Jean Hagen

Jean Hagen

Hagen in 1955
Born Jean Shirley Verhagen
(1923-08-03)August 3, 1923
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Died August 29, 1977(1977-08-29) (aged 54)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Cause of death esophageal cancer
Occupation Actress
Years active 1945–1977
Spouse(s) Tom Seidel (m. 1947–1965; divorced) 2 children
Children Christine Patricia (b. 1950)
Aric Phillip (1952-2012)

Jean Hagen (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 on the television series Make Room For Daddy.[1]

Early life

Hagen was born as Jean Shirley Verhagen[lower-alpha 1] in Chicago, to Christian Verhagen (born August 10, 1890 – died April 1983), a Dutch immigrant, and his Chicago-born wife, Marie. The family moved to Elkhart, Indiana, when she was 12 and she subsequently 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.[3] 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.[4] Using her maiden name (Jean Verhagen), she played Betty Webster on Those Websters.[5]


Hagen first appeared on Broadway in Swan Song. She also acted in Another Part of the Forest, Ghosts, Born Yesterday,[4][6] and The Traitor.[7]

Film and television

Her film debut was as a comical femme fatale in the Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn classic, Adam's Rib, directed by the iconic George Cukor in 1949. The Asphalt Jungle (1950) provided Hagen with her first starring role alongside Sterling Hayden. 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 none-too-bright, nightclub-singer 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.

Thomas and Hagen in "Make Room for Daddy", 1955

By 1953, she had joined the cast of the television sitcom Make Room for Daddy. As the first wife of Danny Thomas, Hagen received three Emmy Award nominations, but after three seasons, she grew dissatisfied and left the series. Thomas, who also produced the show, reportedly did not appreciate Hagen's departing the successful series, and her character was killed off rather than recast. This was 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.

Hagen starred in the 1957 Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Season 3, Episode 7, entitled "Enough Rope for Two" as a woman accompanied by two thieves trying to retrieve stolen money from a desert mine shaft. In 1960, she appeared as Elizabeth in the episode "Once Upon a Knight" on CBS's anthology series The DuPont Show with June Allyson, and guest-starred on an episode of The Andy Griffith Show.Oct. 16, 1961 "Andy and the Woman Speeder" Season 2 episode 3. Although she made frequent guest appearances in various television series, Hagen was unable to successfully resume her film career in starring roles. After appearing with Fred MacMurray in the Disney comedy The Shaggy Dog (1959), the remainder of her career Hagen 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). In the 1960s, Hagen's health began to decline and she spent many years hospitalized or under medical care.

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, and made her final appearance in the 1977 television movie Alexander: The Other Side of Dawn.

Personal life

Jean Hagen married Tom Seidel on June 12, 1947, in Brentwood, and had two children, Christine Patricia Seidel (born August 26, 1950) and Aric Phillip Seidel (August 19, 1952 – September 9, 2012). After a marriage fraught with domestic violence, she divorced Seidel on November 1, 1965 in Los Angeles, California.


Hagen died at age 54 of esophageal cancer on August 29, 1977, at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital[4] and was buried in Chapel of the Pines Crematory.


Hagen was nominated for a 1956 Emmy Award in the "Best actress (continuing performance)" category.[8] She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1502 Vine Street for her contributions to television.


Film Year Role Notes
Adam's Rib 1949 Beryl Caighn film debut. National Film Registry
The Asphalt Jungle 1950 "Doll" Conovan National Film Registry
Side Street 1950 Hariette Sinton
No Questions Asked 1951 Joan Brensen
Singin' in the Rain 1952 Lina Lamont nominated – Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. National Film Registry. Selected by AFI as Best Movie Musical.
Carbine Williams 1952 Maggie Williams
Half a Hero 1953 Martha Dobson
Shadow in the Sky 1952 Stella
Latin Lovers 1953 Anne Kellwood
Arena 1953 Meg Hutchins
The Big Knife 1955 Connie Bliss
The Shaggy Dog 1959 Freeda Daniels Later remade
Sunrise at Campobello 1960 Marguerite "Missy" LeHand
Panic in Year Zero 1962 Ann Baldwin
Dead Ringer 1964 Dede Marshall last film

Television appearances

Television series Role Year Notes
Make Room for Daddy Margaret Williams 117 (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 "

Radio appearances

Year Program Episode/source
1952 Stars in the Air The Yearling[9]


  1. A variation on the spelling was ver Hagen[2]


  1. Obituary Variety, September 7, 1977, page 111.
  2. 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.
  3. "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
  4. 1 2 3 "Jean Hagen, former actress, dies at 54". The Lowell Sun. August 31, 1977. p. 43. Retrieved June 5, 2015 via
  5. "'Those Websters,' American Family Heard Fridays at 9:30 P.M. on WHP". Harrisburg Telegraph. March 3, 1945. p. 15. Retrieved June 5, 2015 via
  6. "Jean Hagen Is Delighted To Get Bad Woman Role". Corsicana Daily Sun. May 6, 1955. p. 9. Retrieved June 5, 2015 via
  7. "Broadway Openings: The Traitor". Billboard. April 9, 1949. p. 57. Retrieved 6 June 2015.
  8. "'Emmy' Award Nominations Announced" (PDF). Broadcasting. February 27, 1956. p. 93. Retrieved 6 June 2015.
  9. Kirby, Walter (February 10, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 38. Retrieved June 2, 2015 via

TV, 1957, Madge Griffin, "Enough Rope for Two", Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

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