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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
Lois (Jane Kaczmarek, “Malcolm in the Middle,” FOX, 2000-06): Famously hysterical — in every sense — sometimes, Lois confirmed that it was OK if family life drove you a little crazy.