Other Deaths Of Note


October 23, 2006

JANE WYATT, 96 TV, movie actress

Jane Wyatt, the lovely, serene actress who for six years on Father Knows Best was one of TV's favorite moms, has died of natural causes in her Bel Air, Calif., home her publicist said yesterday.

Ms. Wyatt had a successful film career in the 1930s and '40s, notably as Ronald Colman's lover in 1937's Lost Horizon.

But it was her years as Robert Young's TV wife, Margaret Anderson, on Father Knows Best that brought the actress her lasting fame.

She appeared in 207 half-hour episodes from 1954 to 1960 and won three Emmys as best actress in a dramatic series in the years 1958 to 1960. The show began as a radio sitcom in 1949; it moved to television in 1954.

"Being a family show, we all had to stick around," she once said. "Even though each show was centered on one of the five members of the family, I always had to be there to deliver such lines as `Eat your dinner, dear,' or `How did you do in school today?' We got along fine, but after the first few years, it's really difficult to have to face the same people day after day."

The Anderson children were played by Elinor Donahue, Billy Gray and Lauren Chapin, and all grew up on the show. In later years critics said that shows like Father Knows Best and Ozzie and Harriet presented a glossy, unreal view of the American family.

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