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Most Memorable TV Moms Then and Now

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In honor of Mother's Day, we've compiled a list of our top 10 favorite fictional TV moms. When we watched them, we knew they were fictional ... yet that didn't stop us from wishing they were our own moms -- or vowing to follow in their mom-footsteps someday.

Did your favorite TV mom make the list?

Most Memorable TV Moms

June Cleaver in "Leave It to Beaver" (1957 - 1963)

Barbara Billingsley's role as a loving wife and mother in the feel-good sitcom wasn't full of risk or realism. June Cleaver, however, always looked polished and amazing, and certainly loved her husband and children. You may be surprised to learn that ...

Barbara Billingsley

... June's trademark strand of pearls was Billingsley's idea (they covered a scar on her neck).

Carol Brady in "The Brady Bunch" (1969 - 1974)

Florence Henderson was America's first (rarely mentioned) stepmom! We watched her hip hairstyles and hemlines change with the times, and she took her family on trips to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon. Most importantly, she muttered the famous words all moms eventually say: "Don't play ball in the house!" You may be surprised to learn that ...

Florence Henderson

... Henderson was the first woman to guest-host "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson" -- and that she's a licensed hypnotherapist.

Florida Evans in "Good Times" (1974 - 1979)

Esther Rolle played the outspoken maid raising her family in the Chicago projects. Her snap was as memorable as her gapped teeth as she fought for her family to keep their "heads above water." You may be surprised to learn that ...

Esther Rolle

... the late actress temporarily left the series because Jimmie Walker's character, "J.J.", was a bad role model for black men. She returned once the show's writers portrayed him as more respectable.

Elyse Keaton in "Family Ties" (1982 - 1989)

Meredith Baxter played the hippie mom of Republican son Alex P. Keaton (a.k.a. Michael J. Fox) and daughters Jennifer and Mallory. She went on to play a host of made-for-TV movie moms in crisis. ("Kate's Secret" was about a bulimic mother, and "A Woman Scorned: The Betty Broderick Story" was about the vengeful wife of a cheating husband.) You may be surprised to learn that ...

Meredith Baxter

... Baxter is the mother of twins and is a breast cancer survivor.

Ann Romano in "One Day at a Time" (1975 - 1984)

Often annoying and always passionate, Bonnie Franklin played the redheaded firecracker single mom raising two teenage daughters. Although every episode of the show included a heated argument, a bad "Schneider" joke and a moving resolution, you couldn't help but watch. You may be surprised to learn that ...

Bonnie Franklin

... Franklin attended Beverly Hills High School, whose famous alumni includes Angelina Jolie, Nicolas Cage, Corbin Bernsen, Lenny Kravitz, David Schwimmer, Jonathan Silverman and Richard Dreyfuss.

Angela Bower in "Who's the Boss" (1984 - 1992)

This divorced career woman (Judith Light) hired TV's first male housekeeper, Tony (Tony Danza), to help her run her life and her child. Angela and Tony's role reversal -- having the woman be the breadwinner -- was forward-thinking, and it provided a lot of sexual tension and laughs. You may be surprised to learn that ...

Judith Light

... although Light is currently playing a mother again on TV (in "Ugly Betty"), she has no children in real life. (She has stated that she would want to be a full-time mom, and that her acting career wouldn't allow that.)

Murphy Brown in "Murphy Brown" (1988 - 1998)

As played by Candice Bergen, Murphy Brown was a smart, hot-tempered, single working mom. The show became newsworthy in 1992 when Dan Quayle criticized it for lacking family values, in what is now known as his "'Murphy Brown' speech." You may be surprised to learn that ...

Candice Bergen

... Bergen auditioned for the role of "Elaine Robinson" in "The Graduate" (1967) and was the first female host of "Saturday Night Live" (1975).

Roseanne Conner in "Roseanne" (1988 - 1997)

Roseanne -- the now one-named comedienne/actress -- played the loveable blue-collar mom. The show was noted for its honest take on parenting and children. On "Roseanne," it was actually the lead characters who had the problems -- not the guest-starring friends. You may be surprised to learn that ...


... Roseanne once worked as a dishwasher, cook and waitress at Bennigan's -- and that she collects pigs.

Lynette Scavo on "Desperate Housewives" (2004 - Present)

Felicity Huffman perfectly plays this imperfect mom. Lynette is incredibly tough and bright, but a tad rough around the edges. She often screws up her job, marriage, parenting and neighboring. You may be surprised to learn that ...

Felicity Huffman

... Jessica Alba was one of Huffman's students at the Atlantic Theater Company.

Nora Walker on "Brothers & Sisters" (2006 - Present)

Sally Field plays uber-mom Nora -- a widowed mother of five -- in this dramedy. She's nosy and annoying, yet still completely lovable -- even when she's arrested for smoking weed. You may be surprised to learn that ...

Sally Field

... like Candice Bergen, Field also auditioned for the role of "Elaine Robinson" in "The Graduate." Also, she turned down the lead in "Moonstruck" -- the role that earned Cher an Oscar.

next: Top 10 Mother's Day Power Anthems
2 comments so far | Post a comment now
Cewfafusabe May 7, 2011, 10:26 PM
Sara May 12, 2011, 12:03 PM

Definitely Carol Brady!

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