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Everybody Knows Jack…but How Many of You Remember Glenda

In the fifth decade of Oscar, one actor and one actress dominated the decade. It was the breakthrough decade for both of them. The actor would use this decade to build a career that would eventually see him become the most nominated male actor in Academy Award history. The actress, after her stunning early success, would eventually retire from acting and pursue a second career that would take her to the doorstep of Prime Minister of England.

So, everybody knows Jack Nicholson, no matter what your age. In fact, Nicholson is one of two actors, Michael Caine is the other, to earn Academy Award acting nominations in each of five decades. After years of struggling to break through as an actor, Nicholson used the anti-establishment mood in the United States during the period from 1967 to 1976 to become the “anti-hero” actor of the decade. In 1969, he took a small part in a movie with a budget of $400,000. That movie, Easy Rider, became a blockbuster with a $40 million take at the box office. Nicholson used his role in Easy Rider as a hard drinking lawyer to kick start his career and earn his first Oscar nomination as a Supporting Actor. He consolidated his breakthrough in 1970 with his iconic Lead Actor nominated role in Five Easy Pieces. Three more Lead Actor nominations followed in 1973 through 1975, including his first win in 1975 for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Here are the results for the decade including those other actors and actresses who made their mark:

Top Actors of the Decade
1967 to 1976
Actor Lead Actor Nominations Lead Actor Wins Supporting Actor Nominations Supporting Actor Wins Total Academy Award Points
Jack Nicholson 4 1 1 0 16
Al Pacino 3 0 1 0 10
Peter O’Toole 3 0 0 0 9
Dustin Hoffman 3 0 0 0 9
Marlon Brando 2 1 0 0 9
George C. Scott 2 1 0 0 9
Peter Finch 2 1 0 0 9
Top Actresses of the Decade
1967 to 1976
Actress Lead Actress Nominations Lead Actress Wins Supporting Actress Nominations Supporting Actress Wins Total Academy Award Points
Glenda Jackson 4 2 0 0 18
Faye Dunaway 3 1 0 0 12
Katherine Hepburn 2 2 0 0 12
Maggie Smith 2 1 0 0 9
Barbra Streisand 2 1 0 0 9
Jane Fonda 2 1 0 0 9
Liza Minnelli 2 1 0 0 9

I’d be willing to bet that very few of today’s younger moviegoers have ever heard of British actress, Glenda Jackson, let alone seen one of her movies. She wasn’t attracted to roles with guaranteed commercial success, preferring roles that challenged her as an actress. You may be surprised that between 1967 and 1976, Glenda Jackson was nominated for four Academy Awards, winning two, was also nominated for two Golden Globes for movies that she wasn’t Oscar nominated, and won a Primetime Emmy Award for her portrayal of Elizabeth I in the BBC series Elizabeth R. While she was never again nominated for an Academy Award, she did go on to earn three more Golden Globe nominations in 1978, 1981, and 1984. Despite her success, she was frustrated by the lack of good mid-life roles for women. She said, “An actor can do “Hamlet” right through to “Lear”, men of every age and every step of spiritual development. Where’s the equivalent for women? I don’t fancy hanging around to play Nurse in “Romeo and Juliet”. Life’s too short.”  In 1992, Glenda Jackson retired from acting to stand for election to the House of Commons as a member of the Labour Party. As a member of Parliament she rose to become a junior minister in the government of Tony Blair. She eventually became disillusioned with Blair and in 2005 threatened to run against him if he didn’t step down within a reasonable period. She was one of twelve Labour MP’s to rebel against their leader and call for an inquiry into the Iraq War. In 2014 Glenda Jackson retired from Parliament. Now, at the age of 80, she has resumed her acting career and is back on the British stage where it all began.

Everybody does know Jack, but everybody should know Glenda as well.

 

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