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Jane Wyatt

Jane Wyatt American actress

American actress
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro American actress
A.K.A. Jane Waddington Wyatt
Countries United States of America
Occupations Actor Stage actor Television actor
Gender female
Birth 12 August 1910 (Mahwah, Bergen County, New Jersey, U.S.A.)
Death 20 October 2006 (Bel Air, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California)
Star sign LeoLeo
Education Barnard College
The details

Jane Waddington Wyatt (August 12, 1910 – October 20, 2006) was an American actress. She starred in a number of Hollywood films, 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 a three-time Emmy Award-winner.

Early life

Wyatt was born on August 12, 1910, in Mahwah, New Jersey, but raised in Manhattan. Her father, Christopher Billopp Wyatt, Jr., was a Wall Street investment banker, and her mother, the former 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.


One of her ancestors, Rufus King, was a signatory to the United States Constitution, a U.S. Senator and ambassador, and the Federalist candidate in the 1816 United States presidential election. Wyatt was a descendant, on her father's side, of British Royal Navy Captain Christopher Billopp, as well as a distant cousin of Eleanor Roosevelt and the poet Harry Crosby, through their shared descent from Philip Livingston, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.


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.

Stage and film

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 Wyatt consecutive Emmy Awards 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 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 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).

Personal life

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 two sons, Christopher and Michael.

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 (according to an obituary in The Washington Post, a third son died in infancy in the early 1940s); three grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

Partial filmography

  • One More River (1934) – Dinny Cherrell
  • Great Expectations (1934) – Estella
  • We're Only Human (1935) – Sally Rogers
  • The Luckiest Girl in the World (1936) – Pat Duncan
  • Lost Horizon (1937) – Sondra
  • Girl from God's Country (1940) – Anne Webster
  • Kisses for Breakfast (1941) – Laura Anders
  • Hurricane Smith (1941) – Joan Bradley
  • Weekend for Three (1941) – Ellen
  • Army Surgeon (1942) – Elizabeth "Beth" Ainsley
  • The Navy Comes Through (1942) – Myra Mallory
  • Buckskin Frontier (1943) – Vinnie Marr
  • The Kansan (1943) – Eleanor Sager
  • None but the Lonely Heart (1944) – Aggie Hunter
  • Strange Conquest (1946) – Dr. Mary Palmer
  • The Bachelor's Daughters (1946) – Marta Jordan
  • Boomerang (1947) – Madge Harvey
  • Gentleman's Agreement (1947) – Jane
  • Pitfall (1948) – Sue Forbes
  • No Minor Vices (1948) – Miss Darlington
  • Bad Boy (1949) – Mrs. Maud Brown
  • Canadian Pacific (1949) – Dr. Edith Cabot
  • Task Force (1949) – Mary Morgan
  • House by the River (1950) – Marjorie Byrne
  • Our Very Own (1950) – Mrs. Fred (Lois) Macaulay
  • My Blue Heaven (1950) – Janet Pringle
  • The Man Who Cheated Himself (1950) – Lois Frazer
  • Criminal Lawyer (1951) – Maggie Powell
  • Interlude (1957) – Prue Stubbins
  • The Two Little Bears (1961) – Anne Davis
  • See How They Run (1964, TV Movie) – Augusta Flanders
  • Never Too Late (1965) – Grace Kimbrough
  • Weekend of Terror (1970, TV Movie) – Sister Frances
  • Treasure of Matecumbe (1976) – Aunt Effie
  • Amelia Earhart (1976, TV Movie) – Amy Earhart
  • The Nativity (1978, TV Movie) – Anna
  • Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986) – Amanda Grayson
  • Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes (1989, TV Movie) – Alice Leacock

Radio appearances

Year Program Episode/source
1952 Family Theater Pas de Deux
1952 Hollywood Sound Stage Boomerang
1953 Theatre Guild on the Air A Square Peg
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