Legendary TV Mom Jane Wyatt Dies
She played a TV mother to Bud, "Kitten" and "Princess"...as well as Mr. Spock.
She was quite the screen actress until the 1950's, when like a lot of folks she found hard times in Hollywood courtesy of Sen. Joseph McCarthy.
Jane Wyatt was a mother. On screen, off screen. On this planet, off this planet.
Wyatt, who tended to suburbia's Andersons on Father Knows Best and nurtured Vulcan's Mr. Spock in Star Trek, died Friday in her sleep at her Bel-Air, California, home, her publicist and goddaughter Meg McDonald confirmed Monday.
Wyatt was 96.
Billy Gray, who played the actress' TV son, Bud, on Father Knows Best remembered Wyatt on Monday as a "wonderful lady." "One of the few people I worked with who I kept in touch with," Gray said.
Gray said he last saw Wyatt about two months ago; the two had tea.
"She was frail, but still bright as a tack, to mix a metaphor," Gray said.
Wyatt won three Emmys, from 1958 to 1960, for her portrayal of Margaret Anderson on Father Knows Best. Beyond the awards, the role won Wyatt a new generation of fans, baby boomers who grew up with, and often judged their own families against, the series.
Viewers' identification with the Andersons—father Jim (Robert Young), mother Margaret, elder daughter Betty (Elinor Donahue), middle child Bud and younger daughter Kitten (Lauren Chapin)—was so strong, some believed they were real family, à la the Nelsons of Ozzie & Harriett.
But the Andersons weren't a real family. And the situations confronted in the situation comedy, based in generic Springfield, Any State, U.S.A., weren't exactly gritty. Sample episode: "Margaret Hires a Gardener."
I grew up mostly with reruns of Father Knows Best and Ozzie and Harriett.
PS...Billy Gray was (and maybe still is) involved in racing on local circuits...he used to race stock cars (I think) here in Ventura back in the 80's.
Re: Legendary TV Mom Jane Wyatt Dies
Oh, I used to watch those reruns too. I watch a couple of the Father Knows Best Christmas episodes every year during the holidays as well. She was a great TV mom!