Jane Wyman

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Not to be confused with Jane Wyatt.
Jane Wyman
Promotional photograph of Jane Wyman.jpg
Wyman in a promotional photo (1947)
Born Sarah Jane Mayfield
(1917-01-05)January 5, 1917
Saint Joseph, Missouri, U.S.
Died September 10, 2007(2007-09-10) (aged 90)
Rancho Mirage, California, U.S.
Cause of death
Natural causes
Occupation Actress
Years active 1932–1993
Spouse(s) Myron Futterrman (m. 1937–1938; divorced)
Ronald Reagan
(m. 1940–1948; divorced)
Fred Karger
(m. 1952–1955, 1961–1965; divorced twice)
Children Maureen Reagan
Christine Reagan
Michael Reagan
Website
http://www.jane-wyman.com

Jane Wyman (born Sarah Jane Mayfield; January 5, 1917 – September 10, 2007)[1] was an American singer, dancer, and film/television actress. She began her film career in the 1932 and her work in television lasted into 1993. She was considered a prolific performer for two decades. She received an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in Johnny Belinda (1948), and later in life achieved a new level of success in the 1980s as the aging wine country matriarch Angela Channing on Falcon Crest.

She was the first wife of Ronald Reagan; they married in 1940 and divorced in 1949.

Youth[edit]

Wyman was born Sarah Jane Mayfield in St. Joseph, Missouri. Although her birthdate has been widely reported for many years as January 4, 1914, research by biographers and genealogists indicates she was born on January 5, 1917.[2][3][4] The most likely reason for the 1914 year of birth is that she added to her age so as to be able to work and act while still a minor. She may have moved her birthday back by one day to January 4 so as to share the same birthday as her daughter, Maureen (born January 4, 1941).[5] The 1920 census, on the other hand, has her at 3 and living in Philadelphia, Pa. After Wyman's death, a release posted on her official website confirmed these details.[1]

Birthplace in St. Joseph

Her parents were Manning Jefferies Mayfield (c.1885–1922), a meal-company laborer, and Gladys Hope Christian (c.1891–1960), a doctor's stenographer and office assistant. In October 1921, her mother filed for divorce, and her father died unexpectedly the following year at age 37. After her father's death, her mother moved to Cleveland, Ohio, leaving her to be reared by foster parents, Emma (1866–1951)[6] and Richard D. Fulks (1862–1928), the chief of detectives in Saint Joseph.[7] She took their surname unofficially, including in her school records and, apparently, her first marriage certificate.

Her unsettled family life resulted in few pleasurable memories. Wyman later said, "I was raised with such strict discipline that it was years before I could reason myself out of the bitterness I brought from my childhood.[8] In 1928, aged 11, she moved to southern California with her foster mother, but it is not known for certain if she attempted a career in motion pictures at this time, or if the relocation was due to the fact that some of Fulks' children also lived in the area. In 1930, the two moved back to Missouri, where Sarah Jane attended Lafayette High School in Saint Joseph. That same year she began a radio singing career, calling herself "Jane Durrell" and adding years to her birthdate to work legally since she would have been under age.

Career[edit]

Beginnings[edit]

Jane Wyman on the beach, 1935, at age 18
Wyman in her Academy Award-winning role in Johnny Belinda (1948)

After dropping out of Lafayette in 1932, at age 15, she returned to Hollywood, taking on odd jobs as a manicurist and a switchboard operator, before obtaining small parts in such films as The Kid from Spain (as a "Goldwyn Girl"; 1932), My Man Godfrey (1936) and Cain and Mabel (1936). After changing her name from Jane Durrell to Jane Wyman, she began her career as a contract player with Warner Bros. in 1936 at age 19. Her big break came the following year, when she received her first starring role in Public Wedding.[citation needed]

Recognition and acclaim[edit]

Jane Wyman in 1953.

In 1939, Wyman starred in Torchy Plays With Dynamite. In 1941, she appeared in You're in the Army Now, in which she and Regis Toomey had the longest screen kiss in cinema history: 3 minutes and 5 seconds.[9]

Wyman finally gained critical notice in the film noir The Lost Weekend (1945). She was nominated for the 1946 Academy Award for Best Actress for The Yearling (1946), and won two years later for her role as a deaf-mute rape victim in Johnny Belinda (1948). She was the first person in the sound era to win an acting Oscar without speaking a line of dialogue. In an amusing acceptance speech, perhaps poking fun at some of her long-winded counterparts, Wyman took her statue and said only, "I accept this, very gratefully, for keeping my mouth shut once. I think I'll do it again."[10] The Oscar win gave her the ability to choose higher profile roles, although she still showed a liking for musical comedy. She worked with such directors as Alfred Hitchcock on Stage Fright (1950), Frank Capra on Here Comes the Groom (1951) and Michael Curtiz on The Story of Will Rogers (1952). She starred in The Glass Menagerie (1950), Just for You (1952), Let's Do It Again (1953), The Blue Veil (1951) (another Oscar nomination), the remake of Edna Ferber's So Big (1953), Magnificent Obsession (1954) (Oscar nomination), Lucy Gallant (1955), All That Heaven Allows (1955), and Miracle in the Rain (1956). She replaced the ailing Gene Tierney in Holiday for Lovers (1959), and next appeared in Pollyanna (1960), Bon Voyage! (1962), and her final big screen movie, How to Commit Marriage (1969).[citation needed]

Television[edit]

Her first guest-starring television role was on a 1955 episode of General Electric Theater, a show hosted by her former husband Ronald Reagan. This appearance led to roles on Summer Playhouse, Lux Playhouse, Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse, Checkmate, The Investigators, and Wagon Train. She guest starred in 1959 on The Ford Show, Starring Tennessee Ernie Ford on NBC. She was hostess of The Bell Telephone Hour and Bob Hope Presents The Chrysler Theatre. She had telling roles in both The Sixth Sense and Insight, among other programs.[citation needed]

She hosted an anthology television series, Jane Wyman Presents the Fireside Theater, for which she was nominated for an Emmy Award in 1957. During her tenure as host, however, ratings steadily declined, and the show ended after three seasons. She was later cast in two unsold pilots during the 1960s and 1970s. After those pilots were not picked up, Wyman went into semi-retirement and remained there for most of the 1970s, although she did make guest appearances on Charlie's Angels and The Love Boat.

Falcon Crest[edit]

In the spring of 1981, Wyman's career enjoyed a resurgence when she was cast as the scheming Californian vintner and matriarch Angela Channing in The Vintage Years, which was retooled as the primetime soap opera Falcon Crest. The series, which ran from December 1981 to May 1990, was created by Earl Hamner, who had created The Waltons a decade earlier. Also starring on the show was an already established character actress, Susan Sullivan, as Angela's niece-in-law, Maggie Gioberti, and the relatively unknown actor Lorenzo Lamas as Angela's irresponsible grandson, Lance Cumson. The on- and off-screen chemistry between Wyman and Lamas helped fuel the series' success. In its first season, Falcon Crest was a ratings hit, behind other 1980s prime-time soap operas, such as Dallas and Knots Landing, but initially ahead of rival soap opera Dynasty. Cesar Romero appeared from 1985 to 1987 on Falcon Crest as the romantic interest of Angela Channing.[citation needed]

For her role as Angela Channing, Wyman was nominated for a Soap Opera Digest Award five times (for Outstanding Actress in a Leading Role and for Outstanding Villainess: Prime Time Serial), and was also nominated for a Golden Globe Award in 1983 and 1984. Her 1984 Golden Globe nomination resulted in a win for Wyman, who took home the award for Best Performance By an Actress in a TV Series. Later in the show's run, Wyman suffered several health problems. In 1986, she had abdominal surgery which caused her to miss two episodes (her character simply "disappeared" under mysterious circumstances). In 1988, she missed another episode due to ill health and was told by her doctors to avoid work. However, she wanted to continue working, and she completed the rest of the 1988-1989 season while her health continued to deteriorate. Months later in 1989, Wyman collapsed on the set and was hospitalized due to problems with diabetes and a liver ailment. Her doctors told her that she should end her acting career. Wyman was absent for most of the ninth and final season of Falcon Crest in 1989-1990 (her character was written out of the series by making her comatose in a hospital bed following an attempted murder).

Against her doctor's advice, she returned for the final three episodes in 1990, even writing a soliloquy for the series finale. Wyman ultimately appeared in almost every episode up until the beginning of the ninth and final season, for a total of 208 of the show's 227 episodes. After Falcon Crest, Wyman acted only once more, playing Jane Seymour's screen mother in a 1993 episode of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.[11] Following this, she retired from acting permanently. Wyman had starred in 83 movies, two successful TV series, and was nominated for an Academy Award four times, winning once.

Personal life[edit]

Marriages[edit]

Wyman married four times.[12]

Myron Martin Futterman[edit]

Wyman married Myron Martin Futterman (1900–1965), a dress manufacturer, in New Orleans on June 29, 1937. As Wyman wanted children but Futterman did not, they separated after only three months of marriage[13] and divorced on December 5, 1938.[14]

Ronald Reagan[edit]

Twenty-five-year-old Wyman with husband and fellow actor, Ronald Reagan, at the premiere of the partially controversial Tales of Manhattan in Los Angeles, August 1942. This was almost two years after the birth of their daughter, Maureen. Thirty-one-year-old Army Air Force Second Lieutenant Reagan was assigned to Culver City's First Motion Picture Unit (18th AAF Base Unit) at this time, which was some three months after his voluntary transfer from the Army Cavalry, and five years after having been commissioned from the enlisted ranks of the U.S. Army Reserve in Iowa. Wyman was already a 10-year Hollywood veteran.

In 1938, Wyman co-starred with Ronald Reagan in Brother Rat (1938), and its sequel Brother Rat and a Baby (1940). They were engaged at the Chicago Theatre,[15] and married on January 26, 1940, at the Wee Kirk o' the Heather Church, Glendale, California.[16] She and Reagan had three children; Maureen Elizabeth Reagan (1941–2001), their adopted son Michael Edward Reagan (born March 18, 1945), and Christine Reagan (born prematurely on June 26, 1947 and died later the same day).[17] This event soured their marriage irreparably. Wyman stated that their break up was due to a difference in politics (Ronald Reagan was still a Democrat at the time).[18] She filed for divorce in 1948; the divorce was finalized in 1949. Ronald Reagan is the only U.S. president to have been divorced, thus Wyman is, to date, the only ex-wife of a United States president. Although she remained silent during Reagan's political career, she told a newspaper interviewer in 1968 that this was not because she was:

bitter or because I don't agree with him politically. I've always been a registered Republican. But it's bad taste to talk about ex-husbands and ex-wives, that's all. Also, I don't know a damn thing about politics.

In spite of her divorce she still voted for her ex-husband in the 1980 and 1984 Presidential elections, according to her former personal assistant.[citation needed] A few days after Reagan died on June 5, 2004, she broke her silence, saying "America has lost a great president and a great, kind, and gentle man."[19]

Fred Karger[edit]

Following her divorce from Reagan, Wyman married German-American Hollywood music director and composer Frederick M. "Fred" Karger (1916–1979)[20] on November 1, 1952, at El Montecito Presbyterian Church, Santa Barbara. They separated on November 7, 1954, and were granted an interlocutory divorce decree on December 7, 1954; the divorce was finalized on December 30, 1955. They remarried on March 11, 1961, and Karger divorced her again on March 9, 1965. According to The New York Times report of the divorce, the bandleader charged that the actress "had walked out on him."[21] Wyman had a stepdaughter, Terry, from Karger's first marriage to Patti Sacks.[22]

Wyman, who had converted to Catholicism in 1953, never remarried.[23] She was a member of the Good Shepherd Parish and the Catholic Motion Picture Guild in Beverly Hills, California.[24]

Later life[edit]

After Falcon Crest ended, Wyman made a guest appearance on the CBS series Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman and then completely retired from acting, spending her retirement painting and entertaining friends. A recluse, Wyman made only a few public appearances in her last years in part due to suffering from diabetes and arthritis, although she did attend her daughter Maureen's funeral in 2001 after the latter's death from cancer. (Ronald Reagan was unable to attend due to his Alzheimer's disease). She also attended the funeral of her long-time friend Loretta Young in 2000. Wyman broke her silence about her ex-husband upon his death in 2004, attending his funeral and issuing an official statement that read "America has lost a great president and a great, kind, and gentle man."[11]

Death[edit]

Wyman died at the age of 90[1] at her Rancho Mirage home on September 10, 2007.[25] Wyman's son, Michael Reagan, released a statement saying:

I have lost a loving mother, my children Cameron and Ashley have lost a loving grandmother, my wife Colleen has lost a loving friend she called Mom and Hollywood has lost the classiest lady to ever grace the silver screen.[26]

It was reported that Wyman died in her sleep of natural causes. A member of the Dominican Order (as a lay tertiary) of the Roman Catholic Church, she was buried in a nun's habit.[27] She was interred at Forest Lawn Mortuary and Memorial Park in Cathedral City, California.[1][28]

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1932 Kid from Spain, TheThe Kid from Spain Goldwyn Girl Uncredited
1933 Elmer, the Great Game Spectator Uncredited
1933 Gold Diggers of 1933 Gold Digger Uncredited
1934 All the King's Horses Chorine Uncredited
1934 College Rhythm Chorine Uncredited
1935 Broadway Hostess Chorus Girl Uncredited
1935 Rumba Chorus Girl Uncredited
1935 George White's 1935 Scandals Chorine Uncredited
1935 Stolen Harmony Chorine Uncredited
1936 King of Burlesque Dancer Uncredited
1936 Freshman Love Co-Ed Uncredited
1936 Anything Goes Chorus Girl Uncredited
1936 Bengal Tiger Saloon Girl Uncredited
1936 My Man Godfrey Socialite Uncredited
1936 Stage Struck Bessie Funfnick Uncredited
1936 Cain and Mabel Chorus Girl Uncredited
1936 Here Comes Carter Nurse Uncredited
1936 Sunday Round-Up, TheThe Sunday Round-Up Butte Soule Short film
1936 Polo Joe Girl at Polo Field Uncredited
1936 Gold Diggers of 1937 Chorus Girl Uncredited
1937 Smart Blonde Dixie the Hat Check Girl
1937 Ready, Willing and Able Dot
1937 King and the Chorus Girl, TheThe King and the Chorus Girl Babette Latour
1937 Slim Stumpy's Girl
1937 Little Pioneer Katie Snee Short film
1937 Singing Marine, TheThe Singing Marine Joan
1937 Public Wedding Florence Lane Burke
1937 Mr. Dodd Takes the Air Marjorie Day
1937 Over the Goal Co-Ed Uncredited
1938 Spy Ring, TheThe Spy Ring Elaine Burdette
1938 He Couldn't Say No Violet Coney
1938 Fools for Scandal Party Guest Uncredited
1938 Wide Open Faces Betty Martin
1938 Crowd Roars, TheThe Crowd Roars Vivian
1938 Brother Rat Claire Adams
1939 Tail Spin Alabama
1939 Kid from Kokomo, TheThe Kid from Kokomo Marian Bronson
1939 Torchy Blane... Playing with Dynamite Torchy Blane
1939 Kid Nightingale Judy Craig
1939 Private Detective Myrna 'Jinx' Winslow
1940 Brother Rat and a Baby Claire Terry
1940 Angel from Texas, AnAn Angel from Texas Marge Allen
1940 Flight Angels Nan Hudson
1940 Gambling on the High Seas Laurie Ogden
1940 My Love Came Back Joy O'Keefe
1940 Tugboat Annie Sails Again Peggy Armstrong
1941 Honeymoon for Three Elizabeth Clochessy
1941 Bad Men of Missouri Mary Hathaway
1941 Body Disappears, TheThe Body Disappears Joan Shotesbury
1941 You're in the Army Now Bliss Dobson
1942 Larceny, Inc. Denny Costello
1942 My Favorite Spy Connie
1942 Footlight Serenade Flo La Verne
1943 Princess O'Rourke Jean Campbell
1944 Make Your Own Bed Susan Courtney
1944 The Doughgirls Vivian Marsden Halstead
1944 Crime by Night Robbie Vance
1945 Lost Weekend, TheThe Lost Weekend Helen St. James
1946 One More Tomorrow Frankie Connors
1946 Night and Day Gracie Harris
1946 Yearling, TheThe Yearling Orry Baxter Nominated—Academy Award for Best Actress
1947 Cheyenne Ann Kincaid
1947 Magic Town Mary Peterman
1948 Johnny Belinda Belinda McDonald Academy Award for Best Actress
Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
1949 Kiss in the Dark, AA Kiss in the Dark Polly Haines
1949 Lady Takes a Sailor, TheThe Lady Takes a Sailor Jennifer Smith
1950 Stage Fright Eve Gill
1950 Glass Menagerie, TheThe Glass Menagerie Laura Wingfield
1951 Three Guys Named Mike Marcy Lewis
1951 Here Comes the Groom Emmadel Jones
1951 Blue Veil, TheThe Blue Veil Louise Mason Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
Nominated—Academy Award for Best Actress
1952 Story of Will Rogers, TheThe Story of Will Rogers Betty Rogers
1952 Just for You Carolina Hill
1953 Three Lives Commentator Short film
1953 Let's Do It Again Constance 'Connie' Stuart
1953 So Big Selina DeJong
1954 Magnificent Obsession Helen Phillips Nominated—Academy Award for Best Actress
1955 All That Heaven Allows Cary Scott
1955 Lucy Gallant Lucy Gallant
1956 Miracle in the Rain Ruth Wood
1959 Holiday for Lovers Mrs. Mary Dean
1960 Pollyanna Aunt Polly
1962 Bon Voyage! Katie Willard
1969 How to Commit Marriage Elaine Benson
1971 Failing of Raymond, TheThe Failing of Raymond Mary Bloomquist Television film
1973 Amanda Fallon Dr. Amanda Fallon Television film
1979 Incredible Journey of Doctor Meg Laurel, TheThe Incredible Journey of Doctor Meg Laurel Granny Arrowroot Television film

Television[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1955 G.E. True Theater Dr. Amelia Morrow Episode: "Amelia"
1955–1958 Jane Wyman Presents The Fireside Theatre Various 49 episodes
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (1957, 1959)
1958 Wagon Train Dr. Carol Ames Willoughby Episode: "The Doctor Willoughby Story"
1959 Lux Video Theatre Selena Shelby Episode: "A Deadly Guest"
1960 Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse Dr. Kate Episode: "Dr. Kate"
1960 Startime Host Episode: "Academy Award Songs"
1960 Checkmate Joan Talmadge Episode: "Lady on the Brink"
1961 Investigators, TheThe Investigators Elaine Episode: "Death Leaves a Tip"
1962 Wagon Train Hannah Episode: "The Wagon Train Mutiny"
1964 Insight Marie Episode: "The Hermit"
1966 Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre Addie Joslin Episode: "When Hell Froze"
1967 Insight Auschwitz Victim Episode: "Why Does God Allow Men to Suffer?"
1968 Red Skelton Hour, TheThe Red Skelton Hour Clara Appleby Episode: "18.9"
1970 My Three Sons Sylvia Cannon Episode: "Who Is Sylvia?"
1972 Sixth Sense, TheThe Sixth Sense Ruth Ames Episode: "If I Should Die Before I Wake"
1972 Bold Ones: The New Doctors, TheThe Bold Ones: The New Doctors Dr. Amanda Fallon Episode: "Discovery at Fourteen"
1973 Bold Ones: The New Doctors, TheThe Bold Ones: The New Doctors Dr. Amanda Fallon Episode: "And Other Springs I May Not See"
1974 Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law Sophia Ryder Episode: "The Desertion of Keith Ryder"
1980 Love Boat, TheThe Love Boat Sister Patricia Episode: "Another Day, Another Time"
1980 Charlie's Angels Eleanor Willard Episode: "To See an Angel Die"
1981–1990 Falcon Crest Angela Channing 228 episodes
Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama
1993 Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman Elizabeth Quinn Episode: "The Visitor"

Awards and nominations[edit]

Academy Awards[edit]

Emmy Awards[edit]

  • Nominated: Best Lead Actress - Drama Series, Jane Wyman Presents The Fireside Theatre (1957)
  • Nominated: Best Lead Actress - Drama Series, Jane Wyman Presents The Fireside Theatre (1959)

Golden Globe Awards[edit]

Wyman has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame; one for motion pictures at 6607 Hollywood Boulevard and one for television at 1620 Vine Street.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Actress, Philanthropist Jane Wyman Dies. Retrieved September 10, 2007.
  2. ^ Edwards, Anne. Early Reagan: The Rise to Power. William Morrow & Co (November 1990); ISBN 0-688-06050-1.
  3. ^ Bubbeo, Daniel. The Women of Warner Brothers: The Lives and Careers of 15 Leading Ladies. McFarland & Company (October 2001); ISBN 0-7864-1137-6.
  4. ^ Colacello, Bob. Ronnie and Nancy: Their Path to the White House – 1911 to 1980. Warner Books; 1st Warner Books Edition (2004); ISBN 0-446-53272-X.
  5. ^ Wyman is listed in the U.S. Census taken in April 1930 as being 18 years old, when she was actually 13. U.S. Census, April 1, 1930, State of California, County of Los Angeles, City of Los Angeles, enumeration district 328, p. 13A, family 503.
  6. ^ U.S. Census, April 15, 1910, State of Missouri, County of Buchanan, enumeration district 54, p. 5-A, family 99. California death index, 1940–1997.
  7. ^ Jane Wyman, 90, Star of Film and TV, Is Dead, The New York Times, September 11, 2007. Fulks' position was upgraded to mayor of Saint Louis by the Warner Bros. publicity department when his foster daughter became a successful actress. Source: Jane Wyman (obituary), The Times (London), September 11, 2007.
  8. ^ Jane Wyman (obituary). The Independent (London), September 11, 2007.
  9. ^ cinemaspot.com, quoting Guinness Book of World Records
  10. ^ Jane Wyman's Oscar acceptance speech, 1948 on YouTube
  11. ^ a b Silverman, Stephen (September 10, 2007). "Falcon Crest Star Jane Wyman Dies at 93". People. Retrieved 2011-01-15. 
  12. ^ Biography. Jane Wyman. Retrieved on 2014-04-12.
  13. ^ Jane Wyman biography. Official Jane Wyman website.
  14. ^ "Film Actress Wins Divorce," Los Angeles Times, December 6, 1938, p. 3.
  15. ^ "Dispute Over Theatre Splits Chicago City Council". The New York Times. May 8, 1984. Retrieved 2007-05-17. 
  16. ^ Oliver, Marilyn (March 31, 1988). "Locations Range From the Exotic to the Pristine". The Los Angeles Times. 
  17. ^ "Biography". Jane Wyman. Retrieved 2011-09-05. 
  18. ^ "Reagan: Home". HBO. Retrieved 2011-09-05. 
  19. ^ Jane Wyman, Ronald Reagan's first wife, dies at 93, Politico.com
  20. ^ http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0439219/
  21. ^ "Jane Wyman Divorced", The New York Times, March 10, 1965.
  22. ^ "Frederick M. Karger, 63, Arranger and Composer", The New York Times, August 6, 1979.
  23. ^ Paul Kengor, God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life. Harper Collins Publishers (2004). p. 50.
  24. ^ Church of the Good Shepherd: Our History
  25. ^ "Johnny Belinda Actress Jane Wyman Dies", USA Today, September 10, 2007.
  26. ^ Oscar-Winner Jane Wyman, Ronald Reagan's First Wife, Dead at 93. Fox News. September 10, 2007.
  27. ^ Alan Petrucelli, Morbid Curiosity: The Disturbing Demises of the Famous and Infamous. Penguin Group (2009). p. 5.
  28. ^ Jane Wyman at Find a Grave

External links[edit]