Jane Wyman

Active - 1932 - 1996  |   Born - Jan 5, 1917 in St. Joseph, Missouri, United States  |   Died - Sep 10, 2007   |   Genres - Comedy, Drama, Musical, Romance

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Biography by Rovi

Born Sarah Jane Fulks, Jane Wyman tried to break into films as a child but was unsuccessful despite encouragement from her mother. A decade later, she began her show business career as a radio singer, using the name Jane Durrell. In 1936, she began appearing in films as a chorus girl and bit player. Eventually, she moved into secondary roles and occasional leads, usually playing brassy blondes in comic relief. She broke out of this mold with her performance in The Lost Weekend (1945), in which she demonstrated her talents as a serious actress; this led to better roles as a major star. For her work in The Yearling (1946), she received a Best Actress Oscar nomination, then won an Oscar for her portrayal of a deaf-mute rape victim in Johnny Belinda (1948). She went on to star in many films, demonstrating her versatility in both comedies and tearjerkers. She was twice more nominated for Oscars, for The Blue Veil (1951) and Magnificent Obsession (1954). After 1956, her screen work was infrequent. She returned from retirement in the early '80s to play a regular role on the TV series Falcon Crest. From 1940 to 1948, she was married to Ronald Reagan; their daughter, Maureen Reagan, was a singer-actress. After a long period of inactivity, Wyman died at age 93 in early September 2007.

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  • Was unofficially adopted in her youth by her neighbors, Richard and Emma Fulks. When it came time for Jane to pick a stage name, she adapted "Weyman," the last name of Emma Fulks' children from a previous marriage.
  • Started out as a chorus girl before the Warner Bros. studio signed her to a contract in 1936.
  • Breakthrough role was in 1945 drama The Lost Weekend.
  • Received two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960 – one for movies and one for television.
  • An arthritis sufferer, Wyman acted as the Arthritis Foundation's chairperson for several years, and in 1977, received the foundation's Charles B. Harding Award for her volunteer work.
  • Achieved a career revival in the 1980s with CBS prime-time soap Falcon Crest, on which she played scheming matriarch Angela Channing.