For once in a very long time (if ever!) we saw women in their fifties and sixties nominated and winning Oscars last night! Angela Bassett, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michelle Yeoh and Cate Blanchett looked so lovely, drawing attention to the fact that, as Michelle pointed out,
“This is proof! Dream big. Dreams do come true! And don’t let anybody tell you that you are past your prime!”
Historically the men in charge of Hollywood decided women were OLD past age 30 or 40. Why would anyone want to see them on the silver screen? Of course there were character actors like Thelma Ritter, who died at 66, and one of my favorites, Eve Arden. Did you ever wonder why Marilyn Monroe killed herself at age 36? Most of the men who have won best actor awards did so later in life, but female actors were finished by age 40. So nice to be defined by your youth and then counted out by an all male majority before your career can even take off.
Of course there have been a few exceptions, Katharine Hepburn age 74 for “On Golden Pond” and Jessica Tandy age 80 for “Driving Miss Daisy” and Maggie Smith, three of the grand dames of movies and theater, won Oscars for their performances. Somehow they were able to keep working past 40.
Doesn’t that make you wonder what other magnificent performances we have missed out on? What more interesting movies might have been made had women producers, directors, writers and actors been in charge or even had some voice in this business?