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Jane Wyman Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (5) | Trade Mark (4) | Trivia (101) | Personal Quotes (31)

Overview (5)

Date of Birth 5 January 1917St. Joseph, Missouri, USA
Date of Death 10 September 2007Palm Springs, California, USA  (complications from arthritis and diabetes)
Birth NameSarah Jane Mayfield
Nicknames Button Nose
Minnie Mouse
Janie
Height 5' 5½" (1.66 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Jane Wyman was born Sarah Jane Mayfield on January 5, 1917, in St. Joseph, Missouri (she was also known later as Sarah Jane Fulks). When she was only eight years old, and after her parents filed for divorce, she lost her father prematurely. After graduating high school she attempted, with the help of her mother, to break into films, but to no avail. In 1932, after attending the University of Missouri, she began a career as a radio singer, which led to her first name change to Jane Durrell. In 1936 she signed a contract with Warner Bros. Pictures and that led to another name change, the more familiar one of Jane Wyman. Under that name she appeared in "A" and "B" pictures at Warners, including two with her future husband, Ronald Reagan: Brother Rat (1938) and its sequel, Brother Rat and a Baby (1940). In the early 1940s she moved into comedies and melodramas and gained attention for her role as Ray Milland's long-suffering wife in The Lost Weekend (1945). The following year she was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for her role as Ma Baxter in The Yearling (1946), and won the coveted prize in 1949 as deaf-mute rape victim Belinda MacDonald in Johnny Belinda (1948). She followed that with a number of appearances in more prestigious films, such as Alfred Hitchcock's Stage Fright (1950), Frank Capra's Here Comes the Groom (1951), Michael Curtiz's The Story of Will Rogers (1952) and the first movie version of The Glass Menagerie (1950). She starred opposite Bing Crosby in the musical Just for You (1952). She was Oscar-nominated for her performances in The Blue Veil (1951) and Magnificent Obsession (1954). She also starred in the immensely popular So Big (1953), Lucy Gallant (1955), All That Heaven Allows (1955) and Miracle in the Rain (1956). In addition to her extensive film career, she hosted TV's Jane Wyman Presents The Fireside Theatre (1955) and starred in most of the episodes of the show, which ran for three seasons. She came back to the big screen in Holiday for Lovers (1959), Pollyanna (1960) and her final film, How to Commit Marriage (1969). Although off the big screen, she became a presence on the small screen and starred in two made-for-TV movies, including The Incredible Journey of Doctor Meg Laurel (1979). In early 1981, in the 49th year of her career, she won the role of conniving matriarch Angela Channing Erikson Stavros Agretti in the movie "The Vintage Years", which was the unaired pilot for the prime-time soap opera Falcon Crest (1981), later in the year. For nine seasons she played that character in a way that virtually no other actress could have done, and became the moral center of the show. The show was a ratings winner from its debut in 1981, and made stars out of her fellow cast members Robert Foxworth, Lorenzo Lamas, Abby Dalton and Susan Sullivan. At the end of the first season the storyline had her being informed that her evil son, played by David Selby, had inherited 50% of a California newspaper company, and the conflicts inherent in that situation led to even bigger ratings over the next five years. Wyman was nominated six times for a Soap Opera Digest Award, and in 1984 she won the Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a TV Series Drama. By the show's eighth season, however, she was emotionally drained and the strain of constantly working to keep up the quality of a hit show took its toll on her. In addition, there was friction on the set among cast members. All of these events culminated in her departure from the show after the first two episodes of the ninth season (her character was hospitalized and slipped into a coma) for health reasons. After a period of recuperation, she believed that she had recovered enough to guest-star in the last three episodes of the season (her doctor disagreed, but she did it anyway). She then guest-starred as Jane Seymour's mother on Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman (1993) and three years later appeared in Wild Bill: Hollywood Maverick (1995). In the late 1990s she purchased a home in Rancho Mirage, California, where she's still living in retirement. Her daughter, Maureen Reagan (who died in August 2001), was a writer who also involved herself in political issues and organized a powerful foundation. Also, she placed her 3200-sq.-ft. Rancho Mirage condominium on the market. Jane Wyman died at the age of 90, at her Palm Springs, California home, on September 10, 2007, having long suffered from arthritis and diabetes. It was reported that Wyman died in her sleep of natural causes at the Rancho Mirage Country Club.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Richard Collins II (brothergaryii@yahoo.com)

Spouse (5)

Fred Karger (11 March 1961 - 9 March 1965) (divorced)
Fred Karger (1 November 1952 - 7 December 1954) (divorced)
Ronald Reagan (26 January 1940 - 28 June 1948) (divorced) (3 children)
Myron Futterman (29 June 1937 - 5 December 1938) (divorced)
Ernest Eugene Wyman (8 April 1933 - 1935) (divorced)

Trade Mark (4)

Her husky voice.
Her hairdo, bangs over her forehead.
Played roles that were either physically challenged or disabled.
Usually played women who either become engaged or soon get married.

Trivia (101)

Her Best Actress Oscar for Johnny Belinda (1948) makes her the only wife of a future U.S. President (Ronald Reagan) ever to win such an award.
Adopted mother of nationally syndicated radio talk show host Michael Reagan.
Her name changed to "Jane Faulks" when she was unofficially "adopted" by the Faulks family, middle-aged neighbors of her single mother. Moved to So. California with Mrs. Faulks when she was widowed in 1928
Several sources have given her date of birth as January 4, 1914, which would mean she was one of the first (and one of the very few) actresses to make herself older. She is a serious convert to Roman Catholicism, attending Mass with good friend Loretta Young.
Apparently broke up with Ronald Reagan over her love for Lew Ayres, but that relationship failed in the long run.
Daughter, with third husband - actor/former president Ronald Reagan - Maureen Reagan dies of malignant melanoma (skin cancer) at her Sacramento-area home. [August 2001]
Holds the record for the longest screen kiss, with Regis Toomey in You're in the Army Now (1941), at 3 minutes and 5 seconds.
Before she was a successful actress, she was once a switchboard operator.
Had taken a break on the ninth and final season of Falcon Crest (1981), during the third episode, due to the health problems she was suffering, but came back for the last three episodes of the series.
Was a diabetic.
Was always good friends with Loretta Young.
Has 2 stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Would never talk about Ronald Reagan in an interview.
Daughter, Maureen Reagan, was admitted to the John Wayne Cancer Institute for malignant melanoma. [11 December 2000]
Appeared in every episode of Jane Wyman Presents The Fireside Theatre (1955) and was nominated for an Emmy twice.
Was a chorus girl before being a successful actress.
Replaced Gracie Allen for an evening of "The Burns and Allen Radio Show" when Gracie had a migraine. It turned out to be the only time Gracie missed their show in all the years Burns and Allen performed together.
She would never talk about Ronald Reagan in an interview, but voted for him three times and attended his funeral.
In Italy, most of her films were dubbed by either Lidia Simoneschi or Dhia Cristiani. She was occasionally dubbed by Rosetta Calavetta, Renata Marini, Rina Morelli or Giovanna Scotto.
Was a close friend of USC School of Cinematic Arts professor Drew Casper.
She attended Lafayette High School in St. Joseph, Missouri.
She dropped out of Lafayette High School, during her freshman year, and took on odd jobs such as a waitress and manicurist.
She had 10 hobbies: landscape painting, golfing, dancing, collecting CDs, listening to music, playing piano, singing, philanthropy, reading and politics.
Was the recipient of the Charles B. Harding Award in 1977, which was the highest national award given by The Arthritis Foundation.
Began her career as a contract player for Warner Bros. in 1936.
Her Falcon Crest (1981) co-stars, Susan Sullivan and Lorenzo Lamas, both went to visit her in the hospital, while the ninth and final season was filming.
Her Falcon Crest (1981) co-star, Susan Sullivan, won the 1998 Jane Wyman Award at the Arthritis Foundation.
Her father, Manning Jefferies Mayfield, died when she was only 5.
In 1991, she received the Golda Meir Award from Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel.
Wyman had appeared in almost every episode of Falcon Crest (1981) from 1981 to 1989, before she missed 16 episodes in the final season. Against her doctor's advice, she came back for the series' final three shows, for a total of 208 of the 227 episodes of the series.
Lived in a retirement home in Palm Springs, California, before she resided at the Rancho Mirage Country Club, where she died.
Was not the first choice for Angela Channing on Falcon Crest (1981). It was after her best friend Barbara Stanwyck turned down this part, that producers Earl Hamner Jr. and Michael Filerman immediately cast her in the role.
Met Lorenzo Lamas's father, Fernando Lamas, on an episode of Jane Wyman Presents The Fireside Theatre (1955), when at the time of filming, Lorenzo was a 3 month old infant. By the time Lorenzo Lamas was 21, he persistently auditioned for a co-starring role in the long-running TV series, Falcon Crest (1981), opposite Wyman, as her grandson. His persistence paid off, and he won the role.
Was a very good friend of Aaron Spelling. She appeared on both of his shows: Charlie's Angels (1976) and The Love Boat (1977).
On an episode of Falcon Crest (1981), Wyman's movie The Blue Veil (1951), showed flashback scenes when her character reminisces about being told in the hospital that her newborn son had died.
Was a spokesperson for the National Arthritis Foundation from the mid-1970s.
Was hospitalized with a liver ailment and diabetes after she collapsed on the set of Falcon Crest (1981)'s ninth season. [20 February 1989].
Remained good friends with Susan Sullivan and Lorenzo Lamas during and after Falcon Crest (1981).
Her parents were Gladys Hope Christian, an a doctor's stenographer and office assistant and Manning Jefferies Mayfield, a meal-company laborer.
Was a staunch Republican.
Her best friend Esther Williams is the stepmother of Falcon Crest (1981), co-star, Lorenzo Lamas, whose father was Fernando Lamas, who married Williams on New Years' Eve, 1969, till his death in 1982. Ironically, Wyman, Lamas and Williams, knew each other for many years, before.
She had been battling health problems for years, so producers thought they rewrote the scripts in such a way that her character didn't do most of the walking on the Falcon Crest (1981) set.
Before she was a successful actress, she had lots of jobs, especially that of a radio singer.
The first actress ever to have lots of name changes. After she took the name of Sarah Jane Fulks, she dropped her first name and used Jane, as her middle name, hence, she legally changed her name to Jane Durrell, however, she was asked to change her last name to Wyman, the same last name as her adoptive siblings - her mother had first been married to a Dr. Weymann.
Began singing and dancing at an early age.
The youngest of three children.
Future Falcon Crest (1981) co-star, David Selby, said Wyman was his childhood television heroine.
Was born in the same city as Ruth Warrick.
She died only 9 months before her Falcon Crest (1981) co-star Mel Ferrer.
Was a heavy smoker for years.
Ranks fourth behind Mickey Rooney, Barbara Stanwyck and Bette Davis, but in front of Eddie Albert and Ernest Borgnine, in appearances of movies, she was featured in over 80 films.
Former sister-in-law of Neil Reagan.
Her ex-husband, Ronald Reagan, died of complications of Alzheimer's disease and pneumonia. [5 June 2004].
After her father's death and the divorce of her mother, she lived with her foster mother, when she was a little girl.
Survived by two grandchildren and one adopted grandchild.
Interred at Forest Lawn Mortuary and Memorial Park in Cathedral City, California, USA.
Had met her first husband, Ronald Reagan, on the set of Brother Rat (1938).
Ronald Reagan and Jane Wyman had a daughter Christine who was born June 26, 1947 and lived 9 hours.
After her retirement from acting, and long before her death, she attended other charity and honorable events, as well as the funeral of her best friends.
Wrote a soliloquy for the series finale of Falcon Crest (1981).
Went into semi-retirement after she starred in two failed TV pilots in the 1960s and 1970s.
Best remembered by the public for her starring role as Angela Channing on Falcon Crest (1981).
Had relocated from Los Angeles and back to Saint Joseph, Missouri, in 1930, when young Jane was only age 13.
Was also a friend of John Forsythe. Coincidentally, Wyman starred on Falcon Crest (1981), after Forsythe starred on Dynasty (1981), in the same year.
She and Eddie Albert were best friends from 1938 to Thursday, May 26, 2005, when Eddie Albert lost his life.
After her guest-starring role on Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman (1993), she retired from acting at age 76.
Was reported that she also died of natural causes in her sleep.
Was supposed to reprise her role as Aunt Polly in The Adventures of Pollyanna (1982), but was unavailable, because she was under contract working on Falcon Crest (1981), hence, the role was ultimately given to Shirley Jones.
Was buried as a third-degree nun [from an interview by Michael Reagan to Megyn Kelly on America Live (2010) on May 29, 2012].
After she won the Oscar, Jack Warner announced Wyman for "A Streetcar Named Desire" and "Ethan Frome.' Vivien Leigh played the role in "Streetcar" and Warner Bros. never made "Frome.".
Created the character of Angela Channing of Falcon Crest (1981), who also had no intention of letting her character become a sort of J.R. Ewing of the wine business who felt she was representing all women in business. She was also a very, tough character at first, but wanted Angela to show she was also capable of love.
Was raised Roman Catholic.
Her adopted son Michael Reagan had a recurring role on Falcon Crest (1981) with her.
Quit her hosting duties on Jane Wyman Presents The Fireside Theatre (1955), because she was exhausted from putting on a miniature movie once a week.
Grandmother of Cameron and Ashley.
She was the last surviving member of Brother Rat (1938).
Acting mentor and friend of Lorenzo Lamas.
Jack Benny gave Jane her nickname of Minnie Mouse because he believed that she resembled what the Disney character would look life if human.
Missed a lot of episodes in the last season of Falcon Crest (1981), because of the direction the show was going.
Appeared on the front cover of TV Guide four times.
On her retirement in 1993, she moved to Rancho Mirage, California, and lived there until she died.
Of German descent.
Jane Wyman was deceased on September 10, 2007. Her longtime friend, Merv Griffin, died on August 12, 2007, just 4 weeks before her.
Resided in Santa Monica, California, from 1985 to 1993.
Had missed two episodes of Falcon Crest (1981), because she underwent abdominal surgery at St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, California, just 3 days before her 69th Birthday. An adhesion on her intestine was removed there, making her surgery so successful. [2 January 1986].
When Sarah Jane was age 15, she landed a job as dancer in the chorus of Busby Berkeley's The Kid from Spain (1932) at MGM. Other dancers and unfamiliar actresses on the lot included Lucille Ball, Betty Grable and Paulette Goddard.
Before Merv Griffin became a successful talk show host and producer, he worked with her, when he began his contract career at Warner Bros. in 1954.
She studied music at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri.
Began her show Falcon Crest (1981) at age 64.
Was a longtime friend of Eve Arden, who guest-starred alongside Wyman on Falcon Crest (1981).
Now living in Palm Springs, California, in retirement. [April 2003]
Was considered for the role of Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind (1939).
Her favorite comedienne was Betty Hutton.
Despite her divorce from Ronald Reagan, they remained close friends until his death in 2004.
Worked with Fred MacMurray in both: Bon Voyage! (1962) and on My Three Sons (1960).
Longtime friend of Dick Powell. She and Ronald Reagan both attended his funeral in 1963.
The hardest scene she'd ever worked on was with Ray Milland in The Lost Weekend (1945).
Met Aaron Spelling on Jane Wyman Presents The Fireside Theatre (1955), where the two became friends, until Spelling's death in 2006.
Her children to attended boarding school.

Personal Quotes (31)

The opportunity for brotherhood presents itself everytime you meet a human being.
I guess I just don't have a talent for it, some women just aren't the marrying kind - or anyway, not the permanent marrying kind, and I'm one of them.
[on winning the 1949 Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role of Johnny Belinda (1948)]: I won this award for keeping my mouth shut, so I think I'll do it again now.
[on her ex-husband's, Ronald Reagan's death in 2004]: America has lost a great president, and a great, kind gentleman.
[Who said in 1968 on her refusal to publicly discuss the political career of her ex-husband, Ronald Reagan]: It's not because I'm 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.
[on the cancellation of Falcon Crest (1981)]: It's a funny feeling, because you wake up and say, 'I'm not going to see my friends again, you know!' Because I never done anything this long.
[on her dismissal in the last season of Falcon Crest (1981)]: I wanted to tie up the show, mention everyone who was gone - the grandfather, Melissa, Cole and Maggie, so that the loyal audience we had wouldn't feel cheated they they had been taken in a different direction by the producers that they didn't understand (and frankly, I didn't either). It was a wonderful experience, but I wasn't sorry to see it end because of the way it was going. The first six years of the show were marvelous, then they started tampering with it. I get so much mail from people saying they can't understand what happened.
We were just two rows behind Irene Dunne. There was something about the line of her neck that convinced me she was going to get the prize. I was slumped low in my seat, sort of trying to hide so that I could sneak out. I was so sure I wouldn't win that when I heard my name called out, I didn't recognize it. I didn't get up. But Jerry Wald poked me, and my handbag dropped to my lap. My lipstick and everything went rolling onto the floor. I must have been quite a sight trying to pick up things and get to the stage at the same time. I was the most surprised girl in the world.
[Who said in 1964 about growing up in an unhappy, humorless household]: Shyness is not a small problem; it can cripple the whole personality. It crippled mine for many years. As a child, my only solution to the problem of shyness was to hide, to make myself as small and insignificant as possible. All through grade school I was a well-mannered little shadow who never spoke above a whisper.
[on The Lost Weekend (1945)]: It was my biggest chance yet, and I was determined to make the most of it. I was determined to act from the inside out, to disregard all surface effects, and delve into the character of a sturdy woman who endured hardship stoically and who concealed a deeply emotional nature under a frosty, pragmatic exterior. I meditated on the role at great length; I wanted to get to the bottom of this woman's psyche. And in doing so I dredged up all the early hardships and disappointments in my own life, looking constantly for some points of reference that would link our respective inner schemes.
[When asked if she loved television better than film]: The reason I enjoy TV more than pictures now is that I like the pace better. You've got so many hours to do so much, and you have to get it done. I was on The Yearling for eleven and a half months! Sometimes we only did two pages of dialogue in four days.
[In 1989]: Remember, I've been in this business fifty-four years. I made eighty-six pictures and 350 television shows. I have not been idle.
[As to how Falcon Crest (1981) differentiates those of: Dallas (1978), Knots Landing (1979) and Dynasty (1981)]: Our shows begin and end each week. They're not continuous like the others. That makes our program unique. Another thing that makes it special is that sex isn't necessary on our series. Maybe just enough to get by. It's really an intrigue story about a dynasty family.
[Upon her return to Falcon Crest (1981)'s final year, after almost a year's medical leave]: I'm back and I'm feelin' fine and I'm really gonna raise hell.
I don't know why I'd have to cooperate because he knows everything I know. I'm just going to live my life and have fun.
[Who said in 1985 about accepting the role of Angela Channing, 4 years earlier]: I really like her, she's a head's up lady. You can't miss on a thing like this, you really can't. If you do, you're dumb.
[on her popularity while playing the sixty-something Angela Channing on Falcon Crest]: It's not that she's vicious, it's that she wants her own way. She's demanding. But she's old enough - I'm playing her in her 60s - that she can demand the respect. People cross her once in a while, and she doesn't fight them as much as she asks 'how can I get around this?' It's a different role for me. I like it. I think the closest I ever came to this kind of character before was Aunt Polly in Pollyanna. Aunt Polly was a matriarch of sorts and always held the family together. And that's what Angie does. She's a multi-faceted character who treats everybody differently.
It was all Donald O'Connor's idea. He suggested that I join his nightclub act when he plays at Harrah's at Lake Tahoe this month. I couldn't think of a good reason why I shouldn't.
[In 1984]: Women are like tea bags. You never know how strong they are until you put them in hot water.
[on commenting her newspaper interview in 1981 about her almost 50 year career in films]: I've been through four different cycles in pictures: the brassy blonde, then came the musicals, the high dramas, then the inauguration of television.
[In 1981]: The movies were changing, and the kinds of things that they were offering me I wouldn't look at, much less do. They were sordid. I have spent too many years in my craft, in my own little niche, my own little way, and it didn't matter to me. I didn't want to work anyway.
People are used to me in the softer roles - but I think they get used to Angie.
[In 1971]: Actually, I've worn the Dutch-bob since I was three years old. It certainly helped my career from an identity standpoint.
[When she came back to do theatrical acting in the 1970s]: Since making How to Commit Marriage (1969) with Bob Hope and Jackie Gleason, there just wasn't anything to get excited about. I'm hopeful The Falling of Raymond will be the start of a good deal, more activity.
[In 1993]: I was there for the first 20 years ago. I'm just pleased as punch to do it again. Watching people waste away is terrible. Nobody knows what arthritis is like unless you have it.
I never go into anything except with both feet and a lot of enthusiasm.
[In 1988]: Egyptians have become addicted to Falcon Crest. They've become very attached to it.
[on learning that she was being awarded the Best Actress Oscar for Johnny Belinda (1948)] I heard my name called and the first thing that came to my mind was 'Did I or didn't I put on my girdle tonight? Then I thought, 'So what? Let it bounce.'
I wasn't unreceptive to working. It was just that nothing came around that I was even remotely interested in doing. Number two, I don't think they were exactly looking for me with a fine-toothed comb.
[1982] When I first got into TV, it really was in its embryonic stage. Loretta [Young] and I both started our series at about the same time. And the pace! I had no idea you began work at 6 in the morning and quit at 10 at night, and that after shooting you went to your office to get the next scripts started - and it goes on and on and on. I'd limp home over that lousy Coldwater Canyon and I'd say, 'Well, Lord, if you want me there tomorrow, you goin' have to git me there!' Of course it becomes second nature, but after four years I said: That does it, and if anybody pointed a Brownie at me I was in Chicago! You know? I thought: Never again.
[on former husband Ronald Reagan] Ask him the time and he'll tell you how the watch was made.

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