Phyllis Thaxter

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Phyllis Thaxter
Phyllis Thaxter in Bewitched trailer.jpg
From the film Bewitched (1945)
Born Phyllis St. Felix Thaxter
(1919-11-20)November 20, 1919[1][2]
Portland, Maine, U.S.
Died August 14, 2012(2012-08-14) (aged 92)
Longwood, Florida, U.S.
Cause of death
Alzheimer's disease
Resting place
Occupation Actress
Years active 1940–1992
Known for Ma Kent in Superman,
Ellen Lawson in Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo
Children Skye Aubrey, James Aubrey

Phyllis St. Felix Thaxter (November 20, 1919 – August 14, 2012) was an American actress.

Early life[edit]

Phyllis St. Felix Thaxter was born in Portland, Maine, USA, to Sidney St. Felix Thaxter, who would later become a Justice of the Maine Supreme Court, and his wife, Phyllis Schuyler, a former actress and member of the Dutch American Schuyler family.[3]


Phyllis Thaxter smiling and looking off to her left in a press head shot from 1955.
Phyllis Thaxter in a public press photo from 1955.

She had frequently worked on Broadway since 1940. When Dorothy McGuire went to Hollywood, Phyllis replaced her in the play Claudia. In 1944, she signed a contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Her movie debut was opposite Van Johnson in the 1944 wartime film Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo.[2] Thaxter played Joan Alris Ellis, a woman suffering from split personality in the film-noir Bewitched in 1945. In 1948, she played a cattle owner’s daughter alongside Barbara Bel Geddes in Blood on the Moon.

At MGM, she routinely portrayed the ever-patient wife to a number of leading men. She moved to Warner Brothers in the 1950s, but usually played the same type of roles.

Thaxter’s career stalled after an attack of polio in 1952. She made a comeback in such television series as Rawhide wherein 1961, she portrayed Pauline Cushman in the episode "The Blue Spy", Wagon Train ("The Christine Elliott Story"), The Twilight Zone (Young Man's Fanncy), and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. In 1978, Thaxter was cast, along with Glenn Ford, as Jonathan and Martha Kent in the blockbuster film Superman.

Personal life[edit]

Author Patricia Bosworth, in her biography of Montgomery Clift, tells of Thaxter’s close relationship with Clift in the early 1940s, writing that they “seemed so close that a great many people assumed they would eventually marry.”[4] While at MGM, Thaxter married James T. Aubrey, Jr., who later became president of CBS-TV and MGM. They divorced in 1962. They had two children: Skye Aubrey, an actress; and James Aubrey.

In 1962, Thaxter married Gilbert Lea. They were married for 46 years until his death on May 4, 2008.[5]


Thaxter died on August 14, 2012, in Longwood, Florida, after an eight- or nine-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease.[2][6] She was 92 years old. In keeping with her wishes, she was cremated and her ashes were scattered into the Atlantic Ocean.

Partial filmography[edit]


  1. ^ 1920 U.S. Census
  2. ^ a b c Denise Grady (August 18, 2012). "Phyllis Thaxter, Actress Who Played Superman’s Mother, Dies at 92". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-08-22. Her death was confirmed by her daughter, Skye Aubrey, who said that Ms. Thaxter had had Alzheimer’s disease for the last eight years. ... 
  3. ^ Denise Grady (August 18, 2012). "Phyllis Thaxter, Actress Who Played Superman’s Mother, Dies at 92". New York Times. Retrieved 2015-02-22
  4. ^ Bosworth, Patricia (2004). Montgomery Clift: A Biography. Limelight Editions. p. 80. ISBN 978-0879101350. 
  5. ^ "Obituary: Gilbert Lea". Town Topics: Princeton's Weekly Newspaper. 2008-05-21. 
  6. ^ Actress Phyllis Thaxter, Superman's Mom, Dies at 92, The Hollywood Reporter, August 15, 2012

External links[edit]