Blonde, buxom and sexy, Jayne Hazard could have been a perfect bombshell in the 1950s, but she came to Hollywood at the wrong hour, just before WW2. It was a time when the movie capital did not need such sexpots, but wanted nice and fresh girls next door. Predictably, Jayne’s career never lived up to any promises and ended all too soon.
Aristine Jane Hazard was born on January 8, 1922, in Tampa, Florida, only child of Julian Leslie Hazard and Aristine Jane Luther. Her Illinois born father was a prominent lawyer who was to become a judge, and her New York born mother was a housewife. Julian’s family, a widowed mother and several brothers and sisters, came to Florida in the early 1900s, where he did his schooling. He married Aristine in 1920 in upstate New York.
The family lived in Tampa until mid 1930s with Julian’s maternal grandmother, Cristine Doolittle, moving to California afterwards. In 1940, they were living in 424a No Maple Dr, Beverly Hills,, Los Angeles, California. Jayne attended Beverly Hills High School, graduated in 1939 and started her career not long after.
Looking on the bright side, Jayne has several impressive movies in her filmography. Overall, she was a glorified extra in the best of times and a unnoticeable background staple in the worst.
Jayne started her career in a bunch of low budget quickies –Westward Ho, A Tragedy at Midnight , Cadet Girl, The Monster and the Girl. This was a typical way all starlets started in the 1940s, so there was still hope for her if she could only get a breakthrough role. Her only up a notch movie from this period is Bedtime Story , featuring industry heavyweights Loretta Young and Frederic March, but it’s far from their best efforts and is a largely forgotten movie today.
Jayne got her first real role in Flying with Music , a Marjorie Woodworth vehicle. Marjorie, a Jean Harlow wannabe, was for a time the “IT girl”, and her the dubious pleasure of being the starlet whose studios tried everything to push her into the star tier. Like most of these campaigns, it failed, and all of her movies are on the back burner today, this one included. To be blunt, Marjorie was a wooden actress cast in sub par movies, and there is nor real reason the movies would make a splash then or now.
Her career firmly stayed in the B class for the next couple of features: silly western Prairie Chickens, completely forgotten She Has What It Takes, a dime a dozen cheap musical Let’s Have Fun, overly dramatic and insipid The Powers Girl , Underground Agent, and the Abbott and Costello extravaganza Pardon My Sarong in the end did nothing to add to her acting credibility.
Let’s Face It at least gave her a chance to work int he same movie as the perennial box office favorite, Bob Hope, and the petite dynamo, Betty Hutton. Again, the movie is nothing to write home about. Originally it was a sharp and biting play (risky for it’s time) watered down to become a lightweight musical. However, Jayne’s movies improved at least a bit after this. Crazy Knights, a solid Three Stooges spin off, even gave her a credited role, and she was off to the higher plains.
Strange Illusion started a very good upwards spiral for Jayne. A interesting psychological movie with a good performance by both Jimmy Lyndon and the eternal cad, Warren William, it was made before it’s time and not a hit when it was made, but today makes a compelling, well made classic. Nob Hill gave George Raft a chance to shine in a movie worthy of his talents once again – while not a true gem of the 7th art, it still makes the grade. You Came Along is a masterfully made drama with romantic elements, featuring Lizbeth Scott in a career defining role. Hold That Blonde is a hysterically good comedy with Eddie Bracken and Veronica Lake, a great comedic/romantic pairing in league with Carole Lombard/Frederic March or Irene Dunne/Cary Grant. The Lost Weekend is perhaps the best known, and generally the best, movie of Jayne’s career. A brutal, grim story of a writer whose life descents into alcoholism hits hard if nothing than for the fact that it shows us how could happen to anybody – Ray Milland perfectly plays the everyday guy who gets pushed into madness.
Just when one thought, here she goes – Jayne is gonna make it! – the house of cards toppled, bit by bit. Her movies suffered a sharp decline in quality after her greatest moment, and she never achieved the same degree of success again.
Jayne got massive exposure int he paper in 1940, the year she started her career, by becoming a Baby Star of 1940. The natural successors of the WAMPAS baby Stars, this publicity stunt named 13 girl as stars of tomorrow. Only a few of them made anything substantial with their careers, but Jayne was sadly not one of them. The girls were: Ella Bryan, Lucia Carroll, Peggy Diggins, Lorraine Elliott, Jayne Hazard, Joan Leslie, Kay Leslie, Marilyn [Lynn] Merrick, Gay Parkes, Lois Ranson, Sheila Ryan, Patricia Van Cleve, Tanya Widrin. The lucky two that had a career were Joan Leslie (today a Hollywood legend) and Sheila Ryan (a western star).
Jayne’s father became a respected judge in California and he was often featured in the papers with his wife and daughter. At any rate, Jayne had some real connections in Hollywood, and was a protegee of producer Jeffery Bernerd, who wanted to make her a star. Been there, heard that – we all know how that story ended. Allegedly Jayne was slated to act in a movie that would have pushed her into stardom, but an emergency appendicitis rendered her unable to carry it out, and the moment passed.
Jayne married Lowell Jasper Thompson on May 4, 1947, in Los Angeles. Lowell, born in 1916 in Washington, was thus 8 years older than her and his profession was given as “theater owner.” The marriage was flawed from the very beginning, and did not last long (what a shock!).
I cite Hans Wollstein, one of my very favorite bloggers, from the page about Jayne from his superb blog:
Off screen, in June of 1949, she divorced 35-year-old Lowell J. Thompson, described as a “wealthy theater owner.” In the proceedings Jayne told the court that her husband “showed no concern, comfort or sympathy for his father-in-law.” The latter, Julian Hazard, a former judge, was injured when struck on the head by an airplane propeller while on a “honeymoon fishing trip” with his daughter and son-in-law. Mr. Thompson’s sole reaction, according to his wife, was to tell her “that he was sorry he married me and would leave me if it weren’t that my father was so ill.” Grounds for divorce, to be sure!
Jayne was connected to Ricky De Vega, a wealthy Spanish charmer, for a time in 1949. Jayne married for the second time to well known attorney Guy E. Ward, on October 27, 1951, in Phoneix, Arizona. Ward was born in 1912, making him 10 years Jayne’s senior. Their daughter Judith Jayne Ward was born on September 27, 1952. Sadly the girl died just six weeks later on November 17, 1952. Their second daughter, Sally Jane Ward, was born on November 5, 1953. Their third and last child, Leslie J. Ward, was born on October 24, 1957. By this time, Jayne had long given up on her Hollywood career and was a devoted wife and mother.
Jayne and Guy divorced in 1959, and the same year he married Linda F. Hicks. That marriage lasted until 1979. Ward died in 1994 in Los Angeles.
In 1975, there were rumors that Howard Kessler would marry Jayne, but in the end, she did not remarry.
Jayne Hazard Ward died on December 12, 2006, in Palm Springs, California.