With her expression of the ruthless and
unconscionable clan-leader Angela Channing
Academy Award winner Jane Wyman indicated
directions in the world of TV and had a glamorous
and spectacular change from silver screen to TV.
Totaly nominated for four Academy Awards she won
it in 1948 for her intensive expression of a deaf-mute
girl in "Johnny Belinda".
Jane Wyman was born on 4th of January 1914 as Sarah Jane Mayfield in St. Joseph, Missoury and her name was changed to Sarah Jane Fulks when she was adopted nonofficially by the family Fulks in the year 1928.
At the age of 22 she married Myron Futterman to whom she was divorced 2 years later. Her next marriage lasted for 8 years and for sure it was her most spectacular: Her husband was Ronald Reagan, at that time an actor, later he became the President of the United States of America.
They both had two children, daughter Maureen and adopted son Michael (he played in "Falcon Crest" as the Concierge in Season 6). But Maureen died on 8th of August 2001 from cancer. Jane remarried two times, both to the composer Fred Karger, but both marriages didn't last for long (1952-1954 and 1963 - 1965).
Her career began in 1932 with the insignificant movie 'The kid from Spain' and after this a lot of other movies followed, amongst other things "Brother Rat" (1938, with season 7-guest star Eddie Albert). But her first job was at a radio station as a background singer named Jane Durell. The next few years she worked as a dancer.
Her first movie as a dancer was 1935's 'King of Burlesque' with Alice Faye as the leading actress. After this the second dancing movie followed ("Anything goes") and in 1936 she signed an acting contract with Warner Brothers.
For the next ten years she played cheeky blondes, but she was fixed to secondarily roles. After changing to the TV screen in 1955 she presented the show "The Fireside Theatre" which was renamed to "The Jane Wyman Theatre" in the second season. She was also working as a co-producer for that show. Afterwards she starred in several movies, until she took a break in 1971 that lasted for 8 years. During that time she had two guest appearances: "Love Boat" and "Charlie's Angels".
In 1979 she starred in the TV movie 'Incredible Journey of Doctor Meg Laurel' and in 1981 she received the offer to play the patriarch "Angela Channing" in the movie "The Vintage Years", which was the unaired pilot for the Soap Opera called "Falcon Crest". Jane Wyman formed that character in such an amazing way as no other actress could have done it and everyone knew from the beginning that the series won't have a chance without the main role "Angela", even if they had a wonderful cast and good authors.
But Jane was ill. She had a diabetes and the arduos working on the set was very exhausting for her. But "Falcon Crest" was her "baby" and she knew the series would climb or fall with her. So she keeped up until she broke down in front of the camera in November 1988. The writers had to write "Angela" out for one episode (EP 187, "Jeopardy")
Shortly after she appeared on the set, but you could see that she has lost weight and all the scenes were written in that way, that "Angela" had not to walk too much (In EP 188 "Nick" brought her a chair at the winery). She keeped trough season 8 but had to accept that her health was in danger and they've decided to let "Angela" fall into coma for most episodes of season 9 to let Jane have a rest. But without fail, that was the "off" for Falcon Crest. The rates were sinking, the producers and writing staff created complicated and illegitimate storylines.
Jane Wyman wanted to make the best of that bad job and decided (against her doctors advice) to come back to the show. She appeared in the last 3 episodes of season 9 to bring it to a good end. And she did a good job. Jane wrote a great soliloquy for FC's end and all the storylines where ended in a good way.
After FC's end she had a guest appearance as Jane Seymour's mother in "Dr. Quinn" and in 1996 as herself in the movie 'Wild Bill: Hollywood Maverick', a documentation about the director William A. Wellman.
Since then she gave up business and retires in Rancho Mirage, California.