Except for that evening of massage with the US Olympic Men’s Gymnastics team & watching my good, close personal friend Gretchen as Mrs. Lovett in PCS’s production of Sweeney Todd, my favorite experience of 2012 was viewing one of my favorite movies, that I had only seen on TV, but never on the on the big screen. The Husband, Tad & I were able to view Singin’ In The Rain, with a new print on the full screen in an actual movie theatre. It did not disappoint. The film continues to delight with the mastery & freshness of the talent involved. Singin’ In The Rain holds a rightful place as one of the truly great works of art from the 20th Century. What did take me by surprise was not so much the beauty of Gene Kelly’s ass, but the staggering, startling, striking, stunning, stupefying, stupendous work of Jean Hagen as the vain & talentless silent movie star Lina Lamont. Without her finely crafted & perfectly modulated performance, the movie would have fallen short of being a perfect film. Hagen received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for Singin’ In The Rain.
In 1953, Hagen had joined the cast of the new Desilu television sitcom Make Room For Daddy. As the very funny wife of Danny Thomas, Hagen received 3 Emmy Award nominations, but after 3 seasons she grew dissatisfied & left the series. Thomas, didn't appreciate Hagen’s leaving the successful series, & her character was killed off rather than recast. This may be the very first TV character to be killed off a family sitcom. Marjorie Lord was cast a year later as Danny's second wife & worked well with Thomas for several more seasons.
Although she made frequent guest appearances in various TV series, Hagen was unable to successfully resume her film career, & for the rest of her career she played small supporting roles, the secretary to FDR in Sunrise At Campobello (1960), & the friend of Bette Davis in Dead Ringer (1964). In the 1960s, Hagen's health began to decline as she was diagnosed with throat cancer & she spent many years hospitalized or under medical care. A tough situation for an actress known for her voice.
In 1976, she made a comeback of sorts playing character roles in episodes of TV series- Starsky & Hutch & The Streets Of San Francisco, & made her final film appearance in the absurd male hooker TV movie Alexander: The Other Side Of Dawn in 1977.