Most people have heard about James Caan. He is one of the most famous American actors of all time. But when you appear in The Godfather, and television shows like Las Vegas, you ought to be famous. But how much do you know about his former wife Dee Jay Mathis?
The famous actor has been married four times in his life. And all four marriages failed. Dee Mathis is part of that history, being his first wife. Let’s see what we know about her.
Who was her famous former husband?
Born James Edmund Caan in March 1940, he passed away in July 2022 due to a heart attack. James was an American actor who came to prominence for playing Sonny Corleone in The Godfather. That performance earned him an Academy Award and Golden Globe Award nominations.
Born in March 1940 in The Bronx, New York City, his parents were Sophie Caan and Arthur Caan, Jewish immigrants from Germany. His father was a kosher meat dealer. He was one of three siblings, growing up in Sunnyside Queens. His sister Barbara Emily Caan passed away in 1981 due to leukemia.
James got his education in New York City before attending Michigan State University where he was a member of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity. During his time at MSU, he wanted to play football, but couldn’t make the team. From there, he transferred to Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. He did not graduate.
Fun fact: his classmates at Hofstra included Francis Ford Coppola, the man who will later make him famous by giving him a role in his iconic movie.
Caan became interested in acting during his time at Hofstra University. Some of his early roles included El Dorado, Countdown, and The Rain People. The last one was also directed by Francis Ford Coppola. In 1971, he gained critical acclaim for portraying Brian Piccolo in the movie Brian’s Song. For that role, he got a Primetime Emmy Award.
People around him knew he was going to be a star from the get-go. Watch him in the early movies, and you will see he has that “star factor and charm”. He was handsome and could act, something that was a rarity at the time. He was trained in New York and got his practice on Broadway.
Here is a fun fact. Originally, Coppola cast him as Michael Corleone. Yet, when Al Pacino came aboard, both Coppola and Caan agreed that he should play Sonny instead. Here is another fun fact. Robert De Niro was also considered for the role of Sonny Corleone.
In the 2000s, actor James Caan got even more popularity with the television series Las Vegas. That TV show featured cast members like Josh Duhamel, Nikki Cox, Molly Sims, and Vanessa Marcil.
In 2022, he passed away at the age of 82 due to a heart attack.
Now let’s talk about James Caan’s first wife, Dee Jay Mathis. Here is an interesting story. She was also an American actress.
Despite being an actress, her biography looks slim. There is no exact date on when she was born. Some sources say she was born between 1940 and 1942. So, she might have been the same age as James Caan or younger than the American actor.
The two got married in 1960, and she was his first wife. The famous duo welcomed their only child, daughter Tara A Caan in November 1964. Sadly, two years after the birth of their child, they divorced and continued their separate ways.
Her actual age is not known to the public. As we said before, some sources say she was born in 1940, while others cite 1942 as her birth year.
What we do know is that as of June 2023, she is still alive. She outlived her first husband. The American-born lady was a former actress but became a public figure and celebrity after her marriage to James Caan.
Regarding her career, she appeared in the movies The Passy in 1964, Frankie and Johnny in 1966, and that is it. There is no information about what she did for a living for the rest of her life.
The former actress is now in her old age and has a wrinkled face. But she did outlive her former partner.
Marriage to James Caan
As we said before, Dee Jay Mathis was a young and aspiring actress when she got married to James Caan. Born in the early 1940s, she is a former dancer and actress.
Her romance with James began in the late 1950s when they were both striving to pull off a breakthrough in the entertainment industry.
The two dated for a while before getting married in 1960. As we said before, they have only one child, Tara Caan.
Here is a fun fact we didn’t mention before. Her birth name was actually Dorothy Jeanne Mathis. The American citizen belongs to the Caucasian ethnic group.
There is no information on whether she got married again following her divorce from James. At the time of their marriage, neither of them was famous. Dee had recently moved to Los Angeles, and Caan was a struggling actor attending acting school.
Their Hollywood dreams brought them together, and they first became friends. Soon after, their friendship turned into a romantic relationship.
And while there is no info on Dee Jay Mathis’s love life, we do know that James got married three more times. Sadly, none of those marriages was successful.
He got married for the second time to Sheila Marie Ryan, the ex-girlfriend of legendary singer Elvis Presley. It took him a decade to get married again. He and Sheila had one child, Scott Caan, born in August 1976. He followed in his father’s footsteps into the film industry.
In 1990, he got married for the third time to life coach Ingrid Hajek. They were introduced through mutual friends. They wed in California after two years of dating. Ingrid gave birth to their son Alexander James Caan.
In 1995, James tied the knot with Linda Stokes, a costume designer. They have two sons, James Caan, born in 1995 and Jacob Caan, born in 1998.
When her former husband James Caan passed away in July 2022, he had a net worth of more than $20 million. He was part of the entertainment industry for more than six decades. He had two different properties of land. In his will, he named Scott Caan as the sole executor of his will.
Dee didn’t get any of his money. But the former actress has done well in her life. According to some sources, she has a net worth of $3 million as of June 2023.