A Tribute to Jane Wyman
Most people knew her as the first wife of former President Ronald Reagan, or for her role on the TV show Falcon Crest. But she had a great movie career, as well, which we originally celebrated in this tribute on the occasion of either her 88th birthday or her 91st. We’re not sure, since both years have been mentioned in biographies. She recently passed away in California at the age of 93.
Jane Wyman was born as Sarah Jane Mayfield to a single mother, but her name was changed to Sarah Jane Fulks when she was adopted by the Fulks family, neighbors of her and her mother. Her birth date was January 4, 1914, according to most biographers, but other sources give it as January 4, 1917. (If the latter is the case, it was probably because she was married at a very young age and was raised as a Catholic, so she aged herself three years.)
Her mother was a struggling actress, and encouraged her daughter in that profession. She first appeared on film in 1932 as a Goldwyn Girl inThe Kid from Spain,” and continued to appear in bit parts, mostly as Sarah Jane Fulks, throughout the 1930s. At one point she gave up and attended college, but eventually returned. The size, if not the quality, of her roles improved in the early 40s, but it wasn’t until she appeared opposite Ray Milland in The Lost Weekend (1945) that she was finally noticed, and began her transformation from a cute blonde walk-on to a respected, Oscar-winning actress.
A Best Actress Oscar nomination for The Yearling came in 1946, and she received her only Oscar two years later for the lead in Johnny Belinda(1948). Although that was probably the high point of her film career, she received two more Best Actress nominations — for The Blue Veil(1951) and Magnificent Obsession (1954) — and appeared in a number of films, mostly melodramas, until the mid-fifties, when she turned to television, where she achieved some of her greatest successes. She has won four Golden Globe awards for both screen and TV work, and was nominated for an Emmy for her hosting of TV’s Fireside Theatre. Jane lent her talents to a few more films after the 50s, most notably as the strait-laced aunt in Pollyanna (1960), and appeared in the TV show Falcon Crest in 1981, but had been offscreen for the past 30 years, aside from an appearance in a TV show in 1993, and a number of documentaries as herself.
Married to Ronald Reagan from 1940 until 1948, she was the mother of Maureen Reagan and the adoptive mother of Michael Reagan. She passed away on September 10, 2007.
Jane Wyman Tributes/Pages
- Presenting Jane Wyman – Meredy’s site has all the information about this versatile and beloved actress.
- Meredy’s Jane Wyman Trivia Mania – If you can answer most of these 25 questions, you’re a true Jane Wyman fan.
Other Jane Wyman Pages
Selected Reviews of Jane Wyman’s Best Films
- All That Heaven Allows (1955) – Review by Stu Kobak from Films on Disc.
- The Lost Weekend 1945) – Review by Tim Dirks from The Greatest Films.
- Magic Town (1947) – Review by David Nusair from IMDb.
- Magnificent Obsession – From Jabootu’s Bad Movie Dimension.
- Pollyanna (1960) – From Christian Spotlight on the Movies.
- The Yearling (1946) – From Teach With Movies.
Where To Find Or See Jane Wyman Films
Jane Wyman Photos/Art On The Web