Jean Hagen (born Jean Shirley Verhagen,[a] August 3, 1923 – August 29, 1977) was an American actress best known for her role as Lina Lamont in Singin' in the Rain (1952), for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Hagen was also nominated three times for an Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her role as Margaret Williams (1953–56) on the television series Make Room for Daddy.
Hagen in 1955
Jean Shirley Verhagen
August 3, 1923
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
|Died||August 29, 1977 (aged 54)|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
(m. 1947; div. 1965)
Hagen was born on August 3, 1923, in Chicago to Christian Verhagen, a Dutch immigrant, and his Chicago-born wife Marie. The family moved to Elkhart, Indiana when she was 12, and she graduated from Elkhart High School. She studied drama at Northwestern University, where she was a roommate of actress Patricia Neal. She graduated from Northwestern in 1945. She also worked as a theater usherette.
Hagen began her show-business career in radio in the 1940s, performing in Light of the World, Hollywood Story, and other programs. Using her maiden name (Jean Verhagen), she played Betty Webster on Those Websters.
Film and televisionEdit
Her film debut was as a comical femme fatale in the Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn 1949 classic Adam's Rib, directed by George Cukor. The Asphalt Jungle (1950) provided Hagen with her first starring role. Hagen received excellent reviews playing Doll Conover, a woman who sticks by criminal Dix's side until the bitter end. She appeared in the film noir Side Street (1950), playing a gangster's sincere but dim girlfriend. Hagen is best remembered for her comic performance in Singin' in the Rain as the vain and talentless silent movie star Lina Lamont. She received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for this memorable performance.
By 1953, she had joined the cast of the television sitcom Make Room for Daddy. For her portrayal as the first wife of Danny Thomas, Hagen received three Emmy Award nominations but after three seasons, she grew dissatisfied with the role and left the series. Thomas, who also produced the show, reportedly did not appreciate Hagen's departure and her character was killed off rather than recast, the first TV character to be killed off in a family sitcom. Marjorie Lord was cast a year later as Danny's second wife and played opposite Thomas successfully for the remainder of the series.
In 1957, Hagen co-starred in an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents titled "Enough Rope for Two", portraying a woman who accompanies two thieves trying to retrieve stolen money from a desert mine shaft. She then appeared as Elizabeth in the 1960 episode "Once Upon a Knight" on The DuPont Show with June Allyson; the following year, she guest-starred on The Andy Griffith Show in the episode "Andy and the Woman Speeder".
Although she made frequent guest appearances in various television series, Hagen was unable to resume her film career in starring roles. Her health began to decline and she spent many years hospitalized or under medical care in the 1960s. After appearing with Fred MacMurray in the Disney comedy The Shaggy Dog (1959), for the remainder of career she played supporting roles, such as Marguerite LeHand, personal secretary to Franklin Delano Roosevelt in Sunrise at Campobello (1960), and the friend of Bette Davis in Dead Ringer (1964).
Much later, in 1976, she made a comeback of sorts playing character roles in episodes of the television series Starsky and Hutch and The Streets of San Francisco. She made her final acting appearance the next year in the television movie Alexander: The Other Side of Dawn.
Jean Hagen married actor Tom Seidel (who originated the role of Dr. Sanderson in the play Harvey) on June 12, 1947, in Brentwood, California. The couple had two children, Christine Patricia Seidel and Aric Phillip Seidel. According to Lorraine LoBianco's authoritative biography, Seidel, in his attempt to stop his wife from drinking, divorced her and gained custody of the children. It did not work; Hagen's alcoholism only worsened, finally becoming so severe by 1968 that she was hospitalized and lapsed into a coma at UCLA Medical Center. She managed to survive the ordeal and her daughter Christine said that after she emerged from the coma, Hagen never drank again.
Unfortunately, another health problem arose: throat cancer. Patricia Neal wrote in her autobiography that Hagen went to Germany "'for laetrile, a supposed cure unavailable in the United States. But she was bubbly and bright and so much the way I remembered her from the old days.'" A Democrat, she supported the run of Adlai Stevenson during the 1952 presidential election.
Hagen died, twenty-six days after her 54th birthday, of esophageal cancer on August 29, 1977, at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital, and was buried in Chapel of the Pines Crematory.
Hagen was nominated for a 1956 Emmy Award in the "Best actress (continuing performance)" category. She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1502 Vine Street for her contributions to television.
|Adam's Rib||1949||Beryl Caighn|
|Side Street||1950||Hariette Sinton|
|The Asphalt Jungle||1950||"Doll" Conovan|
|A Life of Her Own||1950||Maggie Collins|
|Night Into Morning||1951||Girl Next Door|
|No Questions Asked||1951||Joan Brensen|
|Shadow in the Sky||1952||Stella Murphy|
|Singin' in the Rain||1952||Lina Lamont||Nominated for an Academy Award, Best Supporting Actress|
|Carbine Williams||1952||Maggie Williams|
|Latin Lovers||1953||Anne Kellwood|
|Half a Hero||1953||Martha Dobson|
|The Big Knife||1955||Connie Bliss|
|Spring Reunion||1957||Barna Forrest|
|The Shaggy Dog||1959||Freeda Daniels|
|Sunrise at Campobello||1960||Marguerite "Missy" LeHand|
|Panic in Year Zero||1962||Ann Baldwin|
|Dead Ringer||1964||Dede Marshall|
|Alexander: The Other Side of Dawn||1977||Landlady||TV movie, (final film role)|
|Make Room for Daddy||Margaret Williams||117 episodes (3 seasons) 1953–1956||later called The Danny Thomas Show; first family sitcom character to be killed off|
|The Andy Griffith Show||Elizabeth Crowley||Season 2 episode 3, Oct. 16, 1961||"Andy and the Woman Speeder "|
|The Streets of San Francisco||Landlady||Season 4 episode 19, Nov. 1976||"Judgement Day"|
|Starsky and Hutch||Season 1 episode 15, Jan. 1976|
|1952||Stars in the Air||The Yearling|
- A variation on the spelling was ver Hagen
- Hess, Earl J.; Dabholkar, Pratibha A. (2009). Singin' in the Rain: The Making of an American Masterpiece. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas. p. 53. ISBN 978-0-7006-1656-5.
- Obituary Variety, September 7, 1977, p. 111.
- "Northwestern Co-Eds Train For The Stage; Inspired By Achievements Of Some Grads". Lubbock Evening Journal. January 12, 1950. p. 11. Retrieved June 5, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Jean Hagen, former actress, dies at 54". The Lowell Sun. August 31, 1977. p. 43. Retrieved June 5, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
- "'Those Websters,' American Family Heard Fridays at 9:30 pm on WHP". Harrisburg Telegraph. March 3, 1945. p. 15. Retrieved June 5, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Jean Hagen Is Delighted To Get Bad Woman Role". Corsicana Daily Sun. May 6, 1955. p. 9. Retrieved June 5, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Broadway Openings: The Traitor". Billboard. April 9, 1949. p. 57. Retrieved June 6, 2015.
- "Jean Hagen Profile", Turner Classic Movies (TCM), Turner Broadcasting System, New York, N.Y. Retrieved November 2, 2017.
- Motion Picture and Television Magazine, November 1952, page 33, Ideal Publishers
- "'Emmy' Award Nominations Announced" (PDF). Broadcasting. February 27, 1956. p. 93. Retrieved June 6, 2015.[permanent dead link]
- Kirby, Walter (February 10, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 38. Retrieved June 2, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
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