June Cleaver (Barbara Billingsley, “Leave It to Beaver,” CBS and ABC, 1957-63): Series television had many wife-and-mother archetypes in the 1950s, and a prime one was the endlessly patient, supportive spouse of Ward and mother to Wally and Theodore (a.k.a. “Beaver”).
Victoria Barkley (Barbara Stanwyck, “The Big Valley,” ABC, 1965-69): It could be argued that the widowed Victoria played both mother and father to her grown offspring, and her grit made her the equal of any man in the frontier.
Olivia Walton (Michael Learned, “The Waltons,” CBS, 1972-79): Full of compassion, the mother of the large Walton brood also had the backbone to bring her family through the Depression.
Marion Cunningham (Marion Ross, “Happy Days,” ABC, 1974-84): “Mrs. C.” was a throwback to the idealized television wives/moms of the 1950s — and why not? That’s the era in which the long-running sitcom was set.
Eleanor Southworth Ewing Farlow (Barbara Bel Geddes and Donna Reed, “Dallas,” CBS, 1978-90): Though the original performer left and then returned, the character always was depicted as the type of loving but strong-willed woman who gave all to her oil-rich family … and to their ranch, Southfork.
Alexis Morell Carrington Colby Dexter Rowan (Joan Collins, “Dynasty,” ABC, 1981-89): With her iconic flashiness, it’s easy to forget the domineering Alexis also was a devoted mom to Adam, Fallon, Steven and Amanda … and frequently a source of their problems.
Clair Huxtable (Phylicia Rashad, “The Cosby Show,” NBC, 1984-92): Not only was Clair an ideal contemporary mom, she also was a career woman (as a lawyer) and a wonderfully spicy marital partner to husband Cliff.
Livia Soprano (Nancy Marchand, “The Sopranos,” HBO, 1999-2000): She didn’t act very motherly much of the time, but even weakened, the longtime linchpin of the crime family always was a force to be reckoned with.