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Actress Phyllis Thaxter dies at 92

Played Martha Kent in 1978's 'Superman'

Phyllis Thaxter, an actress who played Martha Kent, Clark Kent’s adoptive mother, in the 1978 film “Superman” as part of a long career in film and television, died in Longwood, just north of Orlando, Fla., on Tuesday after a nine-year fight with Alzheimer’s disease. She was 92.

The Maine native appeared in 17 movies, beginning in the early 1940s, including classic WWII film “Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo”; “Bewitched,” in which she starred as a mentally ill young woman; comedy “Week-End at the Waldorf”; Westerns “The Sea of Grass” and “Blood on the Moon”; and biopic “Jim Thorpe — All-American.”

Thaxter made the transition to television in the 1950s and appeared in a large number of episodic anthology shows such as “The Ford Television Theatre,” “Robert Montgomery Presents,” “Kraft Theatre,” “Schlitz Playhouse” and “Studio One in Hollywood” as well as on “The Loretta Young Show,” “Climax!,” “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” “The Twilight Zone” and “The Fugitive.”

She returned to the bigscreen after many years away to play Martha Kent in Richard Donner’s “Superman.”

The actress made her last screen appearance in a 1992 episode of “Murder, She Wrote.”

Thaxter was born in Portland, Maine, the daughter of a state Supreme Court justice. She made her Broadway debut in “What a Life!” in 1939, when she was 17. She also appeared, with Lunt and Fontanne, in “There Shall Be No Night,” in 1948 in the Elia Kazan-directed “Sundown Beach” and starred opposite Art Carney in “Take Her, She’s Mine,” in 1962.

Thaxter was preceded in death by her husband of 47 years, Gilbert Lea. She was also previously married to film executive James Aubrey.

She is survived by her daughter, actress Skye Aubrey.

(Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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