Jane Wyman


Actor
Jane Wyman

About

Also Known As
Sarah Jane Fulks, Jane Durrell
Birth Place
St Joseph, Missouri
Born
January 04, 1914
Died
September 10, 2007

Biography

An Academy Award winner for "Johnny Belinda" (1948), Jane Wyman overcame a difficult childhood to become one of the most respected dramatic actresses of the late '40s and early '50s. She later received two Emmy nominations for her own television anthology series in the late Fifties, but went into semi-retirement until the early 1980s, when she was top-billed as the vicious matriarch Ange...

Photos & Videos

Larceny, Inc. - Movie Poster
All That Heaven Allows - Movie Posters
The Yearling - Movie Poster

Family & Companions

Myron Futterman
Husband
Married and divorced in the 1930s.
Ronald Reagan
Husband
Actor, politician. Married in 1940; divorced in 1948; after "retiring" from acting served as governor of California and was elected as the 40th President of the United States.
Fred Karger
Husband
Musician, vocal coach. Married in 1952; divorced in 1954; remarried in 1963; divorced a second time in 1965.

Notes

Jane Wyman's memorable acceptance speech upon receiving the Oscar for her role as a deaf-mute in "Johnny Belinda" (1948) went something like this: "I gratefully accept this award for keeping my mouth shut. I think I'll do it again."

In 1954 Wyman made the annual exhibitors' poll of top ten boxoffice stars, placing ninth.

Biography

An Academy Award winner for "Johnny Belinda" (1948), Jane Wyman overcame a difficult childhood to become one of the most respected dramatic actresses of the late '40s and early '50s. She later received two Emmy nominations for her own television anthology series in the late Fifties, but went into semi-retirement until the early 1980s, when she was top-billed as the vicious matriarch Angela Channing in the popular primetime soap "Falcon Crest" (CBS, 1981-1990), which earned her a Golden Globe. Wyman was also noted for her marriage to future U.S. President Ronald Reagan from 1940-48 and during their time together as husband and wife, they were one of the most popular couples in Hollywood, with young fans soaking up all the information on their seemingly happy marriage in all the major movie magazines of the day. To her credit, even after he ex-husband and father of two of her children became first a California governor and then the leader of the free world, she opted to not speak publicly about Reagan for her own personal reasons, taking any details of their long-ago love story to her grave.

The details of Wyman's birth were under contention for years; she developed an interest in a performing career at a young age, so she may have listed her birth date as Jan. 4, 1914 in order to be eligible for work. But state records from Missouri showed the actual birth date of Sarah Jane Mayfield as Jan. 5, 1917. Whatever the case, she was born in St. Joseph to Manning Jeffries Mayfield and Gladdys Hope Christian, who divorced in 1921. Her father died in 1927, causing her mother to relocate to Cleveland, OH to seek employment. Wyman was left in the care of the family's neighbors, Richard and Emma Fulks, whose surname she unofficially adopted. Richard Fulks was the chief of detectives in St. Joseph, and by all reports a remote and strict individual, so Wyman's upbringing was a largely joyless one.

She did, however, manage to develop an interest in singing and dancing after attending a local musical production, and convinced her stepmother to enroll her in dance lessons. Richard Fulks died in 1928, and Wyman relocated to Hollywood, CA with Emma Fulks, who had grown children from a previous marriage there. According to some sources, Wyman attempted to find work in show business while in the Tinseltown, but returned to Missouri without a contract or job offer in 1930. She did not remain there long; she dropped out of Lafayette High School in 1932 and returned to Hollywood, where she worked odd jobs while pursuing a singing and acting career under the stage name of Jane Durrell.

During this period, Wyman reportedly married salesman Ernest Eugene Wyman (or Weymann). Biographers noted that she may have taken her stage name from this marriage, but others suggested that Wyman was a derivation of her step-siblings' surname, Weymann, bestowed upon her by her agent, actor William Demarest ("My Three Sons," ABC/CBS, 1960-1972). She also went through another brief marriage in 1937, this time to salesman Myron Futterman. The union dissolved after three months due to Wyman's reluctance to have children; they were divorced in 1938.

A break came in the form of Leroy Prinz, a choreographer for feature films and the son of her dance teacher in Missouri. A natural brunette, she dyed her hair platinum blonde, which was the look of the day, a la Jean Harlow, and appeared as a chorus girl and bit player in countless musicals and comedies, including "Anything Goes" (1936) and the classic screwball comedy, "My Man Godfrey" (1936). That same year, she signed a $60-a-week contract with Warner Bros.; the studio put Wyman in a series of lightweight features which cast her as a flighty blonde - which was diametrically opposed to her intelligent off-screen persona. Eventually, she worked her way up to leading lady in the 1937 feature "Public Wedding," though the quality of her pictures continued to tread water in B-movie territory (i.e. 1941's "You're In the Army Now," which was notable solely for Wyman's record-making three-minute kiss with co-star Regis Toomey).

Gossip columnist Louella Parsons took note of Wyman's abilities and included her in a nine-week vaudeville tour that showcased up-and-coming Hollywood stars. Among her fellow performers on this junket was Ronald Reagan, with whom Wyman would appear in two films: the college comedy "Brother Rat" (1938) and its 1940 sequel, "Brother Rat and a Baby." The two would soon become an off-screen item as well, and were married in 1940 at Forest Lawn in Los Angeles. A daughter, Maureen, was born in 1941, and the couple adopted a son, Michael in 1945. A second daughter, Christine, was born in 1947, but died prematurely. The couple split in 1948 - reportedly due to an affair between Wyman and her "Johnny Belinda" co-star Lew Ayers, as well as Reagan's campaign duties for Harry Truman, which later made Reagan the only divorced President in U.S. history up until his time in office. The other story making the rounds of why America's seemingly perfect union fell apart; Wyman's career began eclipsing that of her husbands. In fact when Wyman her Oscar for "Johnny Belinda," Reagan joked that he should have named the fictional Belinda as correspondent in his divorce.

Ironically, as she grew older in an unforgiving town - especially for women over a certain age - Wyman's fortunes changed in the mid-1940s with a string of solid roles in quality features, starting in 1945 with Billy Wilder's "The Lost Weekend," in which she played alcoholic Ray Milland's patient girlfriend. A year later, she received an Academy Award nomination as the downtrodden Ma Baxter, who is forced to shoot her son's beloved pet deer in "The Yearling" (1946). Two years later, Wyman would claim the Oscar for her own with "Johnny Belinda" (1948). She had seen the play on which the film was based while on tour with Louella Parsons' troupe in 1940, and persuaded her friend, producer Jerry Wald, to pitch a film version to her bosses at Warner Bros. Jack Warner needed little convincing to let Wyman play the plain deaf girl, Belinda, who is raped by the town bully (Stephen McNally), after Warner had seen her success as the unglamorous Ma Baxter. For the role, Wyman studied sign language and stuffed her own ears with wax. Her "method" efforts paid off with not only the Oscar and a Golden Globe, but bonafide star status. In a 1954 poll of box office stars, Wyman placed ninth in the Top Ten.

For the next decade or so, Wyman starred in a string of popular films for top directors, all of whom clamored to work with the now respected dramatic actress. Among her pictures from this period was "Stage Fright" (1950) for Alfred Hitchcock, "All That Heaven Allows" (1956) for Douglas Sirk, and film versions of Tennessee Williams' "The Glass Menagerie (1950) and Edna Ferber's "So Big" (1953) for Robert Wise. Wyman also maintained her interest in musical comedy with roles in "Let's Do It Again" (1953) and Frank Capra's "Here Comes the Groom" (1951), for which she sung a duet with her teenage crush, Bing Crosby, on the Oscar-nominated tune "In the Cool Cool Cool of the Evening." Wyman herself netted two Oscar nods for the dramas "The Blue Veil" (1951), for which she won the Golden Globe) and Sirk's "Magnificent Obsession" (1954). Wyman also married her third (and final) husband during this period, wedding composer Fred Karger in 1951. But like all others before - based no doubt on being raised sans loving parents - the couple divorced in 1955. They would remarry in 1961, but according to Karger, she left him in 1965.

Wyman was also a regular guest star on episodic television during this period, as well as hosting and producing her own anthology series, "Fireside Theater" (NBC, 1949-1963). Wyman was the last of three host-performers for the series, and she brought a touch of Hollywood glamour to the proceedings - so much so that its producers retitled it "Jane Wyman Presents - as well as two Emmy nods in 1957 and 1959. Television would eventually become Wyman's primary showcase as the 1950s, like many older actresses formerly best known for their film work. Winding down into the '60s, she starred in two Disney productions, 1960's "Pollyanna" (as Aunt Polly) and "Bon Voyage" (1962) with Fred MacMurray. Her final movie appearance was the dreadful Bob Hope-Jackie Gleason comedy "How to Commit Marriage" (1969) - a sad cinematic send-off for a career chock-full of quality performances in classic films. Meanwhile, she continued to guest on television series and the occasional TV movie, including "The Failing of Raymond" (1971), in which she starred as a teacher targeted by an insane ex-student, until the mid 1970s, after which she essentially retired from acting and devoted much of her time to charity work for arthritis research and the Catholic Church.

In 1981, Wyman returned to network television as the scheming Angela Channing, ruthless head of a vineyard dynasty in the prime time soap "Falcon Crest." Wyman was reportedly encouraged to take the role to ward off the attention she was garnering in the wake of Ronald Reagan's appointment to the Presidency. For her work, she earned a Golden Globe in 1984 for her performance as well as numerous Soap Opera Digest Award nominations - not to mention, an impressive in those days $3 million per year salary - 10 times that of her ex-husband who was now President.. Her tenure on the show was marked by serious bouts of ill health; she underwent abdominal surgery in 1986, and a collapse on the set in 1989 revealed that she was suffering from diabetes. Doctors encouraged her to retire from acting, so she sat out much of the final season of "Falcon Crest" in 1988-89, save for a three-episode appearance at its conclusion (for which she also wrote a portion of the dialogue). Following "Falcon Crest," she returned to television only once more to portray Jane Seymour's mother on "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman" (CBS, 1993-98) in 1993.

Poor health kept her out of the spotlight during her remaining years, so she devoted much of her time to painting and charity work. Even when her ex-husband passed away in June of 2004 and all those close to him spoke out in his memory, she stayed quiet and away from the internationally televised funeral. In fact, she only appeared publicly at the funerals of her close friend, Loretta Young, in 2000, and daughter Maureen in 2001, who died tragically young of melanoma. Wyman herself succumbed to complications from arthritis and diabetes in September of 2007. She was fondly remembered by the old guard of Hollywood - most of whom she had outlived by decades - as well as by her son Michael, who had become a popular conservative radio talk show host.

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

Wild Bill: Hollywood Maverick (1995)
Herself
The Incredible Journey of Doctor Meg Laurel (1979)
Granny Arrowroot
The Failing of Raymond (1971)
How To Commit Marriage (1969)
Elaine Benson
Bon Voyage! (1962)
Katie Willard
Pollyanna (1960)
Aunt Polly [Harrington]
Holiday for Lovers (1959)
Mary Dean
All That Heaven Allows (1956)
Cary Scott
Miracle in the Rain (1956)
Ruth Wood
Lucy Gallant (1955)
Lucy Gallant
Magnificent Obsession (1954)
Helen Phillips
Let's Do It Again (1953)
Constance Stuart
So Big (1953)
Selina Peake DeJong
Just for You (1952)
Carolina Hill
The Story of Will Rogers (1952)
Mrs. Will [Betty Blake] Rogers
Three Guys Named Mike (1951)
Marcy Lewis
Here Comes the Groom (1951)
Emmadel "Emmy" Jones
The Blue Veil (1951)
Louise "LouLou" Mason
Starlift (1951)
Herself
The Glass Menagerie (1950)
Laura Wingfield
Stage Fright (1950)
Eve Gill [also known as Doris]
A Kiss in the Dark (1949)
Polly Haines
The Lady Takes a Sailor (1949)
Jennifer Smith
It's a Great Feeling (1949)
Herself
Johnny Belinda (1948)
Belinda McDonald
Cheyenne (1947)
Ann Kincaid
The Yearling (1947)
Orry Baxter
Magic Town (1947)
Mary Peterman
Night and Day (1946)
Gracie Harris
One More Tomorrow (1946)
Franc Connors
The Lost Weekend (1945)
Helen St. James
Hollywood Canteen (1944)
Make Your Own Bed (1944)
Susan Courtney
Crime by Night (1944)
Robbie Vance
The Doughgirls (1944)
Vivian Halstead
Princess O'Rourke (1943)
Jean
Larceny, Inc. (1942)
Denny Costello
My Favorite Spy (1942)
Connie
Footlight Serenade (1942)
Flo LaVerne
The Body Disappears (1941)
Joan Shotesbury
Bad Men of Missouri (1941)
Mary Hathaway
You're in the Army Now (1941)
Bliss Dobson
Honeymoon for Three (1941)
Elizabeth Clochessy
Brother Rat and a Baby (1940)
Claire Terry
Flight Angels (1940)
Nan Hudson
Gambling on the High Seas (1940)
Laurie Ogden
Tugboat Annie Sails Again (1940)
Peggy Armstrong
My Love Came Back (1940)
Joy O'Keefe
An Angel from Texas (1940)
Marge Allen
Tail Spin (1939)
Alabama
The Kid from Kokomo (1939)
Marian Bronson
Kid Nightingale (1939)
Judy Craig
Torchy Blane...Playing with Dynamite (1939)
Torchy Blane
Private Detective (1939)
Myrna ["Jinx"] Winslow
Brother Rat (1938)
Claire Adams
The Crowd Roars (1938)
Vivan
Wide Open Faces (1938)
Betty Martin
The Spy Ring (1938)
Elaine Burdette
He Couldn't Say No (1938)
Violet Coney
The Singing Marine (1937)
Joan
Slim (1937)
Stumpy's girl
Smart Blonde (1937)
Dixie
The King and the Chorus Girl (1937)
Babette
Mr. Dodd Takes the Air (1937)
Marjorie Day
Public Wedding (1937)
Flip Lane
Ready, Willing and Able (1937)
Dot
King of Burlesque (1936)
Dancer
Here Comes Carter (1936)
Nurse
Stage Struck (1936)
Bessie Funfnick
Bengal Tiger (1936)
My Man Godfrey (1936)

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Wild Bill: Hollywood Maverick (1995)
Other

Cast (Special)

Cesar Romero: In a Class By Himself (2000)
Rock Hudson: Acting the Part (1999)
Interviewee
Inside The Dream Factory (1995)
Soap Opera Digest Awards (1989)
Performer
Rock Hudson: Tall, Dark & Handsome (1989)
Narration
Soap Opera Digest Awards (1988)
Performer
Remembering Bing (1987)
Bob Hope Special: Bob Hope's Women I Love - Beautiful but Funny (1982)
Amanda Fallon (1973)
Amanda Fallon (1972)
Dr Amanda Fallon
Hollywood: The Dream Factory (1972)

Cast (Short)

The Screen Director (1951)
Herself
Shoot Yourself Some Golf (1942)
Herself
Alice in Movieland (1940)
The Sunday Round-Up (1937)
Little Pioneer (1937)

Misc. Crew (Short)

Breakdowns of 1941 (1941)
Archival Footage

Life Events

1935

First film appearance (as a chorus dancer) in "King of Burlesque"

1936

Film acting debut in "Gold Diggers of 1937"

1936

Signed contract with Warner Bros.

1945

Notable career break, "The Lost Weekend"

1946

Received first Oscar nomination as Best Actress with her role in "The Yearling" opposite Gregory Peck and Claude Jarman Jr.

1948

Confirmed full-fledged star status with "Johnny Belinda"; earned Best Actress Academy Award

1951

Starred opposite Bing Crosby in two musical comedy-dramas, "Here Comes the Groom" (in which the pair introduced the Oscar-winning song, "In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening") and "Just for You"

1954

Made the annual exhibitors poll of the top ten box office stars, primarily on the strength of the reception of the soap opera, "Magnificent Obsession", which was directed by Douglas Sirk and made Rock Hudson a star; Wyman placed 9th in the top ten lineup

1962

Last feature film for seven years, "Bon Voyage!"

1969

Made one-shot return to films for "How to Commit Marriage"

Photo Collections

Larceny, Inc. - Movie Poster
Here is the American One-Sheet Movie Poster for Warner Bros' Larceny, Inc. (1942), starring Edward G. Robinson. One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.
All That Heaven Allows - Movie Posters
All That Heaven Allows - Movie Posters
The Yearling - Movie Poster
Here is the American One-Sheet Movie Poster for The Yearling (1946). One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.
Johnny Belinda - Scene Stills
Here are some scene stills from Warner Bros' Johnny Belinda (1948), starring Jane Wyman and Lew Ayres.
Pollyanna (1960) - Movie Poster
Here is the American one-sheet movie poster for Disney's Pollyanna (1960). One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.
Flight Angels - Movie Poster
Here is the American One-Sheet Movie Poster for Warner Bros' Flight Angels (1940). One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.

Videos

Movie Clip

Brother Rat (1938) - How Do You Keep From Getting Caught? Girl-crazy VMI cadet Billy (Wayne Morris), with distracted roommate Bing (Eddie Albert), awaits his slightly stand-offish girlfriend, local belle Joyce (Priscilla Lane) and her college roommate Claire (Jane Wyman), in town for the big baseball weekend before graduation, early in Warner Bros.’ Brother Rat, 1938.
Brother Rat (1938) - We Want To Be Alone Out for an evening in dress-whites, VMI cadet Dan (Wayne Morris) has roped roommate Dan (Ronald Reagan) to get visiting Claire (Jane Wyman, whom we’re supposed to consider plain, because of her glasses) away from his gal Joyce (Priscilla Lane), in the picture that led, eventually, to the Reagan-Wyman marriage, Brother Rat, 1938.
All That Heaven Allows (1955) - So Few Widows Wear It Escorted by stately Harvey (Conrad Nagel), Connecticut widow Cary (Jane Wyman) turns heads at the country club, cruelly greeted by Mona (Jacqueline de Wit), defended by Sara (Agnes Moorehead) then jumped by Howard (Donald Curtis), social tumult in Douglas Sirk's All That Heaven Allows, 1955.
All That Heaven Allows (1955) - This May Be My Last Year Using the Universal backlot as suburban Connecticut, Agnes Moorehead as Sara conducts exposition regarding Jane Wyman (as "Cary,") at first hardly noticing the hunky gardener Ron (Rock Hudson), opening Douglas Sirk's celebrated All That Heaven Allows, 1955, produced by Ross Hunter.
Lost Weekend, The (1945) - Just Rude I Guess In flashback, alcoholic Don (Ray Milland) recalls being at the opera where he first met future girlfriend Helen (Jane Wyman), in The Lost Weekend, 1945, directed by Billy Wilder from a script by Wilder and Charles Brackett.
Lost Weekend, The (1945) - Why This Emphasis On Liquids? Spectacular New York opening by writer-director Billy Wilder, introducing drying-out alcoholic hero Don (Ray Milland), his brother Wick (Phillip Terry), and briefly girlfriend Helen (Jane Wyman) in The Lost Weekend, 1945.
So Big (1953) - They're Emeralds Early scenes with Dirk (Steve Forrest), Roelf (Walter Coy) and Dallas (Nancy Olson) introducing Selina (Jane Wyman) who appears 30-years earlier, in So Big, 1953, from the Edna Ferber novel.
Magnificent Obsession (1954) - The Toast I'd Give You Two We meet daughter Joyce (Barbara Rush) and Helen (Jane Wyman) the second wife of Dr. Phillips, at whose home and clinic we know there is an emergency and where we meet nurse Nancy (Agnes Moorehead) and Dr. Dodge (Richard H. Cutting), early in Douglas Sirk's Magnificent Obsession, 1954.
Magnificent Obsession (1954) - I'll Never Have To See Him Again Rich bachelor Bob (Rock Hudson), hurt in a speedboat wreck, has discharged himself from a small hospital and finds out that Joyce (Jane Wyman), who picks him up, is the wife of the chief doctor whose death, he further learns, he helped cause, in Douglas Sirk's Magnificent Obsession, 1954.
Doughgirls, The (1944) - Where Everything Should Happen Opening from director James V. Kern, Jane Wyman and Jack Carson as Vivian and Arthur, eloping needlessly to Pottsville, MD, before he takes his new job in Washington, in the Warner Bros. wartime comedy The Doughgirls, 1944, also starring Ann Sherican and Alexis Smith.
Doughgirls, The (1944) - I Like To Eat A Fish Pentagon employee Julian (John Ridgely) brings his new colleague, Soviet war hero Natalia (Eve Arden) to the suddenly-crowded Washington hotel bridal suite where his wife Edna (Ann Sheridan) has received her two newlywed ex-showgirl pals Vivian and Nan (Jane Wyman, Alexis Smith), early in The Doughgirls, 1944.
Doughgirls, The (1944) - You Can Make Anything Out Of Soybeans Kooky newlywed ex-showgirl Vivian (Jane Wyman) is waiting for the previous occupant to vacate the bridal suite in crowded wartime Washington, D.C., until she discovers it’s her old pal Edna (Ann Sheridan), who quickly decides she and her husband won’t have to leave, in The Doughgirls, 1944.

Trailer

Lost Weekend, The - (Original Trailer) Academy Awards® for Best Picture, Actor, Director and Screenplay went to this groundbreaking study of alcoholism.
Lady Takes a Sailor - (Original Trailer) A woman (Jane Wyman) is saved from drowning by a mysterious submarine, but nobody believes her in Lady Takes A Sailor (1949).
Night and Day - (Original Trailer) Fanciful biography of songwriter Cole Porter (Cary Grant), who rose from high society to find success on Tin Pan Alley.
My Love Came Back -- (Original Trailer) A millionaire helps a pretty lady violinist (Olivia de Havilland) with her career in My Love Came Back (1940).
Smart Blonde - (Original Trailer) In Smart Blonde (1936), the first of the Torchy Blane series, Torchy talks her policeman boyfriend into letting her help with a murder case.
Singing Marine, The - (Original Trailer) A young Marine (Dick Powell) develops an inflated ego after winning a talent contest in The Singing Marine (1937), the movie that gave the U.S. Marines their theme song.
Gambling on the High Seas - (Original Trailer) A reporter tries to nail a gambling-ship owner for murder in Gambling on the High Seas (1940) starring Jane Wyman.
Yearling, The - (Re-issue Trailer) A Florida boy's pet deer threatens the family farm in The Yearling (1948), starring Gregory Peck and Jane Wyman.
Brother Rat - (Original Trailer) Ronald Reagan, Eddie Albert and Wayne Morris are cadets at the Virginia Military Institute in Brother Rat (1938).
All That Heaven Allows - (Original Trailer) A lonely widow (Jane Wyman) defies small-town gossip when she falls for a younger man (Rock Hudson) in Douglas Sirk's All That Heaven Allows (1955).
Mr. Dodd Takes the Air - (Original Trailer) A country bumpkin becomes a singing sensation on the radio in the satire Mr. Dodd Takes The Air (1937).
Johnny Belinda - (Original Trailer) Jane Wyman won a Best Actress Award portraying a deaf-mute girl who learns to communicate with the help of a small town doctor (Lew Ayres) in Johnny Belinda (1948), directed by Jean Negulesco.

Family

Maureen Reagan
Daughter
TV journalist, singer, actor. Died on August 8, 2001 at age 60 of skin cancer.
Michael Reagan
Son
Radio host. Adopted.

Companions

Myron Futterman
Husband
Married and divorced in the 1930s.
Ronald Reagan
Husband
Actor, politician. Married in 1940; divorced in 1948; after "retiring" from acting served as governor of California and was elected as the 40th President of the United States.
Fred Karger
Husband
Musician, vocal coach. Married in 1952; divorced in 1954; remarried in 1963; divorced a second time in 1965.

Bibliography

Notes

Jane Wyman's memorable acceptance speech upon receiving the Oscar for her role as a deaf-mute in "Johnny Belinda" (1948) went something like this: "I gratefully accept this award for keeping my mouth shut. I think I'll do it again."

In 1954 Wyman made the annual exhibitors' poll of top ten boxoffice stars, placing ninth.

Besides her Oscar win for "Johnny Belinda", Wyman was nominated as Best Actress for "The Yearling" (1946), "The Blue Veil" (1951) and "Magnificent Obsession" (1954). She was also twice nominated for an Emmy for her work on "The Jane Wyman Theatre" in 1957 and 1959.

She received the Golda Meir Award from Hebrew University (1991)