RIP Jane Wyatt

93246__jane_l Whether Father Knows Best fills you with a cocoa-toasty nostalgic glow or strikes you as hopelessly retrograde, you have to give Jane Wyatt credit for creating the archetype of the TV Mom. (Yes, I know, Wyatt, who died Friday of natural causes at age 96, had a distinguished film career as well, including key roles in such classics as Lost Horizon and Gentlemen’s Agreement, but Margaret Anderson is the first and last role for which she’ll be remembered.) Influencing generations of sitcom moms, from June Cleaver to Clair Huxtable to Marge Simpson, Wyatt’s Margaret was endlessly patient, immaculately put together, and ineffably wise — smarter, even than the Father who supposedly always Knew Best. Even in her other famous role, as Spock’s human mom in the original Star Trek series and movies, she was wiser than her Vulcan husband and computer-brained son. It’s no wonder she was sometimes billed as "Miss Jane Wyatt." As TV’s matriarch, she deserved an extra honorific, a title of respect.

addCredit(“Jane Wyatt: John Swope Trust/MPTV”)

Comments (5 total) Add your comment
  • Ed

    At 33, it’s wierd to think that one day I’ll be reading a blog by Gary Susman’s grand child, which will feature an obit and a picture of Madonna. That generation will be as far disconnected to Madge as I am to this one.

  • Rhonda

    I’ll gladly raise a cup of cocoa and toast Jane Wyatt: here’s to an accomplished actress, a warm and honest human being and a compassionate humanitarian…. I have a genuine fondness for her in her role as Margaret Anderson–it may seem hopelessly retrograde to some but Father Knows Best and other shows from that era often filled an emotional void in some of us while growing up. She was a lady in the best sense of the word.

  • Bill

    Well, people love to dump on the past saying “it was never like that.” But…for many of us it was. My mom was very much like Margaret Anderson and she had a wonderful life. I wouldn’t trade her for all the hip-bestfriend-cool modern moms that still want to dress and act like their daughters. We had real parents back then. Cheers to Jane Wyatt and her generation.

  • Nancy Walker

    “Father knows best” was a good show. I love that she was always dressed nicely. It shows that women still should look good after they are married. She fit the role beautifully. She will be missed.

  • Jakeem

    I was very impressed that “NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams” devoted a significant chunk of airtime to the life and career of Jane Wyatt. Let’s hope EW does the same in its pages next week.

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