Jane Wyatt — Star Trek‘s original Amanda Grayson — was born on August 12, 1910, in Campgaw, N.J. to a drama critic mother and Wall Street investor father. She studied at Barnard College and, following her acting impulses, left to study at Berkshire Playhouse in Stockbridge, Mass. When she later signed a studio contract at Universal, her professional career was effectively launched.
In movies, Miss Jane Wyatt (as she was sometimes billed) hit high marks in Frank Capra’s Lost Horizon and co-starring with Cary Grant in None But the Lonely Heart. While enjoying her movie work, Wyatt preferred the stage. In order to fulfill this desire, she had a clause in her studio contract that allowed her time off every year to return to Broadway.
Wyatt’s political associations earned her a brief spell on the Hollywood blacklist in the early ’50s. Prior to that, Wyatt was also castigated in some quarters for being anti-fascist before the United States entered World War II.
Wyatt first played Amanda — the human teacher who married the Vulcan ambassador Sarek (Mark Lenard) and, not long after, gave birth to everyone’s favorite half-human/half-Vulcan, Spock — in the TOS episode “Journey to Babel.” Wyatt was a perfect choice for the role, as she’d already been, in a way, America’s mother for years, having portrayed the beloved Margaret Anderson on the classic TV sitcom Father Knows Best. Years later, Leonard Nimoy famously reunited the Vulcan family when he, Lenard and Wyatt appeared in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Wyatt once again imbued Amanda with a sense of warmth and love as she guided Spock toward reclaiming his humanness following his demise and renaissance on the Genesis Planet.
During an interview she conducted years ago, Wyatt commented on Amanda’s enduring impact on her career and people in general. “The three big movies or shows for which I get fan mail are Star Trek, Father Knows Best and Lost Horizon,” she said. “But Star Trek is the oddest of them all. Complete strangers come up and call me ‘Amanda.’ Once I got off the plane in Iceland, where I was going fishing, and somebody down below yelled ‘Amanda!’ Well, I didn’t know who Amanda was until I realized that was my name in Star Trek. It’s absolutely crazy!”
Wyatt was 96 years old when she passed away on October 20, 2006.
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