Monday, September 10, 2007

September 10, 2007:

Jane Wyman Dies

Word broke a few hours ago that Jane Wyman, the first wife of President Ronald Reagan, has died at age 93 (or possibly 90). Rest in peace, Ms. Wyman.

From her obituary in the Telegraph:

"In 1938 she had co-starred with Ronald Reagan in the B-movie Brother Rat and she rejoined him in the sequel, Brother Rat and the Baby (1940). Married to her first (or, by some accounts, second) husband at the time, she was soon divorced, and the couple married in 1940. They had had three children --Maureen, who would die of cancer in 2001; Michael, whom they adopted; and another daughter who lived for just nine hours after being born prematurely.

"But after their marriage their careers diverged, with Jane Wyman rising towards the top of her profession, while Reagan languished in the B-movie league. She told friends that she found him dull and in 1948 she obtained a divorce, complaining that 'I just couldn't bear to watch that damn Kings Row one more time' (a reference to a film in which Reagan had played the second lead and which he was in the habit of showing to dinner-party guests).

"After winning her Oscar the following year, Jane Wyman observed in an admirably brief acceptance speech: 'I won this award for keeping my mouth shut, so I think I'll do it again now.' As her former husband remarried and embarked on his stellar political career, she maintained a discreet silence about their life together. Reagan, though, excluded all references to Jane Wyman from the original draft of his memoirs, An American Life, and had to be coaxed by his editor into allowing his ghostwriter to insert a brief four lines about her into the manuscript...

"In 2004, after the death of President Reagan, she broke her silence regarding her former husband, praising him as 'a great president and a great, kind and gentle man.' "

Her full Telegraph obit is here.

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