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."