Movie Poll: Who’s Your Pick For Best Movie Mother?

MovieFanfare Movie Poll of the Week

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  • tony payne

    Another difficult poll as there are so many good candidates in this category. From the titles listed I did vote for Barbara Stanwick as she always gives a solid performance and in this film gives her all. The scene in which she is ridiculed at her daughter’s UNI is heart wrenching and most memorable. My other three favourites are Claudette Colbert in ‘Since you went away’ a film of an American family set against World War 2, Myrna Loy welcoming home Fredrick March in ‘The best years of our Lives’ and the lovely Greer Garson in ‘Mrs Miniver’, MGM’s version of a British family during the War. A great film.

  • Spencer Reese

    So bland; I’d have gone with Margaret Wycherly, who portrayed Ma Jarrett in “White Heat.”

  • James

    Anthony Perkins in Psycho

  • Martin Stumacher

    Irene Dunne, that says it all. With George Stevens producing and directing, how can you miss. With Jane Darwell, Barbara Stanwyck and Joan Crawford as other choices, you have the definition of true motherhood, loving, caring and dedicated to the needs of their children.

  • eddie moscone

    angie dickensen sam fuller’s china gate. she makes darn sure her kid gets to go too usa

  • roy levering

    Ethel Merman in “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World”.

  • C. Morgan Davis I I I


  • Rita

    Some good choices here but had to go with I Remember Mama. Also agree “Since You Went Away” and “Mrs. Miniver” are great “Mom” movies. But the greatest of all is missing….where is Ma Kettle?

  • Bill

    Myrna Loy in the “Best Years Of Our Lives” would be my first choice.

  • Rob Suiter

    I whole heartedly agree with C. Morgan Davis III, Why was not the greatest MA in moviedom not on the list? MY vote would have gone for Marjorie Main as MA KETTLE!!!!

  • Richard Smernoff

    I agree with many of the choices(Barbara Stanwyck,
    Greer Garson, irene Dunne, etc.) but I would
    also include Jane Wyman’s performances in So Big
    and The Blue Veil. In The Blue Veil Wyman never had
    any children of her own but fulfilled the role of
    a mother to generations of childen.

  • version

    Yep Marjorie maine was missing and so was Ethel – Doris Day or Lucile Ball. Hmmm Tony Perkins intersting. Myrna Loy would get a vote or two.

  • gus paterson

    …actually…Old Mother Riley,must be a Guy thing!

  • mickey

    I would have gone with Donna Reed actually. It’s a Wonderful Life. And just because she was hot.

  • Ellen Badders

    Irene Dunn (I Remember Mama and Life with Father)-sheer perfection. I also love Lana Turner in Madame X. Gave up all her son. Also love Greer Garson in Mrs. Miniver.

  • Evie

    I would have to go with Norma Shearer in The Women.

  • Bandyman

    what about Ruth Gordon from “every which way but loose”?

  • luis montero.

    My vote:
    “Ballad of a soldier.”
    The mother of Alyosha,a young Russian soldier during WWII.
    If you ever watch this movie…have a good supply of Kleenex, you’ll need it at the end.

  • Bob Riley

    How about Angela Lansbury in “The Manchurian Candidate”? What more can a mother do for her son than to arrange for him to receive the MOH?

    Unfortunately, her son disagreed with her in the end.

  • Carole Cavender

    A shocking omission from a true movie lover’s list! Ann Revere, Elizabeth Taylor’s mother in “National Velvet” Again a shocking omission from those who should know better!

  • SteveinSedona

    Shelley Winters as Ma Barker in “Bloody Mama.”

  • Mario Brescio

    This list could have went on and on.
    Here are a few more movie mom’s I liked:
    (2004) Emily Mortimer in “Dear Frankie.”
    (1999) Tony Collette in “The Sixth Sense.”
    (1996) Debbie Reynolds in “Mother.”
    (1996)Renee Zellweger in “Jerry McGuire.”
    (1989) Sally Field in “Steel Magnolias.”
    (1985) Cher in “Mask.”
    (1983) Shirley Maclaine in “Terms of Endearment.”
    (1963) Debbie Reynolds in “My Six Loves.”
    (1962) Rosalind Russell in “Gypsy.”
    (1934) Claudette Cobert in “Imitation of Life.”
    Marjorie Main in the “Kettle” films

  • Debbie

    Olivia de Havilland in “To Each His Own” is very worth a mention.

  • Jeff Scarwid

    As long as a cartoon animal mom (Dumbo’s mom) is represented why not consider a giant rubber suited mom – namely, Big Mamma Dinosaur from GORGO (1960)? She tracked junior to London and then trashed a fair amount of that city looking for him. Now there’s love.

  • Louis Martinez

    And you people call yourselves movie buffs…..why was Beulah Bondi left out……hasn’t anyone seen “The Trail Of The Lonesome Pine” from 1936 and in vivid color….also starred Sylvia Sydney, Fred McMurray, Henry Fonda, and Fuzzy Knight…..can’t forget Spanky McFarland

  • Stan Flax

    How shallow can some of the moviegoers be? Nobody thought of voting for Olivia DeHaviland in “To Each His Own”. She only won the academy Award for her role as the unwed mother.

  • Heather

    Bambi’s Mother. She gave her life for her baby.

  • Tammi

    Olivia de Havilland in To Each His Own or Faye Bainter in White Banners

  • Tammi

    I would also add Anne Revere in Gentlemen’s Agreement just because I love her in that movie.

  • William

    Not really a movie, but Linda Darnell from High Chapparal

  • Jim

    I never can remember her name, but she played Gary Cooper’s mother in Sergeant York!!

  • David

    Before I even saw the list, I would have choosen Irene Dunne in “I Remember Mama.” But the comments about Claudette Colbert, Greer Garson and Marjorie Main make them worthy as well.

  • Wayne

    This really isn’t a choice for the “BEST” movie mom. Everyone submits their own FAVOURITE choice. I wouldn’t disagree with most of the choices but would add these as honourable mentions:

    Sally Field – Forest Gump
    Faye Bainter and Beulah Bondi – Our Town
    Ashley Judd – Double Jeopardy

  • Kai Ferano

    Roy Levering had me tumble off my couch in laughter! Ethel Merman in, “It’s A Mad, Mad….Mad World!” I think the daughter was Dorothy Provine. Do you remember the very last scene, when Merman winds up on her rear end on the hospital floor? Too funny. Good for you, Roy.

  • Gary Cahall

    Believe it or not, Jim, the actress who played Gary Cooper’s mother in Sergeant York was Margaret Wycherly, who portrayed a much less-admirable matriarch–gangster Jimmy Cagney’s Ma Jarrett–in White Heat. What a sibling rivalry that would have been!

  • Gary Cahall

    Oh, and anyone looking to vote for the mothers of Psycho or The Manchurian Candidate should get ready for next week’s poll.

  • Jake

    What a wonderful group of terrific actresses who for the most part do not get the credit they deserve!


    Claudette Colbert in Tomorrow Is Forever
    Step Moms The Evil Queen in Disneys Snow White.

  • George

    What about Melinda Dillon in A Christmas Story?

  • Jim

    Gary…thank you! I remember the movie White Heat. Margaret Wycherly must have had quite a range as an actress. Both were difficult roles.

  • JUanita Curtis

    I definitely would have Anne Revere and Myrna Loy on my list of greatest movie mothers. They portrayed real women with empathy.

  • Gerald R Rotter

    How about Faye Dunaway in Chinatown.


    All deserving moms for sure. Meryl in SOPHIE’S CHOICE has to be the most tragic. But I give the nod to Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor in T-2 who had to manage a impossible range of emotions and conflicts involving the past, present and future.

  • Bryan

    Of the list given, I had to vote for Jane Darwell. All that was done to them and by them, she did what was so admirable in my opinion. Irene Dunne was a fantastic choice! Great actress great role! Kill Bill? Had a hard time trying to justify all the killing, and just plain bloodlust. True, it was to get back what was hers, but mostly it was revenge. Just my thoughts.

  • Larry Jacox

    I’d like to add Dorothy McGuire to the list for “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn”. Certainly one of the most memorable moms.

  • David Murray

    For this poll…Irene Dunne
    My most memorable…
    Rosalind Russell in “Gypsy”
    Faye Bainter in “Mrs Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch”

  • Roger Phillips

    I voted for “Mildred Pierce” due only to the character in the movie Joan Crawford played; Mildred truly did everything for her daughters. But what about the unwed mother Jodi in “To Each His Own” played by the wonderful Olivia DeHavilland (also Oscar winner for it)? She gave up her baby to see him raised by others. When Jodi attempted to take him into her home he didn’t know she was his mother and didn’t want to stay. During World War II the grown son in the miltary wondered why this woman was paying for his wedding. He was dancing with her and finally called her “Mother”. Great movie and end is on Youtube.

  • Gary Cahall

    I agree, Gerald. Faye Dunaway for Best Movie Mother! *SLAP!* Best Movie Sister *SLAP!* Best Movie Mother! *SLAP!* Best Movie Mother AND Sister!

  • Collin Riley

    Beulah Bondi (It’s a Wonderful Life,others)

  • Allen

    June Lockhart from the Lassie TV Series was a great mom.

  • Lorraine

    What? Where was Angela Lansbury from “The Manchurian Candidate”?

    Just kidding, kiddies. *grins*

  • Vicki M

    My first thought was of Marjorie Main as Ma Kettle. She raised 15 kids and managed to produce a prize winning quilt for the fair every year!Also Nancy Kelly Mother of “The Bad Seed” played by Patty McCormack.Talk about sacrifice! How about Anna Magnani in “The Rose Tattoo” Now there’s a caring Mom!On the down but funny side there’s Ann Ramsey as Ma Fratelli in “The Goonies” and also Momma in “Throw Momma From the Train”.Seriously-how about Bette Davis’ Mother role in “The Little Foxes”.I voted for Barbara Stanwyck in “Stella Dallas”.

  • Pat

    Faye Dunaway for Chinatown and Mommie Dearest!

  • Ruby Oxner

    Are you kidding me? Ingrid Bergman in Inn of the Sixth Happiness which was a true story and the movie is great.

  • Jerry

    Hey, what about Michael Keaton as Mr. Mom? “220, 221, whatever it takes.”

  • Richard Finn

    Found myself unable to vote for any on the list as I recalled Donna Reed in “It’s a Wonderful Life”. Two other left off the list, Lana Turner in “Madame X”, and June Allyson was in so many films playing the faithful wife and mother. How could the list makers forgotten her. Cest la vie!

  • Noel Bjorndahl

    I agree with the person who voted for Margaret Wycherly as Ma Jarrett in Walsh’s memorable WHITE HEAT. But if we’re talking all movies and not just American classics, Kinuyo Tanaka in Mizoguchi’s Sansho Dayu (Sansho the Bailiff) would win hands down for me.

  • llsee

    Whoa… I know she didn’t play the motherly type in her early career, but Myrna Loy in “Best Years of Our Lives” was the mother I wanted!

  • Steve F

    I voted for Jane Darwell in The Grapes of Wrath, but what about Claudette Colbert in Since You Went Away, and Joan Bennett in Father Of The Bride and sequel? Ethel Barrymore in None But The Lonely Heart?

  • Janet

    I agree that this list is lacking in quite a few top mothers, such as Myrna Loy in ‘Best years of our lives’, Donna Reed in ‘It’s a wonderful life’ and Claudette Colbert in ‘Imitation of Life’. I guess it also depends on your definition of a good mother.

  • mike jaral


  • mike jaral


  • sugarpussoshea

    happy mutha’s day………
    I almost missed this one.

    But I want to add Irene Dunne WITH Cary Grant in Penny Serenade. When Cary is telling the judge just why they shud be allowed to keep their little daughter “who hardly weighs more than twenty pounds” he breaks my heart. And, he certainly shud have been up for an academy award. Both Irene and Cary were gr8 mothers in this one.

  • Max

    Of the choices given, there are several memorable moments Irene Dunne plays well in I Remember Mama, my pick. The actresses that play moms in everyday moments that leave you thinking they are the same off-screen as on-screen are my favorites; includes: Myrna Loy, Anna Lee, Beulah Bondi, and Fay Bainter.

  • John

    Donna Reed in “It’s A Wonderful Life” deserves a mention.

  • WT

    I totally agree that Irene Dunne AND Cary Grant were exceptional parents in ‘Penny Serenade’. Their whole existence revolved around that little girl. I also agree that Claudette Colbert was a VERY good mother to the selfish, bratty June Allyson in ‘Tomorrow is Forever’. Katherine Hepburn was also a tender and insightful mother to her daughter in ‘Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner’ and ‘On Golden Pond’.

  • Agamemnon

    So many to choose from, but I think Dianne Wiest in Edward Scissorhands deserves mention. For the classics, I too love ‘The Best Years of Our Lives’ and Myrna Loy, but I just saw ‘Since You Went Away’ for the first time, and Claudette Colbert was awfully good in that too.

  • Bruce Reber

    Madame Konstantin as Alex Sebastian’s creepy mom in the 1946 Hitchcock classic “Notorious” – she should have been on the poll.