The daughter of show folk, Hope Lange was 12 when she appeared in her first Broadway play, Sidney Kingsley's The Patriots. Fourteen years later, with dozens of plays and TV programs to her credit, Lange made her screen debut in Bus Stop (1956), managing to garner critical and audience attention despite her omnipresent co-star Marilyn Monroe (Lange's first husband was Bus Stop leading man Don Murray). Signed to a 20th Century Fox contract, Lange was Oscar nominated for her performance in Peyton Place (1957) and was equally impressive in such films as The Young Lions (1957) and The Best of Everything (1959).
In the early 1960s, Lange was briefly linked romantically with Glenn Ford, who insisted that she co-star with him in Pocketful of Miracles, a fact that inspired a stream of published invective from the film's director, Frank Capra, who'd wanted Shirley Jones for the part. Despite Capra's reservations in regards to her acting ability, Lange continued to prosper as a film actress until turning to TV in 1968 as star of the weekly The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, a project that would earn her two Emmys. She then spent three years in a thankless "supportive housewife" part in The New Dick Van Dyke Show. In 1974, Lange received some of her best reviews in years for her work in Death Wish -- in which she spent most of her time in a coma before expiring in Reel Two! Subsequent projects in which Lange was involved included the 1977 play Same Time Next Year and the first of the Nightmare on Elm Street films. Hope Lange was first married to Don Murray, then producer/director Alan J. Pakula.