A funeral Mass will be celebrated Wednesday in Palm Desert for Academy Award-winning actress Jane Wyman, who also starred in the long-running TV series “Falcon Crest” and was the first wife of President Ronald Reagan.
The Mass, which will be open to the public, will begin at 10:30 a.m. at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 43775 Deep Canyon Road, and will be celebrated by Bishop Gerald Barnes with the diocese of San Bernardino. A private burial service will follow at Forest Lawn Mortuary in Cathedral City, said the Rev. Howard Lincoln, who will deliver the homily.
A long-time parishioner at Sacred Heart, Wyman was “gracious and devout,” Lincoln said, adding that the church received new kneelers, padded pews and a sound system thanks to the actress.
“She just walked in with a big check,” Lincoln said.
He said the actress also paid for the construction of a new chapel for seminary students in Riverside.
“She was long on substance, without a phony bone in her body,” said Lincoln. “I was privileged to know her.”
Wyman, who died yesterday at her Rancho Mirage home at the age of 90, was a four-time best actress Oscar nominee, receiving her Academy Award in 1949 for her portrayal of a deaf rape victim in “Johnny Belinda.”
She received the first of her four best actress Academy Award nominations in 1947 for “The Yearling.”
Wyman called “The Blue Veil” the favorite film she made. It was filmed at New York City’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral and released in 1951, around the time she converted to Roman Catholicism. It earned her a best actress Oscar nomination, but she lost out to Vivien Leigh’s memorable performance as Blanche DuBois in “A Streetcar Named Desire.”
Wyman’s final Academy Award nomination came for the 1954 melodrama “Magnificent Obsession.”
Wyman’s film career began with “Gold Diggers of 1937” and ended in 1969, co-starring with Bob Hope and Jackie Gleason in “How to Commit Marriage.”
From 1981 to 1990 she played Angela Channing, a Napa Valley winery owner on the hit CBS primetime soap opera “Falcon Crest.”
“Falcon Crest” was not Wyman’s first television success. From 1955-58, she hosted and occasionally performed in the 1955-58 NBC dramatic anthology, “The Jane Wyman Show.”
Her final acting appearance came in a 1993 episode of “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman,” as the mother of the title character, played by Jane Seymour.
Wyman married fellow Warner Bros. contract player Reagan in 1940. They divorced in 1948, a year before she received her Oscar.
They had two children, Maureen, who died in August 2001 from cancer, and an adopted son, Michael.
“I have lost a loving mother, my children Cameron and Ashley have lost a loving grandmother, my wife Colleen has lost a loving friend she called Mom and Hollywood has lost the classiest lady to ever grace the silver screen,” Michael Reagan said.
In 1937, Wyman married a wealthy manufacturer of children’s clothes, Myron Futterman, in New Orleans. The marriage was reported as her second, but an earlier marriage was never confirmed. They were divorced in 1938.
After Reagan became governor of California and then president of the United States, Wyman kept silent about her ex-husband, who had married actress Nancy Davis.
It was not until a few days after Reagan died on June 5, 2004, that Wyman broke her silence, saying: “America has lost a great president and a great, kind and gentle man.”
Wyman’s longtime business manager recalled her as “a tough lady, but a nice lady.”
“She had a real strong backbone and took no nonsense,” Michael Mesnick said. “Her mind was determined in what she wanted to do. In her own way, she was very giving and loving.
“For example, even though her prime charity was the Catholic Church, she once gave some money to one of the priests there, not because she wanted something back or any recognition, but because that was her way of saying, ‘Hey, I’m paying back.’ Her philanthropic and charitable giving was admirable, and she didn’t do it with any ulterior motive in mind.”
Wyman also served as national chairwoman of the Arthritis Foundation.
“Jane was probably one of the most important philanthropists for the arthritis cause,” said Stanford Rubin, former national chairman of the Arthritis Foundation. “For many years, she flew around the country promoting the cause and was a substantial benefit from an awareness standpoint.”
The family has asked that memorial donations be made to the Arthritis Foundation of Southern California or Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Palm Desert.