Film Actresses of the Last Century Turn up on the Small Screen


A surprising number of actresses in film and television from the last two decades of the last century, who seemed to have vanished from the public eye, are starting to turn up on the small screen and in other areas of society. Names that have passed from public attention or are from before the times of current TV/Film audiences are appearing all over the place, most notably the small screen. A fair portion of them have even starred in the blockbusters of the last century.

Ashley Judd

Some of the movies of the last century that this actor has starred in include Heat(1995), and Double Jeopardy(1999). She has also been in a number of movies from the first decade of 2000. The daughter of Singer Naomi Judd, she is also noted for her role in 2 episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, as Ensign Robin Leffler in 1991, and a recurring role as Reed in Sisters. Currently she is a political activist, but in 2012, showed up on the small screen in the series Missing, in the lead role as Becca Winstone, a former CIA operative looking for her kidnapped son. She shines in this new role as a very physical action heroine. She’s not the only aging actress to do so, which leads to the next pick:

Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio

When you think of this actress, the first movie to come to mind is James Cameron’s 1989 blockbuster The Abyss. Other movies include White Sands (1992) and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991). Bitten by the acting bug early in her life as a teen in school plays, she has been in other prominent movies throughout the 80s, 90s, and even the first decade of the 21st century and part of the current decade. So where does she pop up? The hit horror TV series Grimm, as the butt-kicking mother of the lead character. As did one of the other actresses, Ashley Judd in Missing, Mastrantonio makes a very convincing action heroine.

Jessica Alba

This actress, probably best known for her role in the series Dark Angel(2002), didn’t exactly disappear from public view, nor is she quite as old as the previous two actresses. However, she deserves mentioning because of her sidestep into business. CEO of the company she co-founded, The Honest Company, which makes organic products, she’s perhaps not as prominent in the public eye. Born in 1981, places her decades younger than Judd and Mastrantonio, she has had as much of a checkered career as they have. She has been quite busy throughout the new century with material even now at various stages of completion in the film industry, so also not quite on the small screen, except in commercials.

Jamie Lee Curtis

What could be said about this daughter of the famous celebrities Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh would fill a telephone directory-sized book. She shot into prominence as the quintessential scream queen with 1978’s Halloween. She has had a great number of successes throughout her career, with such hits as True Lies (1994) and Halloween H2O: 20 Years later (1998). She is also no stranger to the small screen, having had a significant run in the series Anything But Love (1989-1982), and parts in series before and after. Currently, she shows up in New Girl and is involved in several other projects in various stages of completion.

This list is in no way complete or exhaustive, with many personalities from before the turn of the century popping up all over the place. Glenn Close as Micheal Weston’s mother in Burn Notice (and very in-depth), Jane Curtain in Unforgettable, and Joanna Cassidy as Temperance Brennan’s mother in Bones, barely scratches the surface of actresses with strong careers in the last century turning up again on the large and small screen in this one.

Editorial by Lee Birdine

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