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OBITUARY: Jane Wyatt.

DURING the late 1950s, Jane Wyatt had one of the most recognisable faces in the US and wherever the influence of television was then apparent. In fact, her image had already been to Shangri-La and would later go beyond the final frontier of space.

The actress, who has died aged 95, starred as Margaret Anderson, the mother in the long-running situation comedy Father Knows Best (1954-60), winning three Emmys.

Typically of such shows, it was usually "mother knows best" as the family matriarch outwitted her TV husband (Robert Young).

The show's success spawned many imitators and was satirised by The Simpsons cartoon.

The show was an astonishing comeback for Wyatt as her Hollywood career collapsed after she was blacklisted for opposing the Unamerican Activities Committee.

Her later talent for playing maternal types reached its zenith in 1967 when Wyatt appeared in the Star Trek TV series as Mr Spock's human mother, Amanda, and again in the film Star Trek IV (1986).

At a Trekkie convention, a fan asked her: "If you're Spock's mother, what is Spock's first name?"

Without missing a beat, Wyatt replied: "Harold".

Prior to this, in Hollywood she made 30 films in 17 years, most notably director Frank Capra's Lost Horizon (1937). Based on Hilton's novel of the Tibetan utopia, she played the European beauty who enchants Ronald Colman in the hugely successful film.

Working with many of the top directors, her first film was James Whales's One More River (1934).

Others included Elia Kazan's social crime drama Boomerang! (1947) and his expose of US anti-semitism, Gentleman's Agreement (1948).

Her leading men included Cary Grant in None But the Lonely Heart (1944) directed by Clifford Odets, and Gary Cooper in Task Force (1948). One of her best films is the highly-regarded "film noir" Pitfall (1948), in which she takes Dick Powell back after his dalliance with femme fatale Lizabeth Scott.

Born into one of the oldest Yankee families, her ancestors included Philip Livingston, a US Declaration of Independence signatory, and Rufus King who founded Columbia University and was British ambassador.

Jane Wyatt, actress, born, August 12, 1910' died, October 20, 2006
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Article Type:Obituary
Date:Oct 30, 2006
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