Former First Lady Jane Wyman passed away today. (Please! By any count, Nancy was the Second Lady, and even then you first have to accept the fiction that Nance is a lady.) The flags are flying at half-mast at Falcon Crest.
Jane had a long career, and I speak as a woman with the longest career this side of Betty White.
She went from the innocent Johnny Belinda (So sweet. She was deaf, so she'd never heard people tell her she was a girl, hence the name 'Johnny.'), to the Machiavellian evil of Angela Channing, a characterization she apparently fashioned after her successor in the role as as Mrs. Reagan.
If we can say anything positive about Ronald Reagan, besides being positive he's dead, it's that Ron definitely had a "Type".
Jane left a strong impression on everyone who knew her. Here she is having a lifelong effect on Rock Hudson.
Many people wrongly believe Jane to have been an Oscar winner. Sorry Jane, but now that you're dead, the story can be told. Actually I told the story before, several years ago in my autobiography, My Lush Life. For the sake of you who haven't coughed up the cash to read it (I mean come on --- you can get it for 1 lousy penny, "New & Used" at Amazon! What's your excuse?), I include the Jane Wyman story below. You have to understand that Delores Delgado, prominent in the account, was my bitter rival for many years. Fortunately, the hateful bitch is long dead and justly forgotten, which is why I remind you of her hateful existence setting up this excerpt.
My contempt for the paltry Oscar Awards skyrocketed with the announcement of the Best Actress nominations for 1948. It wasn’t so much my omission, as another insane inclusion. Along with nominations for such serviceable journeymen actresses as Irene Dunne, Barbara Stanwyck, Jane Wyman and the always unintelligible Ingrid Bergman, the Academy lost their minds completely and nominated the overwhelmingly untalented hag Delores Delgado, for her wretchedly overacted "Performance" in the unwatchable thrilless thriller Busy Signal. The only enjoyable scene in the whole film was the hilarious sequence in which Humphrey Bogart strangled her to death with a phone cord.
The secret of success is to give the public what it wants, and Delores’s noisy murder was such a crowd pleaser that Busy Signal was a huge hit, as well as a critical favorite. I really felt an Oscar nomination just for turning purple and gagging was an overreaction, although turning purple in a black and white movie isn’t all that easy.
I had intended to simply ignore the Oscar ceremonies, but, to my horror, an invitation to actually present the Best Actress award was extended to me. Vincent Lovecraft told me privately that it had been Delores herself who had requested that I present the award. Between her ghastly acting and the undeserved sympathy she was receiving over the tragic recent death of dear Gilbert Rolaids at the too-young age of eighty-seven, the hammy old whore was certain she was a shoo-in, and had told Vincent, "The Oscar will mean so much more if Tallulah has to hand it to me."
There weren’t any other offers pouring in. Apparently, no one had read the trade paper articles about my departure from PMS, now some two years in the past, and just assumed I was still tied up to Lydia B. Minor. A little exposure to remind Hollywood that there was still a real actress in town might be a good idea. Besides, it wasn’t as if Delores actually had a chance of winning, so I accepted the invitation.
The Motion Picture Academy Awards for 1948 are long forgotten now, and rightly so. The ceremony, hosted by cranky Robert Montgomery in March of 1949, was a fiasco from beginning to end. An incomprehensible foreign movie, aptly titled Hamlet, given Sir Laurence’s overdone performance, took most of the awards, the only time the Best Picture Oscar has ever been given to a foreign language movie. Why they didn’t at least include subtitles, or better yet, dub the whole depressing mess into English, is beyond me.
Best Actress was one of the later awards, so I had nothing to do but drink for most of the endless ceremony. I managed to kill a little time by sneaking backstage to make hot, wild love with the smoldering Sex God William Bendix.
When I finally got onstage to make my presentation I was met with an ovation. My stunning, zebra-striped, off-the-shoulders gown brought gasps from the glamorous audience, caused perhaps at least in part, because, in my haste to redress and get onstage after riding Bill Bendix to Heaven, I had accidentally put it back on upside down.
I read the list of nominees and then the man from Price-Waterhouse handed me the envelope. When I opened it I was overwhelmed with horror. To my disbelief, the name written there was Delores Delgado! Had they all lost their minds? It was bad enough to reward Larry Olivier, husband of that slut Vivian Leigh, for babbling gibberish for hours in a silly Scandinavian ghost story, but to honor that hateful bitch was just too much to bear!
The whole audience was silent, hanging on any sound that came from my quivering, shocked lips, waiting to hear the unthinkable. The room seemed to swim about me. It made no sense. I reached out and took the arm of the nice man from Price-Waterhouse, to ask for some sort of explanation. Sadly, the man wasn’t my darling Vincent, but his business partner, Mr. Waterhouse, and I didn’t know his name, so I just stammered out the simple question, "Why, man?"
Before he could answer me the room erupted in applause. Jane Wyman was on her feet and sprinting for the stage. She ripped the Oscar from the poor little model holding it, and began babbling an acceptance speech. The poor, deluded dear actually thought she had won for her performance as a deaf-mute in Johnny Belinda. How could she have? No one would have voted for that amateur acting job; she had never even bothered to memorize her lines!
The Waterhouse guy was ashen. He whispered in my ear, "What should we do? She didn’t win."
"Do you want to tell that to a woman holding a gold-plated blunt instrument?" I asked, "Better leave well enough alone. Nobody but us need ever know."
The accountant glanced at the crazed look in Jane’s eyes, as she thanked everyone she’d ever met by name, and then said, "You may be right." Then he took the card with Delores’s name on it and quietly ripped it into tiny pieces. "This is our little secret." He whispered. Two minutes later, he burned the pieces in an ash tray off stage.
And has Jane Wyman ever shown me the slightest trace of gratitude for giving her Delores Delgado’s Oscar and saving her career? She has not! To my amazement, I was never invited to the White House even once during her eight years as First Lady! That’s Hollywood ingratitude for you.
You have to give Jane credit though. Throughout her years in the White House, she still found time to star in Falcon Crest every week. That drunken old dyke Eleanor Roosevelt never managed that!
And to her dying day, she never thanked me! She went to her grave an ingrate.
Well, at least she had sense enough to dump Ronnie, even if two kids too late.