huntington Hartford Theater in Los Angeles with Alexander, Henry Fonda, Gloria Grahame, Lewis J. Stadlen, Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Thompson, Strother Martin, Richard X. Slattery and Pepper Martin among the cast with Edwin Sherin directing.[4][5]

Alexander portrayed Eleanor Roosevelt in two television productions, Eleanor and Franklin (1976) and Eleanor and Franklin: The White House Years (1977); and she played FDR's mother, Sara Delano Roosevelt, in HBO's Warm Springs (2005) with Kenneth Branagh and Cynthia Nixon, a role which garnered her an Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Alexander co-starred with Rachel Roberts in Steven Gether's teleplay and production of A Circle of Children (1977), about parents coping with their emotionally disturbed children (with an emphasis on autism), which won Gether an Emmy.

Alexander's other television films include Arthur Miller's Playing for Time, co-starring Vanessa Redgrave, for which Alexander won another Emmy Award; Malice in Wonderland (as famed gossip-monger Hedda Hopper); Blood & Orchids; and In Love and War (1987) co-starring James Woods, which tells the story of James and Sybil Stockdale during Stockdale's eight years as a US Navy Commander and prisoner of war in Vietnam. Alexander also played the protagonist, Dr. May Foster, in the HBO drama series Tell Me You Love Me. Her character, a psychotherapist, serves as the connecting link between three couples coping with relational and sexual difficulties. The show's frank portrayal of "senior" sexuality and explicit sex scenes generated controversy, although it won a rare endorsement by the AARP. She also had a minor role as Dr.Graznik in The Ring.

In 1993, President Bill Clinton appointed Alexander chair of the National Endowment for the Arts, the organization that had provided partial funding for The Great White Hope at Arena Stage. Alexander moved to Washington, DC and served as chair of the NEA until 1997. Her book, Command Performance: an Actress in the Theater of Politics (2000), describes the challenges she faced heading the NEA at a time when the 104th U.S. Congress, headed by Newt Gingrich, unsuccessfully strove to shut it down.[2] She was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1999.[6]

In 2004, Alexander, together with her husband, Edwin Sherin, joined the theater faculty at Florida State University.[7] She serves on various boards, including the Wildlife Conservation Society, Project Greenhope, the National Stroke Association, and Women's Action for Nuclear Disarmament, and she has received the Israel Cultural Award and the Helen Caldicott Leadership Award. Alexander is also a fellow of the International Leadership Forum.[8]

Personal life[edit]

Alexander met her first husband, Robert Alexander, in the early 1960s in New York City, where both were pursuing acting careers. They had one son, Jace Alexander, in 1964; and the couple divorced in 1974. Alexander had been acting regularly in various regional theaters when she met producer/director Edwin Sherin in Washington, D.C., where he was Artistic Director at Arena Stage. Alexander starred in the original theatrical production of The Great White Hope under Sherin's direction at Arena Stage prior to the play's Broadway debut. The two became good friends and, once divorced from their respective spouses, became romantically involved, marrying in 1975. Between the two, they have four children, Alexander's son—Jace, a television director—and Sherin's three sons—Tony, Geoffrey, and Jon.[2]

Body of work[edit]

Film[edit]

Film
YearTitleRoleNotes
1970Great White Hope, TheThe Great White HopeEleanor BackmanNominated—Academy Award for Best Actress
Nominated—Golden Globe for Most Promising Newcomer – Female
Nominated—Golden Laurel Award Star of Tomorrow
1971Gunfight, AA GunfightNora TennerayUSA title Gunfight
1972New Centurions, TheThe New CenturionsDorothy Fehleraka Precinct 45: Los Angeles Police
1976All the President's MenBookkeeperNominated—Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
1978Betsy, TheThe BetsyAlicia Hardemanaka Harold Robbins' The Betsy
1979Kramer vs. KramerMargaret PhelpsNominated—Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
Nominated—National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress (3rd place)
Nominated—New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress (2nd place)
1980BrubakerLillian Gray
1982Night CrossingDoris Strelzyk
1983TestamentCarol WetherlyNominated—Academy Award for Best Actress
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
Nominated—Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress (2nd place)
1984City HeatAddy
1987Sweet CountryAnnaaka Glykeia patrida (Greece)
1987Square DanceJuanelleaka Home Is Where the Heart Is (USA: TV title)
1989GlorySarah Blake Sturgis Shaw(uncredited)
1999Cider House Rules, TheThe Cider House RulesNurse EdnaNominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
2002Sunshine StateDelia Temple
2002Ring, TheThe RingDr. Grasnik
2006Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane ArbusGertrude Nemerov
2007Feast of LoveEsther Stevenson
2008GiganticMrs. Weathersby
2009Unborn, TheThe UnbornSofi Kozma
2009Terminator SalvationVirginia
2011Dream HouseDr. Greeley
2013Mr. Morgan's Last LoveJoan Morgan

Television[edit]

Television
YearTitleRoleNotes
1969N.Y.P.D.Episode "The Night Watch"
1969Adam-12Records ClerkEpisode "Log 112: You Blew It" (uncredited)
1972Welcome Home, Johnny BristolAnne Palmer
1973Miracle on 34th StreetKaren Walker
1974This Is the West That WasSarah Shaw
1975Death Be Not ProudFrances Gunther
1976Eleanor and FranklinEleanor Roosevelt, age 18–60Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress – Miniseries or a Movie
1977A Circle of ChildrenMary MacCrackenCBS two night mini-series The first of three novel adaptations
Mary MacCracken starred Matthew Laborteaux who was best known as Albert Ingalls on Little House On The Prairie
1977Eleanor and Franklin: The White House YearsEleanor RooseveltNominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress – Miniseries or a Movie
1978Question of Love, AA Question of LoveBarbara Morelandaka A Purely Legal Matter
1978Lovey: A Circle of Children, Part IIMary MacCrackenSecond of three TV Movies broadcast over two nights on CBS Followed in 1980 approximately with The City Kid
reprising the role as Mary MacCraken for a third and final time.
1980Playing for TimeAlma RosePrimetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress – Miniseries or a Movie
1981Dear LiarMrs. Patrick Campbell
1982In the Custody of StrangersSandy Caldwell
1984When She Says NoNora Strangis
1984Calamity JaneCalamity Jane (Martha Jane Canary)Bronze Wrangler Award for Fictional Television Drama
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress – Miniseries or a Movie
1985Malice in WonderlandHedda Hopperaka The Rumor Mill
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress – Miniseries or a Movie
1986Blood & OrchidsDoris Ashley
1987In Love and WarSybil Stockdale
1988A Friendship in ViennaHannah DournenvaldNominated—CableACE Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie
1988Open AdmissionsGinny Carlsen
1990Daughter of the StreetsPeggy Ryan
1991Marriage: Georgia O'Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz, AA Marriage: Georgia O'Keeffe and Alfred StieglitzGeorgia O'Keeffe
1992Stay the NightBlanche Kettman
1993New YearElsie Robertson
2000Law & Order: Special Victims UnitRegina MulroneyEpisode "Entitled"
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress – Drama Series (also for Law & Order episode "Entitled: Part 2")
2000Law & OrderRegina MulroneyEpisode "Entitled: Part 2"
2001JeniferMarilyn Estess
2001Bitter Winter
2004Freedom: A History of UsJane AddamsEpisode "Yearning to Breathe Free"
2004Carry Me HomeMrs. GortimerNominated—Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Performer in a Children/Youth/Family Special
2005Warm SpringsSara Delano RooseveltPrimetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress – Miniseries or a Movie
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film
2006The|Way|The Way (2006 film)Helen Warden
2007Tell Me You Love MeDr. May Foster(10 episodes)
2008Louisa May AlcottEdnah Cheney
2011Deck the HallsNora Regan Reilly
2011The Good WifeJudge Suzanne Morris(3 episodes)
2011William & Catherine: A Royal RomanceQueen Elizabeth II
2013The BlacklistDiane Fowler(3 episodes)
2013Forgive MeBookie(4 episodes)
2014ElementaryThe Pen Pal

Stage[edit]

Stage
DateProductionRoleNotes
3 October 1968 – 31 January 1970Great White Hope, TheThe Great White HopeEleanor BachmanDrama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Play
Theatre World Award
Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play
17 October 1972 – 19 May 19736 Rms Riv VuAnne MillerNominated—Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play
13 December 1973 – 4 May 1974Find Your Way HomeJacqueline HarrisonNominated—Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play
17 December 1975 – 25 January 1976HamletGertrude
20 April 1976 – 9 May 1976Heiress, TheThe HeiressCatherine Sloper
3 October 1978 – 9 December 1978First Monday in OctoberJudge Ruth LoomisNominated—Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play
23 April 1980 – 26 April 1980Goodbye FidelNatalia
14 December 1982 – 18 December 1982Monday After the MiracleAnnie
26 June 1988 – 4 September 1988Night of the Iguana, TheThe Night of the IguanaMaxine Faulk(revival)
11 November 1990 – 7 April 1991ShadowlandsJoy Davidman
23 January 1992 – 1 March 1992Visit, TheThe VisitClaire ZachanassianNominated—Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Play
Nominated—Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play
18 March 1993 – 16 July 1994Sisters Rosensweig, TheThe Sisters RosensweigSara GoodeDrama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Play
Nominated—Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play
26 April 1998 – 14 June 1998HonourHonorNominated—Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Jane Alexander Biography (1939–)". Filmreference.com. Retrieved 2010-06-19. 
  2. ^ a b c d Alexander, Jane. Command Performance: an Actress in the Theater of Politics. PublicAffairs, a member of the Perseus Book Group; New York, NY, 2000. ISBN 1-891620-06-1. pp1-16
  3. ^ Lawson,"Howard Sackler, 52, Playwright Who Won Pulitzer Prize, Dead;" NYT (The New York Times)
  4. ^ "WorldCat". Worldcat.org. Retrieved 2012-01-22. 
  5. ^ "Hollywood Beat". The Afro American. 1972-04-08. Retrieved 2012-01-22. 
  6. ^ "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter A". American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 14 April 2011. 
  7. ^ "Office of Research: Research In Review: Portrait: Jane Alexander, Max Gunzberger". Rinr.fsu.edu. Retrieved 2010-07-26. 
  8. ^ "Women's International Center (biographies)". Wic.org. Retrieved 2010-06-19. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]