Today is the 111th birthday of the actress Jane Wyatt. The world is a better place because she was in it and still feels the loss that she has left.
NAME: Jane Wyatt
DATE OF BIRTH: 12-Aug-1910
PLACE OF BIRTH: Campgaw, NJ
DATE OF DEATH: 20-Oct-2006
PLACE OF DEATH: Bel Air, CA
REMAINS: Buried, San Fernando Mission Cemetery, Mission Hills, CA
EMMY 1958 for Father Knows Best
EMMY 1959 for Father Knows Best
EMMY 1960 for Father Knows Best
HOLLYWOOD WALK OF FAME 6356 Hollywood Blvd.
BEST KNON FOR: Jane Wyatt was an American actress. She starred in a number of Hollywood films like Frank Capra’s Lost Horizon, but is likely best known for her role as the housewife and mother Margaret Anderson on the CBS and NBC television comedy series Father Knows Best, and as Amanda Grayson, the human mother of Spock on the science-fiction television series Star Trek.
Wyatt was born on August 12, 1910, in Campgaw, Bergen County, New Jersey, but raised in Manhattan. Her father, Christopher Billopp Wyatt Jr., was a Wall Street investment banker, and her mother, Euphemia Van Rensselaer Waddington, was a drama critic for the Catholic World. Both of her parents were Roman Catholic converts. Wyatt had two sisters and a brother.
While in New York City, Wyatt attended Miss Chapin’s School, where she had roles as Joan of Arc and as Shylock She later attended two years of Barnard College. After leaving Barnard, she joined the apprentice school of the Berkshire Playhouse at Stockbridge, Massachusetts, where for six months she played a variety of roles.
One of her first jobs on Broadway was as understudy to Rose Hobart in a production of Trade Winds—a career move that cost her her listing in the New York Social Register (she later was relisted upon her marriage). Receiving favorable notices on Broadway and celebrated for her understated beauty, Wyatt made the transition from stage to screen and was placed under contract by Universal Pictures.
She made her film debut in 1934 in One More River. In arguably her most famous film role, she co-starred as Ronald Colman’s character’s love interest in Frank Capra’s Columbia Pictures film Lost Horizon (1937). Of her experience in Lost Horizon, she noted in an article in the St. Anthony Messenger newsletter:
During the war, they cut out all the pacifist parts of the film—the High Lama talking about peace in the world. All that was cut because they were trying to inspire those G.I.’s to get out there and go “bang! bang! bang!” which sort of ruined the film.
Other film appearances included Gentleman’s Agreement with Gregory Peck, None but the Lonely Heart with Cary Grant, Boomerang with Dana Andrews, and Our Very Own with Farley Granger. Wyatt co-starred in the crime dramas Pitfall and House by the River, and with Randolph Scott in a Western, Canadian Pacific. She played the wife of Gary Cooper in the war story Task Force.
Her film career suffered due to her outspoken opposition to Senator Joseph McCarthy, the chief figure in the anti-Communist investigations of that era, and was temporarily derailed for having assisted in hosting a performance by the Bolshoi Ballet during the Second World War, though it was at the request of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Wyatt returned to her roots on the New York stage for a time and appeared in such plays as Lillian Hellman’s The Autumn Garden, opposite Fredric March.
For many people, Wyatt is best remembered as Margaret Anderson on Father Knows Best, which aired from 1954 to 1960. She played opposite Robert Young as the devoted wife and mother of the Anderson family in the Midwestern town of Springfield. This role won consecutive Emmy Awards for her in 1958, 1959 and 1960 for best actress in a comedy series. After Father Knows Best, Wyatt guest-starred in several other series.
On June 13, 1962, she was cast in the lead in “The Heather Mahoney Story” on NBC’s Wagon Train. In 1963, she portrayed Kitty McMullen in “Don’t Forget to Say Goodbye” on the ABC drama Going My Way, with Gene Kelly and Leo G. Carroll, a series about the Catholic priesthood in New York City. In 1964 Wyatt appeared as Mrs. Sarah Brynmar on The Virginian in the episode “The Secret of Brynmar Hall.” In 1965, Wyatt was cast as Anne White in “The Monkey’s Paw – A Retelling” on CBS’s The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.
Wyatt portrayed Amanda Grayson, Spock’s mother and Ambassador Sarek’s (Mark Lenard) wife, in the 1967 episode “Journey to Babel” of the original NBC series Star Trek, and the 1986 film Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Wyatt was once quoted as saying her fan mail for these two appearances in this role exceeded that of Lost Horizon.
In 1969, she made a guest appearance on Here Come the Brides, but did not have any scenes with Mark Lenard, who was starring on the show as sawmill owner Aaron Stemple.
In 1970, Wyatt guest-starred in the episode “Wedding Day?????” (the five question marks being part of the title) in the second season of the TV sitcom The Ghost & Mrs. Muir, which played on ABC (the first season having played on NBC). She portrayed Emily Williams, the mother of Mrs. Muir.
In 1976, she guest-starred in an episode of Gibbsville, and she appeared as Anna, mother of the Virgin Mary, in the 1978 television film The Nativity. Late in her career, she appeared in a recurring role in the 1980s medical drama St. Elsewhere, as Katherine Auschlander, wife of hospital administrator Dr. Daniel Auschlander (Norman Lloyd).
Wyatt was married to investment broker Edgar Bethune Ward from November 9, 1935, until his death on November 8, 2000, just one day short of the couple’s 65th wedding anniversary. The couple met in the late 1920s when both were weekend houseguests of Franklin D. Roosevelt at Hyde Park, New York. They had three sons, Christopher, Michael and Nicholas.
Ward later converted to the Catholic faith of his wife. Wyatt suffered a mild stroke in the 1990s, but recovered well. She remained in relatively good health for the rest of her life.
Wyatt died on October 20, 2006, at her home in Bel-Air, California, aged 96. She was interred at San Fernando Mission Cemetery, next to her husband. She is survived by her sons, Christopher and Michael Ward. A third son, Nicholas Ward, had died in September 1943, aged 18 days Wyatt’s family included three grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.
Father Knows Best Margaret Anderson (1954-60)
St. Elsewhere Katherine Auschlander (1983-88)
FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
Amityville: The Evil Escapes (12-May-1989)
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (26-Nov-1986) · Amanda
Missing Children: A Mother’s Story (1-Dec-1982)
Amelia Earhart (25-Oct-1976)
Treasure of Matecumbe (1-Jul-1976)
Never Too Late (4-Nov-1965) · Grace Kimbrough
The Two Little Bears (1-Nov-1961)
Criminal Lawyer (23-Aug-1951)
The Man Who Cheated Himself (26-Dec-1950)
My Blue Heaven (15-Sep-1950) · Janet Pringle
Our Very Own (27-Jul-1950) · Lois Macaulay
House by the River (25-Mar-1950)
Task Force (30-Aug-1949) · Mary Morgan
Canadian Pacific (19-May-1949) · Dr. Edith Cabot
Bad Boy (22-Feb-1949) · Mrs. Maud Brown
No Minor Vices (12-Nov-1948)
Gentleman’s Agreement (11-Nov-1947) · Jane
Boomerang! (28-Apr-1947) · Madge Harvey
The Bachelor’s Daughters (6-Sep-1946)
None But the Lonely Heart (22-Sep-1944) · Aggie Hunter
The Kansan (10-Sep-1943) · Eleanor Sager
The Navy Comes Through (27-Oct-1942)
Army Surgeon (26-Oct-1942)
Weekend for Three (23-Oct-1941) · Ellen
Kisses for Breakfast (5-Jul-1941)
Lost Horizon (2-Mar-1937) · Sondra
We’re Only Human (27-Dec-1935)
Great Expectations (22-Oct-1934)
One More River (6-Aug-1934) · Dinny