Jane Wyatt

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Jane Wyatt
Wyatt in the 1930s
Jane Waddington Wyatt

(1910-08-12)August 12, 1910
DiedOctober 20, 2006(2006-10-20) (aged 96)
Alma materBarnard College
Years active1931–1996
Edgar Bethune Ward
(m. 1935; died 2000)
AwardsEmmy Award (1958, 1959, 1960)

Jane Waddington Wyatt (/ˈwət/ WY-ət; August 12, 1910 – October 20, 2006) was an American actress. She starred in a number of Hollywood films, such as Frank Capra's Lost Horizon, but is likely best known for her role as homemaker 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[edit]

Wyatt was born on August 12, 1910, in Campgaw, a neighborhood in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, and raised in Manhattan.[1] Her father, Christopher Billopp Wyatt, was a broker. Her mother was Euphemia Van Rensselaer Wyatt. Wyatt had two sisters and a brother.[2]


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.[3] 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[edit]

Wyatt in Gentleman's Agreement

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.[4] 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). She reflected on Lost Horizon sixty years later in St. Anthony Messenger magazine:

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.[5]

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.[6] 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 small town of Springfield. This role won consecutive Emmy Awards for her in 1958, 1959 and 1960 for best actress in a comedy series.[7] After Father Knows Best, Wyatt guest-starred in several other series.

On June 13, 1962, she was cast as 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 (credited as Miss Jane Wyatt), and the 1986 film Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.[8] 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.[citation needed] Also in 1969, Wyatt appeared as a concerned mother in the first episode of the ABC comedy anthology series Love, American Style in a segment titled "Love and the Pill."

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.[citation needed]

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).[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

Wyatt was married to investment broker Edgar Bethune Ward[3] from November 9, 1935, until his death on November 8, 2000. The couple met in the late 1920s when both were weekend houseguests of Franklin D. Roosevelt at Hyde Park, New York.[citation needed]

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 long life.[9]


Wyatt died on October 20, 2006, at her home in Bel-Air, California, aged 96.[10] Wyatt's family included three grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.


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

Television films[edit]

Year Title Role
1964 See How They Run Augusta Flanders
1970 Weekend of Terror Sister Frances
1973 You'll Never See Me Again Mary Alden
1975 Katherine Emily Alman
1976 Amelia Earhart Amy Earhart
1978 Superdome Fay Bonelli
The Nativity Anna
1989 Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes Alice Leacock

Radio appearances[edit]

Year Program Episode/source
1952 Family Theater Pas de Deux[11]
1952 Hollywood Sound Stage Boomerang[12]
1953 Theatre Guild on the Air A Square Peg[13]


  1. ^ Longo, Rosalie. "Actress Invited to Write Memoirs on Her Native Campgaw", Herald News, July 26, 2001. Accessed March 30, 2021, via Newspapers.com. "Jane Wyatt would be stunned if she returned to her childhood stomping grounds in North Jersey. When she romped through the apple orchards at her familys home years back, the Campgaw native encountered more deer; town, the actress could provide members of the Franklin Lakes Historical Society with a wealth of information about life in the borough years back, particularly when the sparsely populated, countrified community served as an oasis for city dwellers trying to escape the summer heat."
  2. ^ "Jane Wyatt, Stage Star, In 'Great Expectations'". The Mason City Globe-Gazette. Mason City, Iowa. December 10, 1934. p. 7. Retrieved June 1, 2015 – via Newspapers.com. Open access icon
  3. ^ a b McManus, Margaret (October 19, 1958). "Television World". The San Bernardino County Sun. San Bernardino, California. p. 22. Retrieved May 31, 2015 – via Newspapers.com. Open access icon
  4. ^ "Jane Wyatt: About This Interview". Archive of American Television. Retrieved February 10, 2012.
  5. ^ "Jane Wyatt: Witness to Family Values". St. Anthony Messenger. June 1997. Archived from the original on March 9, 2001. Retrieved July 23, 2015 – via americancatholic.org.
  6. ^ "Jane Wyatt". web.engr.illinois.edu. Archived from the original on July 23, 2015. Retrieved July 23, 2015.
  7. ^ Katz, Ephraim (1979). The Film Encyclopedia: The Most Comprehensive Encyclopedia of World Cinema in a Single Volume. Perigee Books. p. 1250. ISBN 0-399-50601-2.
  8. ^ "Star trek: The original series 2.05b – Journey to Babel". Cinematic Intelligence Agency. Archived from the original on September 9, 2006. Retrieved October 26, 2006.
  9. ^ "Actress Jane Wyatt dies at 96". TODAY. Associated Press. October 26, 2006. Archived from the original on October 4, 2020. Retrieved July 23, 2015.
  10. ^ Bernstein, Adam (October 23, 2006). "Jane Wyatt, 96". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on August 18, 2020. Retrieved June 20, 2020.
  11. ^ Kirby, Walter (February 10, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Sunday Herald and Review. Decatur, Illinois. p. 38. Retrieved June 2, 2015 – via Newspapers.com. Open access icon
  12. ^ Kirby, Walter (February 24, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Sunday Herald and Review. Decatur, Illinois. p. 38. Retrieved May 28, 2015 – via Newspapers.com. Open access icon
  13. ^ Kirby, Walter (March 15, 1953). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Sunday Herald and Review. Decatur, Illinois. p. 46. Retrieved June 25, 2015 – via Newspapers.com. Open access icon

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