Jane Wyman, an Academy Award-winning actress who was formerU.S. president Ronald Reagan's first wife, has died at her home in Palm Springs, Calif. She was 93.
She died Monday morning, according to Richard Adney of Forest Lawn Memorial Park and Mortuary in Cathedral City, Calif.,but the cause of death was not released.
Wyman won an Oscar for her role as the deaf rape victim in Johnny Belinda, but she was best known internationally for her role as the ruthless Angela Channing on long-running TV series Falcon Crest.
She played Channing, a steely Napa Valleywinery owner who runs roughshod over everyone, from 1981 to 1990.
When Wyman saw the script for the series, she said she liked the idea that Angela "runs everything. She goes straight through everything like a Mack truck."
Usually portrayed self-sacrificing women
That was a far cry from her usual roles. In a 50-year career, she played a series of self-sacrificing women in films such as The Glass Menagerie, Alfred Hitchcock's Stage Fright, The Blue Veiland Magnificent Obsession.
She married Reagan, who was a fellow contract actor on the Warner studio lot, in 1940. She won her Oscar in 1948, the year they divorced.
Reagan served in the Second World War and became active in politics as his wife got increasingly prominent roles in movies like The Yearling. When she divorced him, she testified: "Politics built a barrier between us. I tried to make his interests mine, but finally there was nothing to sustain our marriage."
She earned just two sentences in Reagan's autobiography.
"That same year I made the Knute Rockne movie, I married Jane Wyman, another contract player at Warners," Reagan wrote.
"Our marriage produced two wonderful children, Maureen and Michael, but it didn't work out, and in 1948 we were divorced."
Polite toward Reagan
Wyman was famously decorous about her marriage when Reagan became governor of California and later president.
"It's not because I'm bitter or because I don't agree with him politically," Wyman said in a 1968 interview.
"I've always been a registered Republican. But it's bad taste to talk about ex-husbands and ex-wives, that's all. Also, I don't know a damn thing about politics."
Wyman was born Sarah Jane Fulks in St. Joseph, Mo., in 1914. Her mother's time was devoted to her seriously ailing husband,and after the death ofWyman's father, the family moved to Los Angeles.
There, a teenaged Sarah Jane tried to get work in the movies, without success. She studied at the University of Missouri, worked as a manicurist and switchboard operator, then began a singing career as Jane Durrell.
She changed her named to Jane Wyman and tried Hollywood again, landing a contract at Warner Bros. in 1936. Her film career began with Gold Diggers of 1937.
In a 1968 interview, she recalledbeing typecast at Warner: "For 10 years I was the wisecracking lady reporter who stormed the city desk snapping, 'Stop the presses! I've got a story that will break this town wide open!' "
She was married for a year to Myron Futterman, a wealthy manufacturer of children's clothes, but they broke up in 1938, before she met Reagan.
Wyman escaped B pictures by persuading Jack Warner to loan her to Paramount for The Lost Weekend. The film won the Academy Award forbest picturein1945.
That led to another part, in MGM's The Yearling, where she earned an Oscar nomination in the role of a backwoods wife and mother.
Back at Warner, she made Johnny Belinda, about a deaf girl living in a Cape Breton fishinghamlet.Based on realevents that took place in 19th-century P.E.I.,it notched 12 Academy Award nominations and resulted in a win for Wyman.
"I accept this award very gratefully for keeping my mouth shut once," she said in her acceptance speech. "I think I'll do it again."
Later films she starred in included So Big, Lucy Gallant, All That Heaven Allows, Miracle in the Rain, Holiday for Lovers, Pollyanna and Bon Voyage!
Her first TV role was in Jane Wyman Presents, later called The Jane Wyman Show, in 1955, an anthology series in which she introduced short dramas, half of them starring herself. The role ran until 1958.
"I've been through four different cycles in pictures: the brassy blonde, then came the musicals, the high dramas, then the inauguration of television," Wyman said in an interview at the end of her career.
She had numerous TV and film roles until settling into Falcon Crest.
She married a third time, tostudio music director Fred Karger.
When Falcon Crest ended in 1990, she withdrew from public view and devoted much time to painting, however she appeared in 1993 in an episode of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.
Her daughter, Maureen Reagan, a writer who also involved herself in political issues and organized a powerful foundation, died in 2001 of cancer.