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Radio Girlfriend of 'Jack Armstrong' Dies at 73

January 17, 1987

Sarajane Wells, a veteran heroine of radio's Golden Age, has died of the complications of Alzheimer's disease, it was reported Thursday.

The award-winning actress, who portrayed the girlfriend of "Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy" during much of its 18-year span on the airwaves was 73 when she died Saturday in a Chicago nursing home.

With Scheindel Kalish, Mrs. Wells was the first to portray Betty Fairfield, the token and helpless female on the Armstrong show and a close, if never romantic, companion to Jack, the Hudson High hero.

Betty, Jack, Uncle Jim and Billy Fairfield traversed the globe during most of the 1930s and '40s, ferreting out evildoers and offering secret decoder rings and Jack Armstrong bombsights in exchange for Wheaties box tops and a few coins.

Mrs. Wells also was heard as Mary Ruthledge, daughter of the Rev. John Ruthledge, the cleric protagonist of radio's "The Guiding Light."

Her other roles were on "Woman in White," "The Right to Happiness" and "The Road of Life."

She won radio's highest honor, a Peabody Award, in 1949 for her role opposite Robert Preston in "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber," an hourlong radio adaptation of Ernest Hemingway's short story.

A native of Owensboro, Ky., she moved to Chicago with her family at an early age. She performed regularly on the air while attending Northwestern University, where she received a degree in 1938.

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