Jane Wyatt (1911-2006)

Jane Wyatt, known best for her Emmy-award winning role as the ideal suburban mom on Father Knows Best, died on Friday of natural causes. She was 95.

From New York Times obituary:

“A petite, attractive brunette, Ms. Wyatt found it hard to avoid being typecast and wound up playing quite a few of what she described as “good wives of good men,” though she confessed she would have been happier “playing the murderer or the heavy.” She did get to play a few offbeat roles on stage and screen. In Philip Barry’s wryly titled play The Joyous Season (1934), she was a moody member of a family seething with petty feuds. As the wife of an attorney (Dana Andrews) in the 1947 film Boomerang, she became embroiled in the corruption surrounding a notorious murder. And in Lillian Hellman’s Autumn Garden, on Broadway in 1951, she was married to an indolent drifter (Fredric March) for whom she felt nothing but contempt.

“For the most part, however, as she shuttled between Hollywood and Broadway, she was called upon to be loyal, loving and courageous. […]

“Jane Waddington Wyatt was born on Aug. 12, 1911, in Campgaw, N.J., into a family of distinguished lineage and grew up in New York City. Her father was an investment banker, her mother a writer for Commonweal and other publications. She attended the Chapin School and studied at Barnard College for two years before joining the apprentice school at the Berkshire Playhouse in Stockbridge, Mass. Back in New York she found work as an understudy in a Broadway show, and her name was removed from the New York Social Register. Clearly, the wicked stage was no place for proper young ladies.

Not daunted, she continued to audition and soon made her Broadway debut in 1931 in A. A. Milne’s Give Me Yesterday […]” [read complete obituary here]

Three years later, after a successful with the stage production of Dinner at Eight, Wyatt receieved a contract offer from Universal Pictures.

As a movie actress, she made her screen debut in One More River. She is best remembered for her roles in Lost Horizon.

Her personal life was quite normal when compared to Hollywood’s standards. “Ms. Wyatt married Edgar Bethune Ward in 1935. He died in 2000. She is survived by their two sons, Christopher Ward of Piedmont, Calif., and Michael Ward of Los Angeles; three grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.”

Jane Wyatt was a great actor who touched many lives throughout her career. Although Wyatt has not acted in movies or television in 10 years, she will be remembered by many for years to come.

2 thoughts on “Jane Wyatt (1911-2006)”

  1. I’m not too familiar with her film work. I know her from mostly watching reruns of “Father Knows Best”.

    Just found this out: Jane Wyatt’s film career suffered because of her opposition to Sen. McCarthy.

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