Phyllis Thaxter, Actress Who Played Superman’s Mom, Dies at 90

Phyllis Thaxter, an actress most remembered for her role as Clark Kent’s adoptive mother in the 1978 blockbuster “Superman,” has died in Florida. She was 90.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Thaxter’s daughter Skye Aubrey, herself an actress, said her mother passed away Tuesday at her Florida home after a nine-year bout with Alzheimer’s disease.

Born Nov. 20, 1921, in Portland, Maine, Phyllis joined the Montreal Repertory Theatre troupe as a teen before graduating to Broadway and appearing in such productions as Claudia and the 1940 drama There Shall Be No Night.

Thaxter’s big screen debut came in 1944 when she appeared in wartime flick “Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo” as a contract actress for MGM.

Among Thaxter’s other film credits were “Act of Violence,” “Bewitched,” “Week-End at the Waldorf,” The Sea of Grass,” “Tenth Avenue Angel” and “Blood on the Moon.”

Although Thaxter’s big-screen career was derailed when she contracted a form of infantile paralysis in 1952, she eventually found regular work on television appearing in series such as Lux Video Theatre, Climax!, Wagon Train, Rawhide, The Defenders, Medical Center, Marcus Welby, M.D. and many other series.

Her last film role was in Richard Donner’s “Superman,” in which she played Ma Kent, Clark Kent’s adoptive mother.

“She was one of the most beautiful and patrician icons of the golden age of movies, TV and theater,” movie critic Rex Reed told the Hollywood Reporter.

Zap2it reports that Phyllis Thaxter was married twice. She divorced television executive James Aubrey Jr., who died in 1994, and then wed former Princeton football star Gilbert Lea. Thaxter remained with Lea for 46 years until his death in 2008.