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IN MEMORIAM

Obituary Profiles of Entertainment Industry Figures And The Legacies They Leave Behind


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Jane Wyman: A Class Act

Jane WymanJane Wyman 

Tuesday, September 25-------During a very busy film festival season in September, I wanted to take a moment to mark the passing of Oscar-winning actress Jane Wyman on September 10th at the age of 90. Wyman was a class act whose career began in the late 1930s and reached a zenith with her Academy Award winning performance as a deaf mute woman who is raped by a local farmer in the 1948 drama JOHNNY BELINDA. A bold and explicit story for its time, Wyman brought a grave intensity and deep humanity to the part, where she does not utter one line of dialogue. As she famously remarked upon winning her Oscar, "I got this for keeping my mouth shut, and I guess I'll do the same now." That is one of the shortest and most famous Oscar acceptance speeches of all time.

Jane Wyman was born Sarah Jane Mayfield on January 5, 1917, in St. Joseph, Missouri. After graduating high school she attempted, with the help of her mother, to break into films. She began a career as a radio singer and in 1936 signed a contract with Warner Bros. Pictures. She first appeared in "B" pictures at Warners, including two with her future husband, Ronald Reagan. She got her best notices as Ray Milland's long-suffering girlfriend in the Oscar winning THE LOST WEEKEND (1945), directed by Billy WilderThe following year she was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for her role as Ma Baxter in the film adaptation of the children's classic THE YEARLING (1946).

After her win in JOHNNY BELINDA (1948), she was a much in-demand actress, working with such luminaries as Alfred Hitchcock (STAGE FRIGHT), Frank Capra (HERE COMES THE GROOM) and Michael Curtiz (THE STORY OF WILL ROGERS). She appeared as the frail sister in the first film adaptation of Tennessee Williams' THE GLASS MENAGERIE (1949). In the 1950s, she starred in a series of highly acclaimed films, including her Oscar nominated turn in THE BLUE VEIL and a series of moody melodramas directed by Douglas Sirk. She was nominated again for 1954's MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION, as a rich woman who loses her eyesight when she is in a car accident with a reckless playboy. She starred opposite Rock Hudson in that film, and also in ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS, also directed by Sirk, which served as the inspiration for Todd Haynes' recent hommage, FAR FROM HEAVEN.

By the mid 1960s, her film career had faltered, so she became one of the first prominent actresses to mark her mark in television. She hosted THE JANE WYMAN THEATER, starring in most of the episodes of the television series, over three seasons. In early 1981, in the 49th year of her career, she won the role of conniving matriarch Angela Channing in the television movie THE VINTAGE YEARS, which eventually became the pilot for the fabulously popular prime-time soap opera FALCON CREST. She played the domineering head of a California winery family for over nine years, finding a whole new audience of younger fans.  The role gave her international celebrity and she was nominated six times for the Soap Opera Digest Award, and in 1984 she won the Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a TV Series Drama.

Interestingly, in newspaper obituaries, Wyman was headlined as "Ronald Reagan's first wife". This does not do justice to a consummate actress who excelled in genres from melodrama to musicals. To see the depth of her work, rent the dvd of JOHNNY BELINDA, to appreciate her acting gifts. Wyman, known as Miss Jane Wyman to her peers, was a class act.

Sandy Mandelberger, In Memoriam Director

Comments (3)

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hi there i will let you know who i am name is Roy first if people who make movies or are going to make movies should look at these old films to get the feel of these movies we need more remakes of these movies it is o.k to update it will bring the people to the lines people love updated old movies even though the old timers are gone they will live through the hearts of everyone

join Email list

hi there i will let you know who i am name is Roy first if people who make movies or are going to make movies should look at these old films to get the feel of these movies we need more remakes of these movies it is o.k to update it will bring the people to the lines people love updated old movies even though the old timers are gone they will live through the hearts of everyone

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About In Memoriam

Mandelberger Sandy
(International Media Resources)

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IN MEMORIAM

Obituary Profiles of Entertainment Industry Figures And The Legacies They Leave Behind


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