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In Memoriam: Jane O’Brien Dart, 90

In Memoriam: Jane O’Brien Dart, 90
Polly Firestone, left, and Jane Dart study plans for a model �dream house� in 1948.

Jane O’Brien Dart, wife of former USC trustee Justin W. Dart, died at her home in Pebble Beach on April 8 after a lengthy illness. She was 90.

Dart, billed as Jane Bryan, was an accomplished actress who had roles in nearly 20 movies during the late 1930s. A prot�g� of Bette Davis, she appeared as Davis’ sister in Marked Woman, as Paul Muni’s doomed mistress in We Are Not Alone and with Ronald Reagan and his then-wife Jane Wyman in Brother Rat and its sequel, Brother Rat and a Baby, which was her final film.

On New Year’s Eve 1939, she ended her career and married Justin Dart, an entrepreneur who would go on to head the Rexall Drug Co. and build Dart-Kraft Inc., a food and consumer products conglomerate.

The Darts were dedicated supporters of USC. Upon joining the USC Board of Trustees in 1961, Justin Dart provided leadership for the Master Plan for Enterprise and Excellence in Education campaign. He chaired the board from 1967 to 1971 and later served two terms as vice chairman. Dart died in 1984 at age 76.

From 1969 until about 1975, the Darts funded the Justin Dart Award for Academic Innovation at USC, with the goal of encouraging faculty to develop innovations in teaching and curricula. In addition to a cash prize, a feature that made the Dart Award especially coveted was the statuette – called the “Janie,” after Jane Dart – that was presented to each recipient.

Today, the Dart name is commemorated in the Justin Dart Professorship in Operations Management at the USC Marshall School of Business.

Outside the university, Jane and Justin Dart were close friends with the Reagans, and they played a significant role in persuading Ronald Reagan to enter politics during the 1960s.

The Darts also collected artworks that Jane donated to the Monterey Museum of Art. They are housed in the Jane and Justin Dart Wing at the museum’s La Mirada facility.

Jane Dart is survived by her three children, three grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and two brothers.

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