Jean Hagen ~ The Recovering Alcoholic

Jean Hagen In Singin' In The Rain

Jean Hagen was an Oscar nominated actress who struggled with alcoholism

She was born Jean Shirley Verhagen on August 3, 1923 in Chicago, Illinois. Her family moved to Elkhart, Indiana when she was twelve. Jean dreamed of becoming an actress from a young age. In an interview she said "I knew from the time I saw my first movie that I wanted to be an actress." After high school she decided to study acting at Northwestern University. She began her career working on the radio. Jean landed parts in several Broadway shows including Swan Song and Born Yesterday. On June 12, 1947 she married actor Tom Siedel. She made her film debut in the 1949 comedy Adam's Rib starring Katharine Hepburn. Then she had roles in The Asphalt Jungle, A Life Of Her Own, and No Questions Asked. Jean gave birth to a daughter named Christine on August 26, 1950. She was cast as Lina Lamont, a ditzy blonde with an annoying voice, in the 1952 musical Singing In The Rain. During filming she discovered she was pregnant and her son Aric was born in August of 1952. Her performance in Singin In The Rain won rave reviews and she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting actress.

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 In 1953 she began playing the role Margaret Williams, the wife on The Danny Thomas Show. Although the show was a hit she left after three seasons because she didn't like her storylines. Unfortunately by the late 1950s she had developed a serious drinking problem which began to affect her health. Jean costarred with Fred MacMurray in the comedy The Shaggy Dog and with Bette Davis in Dead Ringer. She also made guest appearances on the television shows Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Wagon Train. Her husband divorced her in 1965 due to her alcoholism and was given custody of both their children. This only made her drinking worse and in 1968 she almost died after lapsing into a coma. When she recovered she gave up drinking completely. Her final acting role was in the 1977 television film Alexander: The Other Side Of Dawn. Sadly she was diagnosed with throat cancer. Jean died from the disease on August 29, 1977 at the age of fifty-four. She was cremated and her ashes are buried at Chapel Of The Pines in Los Angeles, California.

Jean HagenJean Hagen