Close, Glenn 1947–
CLOSE, Glenn 1947–
Born March 19, 1947, in Greenwich, CT; daughter of William (a surgeon) and Bettine Close; married Cabot Wade (a guitarist), 1969 (divorced, 1972); married James Marlas (a venture capitalist), 1984 (divorced, 1987); children: (with John Starke, a producer) Annie Maude. Education: College of William and Mary, B.A., drama, 1974.
Addresses: Office— Trillium Productions, Inc., 9 Desbrosses, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10013. Agent— Kevin Huvane, Creative Artists Agency, 9830 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90212–1804. Publicist— Catherine Olim, PMK/HBH, 8500 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 700, Beverly Hills, CA 90211.
Career: Actress and producer. Trillium Productions (a production company), partner. New Phoenix Repertory Company, member of company, beginning in 1974; performed with Fingernails, a repertory group; lyric soprano; has sung the national anthem at Mets baseball games at Shea Stadium, New York City; singer with touring folk–singing groups; toured the United States and Europe with the singing group Up with People, 1969. Leaf and Bean Coffee House, Bozeman, MT, co–owner, 1991—.
Member: Actors' Equity Association, Screen Actors Guild, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers, Phi Beta Kappa.
Awards, Honors: Antoinette Perry Award nomination, best featured actress in a musical, 1980, for Barnum; Obie Award, Village Voice, 1982, for The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs; Academy Award nomination, Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award, and National Board of Review Award, all best supporting actress, 1982, for The World According to Garp; Academy Award nominations, best supporting actress, 1983, for The Big Chill, and 1984, for The Natural; Antoinette Perry Award, best actress in a play, 1984, for The Real Thing; Emmy Award nomination, outstanding lead actress in a limited series or special, and Golden Globe Award nomination, Hollywood Foreign Press Association, both 1984, for Something about Amelia; Grammy Award nomination, best spoken word or non–musical recording, National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, 1984, for The Real Thing; Golden Globe Award nomination, 1985, for Maxie; Grammy Award nomination, best recording for children, 1987, for The Emperor and the Nightingale; Academy Award nomination, best actress, Golden Globe Award nomination, best performance by an actress in a motion picture, and Film Award, best actress, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, all 1988, for Fatal Attraction; People's Choice Award, favorite motion picture actress, 1988; Academy Award nomination, best actress, 1989, Film Award nomination, best actress, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, 1990, for Dangerous Liaisons; New York Women in Film Award "for artistic excellence and continued support of women in the film and television industry," 1989; NATO/ShoWest Award, female star of the year, National Organization of Theatre Owners, 1989; named Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year, Hasty Pudding Theatricals, 1990; Dartmouth Film Society Award, 1990; Golden Globe Award nomination, best actress in a miniseries or special, Emmy Award nomination, best actress in a miniseries or special, and Emmy Award nomination (with others), outstanding drama or comedy special or miniseries, all 1991, for "Sarah, Plain and Tall," Hallmark Hall of Fame; Antoinette Perry Award, best performance by a leading actress in a play, and Distinguished Performance Award, Drama League of New York, both 1992, for Death and the Maiden; Emmy Award nomination, outstanding lead actress in a miniseries or special, 1993, for "Skylark," Hallmark Hall of Fame; Antoinette Perry Award, best lead actress in a musical, and Drama Desk Award, outstanding actress in a musical, both 1995, for Sunset Boulevard; Emmy Award, outstanding lead actress in a miniseries or special, Golden Globe Award nomination, best actress in a miniseries or movie made for television, Screen Actors Guild Award nomination, best actress in a miniseries or movie made for television, and Emmy Award nomination (with others), outstanding movie made for television, all 1995, for Serving in Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story; Golden Globe Award nomination, best performance by an actress in a comedy or musical motion picture, and Blockbuster Entertainment Award, favorite actor or actress in a family film, both 1996, Golden Satellite Award nomination, best performance by an actress, 1997, for 101 Dalmatians; Blockbuster Entertainment Award, favorite supporting actress in an action or adventure, 1997, for Air Force One; Emmy Award nomination, outstanding lead actress in a miniseries or special, and Screen Actors Guild Award nomination, outstanding performance by a female actor in a television movie or miniseries, both 1997, Golden Satellite Award nomination, best performance by an actress, 1998, for In the Gloaming; Grammy Award nomination, for The Legend of Sleepy Hollow; Golden Satellite Award nomination, best performance by an actress, 2001, for 102 Dalmatians; Crystal Award, Women in Film Crystal Awards, 2001; Emmy Award nomination, outstanding guest actress in a comedy series, 2002, for Will & Grace; Excellence in Media Award, 2002.
(Debut) Jenny Fields, The World According to Garp, Warner Bros., 1982.
Sarah, The Big Chill, Columbia, 1983.
Iris Gaines, The Natural, TriStar, 1984.
Ruth Hillerman, The Stone Boy, Twentieth Century–Fox, 1984.
(Uncredited) Voice of Miss Jane Porter, Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes, Warner Bros., 1984.
Teddy Barnes, Jagged Edge, Columbia, 1985.
Jan/Maxie, Maxie (also known as Free Spirit ), Orion, 1985.
Alex Forrest, Fatal Attraction, Paramount, 1987.
Marquise de Merteuil, Dangerous Liaisons, Warner Bros., 1988.
Voice of Queen Ambisextra, Light Years (animated; also known as Gandahar ), Miramax, 1988.
Linda Spector, Immediate Family (also known as Parental Guidance ), Columbia, 1989.
Sunny von Bulow, Reversal of Fortune, Warner Bros., 1990.
Gertrude, Hamlet, Warner Bros., 1990.
Gutless pirate, Hook, 1991.
Karin Anderson, Meeting Venus, 1991.
Alicia Clark, managing editor of the New York Sun, The Paper, Universal, 1994.
Ferula Trueba, The House of the Spirits (also known as Aandernes hus, A casa dos espiritos, and Das Geisterhaus ), Miramax, 1994.
Mrs. Faraday, Mary Reilly, TriStar, 1996.
Marsha Dale, Mars Attacks!, Warner Bros., 1996.
Cruella De Vil, 101 Dalmatians, Buena Vista, 1996.
Vice President Katherine Bennett, Air Force One (also known as AFO ), Columbia, 1997.
Adrienne Pargiter, Paradise Road, Fox Searchlight, 1997.
Herself, In and Out, Paramount, 1997.
(Uncredited) Herself, In & Out, Paramount, 1997.
Voice of Kala, Tarzan (animated), Buena Vista, 1999.
Camille Dixon, Cookie's Fortune, October Films, 1999.
Cast and Crew, TVI's Productions, 1999.
Dr. Elaine Keener, "This Is Dr. Keener," Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her, United Artists, 2000.
Cruella de Vil, 102 Dalmatians, Buena Vista, 2000.
Herself, Welcome to Hollywood, 2000.
Esther Gold, The Safety of Objects, IFC Films, 2001.
Sunset Boulevard: A Look Back, 2002.
(English version) Voice of blue fairy, Pinocchio (also known as Roberto Benigni's Pinocchio ), Miramax, 2002.
Narrator, A Closer Walk, 2003.
Olivia Pace, Le divorce, Twentieth Century–Fox, 2003.
Dr. Emily Francher, The Stepford Wives, Paramount, 2004.
Diana, Heights, Sony Pictures Classics, 2004.
Television Appearances; Movies:
Neighbor, "The Rules of the Game," Theatre in America, 1975.
Jessica, Orphan Train, CBS, 1979.
Rebecca Kuehn, Too Far to Go (also known as Daddy's Little Girl ), NBC, 1979.
Gail Bennett, Something about Amelia, ABC, 1984.
Sara Everton, "Stones for Ibarra," Hallmark Hall of Fame, CBS, 1988.
She'll Take Romance (also known as I'll Take Romance ), 1990.
Sarah Wheaton (title role), "Sarah, Plain and Tall," Hallmark Hall of Fame, CBS, 1991.
Sarah Witting (title role), "Skylark" (also known as "Sarah, Plain and Tall: Skylark"), Hallmark Hall of Fame, CBS, 1993.
Colonel Margarethe Cammermeyer (title role), Serving in Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story, NBC, 1995.
Janet, In the Gloaming, HBO, 1997.
Title role, Coya Knutson, 1997.
Sarah Witting (title role), "Sarah, Plain and Tall: Winter's End," Hallmark Hall of Fame, CBS, 1999.
Voice of adult Sophie, Baby, TNT, 2000.
Arvella Whipple, The Ballad of Lucy Whipple (also known as California Gold ), CBS, 2001.
Nellie Forbush, South Pacific (also known as Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific ), ABC, 2001.
Cornelia Englebrecht, Brush with Fate, CBS, 2003.
Eleanor of Aquitaine, The Lion in Winter, Showtime, 2003.
Strip Search, HBO, 2004.
Television Appearances; Specials:
Princess Alexandra, The Elephant Man, 1982.
The Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing Arts, CBS, 1986.
Host, "The Music Makers: An ASCAP Celebration of American Music at Wolf Trap," Great Performances, PBS, 1987.
The Barbara Walters Special, ABC, 1988.
Narrator, Hunger in America, PBS, 1989.
The Siskel and Ebert Special, CBS, 1990.
Host, The Divine Garbo, TNT, 1990.
The Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing Arts, 1990.
Big Bird's Birthday, or Let Me Eat Cake, 1991.
Narrator, The Urban Gorilla, 1991.
Classic Mel: The Making of Mel Gibson's Hamlet, 1991.
Voice of Mary Todd Lincoln, Lincoln, 1992.
Host, "Broken Hearts, Broken Homes," Your Family Matters, Lifetime, 1992.
Narrator, "Carnival of the Animals," A & E Stage, Arts and Entertainment, 1992.
Diamonds on the Silver Screen, AMC, 1992.
Host, The Best of Disney II: A Legend in Song, CBS, 1993.
"Sondheim: A Celebration at Carnegie Hall," Great Performances, PBS, 1993.
What Is This Thing Called Love? (also known as The Barbara Walters Special ), ABC, 1993.
Narrator, "Keepers of the Wild," National Geographic Specials, PBS, 1993.
Voice of Georgia O'Keeffe, A Century of Women (also known as A Family of Women ), TBS, 1994.
All–Star 25th Birthday: Stars and Street Forever! (also known as Sesame Street's All–Star 25th Birthday: Stars and Street Forever! ), ABC, 1994.
Voice (diary readings), Anne Frank Remembered, The Disney Channel, 1995.
101 Dalmatians, a Canine's Tale, ABC, 1996.
The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful (also known as Popcorn Venus ), TBS, 1996.
Broadway '97: Launching the Tonys, PBS, 1997.
Host, Christmas in Washington, NBC, 1997.
Christopher Reeve: A Celebration of Hope, ABC, 1998.
Hollywood and Vinyl: Disney's 101 Greatest Musical Moments, VH1, 1998.
Narrator, Robert F. Kennedy: A Memoir (documentary), Discovery Channel, 1998.
Saturday Night Live: The Best of Adam Sandler, NBC, 1999.
Saturday Night Live: 25th Anniversary Primetime Special, NBC, 1999.
Host, The Lady with the Torch, Encore, 1999.
Andrew Lloyd Webber 50th Birthday Celebration, PBS, 1999.
Tarzan in Concert with Phil Collins, ABC, 1999.
The American Presidency: Real to Reel, MSNBC, 1999.
The Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing Arts, CBS, 2000.
Narrator, A Healthy Start: Begin Before Baby's Born (documentary), Lifetime, 2001.
Christmas in Rockefeller Center, NBC, 2001.
Interviewee, Jeff Bridges: Building Bridges (documentary), Arts and Entertainment, 2002.
Interviewee, Intimate Portrait: Eve Ensler, Lifetime, 2003.
Interviewee, AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Heroes and Villains (also known as AFI's 100 Years, 100 Heroes & Villains: America's Greatest Screen Characters ), CBS, 2003.
Until the Violence Stops (documentary), Lifetime, 2004.
Television Appearances; Episodic:
Host and narrator, "The Emperor's Nightingale," Children's Storybook Classics (animated), Showtime, 1987.
Host, "The Elephant's Child," Children's Storybook Classics (animated), Showtime, 1987.
Late Night with David Letterman, 1987, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992.
Narrator, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," Children's Storybook Classics (animated), Showtime, 1988.
Narrator, "Do You Mean There Are Still Real Cowboys?," The American Experience, PBS, 1988.
Saturday Night Live, 1989, 1992.
Virginia Winslow, "Creative Differences,"The Tracey Ullman Show, Fox, 1990.
Late Show with David Letterman, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1999.
Voice of Mother Simpson, "Mother Simpson," The Simpsons (animated), Fox, 1995.
Voice of Mother Simpson, "The Simpson's 138th Show Spectacular," The Simpsons (animated), Fox, 1995.
Narrator, "Baboon Tales," Wild Discovery, Discovery Channel, 1995.
Herself, "Ellen: A Hollywood Tribute," Ellen, ABC, 1998.
Leute heute, 2002.
Fanny Lieber, "Hocus Focus," Will & Grace, NBC, 2002.
Voice of Mona J. Simpson, "My Mother the Carjacker," The Simpsons (animated), Fox, 2003.
Also appeared in Inside the Actors Studio.
Television Appearances; Pilots:
Host, Penguin Lives, 1999.
Television Appearances; Awards Presentations:
Presenter, The 57th Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 1985.
The 60th Annual Academy Awards Presentation, ABC, 1988.
The 41st Annual Tony Awards, CBS, 1988.
The Third Annual Hollywood Insider Academy Awards Special, USA Network, 1989.
Presenter from London, The 62nd Annual Academy Awards Presentation, ABC, 1990.
Presenter, The 63rd Annual Academy Awards Presentation, ABC, 1991.
Host, The 46th Annual Tony Awards, CBS, 1992.
Presenter, The 65th Annual Academy Awards Presentation, ABC, 1993.
Presenter, The 66th Annual Academy Awards Presentation, ABC, 1994.
Presenter, The 48th Annual Tony Awards, CBS, 1994.
Host, The 49th Annual Tony Awards, CBS, 1995.
Blockbuster Entertainment Awards, UPN, 1997.
Presenter, The 49th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, 1997.
Presenter, The 69th Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 1997.
Presenter, The Screen Actors Guild Awards, NBC, 1997.
The 7th Annual Blockbuster Entertainment Award, Fox, 2001.
Presenter, The 55th Annual Tony Awards, CBS, 2001.
The 74th Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 2002.
The 13th Annual IFP Gotham Awards, Bravo, 2003.
Television Executive Producer; Movies:
(With William Self) "Sarah, Plain and Tall," Hallmark Hall of Fame, CBS, 1991.
"Skylark" (also known as "Sarah, Plain and Tall: Skylark"), Hallmark Hall of Fame, CBS, 1993.
(With Barbra Streisand, Craig Zadan, and Cis Corman) Serving in Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story, NBC, 1995.
"Journey," Hallmark Hall of Fame, CBS, 1995.
Coya Knutson, NBC, 1997.
"Sarah, Plain and Tall: Winter's End," Hallmark Hall of Fame, CBS, 1999.
Baby, TNT, 2000.
The Ballad of Lucy Whipple (also known as California Gold ), CBS, 2001.
South Pacific (also known as Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific ), ABC, 2001.
Television Executive Producer; Specials:
"Broken Hearts, Broken Homes," Your Family Matters, Lifetime, 1992.
Angelica, Love for Love, New Phoenix Repertory Company, Helen Hayes Theatre, New York City, 1974.
Janice, The Member of the Wedding, New Phoenix Repertory Company, Helen Hayes Theatre, 1975.
Princess Mary, Rex, Lunt–Fontanne Theatre, New York City, 1976.
Leilah, Uncommon Women and Others, Phoenix Theatre, Marymount Manhattan Theatre, New York City, 1977.
Irene St. Claire, The Crucifer of Blood, Studio Arena Theatre, Buffalo, NY, then Helen Hayes Theatre, both 1978.
Helen, Wine Untouched, Harold Clurman Theatre, New York City, 1979.
Kettle, The Winter Dancers, Phoenix Theatre, Marymount Manhattan Theatre, 1979.
Chairy Barnum, Barnum, St. James Theatre, New York City, 1980.
Uncle Vanya, Yale Repertory Theatre, New Haven, CT, 1981.
Title role, The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs, Manhattan Theatre Club, New York City, 1982.
Annie, The Real Thing, Plymouth Theatre, New York City, 1984.
Actress, Childhood, Harold Clurman Theatre, Samuel Beckett Theatre, 1985.
Title role, Joan of Arc at the Stake, York Theatre Company, Theatre of the Church of the Heavenly Rest, New York City, 1985.
Jane, Benefactors, Brooks Atkinson Theatre, New York City, 1985–1986.
Paulina Salas, Death and the Maiden, Brooks Atkinson Theatre, 1992.
Sondheim: A Celebration at Carnegie Hall, Carnegie Hall, New York City, 1992.
Norma Desmond, Sunset Boulevard, Shubert Theatre, Los Angeles, 1993–1994, then Minskoff Theatre, New York City, 1994–1995.
Blanche DuBois, A Streetcar Named Desire, Royal National Theater, Lyttelton Theatre, London, 2002.
Mystery guest star, The Play That I Wrote, Lyceum Theatre, New York City, 2003.
Also appeared in The Rose Tattoo, Long Wharf Theatre, New Haven, CT; A Streetcar Named Desire, McCarter Theatre, Princeton, NJ; and The Crazy Locomotive, New York City.
Chairy Barnum, Barnum, U.S. cities, 1981–1982.
Barnum (original cast recording), CBS Masterworks, 1980.
The Real Thing (original cast recording), Nonesuch, 1984.
The Emperor and the Nightingale, Windham Hill, 1987.
Also recorded The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Windham Hill.
International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers, Volume 3: Actors and Actresses, St. James Press, 1996.
Newcomer, Ron, The Films and Career of Glenn Close, Citadel Press, 1999.
Hollywood Reporter, January 30, 1989.
Ladies' Home Journal, May, 1997, p. 126.
More, June, 2002, pp. 74–79.
New York, September 12, 1994, p. 40.
New Yorker, November 14, 1994, p. 110.
People Weekly, December 16, 1996, p. 140.
TV Guide, November 20, 1999, pp. 30–36.
Nationality: American. Born: Greenwich, Connecticut, 19 March 1947. Education: Attended William and Mary College, Williamsburg, Virginia, graduated 1974. Family: Married 1) Cabot Wade;
2) James Marlas, 1984 (divorced 1986); one daughter with John Starke: Annie Maude. Career: 1974—debut on Broadway in Love for Love; 1982—film debut in The World According to Garp. Awards: Three Tony Awards for Best Actress, for The Real Thing, 1984, Death and the Maiden, 1992, and Sunset Boulevard, 1995; Emmy Award for Best Actress in Mini-series or Special, for Serving in Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story, 1995. Address: c/o Fred Specktor, Creative Artists Agency, 9830 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills, CA 90212, U.S.A.
Films as Actress:
The Orphan Train (William A. Graham—for TV) (as Jessica); Too Far to Go (Fielder Cook—for TV) (as Rebecca Kuehn)
The World According to Garp (George Roy Hill) (as Jenny Fields)
The Big Chill (Kasdan) (as Sarah Cooper)
The Stone Boy (Cain) (as Ruth Hillerman); The Natural (Levinson) (as Iris Raines); Something about Amelia (Haines—for TV) (as Gail Bennett); Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (Hudson) (voice only, dubbed Andie MacDowell's voice)
Jagged Edge (Marquand) (as Teddie Barnes); Maxie (Free Spirit) (Aaron) (as Jan/Maxie)
Fatal Attraction (Lyne) (as Alex Forrest); Gandahar (Light Years) (Wernstein—animation) (voice only)
Stones for Ibarra (Gold—for TV) (as Sara Everton); Dangerous Liaisons (Frears) (as Marquise de Merteuil)
Immediate Family (Parental Guidance) (Kaplan) (as Linda Spector)
Hamlet (Zeffirelli) (as Gertrude); Reversal of Fortune (Schroeder) (as Martha "Sunny" von Bulow); I'll Take Romance (Haggard—for TV)
Sarah, Plain and Tall (Glenn Jordan—for TV) (title role, + co-exec pr); Meeting Venus (Szabo) (as Karin Anderson); Hook (Spielberg) (as pirate); Brooklyn Laundry (as Birdie)
Lincoln (Kunhardt—TV doc) (as voice of Mary Todd Lincoln)
Skylark (Sargent—for TV) (as Sarah Witting + exec pr)
The House of the Spirits (August) (as Ferula)
The Paper (Ron Howard) (as Alicia Clark)
Serving in Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story (Bleckner—for TV) (title role + exec pr)
Mary Reilly (Frears) (as Mrs. Farraday); 101 Dalmations (as Cruella De Vil); Mars Attacks! (Tim Burton) (as First Lady Martha Dale)
Paradise Road(Beresford) (as Adrienne Pargiter); Air Force One (Petersen) (as Vice President Kathryn Bennett); In the Gloaming (Reeve—for TV) (as Janet)
Tarzan (Buck & Lima) (voice of Kala); Sarah, Plain and Tall: Winter's End (Jordan—for TV) (title role + exec pr); Cookie's Fortune (Altman) (as Camille Dixon); The Lady with the Torch (Heeley—doc) (herself as host)
102 Dalmations (Lima) (as Cruella De Vil); Things You Can Tell Just By Looking at Her (Garcia) (as Dr. Elaine Keener)
South Pacific (Richard Pearce)
Do You Mean There Are Still Real Cowboys? (Blair—doc) (pr)
Journey (McLoughlin—for TV) (exec pr)
By CLOSE: articles—
Interview with J. Hurley, in Films in Review (New York), February 1983.
"Too Close for Comfort," interview with Ross Wetzsteon, in American Film (New York), May 1984.
Interview in Time Out (London), 1 March 1989.
Interview with B. Hadleigh, in Film Monthly, July 1990.
Interview with Frank Spotnik, in American Film, November/December 1991.
"Playing the Diva," interview with Stephen Schiff, in New Yorker, 14 November 1994.
"Leaving the Role," in New Yorker, 10 July 1995.
On CLOSE: book—
On CLOSE: articles—
Current Biography 1984, New York, 1984.
Kaplan, J., "Close to the Bone," in New York, 12 September 1994.
Allenman, Richard, "Getting Close," in Vogue, November 1994.
"Close Call," in Movieline (Escondido), November 1996.
Thomson, D., and others, "Who's the Best Actress in Hollywood," in Movieline (Escondido), November 1996.
* * *
The early 1980s witnessed the emergence of three actresses who still enjoy great popularity and critical acclaim: Meryl Streep, Jessica Lange, and Glenn Close. Graduating from five years of stage experience, Close earned five Academy Award nominations between 1982 and 1988 in five of the most popular and successful films of the decade. During this period, Close also firmly established her credentials as a distinguished actress on Broadway (winning a Tony Award for The Real Thing) and on television (receiving an Emmy nomination for Something About Amelia). From this explosive start, her superb skills as an actress continually grew while her roles reflected the cultural priorities of the times.
Close's early 1980s films created an image of conservative femininity: a nurturing, virtuous, attractive, and vulnerable woman. She plays an overly protective mother in The World According to Garp, a serene and loving wife in The Big Chill, and a deified muse in The Natural. This stereotype (which won Close her first three Academy Award nominations) also underscores the dilemma of women's roles during a decade that championed masculine heroism. Actresses found themselves playing characters who often merely supported the male lead in his endeavors. When this stereotype of the feminine ideal becomes threatened in The World According to Garp (Jenny Fields's mothering leads her to a radical feminism) or questioned in Jagged Edge (Teddie Barnes improperly uses the legal system to protect her lover, the killer), the character is punished by assassination or physical and emotional trauma.
Jagged Edge introduced the opposite side of Close's stardom: the feminine threat. Her next two roles, Alex in Fatal Attraction and the Marquise de Merteuil in Dangerous Liaisons, unleashed characters who follow the tradition of the femme fatale; women who are sexy, independent, manipulative, and duplicitous. Alex is a successful businesswoman, but unmarried and childless. Her desire to achieve a "traditional" family initiates a perverse drive to replace the legitimate wife. Her unsuccessful attempt results in Alex's death (at the hands of the legitimate wife), the punishment of the adulterous husband, and the reestablishment of the nuclear family. The Marquise's social and sexual machinations, based upon contempt for love and masculine power, destroy everyone including herself. Utterly alone, she recognizes her contempt has denied her any chance of happiness. This second stereotype (which won Close her next two Academy Award nominations) again underscores the dilemma of women's roles in 1980s Hollywood. Actresses found themselves playing characters who often threatened the male lead and deserved punishment for their aggression.
The tension between these two stereotypes reached its apex in Maxie. Close plays a character who literally manifests the notion of feminine duality. Portraying a dedicated wife possessed by the spirit of a freewheeling "flapper," she must synthesize the contradictions of these two characters to achieve peace and emerge as an ideal figure of womanhood.
Close's early difficulty in finding films that did not perpetuate the two extremes of the feminine stereotype found resolution during the 1990s. She combined attributes of the strong, determined woman with a more traditional femininity and created characters with complex psychological motivations. This synthesis links her to Bette Davis, whom she admits emulating. Davis always played a powerful woman inflected in two ways: a self-sacrificing and maternal figure or a manipulative and destructive one. Close continues this tradition but in a way that doesn't necessarily present these two types as mutually exclusive. In Immediate Family, Hamlet, The House of the Spirits, Inthe Gloaming, Serving in Silence, Paradise Road, and the Sarah, Plain and Tall trilogy (Sarah, Plain and Tall, Skylark, and Sarah, Plain and Tall: Winter's End) she plays strong, nurturing, virtuous, and yet vulnerable women. Each character offers a different facet of this model, from lesbian mother to repressed spinster, but the results ultimately reaffirm feminine strength, love, and determination. Even her "role" as Kala in the animated Tarzan emphasizes these culturally important characteristics of nurturing. In Reversal of Fortune, Meeting Venus, The Paper, Cookie's Fortune, and 101 Dalmations she plays strong, sexy, independent, and manipulative women who are punished in some way for the problems they create. In Reversal of Fortune she plays "Sunny" von Bulow whose "failure" to be a traditional mother offers another explanation why her husband attempts to kill her. In Meeting Venus she plays Karin Anderson, an opera diva whose affair with a conductor destroys the conductor's marriage. In The Paper she plays Alicia Clark, the managing editor of a New York daily newspaper. She engages in a surprisingly physical brawl with Michael Keaton, an altercation she ultimately wins. Yet when accidentally shot, parallel editing equates her helplessness to Michael Keaton's wife's emergency C-section. In Cookie's Fortune she plays Camille Dixon whose secret past, over-mothering, and class consciousness leads to her nervous breakdown and imprisonment. Occasionally this model is pushed to extremes, either for comic effect (Cruella De Vil in 101 Dalmations gave Close the opportunity to play a living cartoon, which she did with great fun and gusto) or melodramatic excess (Norma Desmond in the stage version of Sunset Boulevard allowed Close to turn in a stunningly psychotic—and musical—performance as a deranged silent film star).
And like Davis, Close is both an actress and a star; finding a new mannerism and vocal quality to make each character unique and memorable, yet retaining that core persona which quietly states "this is Glenn Close." Her most interesting films include Reversal of Fortune, Meeting Venus, In the Gloaming, Paradise Road, the Sarah, Plain and Tall trilogy, and Serving in Silence. In Reversal of Fortune, playing a comatose Sunny von Bulow, Close appears in flashbacks as a woman who suffers emotionally and physically from a diffident husband, alienated children, diabetes, alcoholism, and a bourgeois ennui. In Meeting Venus, Close portrays a celebrated artist confident with her career but less certain about her romantic relationships. In In the Gloaming, Close's touching performance as an upper-class mother re-connecting with her dying son at the expense of her husband and daughter earned her an Emmy nomination. In Paradise Road, Close's coolly detached patrician attitude disappears to reveal a warm and caring leader, a survivor who keeps a group of women alive during their years as prisoners of war. In the Sarah, Plain and Tall trilogy she authors one of her most complex characters; an obdurate New England spinster who answers a mail-order wife ad, moves to Kansas, falls in love, and raises her new husband's two children. Ostensibly a Western, the films allow Close that rare opportunity to play a woman who embodies the characteristics of both a nurturing mother and a fiercely independent woman without lapsing into either stereotype. In Serving in Silence, Close masterfully creates another complex character: a woman torn between her homosexual desire, her military career, and her sons. That her performance never falls into caricature and that the film allows a believable merger of these conflicting drives (never forcing a choice) shows the maturity of Close's acting techniques and the film's willingness to reflect more culturally (and personally) diverse solutions to real problems. Close's 20 year career nicely parallels Hollywood's shift from limited stereotypes in the 1980s to a wider range of social beings in the 1990s. Her talents have contributed to and benefitted from this change.
—Greg S. Faller