Hope Lange

Wild In The Country, 1961

Real Name: Hope Elise Ross Lange
Born: November 28, 1933 in Redding Ridge, Connecticut, USA
Husbands: Don Murray (1956-1961)
Alan Pakula (1963-1971)
Charles Hollerith, Jr. (1986-2003)

Although Hope Lange's film career didn't reach the heights that her talent seemed to promise, she had a successful, varied career, both in film and on the stage. Having spent 12 years on Broadway, she was already a veteran when she made her film debut alongside Marilyn Monroe and Don Murray in Bus Stop. As the shy Elma, she sits next to Cherie (Marilyn) on the bus and listens to her go on about Beau (Don) and "all that lovin' stuff!" However, off-screen, it was Don and Hope that got together. Their marriage lasted five years, but they remained friends, and later in the 70's, performed together in the two-character play, Same Time Next Year. In Bus Stop, Marilyn Monroe finally got the serious attention as an actress that she had wanted, and with all the attention the film received, Hope Lange couldn't ask for a better film debut.
Unfortunately, her follow-up to Bus Stop was The True Story of Jessie James, with Robert Wagner and Jeffrey Hunter. In Hope's own words, it's a "turkey"! Luckily, her next assignment was a film that she'll probably always be identified with, the long-awaited film version of the steamy soap-opera novel, Peyton Place. In the role of Selena, the daughter with the dark secret (hey, waitaminnit, everyone in Peyton Place had a dark secret!), Hope earned an Oscar nomination! Although by today's standards, it's tame stuff, Peyton Place was hot stuff in 1957, and was so shocking and sinful that of course everyone wanted more! By the mid-1960's, all three TV networks were running soap operas during the day, and housewives (and house-hubbies) have never been the same since! Hope's favorite role was as Catherine Becker in The Best Of Everything. She's the girl who works her way up from the bottom of the steno pool, fighting Joan Crawford all the way!

Hope played Irene Sperry, the psychiatrist who councels Glenn Tyler (Elvis) in Wild In The Country, an Elvis-version of Peyton Place, probably the only soap-opera Elvis ever made. (OK, Change Of Habit comes close!) After his success in Flaming Star, Elvis was ready to try another dramatic acting role. Unfortunately, his performance in Wild In The Country varies from really good to really bland. Still a curiosity, though. And there's no doubt that Hope and the other talent surrounding him (including Millie Perkins and Tuesday Weld) inspired him to turn in a very good performance! However, you gotta see the "drunk Elvis" scene, where he and Tuesday get plowed on Uncle Ralph's tonic, and turn the garden hose on Hope's house: "Mizz Sperry-erry-erry-oh!!"

Hope won an Emmy award for Best Actress in a Comedy Series in the TV series "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir". Adapted from a 1947 film starring Rex Harrison and Gene Tierney, the series featured Hope as Mrs. Muir and Edward Mulhare as the ghost of Captain Gregg. Along for the ride was Charles Nelson Reilly (so, THAT's what he did before Match Game!) Unfortunately, the series didn't last very long!

I remember Hope mainly from her next TV role, the wife of Dick Van Dyke in his second series, "The New Dick Van Dyke Show". While not as wildly popular as the first Dick Van Dyke series, it was still good enough to stay around from 1971 through 1974, and definitely had some funny moments!

Sadly, Hope passed away on December 19th, 2003, at age 70. But she is fondly remembered as an intelligent, strong, talented actress who should've been a much bigger star!

Hope Links!

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Wild In The Country photos!

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with Dick Van Dyke

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