Jane Wyman’s Unique Place in American Politics
Actress Jane Wyman enjoyed a long and illustrious Hollywood career that spanned more than seven decades. An award-winning performer, Wyman is one of the leading ladies of the Golden Age of Hollywood. But she was also noted as being the first former wife of a U.S. president who was still living when that president took the oath of office. That’s a rather confusing distinction, but don’t worry. We will hash it out.
In these colorized photos, we will also take a closer look at the career of Jane Wyman who used her talents to work her way up from bit parts and B movies to achieve stardom. Along the way, she earned an Academy Award, three Golden Globe Awards, and two nominations for Primetime Emmy Awards.
Jane Wyman’s Early Days
When she was born on January 5, 1917, Wyman’s birth certificate read Sarah Jane Mayfield. Her parents divorced when she was young and she tried to help her mother by working odd jobs. In 1932, when she was just 15, she left home and moved to Hollywood. She worked as a switchboard operator while she tried to break into show business. It didn’t take long. Soon she landed small roles in films like The Kid from Spain, Gold Diggers of 1933, All the King’s Horses, Rumba, and King of Burlesque. By 1936, she was under contract with Warner Bros. During this time, she married and divorce her first husband, Ernest Wyman, but she kept his last name to use as her professional name.
Wyman went on to appear in numerous films for Warner Bros. as well as a string of “B” movies. In the late 1940s and throughout the 1950s, Wyman transitioned into dramatic roles and took on leading lady status. Her breakout role was in the 1948 film Johnny Belinda. In this movie, she played a deaf-mute rape victim. She won critical acclaim for this performance – as well as an Oscar Award. In fact, she was the first person in Hollywood’s sound era to win an Oscar without uttering a single line.