Jean Hagen

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Jean Hagen
Jean Hagen in Singin in the Rain trailer.jpg
from the trailer for the film Singin' in the Rain (1952).
Born Jean Shirley Verhagen
(1923-08-03)August 3, 1923
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Died August 29, 1977(1977-08-29) (aged 54)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Occupation Actress
Years active 1945–1977
Spouse(s) Tom Seidel (m. 1947–1965; divorced) 2 children
Children Christine Patricia (b. 1950)
Aric Phillip (1952-2012)

Jean Hagen (August 3, 1923 – August 29, 1977) was an American film actress.[1]

Early life[edit]

Hagen was born as Jean Shirley Verhagen in Chicago, to Christian Verhagen (born August 10, 1890 – died April 1983), a Dutch immigrant, and his Chicago-born wife, Marie. The family moved to Elkhart, Indiana when she was 12, and she subsequently graduated from Elkhart High School. She studied drama at Northwestern University and worked as a theater usherette before making her Broadway theatre debut in Another Part of the Forest in 1946. On Broadway, she was understudy for Judy Holliday in Born Yesterday.

Career[edit]

Hagen in her debut film, Adam's Rib (1949)

Her film debut was as a femme fatale in Adam's Rib in 1949. The Asphalt Jungle (1950) provided Hagen with her first starring role beside Sterling Hayden and excellent reviews. She appeared in the film noir Side Street (1950) playing a gangster's sincere, but none-too-bright, gun moll. She is arguably best remembered for her comic performance in Singin' in the Rain as the vain and talentless silent movie star Lina Lamont; Hagen received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

By 1953, she had joined the cast of the television sitcom Make Room for Daddy. As the first wife of Danny Thomas, Hagen received three Emmy Award nominations, but after three seasons she grew dissatisfied and left the series. Thomas, who also produced the show, reportedly didn't appreciate Jean's departing the successful series, and her character was killed off rather than recast.[citation needed] This was the first TV character to be killed off in a family sitcom.[citation needed] Marjorie Lord was cast a year later as Danny's second wife and played opposite Thomas successfully for several seasons. Hagen starred in the 1957 Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Season 3, Episode 7, entitled "Enough Rope for Two". She appeared as Frida Daniels in The Shaggy Dog starring with Fred MacMurray. In 1960, she appeared as "Elizabeth" in the episode "Once Upon a Knight" of CBS's anthology series The DuPont Show with June Allyson.

Although she made frequent guest appearances in various television series, she was unable to successfully resume her film career, and for the remainder of her career she played supporting roles, such as Marguerite LeHand, personal secretary to Franklin Delano Roosevelt in Sunrise at Campobello (1960), as the title character in season 2, episode 3 of The Andy Griffith Show titled "Andy and the Woman Speeder" (1961), and the friend of Bette Davis in Dead Ringer (1964). In the 1960s, Hagen's health began to decline and she spent many years hospitalised or under medical care.

In 1976, she made a comeback of sorts playing character roles in episodes of the television series Starsky and Hutch and The Streets of San Francisco and made her final film appearance in the 1977 television movie Alexander: The Other Side of Dawn.

Personal life and death[edit]

Jean Hagen married Tom Seidel on June 12, 1947, in Brentwood, and proceeded to have two children, Christine Patricia (born August 26, 1950) and Aric Phillip (August 19, 1952-September 9, 2012). After a marriage full of domestic violence, she divorced Seidel on November 1, 1965, in Los Angeles. Hagen died of esophageal cancer on August 29, 1977, and was buried in Chapel of the Pines Crematory.

Jean Hagen has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1502 Vine Street for her contributions to television.

Filmography[edit]

Film Year Role Notes
Adam's Rib 1949 Beryl Caighn film debut. National Film Registry
The Asphalt Jungle 1950 Doll Conovan National Film Registry
Side Street 1950 Hariette Sinton
Singin' in the Rain 1952 Lina Lamont nominated – Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. National Film Registry. Selected by AFI as Best Movie Musical. National Film Registry
Carbine Williams 1952 Maggie Williams
Latin Lovers 1953 Anne Kellwood

Arena 1953

The Big Knife 1955 Connie Bliss
The Shaggy Dog 1959 Freeda Daniels Later remade
Sunrise at Campobello 1960 Marguerite "Missy" LeHand
Panic in Year Zero 1962 Ann Baldwin
Dead Ringer 1964 Dede Marshall last film

Television appearances[edit]

Television series Role Year Notes
Make Room for Daddy Margaret Williams 117 (3 seasons) 1953–1956 later called The Danny Thomas Show; first family sitcom character to be killed off

References[edit]

  1. ^ Obituary Variety, September 7, 1977, page 111.

TV, 1957, Madge Griffin, "Enough Rope for Two", Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

External links[edit]