Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Happy Birthday: Jane Wyman!

Jane Wyman (January 4, 1917 – September 10, 2007), was an singer, dancer, and character actress of film and television. Wyman was the first wife of Ronald Reagan, marrying him in 1940 and divorcing him in 1948.

At age 15, Jane worked as a manicurist and a switchboard operator to make ends meet, before landing small parts in films: The Kid from Spain (1932), My Man Godfrey (1936) and Cain and Mabel (1936). Her big break came when she received her first starring role in, Public Wedding(1937), a story about a bankrupt carnival staging a fake 'public wedding' in the mouth of a giant whale. But the 'bridegroom' takes off with the money, arranging a substitute and Flip Lane, finds herself married to a handsome stranger.

Jane was cast in another starring role, in Torchy Plays With Dynamite(1939). A couple try to nab a gangster by tracking his moll. 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.

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 acceptance speech, 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."

She worked with directors: 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 Gene Tierney in, Holiday for Lovers (1959) and next appeared in, Pollyanna (1960), Bon Voyage! (1962), and her final movie, How to Commit Marriage (1969).

TCM will be featuring the Jane Wyman films Listed below:

He Couldn't Say No (1938) .A timid advertising man learns to fight for the girl of his dreams. Cast: Frank McHugh, Jane Wyman, Cora Witherspoon. Dir: Lewis Seiler.

My Favorite Spy (1942) Bandleader Kay Kyser leaves his bride at the altar to help catch international spies. Cast: Kay Kyser, Ginny Simms, Jane Wyman. Dir: Tay Garnett.

Three Guys Named Mike (1951) A stewardess can't choose among three suitors. Cast: Jane Wyman, Van Johnson, Howard Keel. Dir: Charles Walters.

Johnny Belinda (1948) .A small-town doctor helps a deaf-mute farm girl learn to communicate. Cast: Jane Wyman, Lew Ayres, Agnes Moorehead. Dir: Jean Negulesco.

Stage Fright (1950) An acting student goes undercover to prove a singing star killed her husband. Cast: Marlene Dietrich, Jane Wyman, Michael Wilding. Dir: Alfred Hitchcock.

So Big (1953) . A schoolteacher-turned-farmer fights to save the land and her son. Cast: Jane Wyman, Sterling Hayden, Richard Beymer. Dir: Robert Wise.


Miracle In The Rain (1956) .When a lonely woman's wartime lover dies, her loneliness threatens her life. Cast: Jane Wyman, Van Johnson, Eileen Heckart. Dir: Rudolph Mate.

Let's Do It Again (1953) . A divorced couple finds it impossible to stay out of each other's lives. Cast: Jane Wyman, Ray Milland, Aldo Ray. Dir: Alexander Hall.


  1. Really enjoyed your post, Dawn. You reminded me of some of Jane Wyman's fine performances that had slipped to the back of my mind. She had a good and varied career.

    She was astonishing in "Johnny Belinda" (somewhere I read that Ronald Reagan quipped that "Johnny Belinda" was the correspondent in their divorce...though elsewhere it's said that Lew Ayres was the culprit)...and though Hitchcock had his qualms, I thought she was very good in "Stage Fright." My favorite Douglas Sirk film is "All That Heaven Allows" so it goes without saying that it's one of my favorite of her films.

    And then there's "Pollyanna"...will always love it and will always love her as "Aunt Polly"...

  2. Monty and Lady Eve, Thank you. Yesterday, I saw for the first time the films, My Favorite Spy (1942), Johnny Belinda (1948) , So Big (1953)and Miracle In The Rain (1956). Of those 4 movies, my favorite was, Johnny Belinda (1948).

    The other films I had seen before. Let's Do It Again, maybe.. my all time favorite Jane Wyman, film. I'm planning on writing 2 reviews. One on My Favorite Spy (1942) and the other ..Let's Do It Again.

  3. P.S. Thank you Eve, for the very interesting Fun Facts.


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