Jessica Lange Reveals Sexism and Agism in Hollywood Was 'Extreme' in the '40s, 50, and 60s'; Says It 'Hasn't Changed' Much

Jessica Lange, the beloved American actress and star of the iconic film King Kong, recently shed light on the rampant sexism and ageism that prevailed during the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. Shockingly, she shared that these discriminatory practices have not evolved much since then.

Published on Jun 01, 2024  |  05:37 PM IST |  34.1K
Jessica Lange (Getty Images)
Jessica Lange (Getty Images)

Jessica Lange, the renowned American actress and star of the movie Feud, has been a prominent figure in the entertainment industry for many years. With her extensive experience, she is in a perfect position to assess whether actresses today receive the recognition they truly deserve. Currently starring in the Tony-nominated play Mother on Broadway, Lange recently shared with PEOPLE that the treatment of actresses in Hollywood as they age has always been a recurring topic throughout her career.

"Sexism and ageism in the industry might have been more extreme in the '40s, '50s, and '60s," she says, "but it hasn't changed much."

At 75, Jessica Lange is now older than Joan Crawford ever was. Playing Crawford in the 2017 miniseries Feud: Bette and Joan gave Lange an extremely poignant perspective on how roles for women in Hollywood have always been scarce, from Crawford's time filming Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? to today.

ALSO READ Jessica Lange's New Broadway Mother Play With Jim Parsons And Celia Keenan-Bolger: All We Know So Far

Jessica Lange: Joan Crawford's past makes her achievements admirable

“Once I looked into Joan Crawford's history and childhood, it was nightmarish,” recalls Jessica Lange. “The fact that she achieved so much in life made her incredibly admirable.”

During the Ryan Murphy-produced series, costar Susan Sarandon, who played Bette Davis, told PEOPLE that Golden Age Hollywood starlets “had amazing roles but were left high and dry when they got older… Many beautiful women struggled to age within the system.”

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Jessica Lange and her fellow actors, including Sarandon (77), have consistently evolved and embraced challenges in both theater and film, securing diverse roles over many years.

Reflecting on her debut in Dino De Laurentiis’ King Kong remake in 1967, Lange acknowledges her strong will: “I've always been extremely willful, and it's not something I'm proud of, but I recognize it,” she tells PEOPLE.

ALSO READ Jessica Lange Slams Hollywood For Sacrificing 'Creative Process' For 'Corporate Profit Motive'

Jessia Lange defies industry bias with two Oscars, three Emmys, and a Tony

"Maybe it was good that I had no other experience, so I just did it," she reflects on her rapid entry into Hollywood. "I was naive and didn't know any different, I guess."

Lange has since challenged industry biases, earning two Oscars for 1982’s Tootsie and 1995’s Blue Sky, three Emmys for 2009’s Grey Gardens and seasons 1 and 3 of American Horror Story, and a Tony Award for 2016’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night — soon to be reprised in a film.

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“There's such depth to these characters,” Jessica Lange says of her expanding repertoire, which now includes The Great Lillian Hall premiering on HBO May 31. “For me, it's always about exploring the emotional life. Is it profound enough?”

The roles that resonate with Lange the most, she adds, are those of “women on the edge, perhaps teetering on an emotional tightrope. Is it madness? Is it not? That's the moment where my imagination kicks in and I think, I want to do this.”

ALSO READ The Great Lillian Hall Unveils New Trailer With Jessica Lange And Lily Rabe As Theatre Stars: WATCH

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About The Author

Shivangi Prajapati is a writer by profession and passion. With her extensive research, she loves breaking down complex information,

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