“All right Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close up,” pronounced Norma Desmond, the fading silent movie star in Sunset Boulevard (1950).
The role of Norma Desmond was played by 50-year-old Gloria Swanson, a great actress who received an Academy Award nomination for the part. Today, Swanson probably would be considered too old for the role.
Rampant age discrimination in the entertainment industry prompted California’s Assembly this week to vote 71-4 to prohibit entertainment industry recruitment websites from disclosing actors’ ages or dates of birth without their consent. The bill will now go to California’s Senate.
The premise of the bill is that websites such as IMdB, which lists actors’ birthdates, facilitate age discrimination against women.
Several actresses have spoken out in recent months about the problem.
Actress Maggie Gyllenhall said she was deemed too old at age 37 to play the lover of a 55-year-old man. Oscar-winner Ann Hathaway, 32, said she now loses parts to 24-year-olds. And British actress Emma Thompson recalls “saying years and years ago, when I was 35, that they’d have to exhume somebody to play my leading man … If anything, it’s got worse.”