The following biography
Jane Waddington Wyatt (b. August 12, 1910, Campgaw,
New Jersey - d. October 20, 2006, Bel Air, California) was an American actress.
Her most famous roles were as Ronald Colman's love
interest in Frank Capra's Lost Horizon (1937); as Margaret Anderson, the mother
in the 1950s television comedy Father Knows Best; and as Amanda Grayson, Mr.
Spock's mother on Star Trek: The Original Series and Star Trek IV: The Voyage
She also appeared in other celebrated films, such
as 1947's best picture Oscar winner, Gentleman's Agreement (with Gregory Peck),
None but the Lonely Heart (with Cary Grant), and Boomerang (with Dana Andrews).
Late in her career, she played Katherine Auschlander on the 1980s medical drama
Wyatt's father, Christopher Billop Wyatt, Jr., was
a Wall Street investment banker and her mother, the former Euphemia Van
Rensselaer Waddington, was a drama critic for the Catholic World. One of her
ancestors, Rufus King, had been a Presidential candidate. She had three
siblings: Christopher III, Elizabeth, and Monica. She was also a distant cousin
of Eleanor Roosevelt and the poet Harry Crosby, through their shared descent
from Philip Livingston, a signer of the United States Declaration of
Independence. Her mother was a Catholic convert, and her father ultimately
converted as well, although Jane did not attend Catholic schools.
Wyatt was raised from the age of three months in
New York City, attended the fashionable Chapin School and later Barnard College.
After two years of college, she left to join the apprentice school of the
Berkshire Playhouse at Stockbridge, Massachusetts, where for six months she
played a varied assortment of roles.
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 at Universal (and co-starred in Frank Capra's Columbia
film Lost Horizon on loan from Universal). Of her experience in Lost Horizon,
she noted in an article in the St. Anthony Messenger newsletter, "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
Though one of her early suitors was John D.
Rockefeller III, on November 9, 1935, Wyatt married investment broker Edgar
Bethune Ward (he died on November 8, 2000, the day before what would have been
their 65th wedding anniversary).
The couple met in the late 1920s, when both were
weekend houseguests of Franklin Delano Roosevelt at Hyde Park. The Wards had two
surviving sons. According to Wyatt's obituary in the Washington Post, a third
son died in infancy in the early 1940s.
In the 1950s, she co-starred with Robert Young in
Father Knows Best, the classic TV show chronicling the life and times of the
Anderson family in the Midwestern town of Springfield. She won the Emmy for best
actress in a comedy for three years in a row for her role as Margaret Anderson.
Her film career suffered because of her outspoken
opposition to Senator Joseph McCarthy, the chief figure in the anti-Communist
hysteria of that era. As a result, she 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.
Wyatt died on Friday, October 20, 2006 of natural
causes in her home in Bel Air, California at the age of 95.
She is survived by sons Christopher Ward, of
Piedmont, California and Michael Ward of Los Angeles; three grandchildren
Nicholas, Andrew and Laura; and five great-grandchildren.
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