Phyllis Thaxter

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Phyllis Thaxter
Phyllis Thaxter in Bewitched trailer.jpg
Phyllis Thaxter 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 Cremated
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.[2]


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.

Prior to appearing in movies, Thaxter was on the stage. When Dorothy McGuire went to Hollywood, Thaxter replaced her in the Broadway play Claudia.[3] 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] In the 1945 film-noir Bewitched, Thaxter played Joan Alris Ellis, a woman suffering from split personality. 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, portraying Pauline Cushman in the episode "The Blue Spy" (1961), Wagon Train ("The Christine Elliott Story"), The Twilight Zone ("Young Man's Fancy"), and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. She also returned to Broadway, appearing in Take Her, She's Mine at the Biltmore in 1961.[4] In 1978, Thaxter was cast, along with Glenn Ford, as Jonathan and Martha Kent in the blockbuster film Superman.

Personal life[edit]

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".[3] 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]

Selected television appearances[edit]

Radio appearances[edit]

Year Program Episode/source
1952 Stars in the Air Christmas in Connecticut[7]
1953 Lux Radio Theatre Close to My Heart[8]
1953 Lux Radio Theatre The Bishop's Wife[9]


  1. ^ 1920 U.S. Census
  2. ^ a b c d Denise Grady (August 18, 2012). "Phyllis Thaxter, Actress Who Played Superman's Mother, Dies at 92". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-08-22. 
  3. ^ a b Patricia Bosworth (2004). Montgomery Clift: A Biography. Limelight Editions. p. 80. ISBN 978-0879101350. 
  4. ^ Ken Bloom (2004). Broadway: Its History, People, and Places: an Encyclopedia. Taylor & Francis. p. 71. ISBN 978-0-415-93704-7. 
  5. ^ "Obituary: Gilbert Lea". Town Topics. May 21, 2008. Retrieved 2015-10-16. 
  6. ^ Mike Barnes (August 15, 2012). "Actress Phyllis Thaxter, Superman's Mom, Dies at 92". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2015-10-15. 
  7. ^ Walter Kirby (March 16, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 44. Retrieved 2015-05-23 – via open access publication - free to read
  8. ^ Walter Kirby (March 1, 1953). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 46. Retrieved 2015-06-23 – via open access publication - free to read
  9. ^ Walter Kirby (May 10, 1953). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 50. Retrieved 2015-06-27 – via open access publication - free to read

External links[edit]