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Saint Joseph, Missouri
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Sarah Wyman was an actress and singer from the United States. She had a long and illustrious career in Hollywood, spanning nearly seven decades. Jane Durrell was her stage name when she began her career as a radio singer. She then began appearing in small roles in films under the name Sarah Jane Fulks. After that, she signed a contract with ‘Warner Brothers,’ and under the name Jane Wyman, she acted in both ‘A’ and ‘B’ grade films. She received four Academy Award nominations for ‘Best Actress.’ Her mother had to care for her ailing father, so she had a tumultuous childhood. When she was four years old, her father died, and she was forced to accompany her mother to Los Angeles in search of work. Sarah attempted to find work in the studios there, but no one would hire the snub-nosed girl, so she was forced to return to St. Joseph. She was eventually adopted by the Fulks couple and given a safe place to call home. According to an interview, she was able to survive four different film cycles, including ‘the brassy blonde,’ ‘the musicals,’ ‘the high dramas,’ and finally the ‘inauguration of television,’ and she was able to survive a town known for exploiting and discarding talent.

Childhood and Adolescence

Jane Wyman was born Sarah Jane Mayfield on January 5, 1917, in St. Joseph, Missouri. Manning Jefferies Mayfield was her father, and Gladys Hope Christian, a doctor’s stenographer and office assistant, was her mother.

Her parents divorced in 1921, and her father died the following year, prompting her mother to seek work in Cleveland, Ohio.

Richard and Emma Fulks adopted Sarah Jane when she was five years old, and she took the name Sarah Jane Fulks.

She went to ‘Lafayette High School’ in St. Joseph, Missouri, but dropped out when she was only 15 years old in 1932.

Career of Jane

Before singing for the radio under the name Jane Durrell, Jane Wyman worked as a manicurist and a switchboard operator.

She began her acting career in films such as “The Kid From Spain” in 1932, “King of Burlesque” in 1935, “My Man Godfrey” in 1936, and “Cain and Mabel” in 1937.

In 1936, she signed a contract with ‘Warner Bros.’ She appeared in the 1937 film ‘Gold Diggers’ and starred opposite William Hopper in the 1937 film ‘Public Wedding.

‘ She changed her name from Durrell to Wyman during this time.

She starred alongside Ronald Reagan in the films ‘Brother Rat’ and ‘Brother Rat and a Baby’ in 1938 and 1940, respectively.

Her 3-minute 5-second kissing scene in ‘You’re in the Army Now’ made her famous in 1941. In the same year, she starred alongside Dennis Morgan in the film ‘Bad Men of Missouri.’

In 1945, she received a big break in Billy Wilder’s drama film ‘Lost Weekend,’ in which she played the fiancée of an alcoholic writer named ‘Ray-Milland.’

She was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance as ‘Ma Baxter’ in ‘The Yearling’ in 1946, opposite Gregory Peck.

In the era of talkies, she won an Oscar for her performance as ‘Belinda MacDonald,’ a deaf-mute rape victim in ‘Johnny Belinda’ in 1948.

In 1951, she starred opposite Charles Laughton in her favorite film, “The Blue Veil,” for which she received another Academy Award nomination.

She went on to star in a number of other films, including Frank Capra’s ‘Here Comes the Groom’ in 1951, Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Stage Fright’ in 1950, Michael Curtiz’s ‘The Story of Will Rogers’ in 1952, ‘The Glass Menagerie’ in 1950, ‘Just for You’ in 1952, and ‘Let’s Do It Again’ in 1953.

‘So Big’ in 1953, ‘Magnificent Obsession’ opposite Rock Hudson in 1954, which earned her another Oscar nomination, ‘All That Heaven Allows’ and ‘Lucy Gallant’ in 1955, ‘Miracle in the Rain’ in 1956, ‘Polyanna’ in 1960, ‘Holiday for Lovers’ in 1959, and ‘Bon Voyage’ in 1962 were among her other film credits.

Jane moved to television between 1955 and 1958, hosting, co-producing, and starring in the shows ‘Jane Wyman Presents Fireside Theater’ and ‘Jane Wyman Theater.’

In 1969, she starred alongside Bob Hope and Jackie Gleason in the film ‘How to Commit Marriage.’ She played ‘Angela Charming’ in the TV series ‘Falcon Crest’ from 1981 to 1990, which lasted nine seasons. She also appeared in a number of television movies.

In 1993, she appeared as a guest star in ‘Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.’ Jane withdrew from public life after the end of ‘Falcon Crest,’ giving only a few interviews.

Achievements & Awards

In 1947, Jane Wyman was nominated for an Academy Award for ‘Best Actress in a Leading Role’ for her performance in ‘The Yearling.’

For ‘Johnny Belinda,’ she won the ‘Oscar for Best Actress’ and the ‘Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Actress’ in 1949.

She received the ‘Golden Globe’ for ‘World Film Favorite Female Actress’ in 1951. For the 1951 film ‘Blue Veil,’ she received a ‘Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Actress – Drama’ and a ‘Oscar nomination for Best Actress’ in 1952.

She was nominated for the ‘Oscar for Best Actress’ in 1955 for the film ‘Magnificent Obsession,’ which was released in 1954.

For ‘Jane Wyman Presents The Fireside Theater,’ she received an Emmy nomination in 1957 for ‘Best Continuing Performance by an Actress in a Dramatic Series.’

For ‘Falcon Crest,’ she was nominated for the ‘Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama’ in 1983.

For ‘Falcon Crest,’ she won the ‘Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama’ in 1984.

Personal History and Legacy

She married wealthy children’s clothing manufacturer Myron Futterman on June 29, 1937 in New Orleans, and they divorced on November 1, 1938.

She married Warner Brothers co-actor Ronald Reagan on January 26, 1940, and they divorced on June 28, 1948.

Maureen, her only child, was born on January 4, 1941 and died of cancer on August 8, 2001. On March 21, 1945, she and Ronald adopted a three-day-old boy named Michael.

Christine, her second child, was born prematurely on June 26, 1947, and died nine hours later. She married studio music director Fred Karger on November 1, 1952, and they divorced on December 7, 1954.

On March 11, 1961, she remarried him, and on March 9, 1965, she divorced him again. She remained single for the rest of her life.

Jane Wyman died on September 10, 2007, at the age of 90, at her home in Rancho Mirage, Palm Springs, California, from complications related to diabetes and arthritis.

Work in the Humanitarian Sector

Jane Wyman presented the ‘Arthritis Foundation’ with the ‘Jane Wyman Humanitarian Award’ every year. She made significant contributions to the Sacred Heart Church in Palm Desert and the Arthritis Foundation. She also contributed financially to the ‘Covenant House’ and the ‘Our Lady of Angels Monastery.’

Estimated Net Worth

Jane Wyman had a $15 million net worth as an American singer, dancer, and actress. Jane Wyman was born in January 1917 in Saint Joseph, Missouri, and died in September 2007.

Wyman began her film career in 1932 and continued to work until 1993. Jane Reagan was President Ronald Reagan’s first wife, and the two were married from 1940 to 1949.


She was the first and only American First Lady to win a ‘Oscar for Best Actress.’