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For the Anglican Bishop see Jane Alexander (Bishop).
Jane Alexander

Alexander in March 2008
Born Jane Quigley
October 28, 1939 (1939-10-28) (age 70)
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Occupation Actress, author
Years active 1970–present
Spouse(s) Robert Alexander (1962–1974)
Edwin Sherin (1975–present)

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, Alexander has played a wide array of roles in both theater and film, and has committed herself to a variety of charitable causes.

Contents

Early life

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. 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

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, DC. 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.

Alexander portrayed Eleanor Roosevelt in two television productions, Eleanor and Franklin and Eleanor and Franklin: The White House Years, and she played FDR's mother, Sara Delano Roosevelt in HBO's Warm Springs 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 movies 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.[4] 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.

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]

In 2004, Alexander, together with her husband, Edwin Sherin, joined the theater faculty at Florida State University.[5] 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.[6]

Personal life

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, born in 1964, and the couple divorced a few years later. Alexander had been acting regularly in various regional theaters when she met producer/director Edwin Sherin in Washington, DC, where he was serving as the 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, also from a previous marriage.[2]

Body of work

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Film credits

Year Film Role Notes
1970 The Great White Hope Eleanor Backman Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actress
Nominated — Golden Globe for Most Promising Newcomer - Female
1971 A Gunfight Nora Tenneray USA title Gunfight
1972 The 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 The 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
1980 Brubaker Lillian Gray
1981 Night Crossing Doris Strelzyk
1983 Testament Carol Wetherly Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actress
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
1984 City Heat Addy
1987 Sweet Country Anna aka Glykeia patrida (Greece)
Square Dance Juanelle aka Home Is Where the Heart Is (USA: TV title)
1989 Glory Sarah Blake Sturgis Shaw (uncredited)
1999 The 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
The Ring Dr. Grasnik
2006 Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus Gertrude Nemerov
2007 Feast of Love Esther Stevenson
2008 Gigantic Mrs. Weathersby
2009 The Unborn Sofi Kozma
Terminator Salvation Virginia
The Flicker's Dance President Hartman (pre-production)

Television credits

Year Title Role Notes
1969 N.Y.P.D. Episode "The Night Watch"
Adam-12 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 — Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress – Miniseries or a Movie
1977 A Circle of Children Mary MacCracken
Eleanor and Franklin: The White House Years Eleanor Roosevelt Nominated — Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress – Miniseries or a Movie
1978 A Question of Love Barbara Moreland aka A Purely Legal Matter
Lovey: A Circle of Children, Part II Mary MacCracken
1980 Playing for Time Alma Rose 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
Calamity Jane Calamity Jane (Martha Jane Canary) Nominated — Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress – Miniseries or a Movie
1985 Malice in Wonderland Hedda Hopper aka The Rumor Mill
Nominated — 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
Open Admissions Ginny Carlsen
1990 Daughter of the Streets Peggy Ryan
1991 A 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"
Law & Order Regina Mulroney Episode "Entitled: Part 2"
Nominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress – Drama Series also for Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode "Entitled"
2001 Jenifer Marilyn Estess
Bitter Winter
2004 Freedom: A History of Us Jane Addams Episode "Yearning to Breathe Free"
Carry Me Home Mrs. Gortimer Nominated — Emmy Award for Outstanding Performer in a Children/Youth/Family Special
2005 Warm Springs Sara Delano Roosevelt 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 Helen Warden
2007 Tell Me You Love Me Dr. May Foster (10 episodes)
2008 Louisa May Alcott Ednah Cheney

Stage credits

Date Production Role Notes
3 October 1968 - 31 January 1970 The 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 The 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 The Night of the Iguana Maxine Faulk (revival)
11 November 1990 - 7 April 1991 Shadowlands Joy Davidman
Jan 23, 1992 - Mar 1, 1992 The 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 The 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

  1. ^ Jane Alexander Biography (1939-)
  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. ^ Internet Movie Database: In Love and War (1987)
  5. ^ Florida State University; Office of Research
  6. ^ Women's International Center (biographies)

Further reading

  • Alexander, Jane. Command Performance: an Actress in the Theater of Politics. PublicAffairs, a member of the Perseus Book Group; New York, NY, 2000. ISBN 1-89162-060-1.
  • International Leadership Forum biography
  • Lawson, Carol. "Howard Sackler, 52, Playwright Who Won Pulitzer Prize, Dead;" NYT (The New York Times). October 15, 1982. accessed September 8, 2006. (NOTE: payment required for full article, if retrieved online)

External links


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