Mother’s Day Names: Remembering TV Moms

Past paragons of Momhood

By Linda Rosenkrantz

Once upon a time—let’s say pre-Roseanne—the TV mom was the paragon of domestic motherhood, as exemplified and epitomized by the Beaver’s understanding mom, June Cleaver, who famously did her vacuuming in high heels and pearls and pencil-slim skirts on Leave It to Beaver. This idealized image persisted via later near-perfect parents like The Cosby Show’s Claire Huxtable, who was able to effortlessly combine high-powered career with being the wisest and most compassionate of moms, never losing her cool.

Of course there were blips over the years, such as vibrantly vulgar characters like Roseanne Conner and Married with Children’s Peg Bundy and later cranky (older) moms like Marie Barone and Estelle Costanza, but for the most part television moms set a pretty high—if not unattainable—bar.

So here’s our Mother’s Day salute to those Margarets and Marions, Harriets and Helens of TV Momdom past– and their perfect period names.

ABBY BradfordEight is Enough

ALICE MitchellDennis the Menace

AMY MatthewsBoy Meets World

ANGELA BowersWho’s the Boss?

ANN Romano, One Day at a Time

BARBARA Russo–Blossom

CAROL BradyThe Brady Bunch; CAROL WalshBeverly Hills 90210

CAROLINE Ingalls—Little House on the Prairie

CLAIR Huxtable—The Cosby Show

DEBRA Barone–Everybody Loves Raymond

DOROTHY BaxterHazel

EDITH Bunker—All in the Family

ELLEN MillerLassie

ELYSE KeatonFamily Ties

FLORIDA EvansGood Times

HARRIET NelsonThe Ozzie & Harriet Show; HARRIET WinslowFamily Matters

HELEN MarieThat Girl

JILL Pembroke, Charles in Charge, Jill TaylorHome Improvement

JUNE Cleaver—Leave It to Beaver

KATE BradleyPetticoat Junction; KATE Lawrence, Family

KITTY Forman—That 70s Show

LAURA Petrie—The Dick Van Dyke Show

LOIS WilkersonMalcolm in the Middle

LOUISE JeffersonThe Jeffersons

MAGGIE Seaver—Growing Pains

MARGARET AndersonFather Know Best; MARGARET WilliamsMake Room for Daddy (The Danny Thomas Show)

MARION Cunningham—Happy Days

MARSHA OwensMr. Belvedere

MARTA Hansen, I Remember Mama

MURIEL RushToo Close for Comfort

NATALIE LaneThe Patty Duke Show

NORA WalkerBrothers and Sisters

NORMA ArnoldThe Wonder Years

OLIVIA WaltonThe Waltons

PEG Bundy—Married, With Children

ROSEANNE ConnerRoseanne

SHIRLEY Partridge—The Partridge Family

WINNIE GillisThe Many Loves of Dobie Gillis

So, do you think most of these are pretty much still Mother/Mom/Mama/Ma names, or are some of them ready to go into reruns?

And, of course, HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to all you momberries !!!

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16 Responses to “Mother’s Day Names: Remembering TV Moms”

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Ellie’smom Says:

May 5th, 2011 at 2:01 am

Wasn’t the mom in Little House on the Prairie named Caroline, not Carolyn? I know she was definitely Caroline in the books.

pam Says:

May 5th, 2011 at 7:44 am


Natalie Says:

May 5th, 2011 at 8:22 am

Just pointing out… Kitty Forman, not Froman. 😀
Great post! Loved seeing my name there, even if I have no idea what half of these shows are.

ycw Says:

May 5th, 2011 at 10:05 am

I like these:
Abby, Amy, Angela, Ann, Carol, Dorothy, Helen, Kitty, Natalie, Nora
Natalie is a real contender if I have a lot of girls, and maybe Helen. Charity nn Kitty is a possibility. I don’t think Abby, Kitty, Natalie or Nora seem old-fashioned at all–lots of littles named Abby, Natalie, and Nora around.

Olivia and Kate are very hot right now.
Alice, Caroline, and Margaret/Maggie are undergoing revival, imo.
I don’t think Jill and Laura were ever really unpopular, though Laura was certainly eclipsed by Lauren (probably still is). I know lots of Jill/Jillians in their 20s, so it doesn’t seem like a mom name to me.
Elyse seems more modern to me, and June and Clair(e) are definitely getting more popular as well.

Lola Says:

May 5th, 2011 at 10:18 am

Winnie is definitely ready for a reboot! So darling, Winnie! Edith is a long time love of mine,and watching “Dennis the Menace in re-runs, I always thought Alice Mitchell deserved a medal or six for putting up with Dennis!

Leslie Owen Says:

May 7th, 2011 at 2:40 pm

I don’t remember what the Sada Thompson’s character’s name was in Family but since the great actress just passed away, it would be nice if you added that to the list.

Personally, my favourite mom is Hyacinth Bucket (lol). Everytime someone on her mentions Sheridan as a name, I hear her talking to her son on the telly….

linda Says:

May 7th, 2011 at 3:58 pm

Leslie–I just added the Sada Thompson character on Family–Kate Lawrence.

Leslie Owen Says:

May 7th, 2011 at 5:35 pm

Thanks. I saw her live. She was a great actress.

Angela Says:

May 7th, 2011 at 10:03 pm

Leslie, I love the character Hyacinth Bucket too. British comedies are fantastic.

This an American show, but if you love quirky characters how about Mary Cooper mother of Dr Sheldon Lee Cooper on Big Bang Theory. Or Dr Beverly Hofstadter mother of Dr Leonard Hofstadter on the same show.

For a British show Susan Harper on My Family.

Aussie shows Kath Day-Knight from Kath & Kim or Maggie Beare from Mother and Son.

linzybindi Says:

May 8th, 2011 at 12:15 am

Angela I love the suggestion of The Big Bang Theory mothers.

Laurie Metcalf and Christine Baranski are absolutely hilarious on the show!

Jenn Says:

May 9th, 2011 at 7:11 pm

the 90210 mom was Walsh, Potter was the actress

linda Says:

May 9th, 2011 at 7:53 pm

Oops–you’re right–I fixed it. Thanks!!

hanchan Says:

May 9th, 2011 at 11:01 pm

Oh dear, how could you forget Lucy? The funniest (and best!) TV mom! I don’t see her anywhere!

nanosat Says:

August 10th, 2011 at 8:53 pm

When I originally commented I clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now every time a comment is added I get four emails with the same comment. Is there any manner you’ll be able to remove me from that service? Thanks!

alannajobly Says:

February 28th, 2012 at 11:46 am

let’s opinion pre-Roseanne—the TV mom was the model of domestic motherhood, love quotes as exemplified and epitomized by the Beaver’s uptake mom, June Cleaver, who famously did her vacuuming in high heels and pearls and pencil-slim skirts on Leave It to Beaver. Mothers Day Quotes

flyybella89 Says:

May 23rd, 2013 at 8:02 pm

I’m seriously considering Roseanne, as my mom’s name is Suzanne, my mother-in-law’s name is Romeline, and I love the nickname ‘Rose’ (plus, I for one, LOVE Roseanne Barr! She rocks! And so does Roseanne Conner. She’s real)

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