Yes, Father Knows Best — the prototypical family sitcom, which scored on the three major American tv networks in the 1950’s — made her a household name and everybody’s favorite Mom. (She played costar Robert Young’s wife and mother of three children.)
But Jane Wyatt was before her prime time tv success a movie star.
Granted that the bulk of an amazingly durable career of nearly 60 years — Wyatt lived a long time; she died in 2006 at age 96 — was spent on television. But make no mistake. Wyatt was part of some pretty big pictures in the Thirtes and Forties.
In many ways Wyatt seem to personally exemplify the classy maternal character she is now renowned for. Although, she said, I never vacuumed at home wearing my pearls. Nonetheless, Wyatt came from a wealthy family, attended private schools and a “Seven Sisters” college (Barnard), and was married for nearly 65 years to her one and only husband.
Ok, let’s see how much you known about Jane Wyatt, the first of this week’s “Janes” — plain and otherwise. As usual, questions today and answers tomorrow. Here we go:
1) Question: Although Wyatt is best known today for her wifely role on Father Knows Best, she initially turned down the part when it was first offered to her. a) True; or b) False.
2) Question: Which one of the following did Wyatt NOT appear in? a) 1947’s Gentleman’s Agreement; b) 1944’s None But The Lonely Heart; c) 1986 Star Trek IV; or d) 1953’s Gentlemen Prefer Blonds.
3) Question: A devout Catholic, Wyatt was as well a devout political conservative. a) True; or b) False.
4) Question: Wyatt’s most famous movie role was probably in 1937’s Lost Horizon directed by Frank Capra and costarring Ronald Colman. Yet she had a serious personal reservation about the picture. Why? a) She disliked Capra’s controlling ways; b) The movie downplayed its pacifist theme during wartime; c) Colman had bad breath; or d) All of the above.
5) Question: Which leading male star did NOT make a movie with Wyatt? a) Cary Grant; b) Dana Andrews; c) Farley Granger; or d) Gary Cooper.