Jane Wyman (born Sarah Jane Mayfield; (January 5, 1917 – September 10, 2007) Born in St. Joseph Missouri was an American actress, singer, dancer and philanthropist whose career spanned seven decades. She was also the first wife of actor Ronald Reagan, the 40th President of the United States. She later had a conversion experience while filming The Blue Veil and entered the Roman Catholic Church eventually becoming a Third Order Dominican.
Wyman's professional career began at age 16 in 1932 when she signed with Warner Bros. A popular contract player, she frequently played the leading lady, her roles including starring alongside William Hopper in Public Wedding (1937), Ronald Reagan and Eddie Albert in Brother Rat (1938) and its sequel Brother Rat and a Baby (1940), Dennis Morgan in Bad Men of Missouri (1941), Marlene Dietrich in Stage Fright, and You're in the Army Now.
Wyman 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 teen 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 amusing acceptance speech, perhaps poking fun at some of her long-winded counterparts, 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."The Oscar win gave her the ability to choose higher-profile roles, although she still showed a liking for musical comedy. She worked with such directors as Alfred Hitchcock on Stage Fright (1950), Frank Capra on Here Comes the Groom, (1950), and Sterling Hayden in So Big (1953). She was also featured opposite Rock Hudson in Magnificent Obsession (1954) and All That Heaven Allows (1955). As a three-time winner of a Golden Globe.
Her first guest-starring television role was on a 1955 episode of General Electric Theater, a show hosted by her former husband Ronald Reagan. This appearance led to roles on Summer Playhouse, Lux Playhouse, Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse, Checkmate, The Investigators, and Wagon Train. She guest-starred in 1959 on The Ford Show, Starring Tennessee Ernie Ford on NBC. She was hostess of The Bell Telephone Hour and Bob Hope Presents The Chrysler Theatre. She had telling roles in both The Sixth Sense and Insight, among other programs.
She hosted an anthology television series, Jane Wyman Presents the Fireside Theater, for which she was nominated for an Emmy Award in 1957. The ratings steadily declined, however, and the show ended after three seasons. She was later cast in two unsold pilots during the 1960s and 1970s. After those pilots were not picked up, Wyman went into semi-retirement and remained there for most of the 1970s, although she did make guest appearances on Charlie's Angels and The Love Boat.
In the spring of 1981 (a few months after her ex-husband became the president), Wyman's career enjoyed a resurgence when she was cast as a Californian matriarch Angela Channing in The Vintage Years, which was retooled as the primetime soap opera Falcon Crest. The series which ran from December 1981 to May 1990 was created by Earl Hamner, who had created The Waltons a decade earlier. In its first season it was a ratings hit. She became a three-time winner of a Golden Globe and was nominated for a Soap Opera Digest Award five times (for Outstanding Actress in a Leading Role in a Prime Time Serial). Wyman took home the award for Best Performance by an Actress in a TV Series appearing in 208 of the shows 227 episodes. After Falcon Crest, Wyman acted only once more, playing Jane Seymour's screen mother in a 1993 episode of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. Following this, she retired from acting permanently. Wyman had starred in 83 movies and two successful TV series, and was the winner of an Academy Award after being nominated for the prestigious golden trophy. vintage cathedral veils
Her favorite film was The Blue Veil, for which she received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. Filmed in and around St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City, the storyline "hit her in the face" regarding all she had learned about the Catholic faith from her very close friend and fellow renown actress Loretta Young, who despite both their marriage problems, in later in life became a very devout Catholics.
For Loretta the abiding influence of the Sisters of the Holy Name, who educated her at Romona Convent High School. Loretta Young, too, had a fervent devotion to the Sacred Heart and was a member of a Sacred Heart League. She established the St. Anne’s Foundation, which supports St Anne’s Maternity Hospital for Unmarried Mothers and sponsors the Holy Family Adoption Agency. She helped support the media work of Father Francis Peyton and his Family Rosary Crusade. She traveled to San Giovanni Rotundo to attend Padre Pio’s Mass and she also visited the Servant of God and stigmatist, Theresa Neumann. She also devoted several of her segments of the Loretta Young Show to Catholic themes, such as the “Road to Lourdes,” where she played the part of a terminally ill woman who finds her faith through the grace of the simple sick people whom she meets there. She died on August 12, 2000, at the age of eighty-seven.
Wyman had also been attending Mass at Good Shepherd Church in Beverly Hills with Loretta in the wake of her 1948 divorce, as well as the death, the year before, of her second baby, Christina, with then husband and future president Ronald Reagan.
As son Michael Reagan wrote in his book, "Twice Adopted," "It probably was the most painful experience of her life, and I don't think she ever truly recovered from it."
However, as she soaked in the spiritual grandeur of St. Patrick's while making this film, ironically premised on the protagonist's loss of her newborn son, she began to understand very clearly that her life's triumph and tragedy had a deeper purpose. A couple of years later -- on Dec. 8, 1954 -- she was received into the Catholic Church, along with her children, Maureen and Michael.
She broke her silence about her former husband upon his death in 2004, issuing an official statement that read, "America has lost a great president and a great, kind, and gentle man.” Wyman kept her awards in her den and focused on the present, which included two main charities -- the Church and The Arthritis Foundation.
In her later years she suffered from diabetes and arthritis and began living a reclusive life.
She died at the age of 90 at her Rancho Mirage home on September 10, 2007.Wyman's son, Michael Reagan, released a statement saying:
“ I have lost a loving mother, my children Cameron and Ashley have lost a loving grandmother, my wife Colleen has lost a loving friend she called Mom and Hollywood has lost the classiest lady to ever grace the silver screen. ”
At her funeral mass at the Sacred Heart in Palm Desert, Ca. the congregation recited the Rosary before her funeral service that she may have requested previously. The Homilist Father Howard Lincoln said of her…”She may have kept some of the quiet reserve from her childhood, but her actions spoke loudly. "She was certainly long on style, but was much deeper and longer in substance."!
Jane Wyman also supported Hollywood's Covenant House and Our Lady of Angels Monastery, run by the Dominican sisters. As a Third Order member of the Dominican Order (as a lay tertiary) of the Roman Catholic Church, she was a Third Order Dominican, buried, wearing buried in a nun’s habit in a simple pine coffin. She was interred at Forest Lawn Mortuary and Memorial Pak in Cathedral City, California.
Below are photos of The Troubadour’s Act with Jane at a Hollywood Charitable Event; followed by Loretta Young handing her the Oscar for her role in Johnny Belinda; followed by Jane with her first husband Ronald Regan and their children; followed by film clips from The Blue Veil and Miracle in the Rain.