Jane Alexander

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This article is about the actress. For other people with the same name, see Jane Alexander (disambiguation).
Jane Alexander
JaneAlexanderMarch08.jpg
Alexander in March 2008
Born Jane Quigley
(1939-10-28) October 28, 1939 (age 74)
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Occupation Actress, author
Years active 1970–present
Spouse(s) Robert Alexander (m. 1962–74) (divorced)
Edwin Sherin (m. 1975)
Children 1

Jane Alexander (born October 28, 1939) is an American actress, author and former director of the National Endowment for the Arts. She is a Tony Award winner and two-time Emmy Award winner.

Alexander made her Broadway debut in 1968 in The Great White Hope and won the 1969 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play. Other Broadway credits include, 6 Rms Riv Vu (1972), The Night of the Iguana (1988), The Sisters Rosensweig (1993) and Honour (1998). She has received a total of seven Tony Award nominations and was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 1994.[1]

She went on to star in the film version of The Great White Hope in 1970 and received the first of four Academy Award nominations for her performance. Her subsequent Oscar nominations were for All the President's Men (1976), Kramer vs Kramer (1979) and Testament (1983). An eight-time Emmy nominee, she received her first nomination for playing Eleanor Roosevelt in Eleanor and Franklin (1976), a role that required her to age from 18 to 60. She has won two Emmys for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie for Playing for Time (1980) and Warm Springs (2005).

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.[2] She graduated from Beaver Country Day School, an all-girls school in Chestnut Hill outside of Boston, where she discovered her love of acting.[3]

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 solidified her determination to continue acting.[3]

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.[4] 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.[5][6]

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.[3] She was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1999.[7]

In 2004, Alexander, together with her husband, Edwin Sherin, joined the theater faculty at Florida State University.[8] She serves on various boards, including the Wildlife Conservation Society, the National Audubon Society,[9] 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.[10] In 2009 Alexander starred in Thom Thomas's play A Moon to Dance By at The Pittsburgh Playhouse and at The George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, N.J. It was directed by her husband, Edwin Sherin.

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.[3]

Body of work[edit]

Film[edit]

Film
Year Title Role Notes
1970 Great White Hope, TheThe Great White Hope Eleanor Backman Nominated—Academy Award for Best Actress
Nominated—Golden Globe for Most Promising Newcomer – Female
Nominated—Golden Laurel Award Star of Tomorrow
1971 Gunfight, AA Gunfight Nora Tenneray USA title Gunfight
1972 New Centurions, TheThe New Centurions Dorothy Fehler aka Precinct 45: Los Angeles Police
1976 All the President's Men Bookkeeper Nominated—Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
1978 Betsy, TheThe Betsy Alicia Hardeman aka Harold Robbins' The Betsy
1979 Kramer vs. Kramer Margaret Phelps Nominated—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)
1980 Brubaker Lillian Gray
1982 Night Crossing Doris Strelzyk
1983 Testament Carol Wetherly Nominated—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)
1984 City Heat Addy
1987 Sweet Country Anna aka Glykeia patrida (Greece)
1987 Square Dance Juanelle aka Home Is Where the Heart Is (USA: TV title)
1989 Glory Sarah Blake Sturgis Shaw (uncredited)
1999 Cider House Rules, TheThe Cider House Rules Nurse Edna Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
2002 Sunshine State Delia Temple
2002 Ring, TheThe Ring Dr. Grasnik
2006 Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus Gertrude Nemerov
2007 Feast of Love Esther Stevenson
2008 Gigantic Mrs. Weathersby
2009 Unborn, TheThe Unborn Sofi Kozma
2009 Terminator Salvation Virginia
2011 Dream House Dr. Greeley
2013 Mr. Morgan's Last Love Joan Morgan

Television[edit]

Television
Year Title Role Notes
1969 N.Y.P.D. Episode "The Night Watch"
1969 Adam-12 Flo the Records Clerk Episode "Log 112: You Blew It" (uncredited)
1972 Welcome Home, Johnny Bristol Anne Palmer
1973 Miracle on 34th Street Karen Walker
1974 This Is the West That Was Sarah Shaw
1975 Death Be Not Proud Frances Gunther
1976 Eleanor and Franklin Eleanor Roosevelt, age 18–60 Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress – Miniseries or a Movie
1977 A Circle of Children Mary MacCracken CBS 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
1977 Eleanor and Franklin: The White House Years Eleanor Roosevelt Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress – Miniseries or a Movie
1978 Question of Love, AA Question of Love Barbara Moreland aka A Purely Legal Matter
1978 Lovey: A Circle of Children, Part II Mary MacCracken Second 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.
1980 Playing for Time Alma Rose Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress – Miniseries or a Movie
1981 Dear Liar Mrs. Patrick Campbell
1982 In the Custody of Strangers Sandy Caldwell
1984 When She Says No Nora Strangis
1984 Calamity Jane Calamity Jane (Martha Jane Canary) Bronze Wrangler Award for Fictional Television Drama
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress – Miniseries or a Movie
1985 Malice in Wonderland Hedda Hopper aka The Rumor Mill
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress – Miniseries or a Movie
1986 Blood & Orchids Doris Ashley
1987 In Love and War Sybil Stockdale
1988 A Friendship in Vienna Hannah Dournenvald Nominated—CableACE Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie
1988 Open Admissions Ginny Carlsen
1990 Daughter of the Streets Peggy Ryan
1991 Marriage: Georgia O'Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz, AA Marriage: Georgia O'Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz Georgia O'Keeffe
1992 Stay the Night Blanche Kettman
1993 New Year Elsie Robertson
2000 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Regina Mulroney Episode "Entitled"
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress – Drama Series (also for Law & Order episode "Entitled: Part 2")
2000 Law & Order Regina Mulroney Episode "Entitled: Part 2"
2001 Jenifer Marilyn Estess
2001 Bitter Winter
2004 Freedom: A History of Us Jane Addams Episode "Yearning to Breathe Free"
2004 Carry Me Home Mrs. Gortimer Nominated—Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Performer in a Children/Youth/Family Special
2005 Warm Springs Sara Delano Roosevelt Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress – Miniseries or a Movie
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film
2006 The Way (2006 film) Helen Warden
2007 Tell Me You Love Me Dr. May Foster (10 episodes)
2008 Louisa May Alcott Ednah Cheney
2011 Deck the Halls Nora Regan Reilly
2011 The Good Wife Judge Suzanne Morris (3 episodes)
2011 William & Catherine: A Royal Romance Queen Elizabeth II
2013 The Blacklist Diane Fowler (3 episodes)
2013 Forgive Me Bookie (4 episodes)
2014 Elementary The Pen Pal

Stage[edit]

Stage
Date Production Role Notes
3 October 1968 – 31 January 1970 Great White Hope, TheThe Great White Hope Eleanor Bachman Drama 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 1973 6 Rms Riv Vu Anne Miller Nominated—Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play
13 December 1973 – 4 May 1974 Find Your Way Home Jacqueline Harrison Nominated—Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play
17 December 1975 – 25 January 1976 Hamlet Gertrude
20 April 1976 – 9 May 1976 Heiress, TheThe Heiress Catherine Sloper
3 October 1978 – 9 December 1978 First Monday in October Judge Ruth Loomis Nominated—Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play
23 April 1980 – 26 April 1980 Goodbye Fidel Natalia
14 December 1982 – 18 December 1982 Monday After the Miracle Annie
26 June 1988 – 4 September 1988 Night of the Iguana, TheThe Night of the Iguana Maxine Faulk (revival)
11 November 1990 – 7 April 1991 Shadowlands Joy Davidman
23 January 1992 – 1 March 1992 Visit, TheThe Visit Claire Zachanassian Nominated—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 1994 Sisters Rosensweig, TheThe Sisters Rosensweig Sara Goode Drama 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 1998 Honour Honor Nominated—Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Playbill Online's Brief Encounter with Jane Alexander". www.playbill.com. Retrieved March 24, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Jane Alexander Biography (1939–)". Filmreference.com. Retrieved 2010-06-19. 
  3. ^ 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
  4. ^ Lawson,"Howard Sackler, 52, Playwright Who Won Pulitzer Prize, Dead;" NYT (The New York Times)
  5. ^ "WorldCat". Worldcat.org. Retrieved 2012-01-22. 
  6. ^ "Hollywood Beat". The Afro American. 1972-04-08. Retrieved 2012-01-22. 
  7. ^ "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter A". American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 14 April 2011. 
  8. ^ "Office of Research: Research In Review: Portrait: Jane Alexander, Max Gunzberger". Rinr.fsu.edu. Retrieved 2010-07-26. 
  9. ^ http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20130721/NONPROFITS/307219979/audubon-society-flying-high
  10. ^ "Women's International Center (biographies)". Wic.org. Retrieved 2010-06-19. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]