Best known as iconic Midwestern TV mom Margaret Anderson on Father Knows Best
, Wyatt grew up a sophisticated society gal in New York City. She left college to become an actress, a career choice that got her dropped from New York's Social Register. After getting her start in regional theater, she graduated to Broadway. She was landing film roles by the mid-1930s, and she gave one of her most memorable performances early on, as luminous love interest Sondra in the 1937 fantasy Lost Horizon
. During the 1940s, Wyatt appeared in many films, including the classic anti-Semitism saga Gentleman's Agreement
. But in the 1950s her film career stalled, not because of her age but because of her politics: Her outspoken opposition to Senator Joseph McCarthy's anticommunist House Un-American Activities Committee landed her on Hollywood's blacklist. Yet she eventually found work---and her greatest success---in a new medium: television. In addition to numerous performances in the live dramas of the day, she snagged her signature role and three consecutive Emmys portraying a patient wife and mother on the beloved sitcom Father Knows Best
. She expressed some dissatisfaction with the boundaries of her role, but also an understanding: "I got frustrated at times. I was never shown reading a book. On the other hand, what kind of a show would we have had if mom was off having a career? I think for the time, it was OK." After the series folded, Wyatt kept busy on the small screen, and one of her most notable roles was playing Mr. Spock's human mother on the original Star Trek
(she later reprised the role in the 1986 film Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
). She also appeared in a recurring part as a hospital administrator's wife on St. Elsewhere
, and she reprised her signature role for the 1977 TV-movie Father Knows Best: Home for Christmas
. When Wyatt died of natural causes in 2006, she hadn't been active in entertainment for more than a decade, but her embodiment of the perfect 1950s TV mom lives on in reruns and on DVD.Jane Wyatt Fast Facts:
- Was a descendant of Philip Livingston, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
- After leaving Barnard College in 1930, she studied acting in the Berkshire Playhouse's apprentice program in Stockbridge, MA. Later that year, she made her Broadway debut as an understudy in Trade Winds.
- Her name was dropped from New York's Social Register after she established herself as an actress, though it was restored upon her marriage.
- Met her husband through mutual friend James Roosevelt, son of Franklin D. Roosevelt.
- Opposed Senator Joseph McCarthy's anti-communist House Un-American Activities Committee during the 1950s and was temporarily blacklisted.
- Her work on Father Knows Best made her the first consecutive Emmy winner.
- Played Amanda, the human mother of the half-Vulcan Mr. Spock, on an episode of the cult sci-fi series Star Trek. She reprised the role in the 1986 big-screen outing Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.
- Jane Wyatt Relationships:
- Michael Ward - Son
- Christopher Billopp Wyatt III - Brother
- Christopher Ward - Son
- Elizabeth Wyatt - Sister
- Euphemia van Reusselaer Wyatt - Mother
- Monica Burnham - Sister
- Christopher Billopp Wyatt II - Father
- Edgar Bethune Ward - Husband (deceased)
- Jane Wyatt Awards:
- 1960 Emmy: Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Series - Winner
- 1958 Emmy: Best Continuing Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Dramatic or Comedy Series - Winner
- 1959 Emmy: Best Actress in a Leading Role (Continuing Character) in a Comedy Series - Winner
- Attended Barnard College, New York, NY