Top TV moms
Marion Cunningham (Marion Ross) on “Happy Days” was always there with a wholesome snack and even more wholesome advice. “Mrs. C” was the only one allowed to call Fonzie by his real first name. Broadcast during a time of great change for women, the show was a reminder that the traditional role was also of great value and worthy of respect. Clair Huxtable (Phylicia RashÄd) on “The Cosby Show” was the elegant and almost always unflappable successful attorney and mother of five, as bemused by her husband (far from unflappable) as by her children. Carol Brady (Florence Henderson) on “The Brady Bunch” always seemed as sweetly unaware of the show’s cheesiness as she was of the possible problems that arise in blended families. She managed to cope with six children even through such catastrophes as a visit from Davy Jones and Jan’s weird wig.Margaret Anderson (Jane Wyatt) on “Father Knows Best” was the quintessential 1950′s ideal of a mother and homemaker, always loving and supportive of her family. Often, she was the one who really knew best.
“Julia” was a pioneer — a single working mother and the first in more than a decade with a black performer in the lead role. Julia was a nurse whose husband had been killed in Vietnam. I still remember her job interview over the phone in the first episode. With some apprehension, she tells the doctor she is black and he jokingly asks if she has always been black or just decided to become black since it was so fashionable. When her son Corey met the white boy who would become his best friend, he said, “Your mom’s colored!” Corey replied, “Yeah, so am I,” and the boy said, “You are?” That set the tone for a series that was if not entirely frank about race at least more upfront about it than audiences were used to in 1968 and yet still comfortably sit-comy.
Marge Simpson (voice of Julie Kavner) on “The Simpsons” is the ever-good-humored center of the family. Her character is both inspired by and a gentle parody of 1950′s sit-com mothers. While craziness goes on all around her, she is almost always the moral center of the family, eternally devoted to her often-idiotic husband and naughty son. Patty Chase (Bess Armstrong) in “My So-Called Life” supported the family economically as well as emotionally. In a series that focused on the adolescent struggles of the teen-age daughter (Claire Danes), Patty came across both as a strong, understanding believably conflicted woman. She understood the importance of allowing her daughter to be independent, even make her own mistakes, but when things went too far she did not hesitate to step