She is a recipient of several awards, including two Academy Awards, one Tony Award, three Emmy Awards, five Golden Globe Awards, one Screen Actors Guild Award, and three Dorian Awards; in 1998, Entertainment Weekly listed Lange among the 25 Greatest Actresses of the 1990s.
Lange was discovered by producer Dino De Laurentiis while modeling part-time for the Wilhelmina modelling agency.
In 2017, Lange portrayed Joan Crawford in the critically acclaimed mini-series Feud: Bette and Joan receiving rave reviews, with many critics hailing her portrayal as the best performance of her career.In addition to acting, Lange is a photographer with three published works.Lange was born in Cloquet, Minnesota, on April 20, 1949.Her father, Albert John Lange (1913–1989), was a teacher and traveling salesman, and her mother, Dorothy Florence (née Sahlman; 1913–1998), was a housewife. Due to the nature of her father's professions, her family moved over a dozen times to various towns and cities in Minnesota before settling back down in her hometown, where she graduated from Cloquet High School.While modelling, Lange was discovered by Hollywood producer Dino De Laurentiis, who was looking to cast his next leading lady, an ingenue for his remake of the 1933 King Kong.Lange made her film debut in the 1976 King Kong, beating actresses Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn for the role of damsel-in-distress.Despite being a box-office success – it became the fifth-highest-grossing film of 1976 – and receiving an Academy Award nomination for Best Special Effects, the film and her performance were widely panned.However, renowned film critic Pauline Kael praised her, noting, "The movie is sparked by Jessica Lange's fast yet dreamy comic style.[She] has the high, wide forehead and clear-eyed transparency of Carole Lombard in My Man Godfrey, [and] one liners so dumb that the audience laughs and moans at the same time, yet they're in character, and when Lange says them she holds the eye and you like her, the way people liked Lombard." Lange went on to win the 1976 Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year.She would remain a favorite of Kael's, who would later comment, "She has a facial structure that the camera yearns for, and she has talent, too." At the close of the decade, Bob Fosse, whom Lange had befriended and with whom she had carried a casual romantic affair, cast Lange as the Angel of Death, a part that he had written specifically for her in his semiautobiographical film, All That Jazz (1979).She had also been considered for the role of Wendy Torrance in The Shining before that role ultimately went to Shelley Duvall.