Jo Van Fleet won a well-dserved Oscar for playing a tough, bitter, white-haired bordello madam in Elia Kazan’s East of Eden (’55). By today’s standards she could be in her 60s or 70s but Van Fleet was only 39 during principal photography. Excellent makeup or something. Roughly five years later the 44-year-old Van Fleet played an 89-year-old matriarch in Kazan’s Wild River (’60).
It was a travesty, by the way, that Kazan was up for Best Director while the film itself wasn’t Best Picture nominated. The 1955 Best Picture five were Marty (which won), Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing (tepid interracial romance drama), Mister Roberts (definitely hasn’t aged well — one of John Ford’s stinkers), Picnic (steady-as-she-goes, well-acted small-town drama, based on the William Inge play) and The Rose Tattoo (Tennessee Williams having adapted his own play, which also costarred Jo Van Fleet).
East of Eden was better than all five 1955 nominees put together, and still is.
Julie Harris should have been nominated also: