Phyllis Thaxter, the actress perhaps best known to modern movie audiences for her role as Ma Kent in Superman: The Movie, died Tuesday in Longwood, Florida after a nine-year fight with Alzheimer’s disease. She was 92.
Although recognizable as one half of the future Superman’s adoptive parents alongside Glenn Ford in director Richard Donner’s 1978 classic film, her career spans all the way back to 1944 with a role in the MGM war drama Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo. Through a majority of career at MGM she played various supporting roles in films such as the comedy Week-end At The Waldorf (1945), The Sea Of Grass (1947) with Spencer Tracy, the drama Tenth Avenue Angel (1948) and the noir Act Of Violence (1948). In 1950, she moved over to Warner Brothers for such films as The Breaking Point (1950) opposite John Garfield, Jim Thorpe – All American (1951) and the western Springfield Rifle (1952) opposite Gary Cooper.
After a bout with infantile paralysis in 1952, Thaxter’s career resumed in television where she appeared in a number of notable series including Climax!, Playhouse 90, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Twilight Zone, Rawhide and The Fugitive. She also appeared in the 1964 Peter Sellers comedy The World Of Henry Orient.