Above is one of the few photos of Jane Wyman projecting the sex appeal she so conspicuously lacks in most of the roles she plays at her peak as one of Hollywood’s most lauded female stars of the Forties and Fifties.
Viewing this shot, we can believe that she really did begin her movie career in the mid-Thirties play the tough-talking chorus girl “with bite and a seemingly natural hard edge,” according to the actress’ chroniclers, Edward Z. Epstein and our own Joe Morella (1985’s Jane Wyman, A Biography).
Wyman excelled in melodramas as the handsome, understanding mother; the severely put upon (notably a deaf-mute half her real age); one-of-the-boys western figures. Later she was warmly received as the suffering heroine in “womens’ pictures” and, most famously, as the stylish, take-charge woman running a California winery on tv.
And, yes, she married Ronald Reagan before Nancy Davis did. How much else did you know about Jane Wyman? Let’s take a look at the answers to our Monday Quiz to find out. As usual, to review the questions, just scroll down to the blog below. Here we go:
1) Answer: Reagan and her friends called Wyman d) “Button Nose.”
2) Answer: Ok, we admit it. This is a trick question. Wyman worked with all these directors: Frank Capra in 1951’s Here Comes The Groom; Alfred Hitchcock in 1950’s Stage Fright; Billy Wilder in 1945’s The Lost Weekend; and Michael Curtiz in 1952’s The Story of Will Rogers.
3) Answers: a) True. In 1941, Wyman engaged in a smooching match with Regis Toomey in You’re In The Army Now. The kiss lasted a record 3 minutes and five seconds.
4) Answer: Wyman earned best actress Oscar nominations for every choice except d) The Story of Will Rogers.
5) Answer: As suggested in today’s intro, Wyman was pegged as c) a blond floozy.
6) Answer: Wyman never discussed for public consumption the reasons why her marriage to Reagan fell apart. She did, however, make cryptic references to his talkativeness, saying that if you asked him the time he would reply with a full-blown explanation of how a Swiss watch worked.
7) Answer: Wyman and Reagan costarred in b) two movies: 1938’s Brother Rat and 1940’s Brother Rat and Baby.
8) Answer: c) Barbara Stanwyck, who nonetheless made her own tv impression with The Big Valley western series, which ran on ABC from 1965 to 1969. She played the widow of a wealthy rancher.
9) Answer: b) False. Wyman married a total of five times, twice to the same husband, musician-bandleader Fred Karger. Reagan was husband No. 3.
10) Answer: Wyman was the surname of the actress’ first husband, to whom she was married for two years beginning in 1933.