Baby Boomer children first learned through TV Moms in the 1950’s that you better behave, follow the golden rule, have good friends, and respect your elders. The first TV Moms I remember were June Cleaver from Leave It To Beaver and Harriett Nelson from The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriett. Both TV Moms stayed home to care for their children, their working husbands, and the neighborhood families. June Cleaver and Harriett Nelson set the example of true Motherhood in suburban America, but times would change, and so did TV Moms.
There are so many memorable TV Moms who struggled with being single Moms, raising teenagers, being working Moms, and being Stepmoms. Throughout the decades, there was a TV Mom for every occasion in a child’s real life situation. We have learned so much from not only our own Moms, but also the beloved TV Moms who helped us know that others shared our worlds. Moms like Clair Huxtble from The Cosby family seemed like the wisest Mom in the world. TV Mom Murphy Brown showed us we could work and be Moms. Here are my Top 10 Favorite TV Moms over six decades:
Top 10 TV Moms from Six Decades of Television
June Cleaver from Leave It To Beaver (1957-1963)
My favorite thing about June Cleaver is she always dressed in nice clothes, high heels, and pearls but managed to bake cookies, clean house, shop, wash clothes, and take care of Ward, Wally, and Theodore all in one day. Theodore, lovingly known as Beaver, had some best friends that Mrs. Cleaver also loved as if they were her own. June Cleaver, played by Barbara Billingsley, is the TV Mom that made me want to dress up in my Moms high heels, dresses, jewelry and make-up and play Mom with my Easy Bake Oven and my Chatty Cathie doll.
Harriett Nelson from The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriett (1952-1966)
Harriett Nelson played a TV Mom for her real-life family, Husband Ozzie and two Sons David and Ricky. David and Ricky were the perfect kids thanks to this TV Mom; they grew up, went to college and got married. It was a life path that all young children aspired to follow. Of course, along the way, the world fell in love with Ricky Nelson when he became a gorgeous singer. Every young girl in America had Ricky Nelson posters pinned up on their bedroom wall. Harriett Nelson in real life was actually born Peggy Lou Snyder and later used the name Harriett Hilliard in starring movie roles with Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, and Fred MacMurray. Tragically, in real life, Harriett Nelson had to survive the death of her beloved husband Ozzie and her son Ricky Nelson, who died in a plane crash.
Judy Jetson from The Jetsons (1962-1988)
Baby Boomer children saw a glimpse of the future in this clever animated television show with TV Mom Judy Jetson taking care of husband George and two children Judy and Elroy. What Mom would not want to have a robot like Rosie to help take care of the family? It was also convenient that the Jetsons lived in a space aged home with a space ship to go shopping in and all the really modern conveniences of the kitchen. Although this 1960s show represented life in the year 2060, the TV show only lasted one season. Penny Singleton who starred in the title role in the movie Blondie played the voice of TV Mom Judy Jetson. One of the most popular comic strips in history launching in 1930, Blondie follows the tumultuous lives of the Blondie and Dagwood Bumstead family with their children, Alexander known as Baby Dumpling and daughter Cookie.
Morticia Addams from The Addams Family (1964-1966)
This spooky Gothic TV Mom is the quintessential example of unconditional love for her family. Halloween was never the same after The Addams Family demonstrated some creepy family interactions between TV Mom Morticia, husband Gomez and children Pugsley and Wednesday. Spooky, odd, unkept homes all across America became known as Addams Family homes with neighborhood witches, Lurches, and weirdness that sparked children’s ghoulish imaginations in real life. Carolyn Jones, who starred in over 30 motion picture films and received an Oscar nomination for her 1957 role in The Bachelor Party, played TV Mom Morticia. Ironically, it would be the TV Mom Morticia character that would bring Carolyn Jones the most fame.
Carol Brady from The Brady Bunch (1969-1974)
TV Mom Carol Brady showed America that even broken families can be happy families. The Brady Bunch was our first experience with seeing how Stepmoms could love their own children the same way they love their stepchildren; and not just a few stepchildren, but a bunch of them: with husband Mike and children Greg, Peter, Bobby, Marcia, Jan, Cindy. Florence Henderson, who played TV Mom Carol Brady, seemed to have some real-life experience raising a large, happy family having been born the youngest of ten children in her own family.
Edith Bunker from All in the Family (1971-1979)
Then along came the Bunkers with TV Mom Edith Bunker just trying to keep loving peace with radical, politically incorrect family members: husband Archie and children Gloria and Michael. Not only did TV Mom Edith Bunker have to keep peace All in the Family, but also with neighbors like the Jeffersons. Jean Stapleton brilliantly played the loving TV Mom Edith Bunker, who showed America that you could love your family members for as long as you live, despite their many, many shortcomings. Of course, TV Mom Edith Bunker also had to maintain some serious self-esteem since she was an embarrassingly ditsy Mom that most kids would not want to take into public, but somehow loved anyway.
Marion Cunningham from Happy Days (1974-1984)
TV Mom Marion Cunningham was the perfect combination of the old June Cleaver style of Motherhood and the more modern, cool style of Motherhood. Together with husband Howard and children Richie and Joanie, the Cunninghams brought back the Happy Days of life. Every Mom in America embraced their children’s best friends as their own, much like Marion Cunningham embraced the Fonz, even though the Fonz had some different morals and values from those of the Cunninghams. How cool is that for a Mom to do? Marion Ross, who played TV Mom Marion Cunningham, changed the spelling of her name from Marian to Marion because she thought it would look better on marquee. It worked.
Peg Bundy from Married With Children (1987-1997)
TV Mom Peg Bundy is probably my favorite TV Mom since my own daughter was born in 1977 and would now be 10 years old. TV Mom Peg Bundy experienced many of the same motherhood challenges as I did in real life, raising her TV children Kelly and Bud with TV husband Al Bundy. Dysfunctional families with edgy parents and children across America could relate to this TV Mom and her family as they pushed each other’s limits and buttons to get their way. After all, TV Mom Peg Bundy had done almost everything and more that her delinquent children were trying, so how do you impose discipline when you are the one calling the kettle black? This is tricky to do as a good Mom. Katey Sagal, who played TV Mom Peg Bundy pulled it off perfectly.
Annie Camden from 7th Heaven (1996-2007)
TV Mom Annie Camden with husband Eric and seven children Matt, Simon, Lucy, Ruthie, Mary, Sam, and David are the family made in 7th Heaven. How can a Mom possible raise seven children in the 21st century and balance their spiritual life, family morals and values, and the loose lifestyle of this age? TV Mom Annie Camden shows us how to be a balanced Mom while married to a minister. I don’t know about you, but when I was young, the minister’s kids were always the most adventurous ones in the neighborhood. Somehow, minister’s kids seem to be more rebellious because of strict parenting. Stay-at-home TV Mom Annie Camden shows us Moms how to face the challenges of keeping God in our children’s lives. Catherine Hicks, who plays TV Mom Annie Camden, also had some real-life experience as a religious Mom having graduated from Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, IN.
Sharon Osbourne from The Osbournes (2002-2005)
TV Mom Sharon Osbourne with husband Ozzy and children Jack, Kelly and Aimee, has to be the epitome of the pillar Mom in the 21st century. In real life, Sharon Osbourne is the Rock of Gibraltar Mom, overcoming her own health challenges as she manages to be the cement that holds together the love and lives of weird rocker Ozzy Osbourne and the experimental lifestyles of their children. Yet, Sharon Osbourne seems to be the normal, working Mom with unconditional love for her family. Sharon Osbourne managed to repair a troubled marriage with Ozzy after, while on drugs, he strangled her. Sharon also recently won a court case against a media tabloid reporter who falsely accused her of driving Ozzie to destruction and also being tied to a former Black Sabbath frontman. Sharon Osbourne has a heart of gold as often displayed to other young people trying to make it big on the wildly popular TV show America’s Got Talent. If you think you have Motherhood challenges, try walking in TV Mom Sharon Osbourne’s high heels! We can all learn from Sharon Osbourne’s example of unconditional love.
Biography: TV Momshttp://www.biography.com/tv-moms/index.jsp