Diana Hyland





1/25/1936 , Cleveland Heights, Ohio, USA



Birth Name

Diana Gentner




Diana Hyland, born in 1936, a knowing beauty with a confident air about her, appeared on stage in summer stock as a teen before graduating from high school and moving to New York. She found TV roles in the 50s in between stints as a switchboard operator and managed to make an impression as a blonde ingénue on Broadway in the Tennessee Williams production of "Sweet Bird of Youth" in 1959 starring Paul Newman and Geraldine Page. Her role of Heavenly Finney could have made her a star had she taken it to film, but Shirley Knight won the honor. In the 60s, Diana began making her formidable presence known on TV soaps such as "Young Dr. Malone" (1958) and "Peyton Place" (1964), in addition to scores of guest parts, notably "The Twilight Zone" (1959) and "Dr. Kildare" (1961). She made noticeably few films, however. Her best showcase was One Man's Way (1964) as wife to Don Murray's Norman Vincent Peale, and a supporting turn in The Chase (1966) starring Marlon Brando, Robert Redford and Jane Fonda. A very independent, outspoken actress, Diana began having a May-December affair with actor John Travolta in 1976. Travolta, who was 17 years her junior, was just coming into the limelight with his own TV show "Welcome Back, Kotter" (1975). They had met while appearing in the TV-movie The Boy in the Plastic Bubble (1976) (TV). The following year, Diana was awarded the role of Dick Van Patten's wife Joan Bradford in the family sitcom "Eight Is Enough" (1977). It was a short-lived celebration. Diana was diagnosed with breast cancer and died in March after shooting only four episodes. She was only 41. When the series returned that fall, it was explained that her character had also died and Van Patten's character eventually remarried. Diana also won a posthumous Emmy award for her supporting role in The Boy in the Plastic Bubble (1976) (TV), which Travolta accepted on her behalf.

Biography made by Gary Brumburgh.