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RIP Jane Wyatt

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93246__jane_l Whether Father Knows Best fills you with a cocoa-toasty nostalgic glow or strikes you as hopelessly retrograde, you have to give Jane Wyatt credit for creating the archetype of the TV Mom. (Yes, I know, Wyatt, who died Friday of natural causes at age 96, had a distinguished film career as well, including key roles in such classics as Lost Horizon and Gentlemen’s Agreement, but Margaret Anderson is the first and last role for which she’ll be remembered.) Influencing generations of sitcom moms, from June Cleaver to Clair Huxtable to Marge Simpson, Wyatt’s Margaret was endlessly patient, immaculately put together, and ineffably wise — smarter, even than the Father who supposedly always Knew Best. Even in her other famous role, as Spock’s human mom in the original Star Trek series and movies, she was wiser than her Vulcan husband and computer-brained son. It’s no wonder she was sometimes billed as “Miss Jane Wyatt.” As TV’s matriarch, she deserved an extra honorific, a title of respect.

addCredit(“Jane Wyatt: John Swope Trust/MPTV”)