The Oscar winner for Johnny Belinda was also Ronald Reagan's first wife
Oscar-winner Jane Wyman, who also starred on TV’s Falcon Crest and was the first wife of Ronald Reagan, died Monday morning at her Palm Springs home, a mortuary spokesman said. She was 93.
The cause of death and other details were not released.
A Missouri native, Wyman (real name: Sarah Jane Fulks) was a Warner Bros. contract actress whose range spanned from musicals (Night and Day) to dramas (The Glass Menagerie) when she married fellow studio player Ronald Reagan, in 1940.
The couple had two children: Maureen, who was born in 1941 (and died of melanoma in 2001) and Michael (adopted in 1945). A third child, Christine, was born in 1947 but lived only one day.
The Reagan marriage lasted until 1948 – the same year Wyman won her Oscar for her role as the deaf mute in Johnny Belinda. Her acceptance speech is often cited as one of the Academy’s best ever: “I won this by keeping my mouth shut,” she said, “and that’s what I’m going to do now.”
After Reagan was elected governor of California in 1966 – and U.S. president in 1980 – Wyman also maintained a silence about her ex-husband, who had married actress Nancy Davis in 1952.
“It’s not because I’m bitter or because I don’t agree with him politically,” Wyman said in a 1968 interview, the Associated Press reports. “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.”
Shortly after Reagan died on June 5, 2004, Wyman, who attended his funeral, did issue a statement, saying, “America has lost a great president and a great, kind and gentle man.”
In all, she made 83 movies. On Falcon Crest, which ran from 1981 to 1990, she played the formidable Napa, Calif., vintner Angela Channing. Her final role before retirement was as the mother of Jane Seymour’s character on Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, in 1993.
She is survived by her son.