Representing the third generation of her family to work in the theater, versatile talent Norma Aleandro began acting with her parents as a child and matured into one of Argentina's most distinguished thespians. A playwright and director as well as a performer, she fled her homeland for fear of persecution at the hands of its military junta, spending many years in exile first in Uruguay and later Spain before her 1983 return. The dark-haired actress with a slightly pinched face and expressively limpid brown eyes gained international recognition for her superb portrait of a typical middle-class Argentine woman who discovers her life is a lie in the politically-themed "La Historia Oficial/The Official Story" (1985). Aleandro crafted a heartbreaking portrayal of a average wife who comes to suspect that her beloved adopted daughter is the child of a political prisoner. In a role specifically tailored for her, she triumphed both personally and artistically, earning Best Actress honors at Cannes and from the New York Film Critics Circle. Set in 1983 as the junta was disintegrating, "The Official Story" was the first film to examine the fallen regime's responsibility for disappearances, tortures, murders and stolen babies, making a political statement in the midst of a crackling good story that deservedly snared the Academy Award as Best Foreign Film, although the expected nomination for Aleandro's gut-wrenching work failed to materialize.
Aleandro's one-woman show, "Sobre el Amor y Otras Cuentos", adapted from the writings of well-known Spanish and Latin American writers, toured South America before landing in New York in 1985, garnering her an OBIE Award. She then enjoyed a brief screen career in the USA, highlighted by her Oscar-nominated supporting turn as a woman devoted to helping a younger female cope with cerebral palsy in Luis Mandoki's "Gaby--A True Story" (1987), not to mention her colorful portrayal of Isabella Rossellini's mother in "Cousins" (1989), an Americanization of the French film "Cousin, Cousine" (1975). Her outstanding performance as Clara Goldstein in "La Seconda Volta/Autumn Sun" (1996) displayed a mature ardor as she essayed a lonely woman seeking a mate through personal advertisements and won her a Best Actress Award at the San Sebastian Film Festival. After tackling the tour de force stage role of Maria Callas in the Buenos Aires production of Terrence McNally's "Master Class" (1996), Aleandro offered a fine supporting turn as the mother of a future filmmaker in Hector Babenco's semi-autobiographical "Corazon iluminado/Foolish Heart" (1998).