Jolie: Movie star, champion in fight against cancer
Just two years after undergoing a double mastectomy to reduce her high risk of breast cancer, Jolie, 39, has again put a spotlight on women’s health, undergoing removal of her ovaries and fallopian tubes.
Jolie took to the opinion pages of the New York Times to announce that she had her reproductive organs removed after blood tests revealed what could be markers for an early stage of cancer.
The star, one of the world’s biggest celebrities, is half of the “Brangelina” Hollywood power couple, along with husband Brad Pitt.
The couple, who married in France last August after living together for several years, have six children together, three of whom are adopted.
As was the case two years ago when Jolie publicized her double mastectomy, her newest surgeries have sparked a public discussion about the pros and cons of the procedures as a preventative measure.
Her medical treatment quickly became international news, and Jolie said she made the decision to go public so that other women could learn from her story.
“I wanted other women at risk to know about the options. I promised to follow up with any information that could be useful, including about my next preventive surgery, the removal of my ovaries and fallopian tubes,” Jolie wrote in the Times.
The actress said tests have shown she has about a 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer, given a family history that includes the death of her mother, Marcheline Bertrand, who lost her battle against ovarian cancer in 2007, at the age of 56.
Jolie, who has won wide acclaim for her international charity work, also urged authorities to help women in less developed countries to get the health care they need.
It was with her kids at the forefront of her thoughts that Jolie decided to undergo the surgeries.
“I can tell my children they don’t need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer,” the actress wrote in the Times after her mastectomy in 2013.
“They know that I love them and will do anything to be with them as long as I can.”
Jolie catapulted to Hollywood stardom with her role in 1999’s “Girl, Interrupted,” taking home a best supporting actress Oscar for her portrayal of a rebellious woman in a mental institution.
She has since played everything from a fairy tale villain (“Maleficent”) to a sexy video game heroine (“Lara Croft: Tomb Raider”) to the widow of assassinated American journalist Daniel Pearl (“A Mighty Heart”).
Now seen as among Hollywood’s most glamorous actresses, Jolie once flaunted a decidedly punk sensibility, scandalizing the public with declarations of bisexuality and quirky behavior such as wearing a vial of actor Billy Bob Thornton’s blood around her neck during their 2000-2003 marriage.
The red carpet darling is now better known for her humanitarian work than for her tabloid-ready comments. For several years she has served as a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
In 2012, she was promoted to special envoy and has visited refugees around the world, from Syria to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda.
More recently, she has been a vocal advocate for victims of sexual violence in war zones, co-hosting a global summit on conflict rape in London.
She also was made an honorary dame by Queen Elizabeth II.
Jolie is the daughter of Oscar winner Jon Voight, hailed as one of the finest actors of his generation, who rose to fame after bravura performances in now classic movies like “Midnight Cowboy,” “Deliverance” and the Vietnam drama “Coming Home,” for which he won his Academy Award.
Her mother also was an actress who appeared in US television serials. She later abandoned her film career to raise her two children.
On the other side of the camera lens, Jolie made her directorial debut in 2011 with “In the Land of Blood and Honey,” an unflinching drama about rape as a weapon in wartime Bosnia, saying she hoped to use cinema as a force for reconciliation.
Another directorial effort, World War II drama “Unbroken” opened to mostly favorable reviews last year.
Prior to last year’s wedding to Pitt, Jolie was married twice before, to actors Jonny Lee Miller and Thornton.
The super-couple is due later this year to release “By the Sea,” their first on-screen appearance together since “Mr and Mrs Smith.” The movie was written, produced and directed by Pitt.