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The Donna Reed Show

The Donna Reed Show

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The Donna Reed Show is an American sitcom starring Donna Reed
Donna Reed
Donna Reed was an American film and television actress.With appearances in over 40 films, Reed received the 1953 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance as the tramp Lorene in the war drama From Here to Eternity. She is also noted for her role in the perennial Christmas...

 as the upper middle class housewife Donna Stone. Carl Betz
Carl Betz
Carl Betz was an American film and television actor. A native of Mount Lebanon, Pennsylvania, Betz participated in childhood theatricals and later worked in summer stock. He graduated from Mount Lebanon High School in 1939 and then served in the military...

 appears as her pediatrician husband Alex, and Shelley Fabares
Shelley Fabares
Michele Ann Marie "Shelley" Fabares is an American actress and singer. Fabares is known for her roles as Donna Reed's oldest child, Mary Stone, on The Donna Reed Show , and as Craig T. Nelson's love interest and eventual wife, Christine Armstrong Fox, on the sitcom Coach. She also was Elvis...

 and Paul Petersen
Paul Petersen
William Paul Petersen is an American movie actor, singer, novelist, and activist. Primarily known for his character-type roles in the 1960s and 1970s, as an adult Petersen established the organization A Minor Consideration to support child stars and other child laborers through legislation,...

 as their teenage children Mary and Jeff. The show originally aired on ABC
American Broadcasting Company
The American Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network. Created in 1943 from the former NBC Blue radio network, ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Company and is part of Disney-ABC Television Group. Its first broadcast on television was in 1948...

 at 10 pm from September 24, 1958 to March 19, 1966. When Fabares left the show in 1964, Petersen's little sister Patty Petersen
Patty Petersen
Patti Petersen Mirkovich , formerly known as Patty Petersen, is a retired American actress.Petersen was born in Glendale, California, the youngest of three children. When her parents divorced in 1962, she and older brother Paul Petersen moved in with their mother, who later remarried. Paul...

 joined the cast as adopted daughter Trisha.

Bob Crane
Bob Crane
Robert Edward "Bob" Crane was an American actor and disc jockey, best known for his performance as Colonel Robert E...

 and Ann McCrea appeared in the last seasons as the Kelseys, friends of the Stones, and Darryl Richard
Darryl Richard (actor)
Darryl Richard , is a former child actor who appeared on television from 1955 until 1966...

 became a near regular as Smitty, Jeff's best buddy. The show featured a variety of celebrity guests including Esther Williams
Esther Williams
Esther Jane Williams is a retired American competitive swimmer and MGM movie star.Williams set multiple national and regional swimming records in her late teens as part of the Los Angeles Athletic Club swim team...

 as a famous dress designer, baseball superstars Don Drysdale
Don Drysdale
Donald Scott "Don" Drysdale was a Major League Baseball player and Hall of Fame right-handed pitcher with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was one of the dominant starting pitchers of the 1960s, and became a radio and television broadcaster following his playing career...

 and Willie Mays
Willie Mays
Willie Howard Mays, Jr. is a retired American professional baseball player who played the majority of his major league career with the New York and San Francisco Giants before finishing with the New York Mets. Nicknamed The Say Hey Kid, Mays was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1979, his...

 as themselves, teen heartthrob James Darren
James Darren
James William Ercolani , known by his stage name James Darren, is an American television and film actor, television director, and singer.-Career:...

 as a pop singer with the measles, canine superstar Lassie
Lassie
Lassie is a fictional collie dog character created by Eric Knight in a short story expanded to novel length called Lassie Come-Home. Published in 1940, the novel was filmed by MGM in 1943 as Lassie Come Home with a dog named Pal playing Lassie. Pal then appeared with the stage name "Lassie" in six...

 as herself, and young Jay North
Jay North
Jay North is an American actor. Beginning a prolific career as a child actor at the age of six, North became a household name during the early 1960s for his role as the well-meaning, but mischievous, Dennis Mitchell on the CBS situation comedy Dennis the Menace, based on the comic strip created...

 as Dennis the Menace.

The series was created by William Roberts
William Roberts
-People:* William Roberts , Anglican bishop* Sir William Roberts , British Member of Parliament and father of Sir William Roberts, 1st Baronet...

 and developed by Reed and her husband, producer Tony Owen. Episodes revolved around typical upper middle class family problems of the period such as firing a clumsy housekeeper, throwing a retirement bash for a colleague, and finding quality time away from the kids. Edgy themes such as women's rights and freedom of the press were occasionally explored.

The show had an uncertain start in the ratings and was almost cancelled, but fared better when it was moved from Wednesday to Thursday nights. In the show's middle seasons, Fabares sang what became a #1 teen pop hit "Johnny Angel
Johnny Angel (song)
"Johnny Angel" is the debut pop single by Shelley Fabares released in 1962 on the Colpix label.It was the first single taken from her debut solo album Shelley! which was produced and arranged by Stu Phillips. "Johnny Angel" was written by Lyn Duddy and Lee Pockriss. The single premiered on an...

", and Petersen had above average success with the song "My Dad", also introduced during the course of the series.

The Donna Reed Show was one of television's top 25 shows in 1963-64. Reed was repeatedly nominated for Emmy Award
Emmy Award
An Emmy Award, often referred to simply as the Emmy, is a television production award, similar in nature to the Peabody Awards but more focused on entertainment, and is considered the television equivalent to the Academy Awards and the Grammy Awards .A majority of Emmys are presented in various...

s between 1959 and 1962, and won a Golden Globe as Best Female TV Star in 1963. She eventually grew tired of the work-a-day grind involved in the show, and it was cancelled in 1966 after 275 episodes.

The series was sponsored by Campbell Soup Company
Campbell Soup Company
Campbell Soup Company , also known as Campbell's, is an American producer of canned soups and related products. Campbell's products are sold in 120 countries around the world. It is headquartered in Camden, New Jersey...

, with Johnson & Johnson
Johnson & Johnson
Johnson & Johnson is an American multinational pharmaceutical, medical devices and consumer packaged goods manufacturer founded in 1886. Its common stock is a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the company is listed among the Fortune 500....

 as the principal alternate sponsor (succeeded in the fall of 1963 by The Singer Company). Following first-run, the show entered syndication and reruns were seen on Nick at Nite
Nick at Nite
Nick at Nite is the nighttime Cable network that broadcasts over the channel space of Nickelodeon on Sundays from 8.p.m.-7.am., Monday through Fridays from 9 p.m.-7 a.m. and Saturdays from 10 p.m.-6 a.m. . Though it shares channel space with Nickelodeon, A.C. Nielsen Co...

 and TVLand for several years. The first three seasons have been released on DVD and other seasons are planned for release.

Plot


Donna is the wife of Dr. Alex Stone, a pediatrician practicing in fictional Hilldale, and the mother of teenagers Mary and Jeff. The plot revolves around the lightweight and humorous sorts of situations and problems a middle class family experienced in the late 1950s and the early 1960s.

Donna, for example, would sometimes find herself swamped with the demands of community theatricals and charity drives; Mary had problems juggling boyfriends and finding dresses to wear to one party or another; and Jeff was often caught in situations appropriate to his age and gender such as joining a secret boys' club, avoiding love-smitten classmates, or bidding at auction on an old football uniform.

Alex was the family's Rock of Gibralter, but often found himself in situations that tested his patience: in one episode for example, Donna volunteered him as the judge of a baby contest, and, in another episode, Mary insisted her gawky, geeky boyfriend was the spitting image of her father. Very occasionally eccentric relatives would descend on the Stones to complicate the household situation.

When Mary left for college in the middle seasons, a runaway orphan named Trisha was adopted by the family. In the last seasons, Jeff would spend much time with best buddy Smitty, and Donna and Alex would find best friends in Dave Kelsey, Alex's professional colleague, and his wife Midge. While mainly concerned with various household and family affairs, the show sometimes addressed edgier issues such as women's rights ("Just a Housewife") freedom of the press ("The Editorial") and in it's final season 'Drug Addiction' was seriously addressed ("The Big League Shock")

Production


David Tucker writes in The Women Who Made Television Funny that most family sitcoms of the 1950s such as Father Knows Best
Father Knows Best
Father Knows Best is an American radio and television comedy series which portrayed a middle class family life in the Midwest. It was created by writer Ed James in the 1940s.-Radio:...

, The Life of Riley
The Life of Riley
The Life of Riley, with William Bendix in the title role, is a popular American radio situation comedy series of the 1940s that was adapted into a 1949 feature film, a long-run 1950s television series , and a 1958 Dell comic book...

, and The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet
The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet
The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet is an American sitcom, airing on ABC from October 3, 1952 to September 3, 1966, starring the real life Nelson family. After a long run on radio, the show was brought to television where it continued its success, running on both radio and TV for a couple of years...

focused on the father figure with the mother as "adjunct". He points out however that The Donna Reed Show "established the primacy of the mother on the domestic front" and notes that Mother Knows Better was briefly considered as the show's title.

The series was created by William Roberts
William Roberts
-People:* William Roberts , Anglican bishop* Sir William Roberts , British Member of Parliament and father of Sir William Roberts, 1st Baronet...

 and developed by Reed and her husband, producer Tony Owen. Roberts intended the show to respectfully picture the many demanding roles a stay-at-home woman was expected to master - wife, mom, companion, housekeeper, cook, laundress, seamstress, PTA officer, choir singer, scout leader, etc. - all the while being "effervescent, immaculate, and pretty." Reed stated, "We started breaking rules right and left. We had a female lead, for one thing, a strong, healthy woman. We had a story line told from a woman's point of view that wasn't soap opera."

In its first year on the struggling ABC network, the show was up against Milton Berle
Milton Berle
Milton Berlinger , better known as Milton Berle, was an American comedian and actor. As the manic host of NBC's Texaco Star Theater , in 1948 he was the first major star of U.S. television and as such became known as Uncle Miltie and Mr...

's popular Texaco Star Theater
Texaco Star Theater
Texaco Star Theater is an American comedy-variety show, broadcast on radio from 1938 to 1949 and telecast from 1948 to 1956. It was one of the first successful examples of American television broadcasting, remembered as the show that gave Milton Berle the nickname "Mr...

and Reed ratings were low. ABC nearly cancelled the show, but it was renewed and ratings improved when the show was moved from Wednesday to Thursday nights. The series flourished for the next seven years, but made television's top 25 only in 1963-1964. The opening credits showed Reed answering a telephone ringing off the hook.

She hands the receiver to Alex and watches the children rush off to school with lunches and schoolbooks in hand. Alex leaves, forgetting to kiss Donna good-bye, but returns as she closes the door to give her a quick buss. She closes the door and smiles happily. A late series variant showed Donna departing after her husband, possibly for shopping, church or community matters, or some other concern. Reed brought personal friends Esther Williams, Jimmy Hawkins, and Buster Keaton to the show in guest spots.

In 1962 Fabares debuted her single "Johnny Angel
Johnny Angel (song)
"Johnny Angel" is the debut pop single by Shelley Fabares released in 1962 on the Colpix label.It was the first single taken from her debut solo album Shelley! which was produced and arranged by Stu Phillips. "Johnny Angel" was written by Lyn Duddy and Lee Pockriss. The single premiered on an...

" in the episode "Donna's Prima Donna". It rose to #1 and sold over a million copies. Petersen introduced his single "My Dad" the same year. It peaked at #6.

By the start of the 1962–1963 season, Reed felt the writers were running out of fresh ideas. With Fabares planning to leave at the end of the season, Reed decided to end the show in the spring of 1963. However, since the series was still very popular, ABC offered Reed a more lucrative contract and, the show was renewed for another three years.

Episodes per season were cut back and work hours were shortened to please Reed. In 1963, the Mary character went to college, and Fabares left the show to pursue other performing opportunities. She returned to the show occasionally for guest appearances. Following Fabares's departure, Petersen's real-life sister Patty Petersen
Patty Petersen
Patti Petersen Mirkovich , formerly known as Patty Petersen, is a retired American actress.Petersen was born in Glendale, California, the youngest of three children. When her parents divorced in 1962, she and older brother Paul Petersen moved in with their mother, who later remarried. Paul...

 joined the show as Trisha, a runaway orphan eventually adopted by the Stones.

In the spring of 1966, Reed had grown tired of the weekly grind and wanted to retire despite the show's decent ratings. After 275 episodes and eight successful seasons on ABC, The Donna Reed Show was cancelled. Reed expressed no interest in taking on another series, declined television guest appearances, and shunned films because she thought their depictions of women vapid.

She expressed interest in a television reunion for the Stone family at one point, but the concept was discarded when Betz died in 1978. Tucker writes that women libbers of the 1970s targeted the Donna Stone character as an unrealistic portrait of a modern woman and a stereotype of the impossibly perfect wife and mother. He believes Reed "gave motherhood a tinge of glamor it usually lacked on TV".

Main

  • Donna Stone (Donna Reed
    Donna Reed
    Donna Reed was an American film and television actress.With appearances in over 40 films, Reed received the 1953 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance as the tramp Lorene in the war drama From Here to Eternity. She is also noted for her role in the perennial Christmas...

    ) is the idealized upper middle class housewife to Alex, and the mother of Mary and Jeff. She grew up on a farm, and became a nurse. She sometimes works as a nurse on the show. Donna was married to Alex when she was 18 and the couple live in fictional Hilldale. She participates in community activities such as charity campaigns and amateur theatricals. Like several television wives and mothers of the 1950s, she inexplicably wears heels, pearls, and chic frocks to do the housework.

  • Alex Stone (Carl Betz
    Carl Betz
    Carl Betz was an American film and television actor. A native of Mount Lebanon, Pennsylvania, Betz participated in childhood theatricals and later worked in summer stock. He graduated from Mount Lebanon High School in 1939 and then served in the military...

    ) is a pediatrician. Like most television couples of the 1950s, Alex and Donna sleep in twin beds. The two show a physical affection for each other slightly more intense than other television couples of the period.

  • Mary Stone (Shelley Fabares
    Shelley Fabares
    Michele Ann Marie "Shelley" Fabares is an American actress and singer. Fabares is known for her roles as Donna Reed's oldest child, Mary Stone, on The Donna Reed Show , and as Craig T. Nelson's love interest and eventual wife, Christine Armstrong Fox, on the sitcom Coach. She also was Elvis...

    ) is 14 "almost fifteen" and a freshman in high school when the show opens. She has a few boyfriends during the course of the show with Jimmy Hawkins as Scotty being a regular. Mary plays the piano like a professional and studies ballet. She leaves the show to attend college.

  • Jeff Stone (Paul Petersen
    Paul Petersen
    William Paul Petersen is an American movie actor, singer, novelist, and activist. Primarily known for his character-type roles in the 1960s and 1970s, as an adult Petersen established the organization A Minor Consideration to support child stars and other child laborers through legislation,...

    ) is "almost twelve" when the show opens. He is a typical American boy; he plays sports, likes to eat, and teases his older sister. Jeff is a complex character: he champions the underdog at school but cheats at board games. Atypical for the fictional children in 1960s sitcoms, Jeff and Mary often get away with "talking back" to their parents.

  • Trisha (Patty Petersen
    Patty Petersen
    Patti Petersen Mirkovich , formerly known as Patty Petersen, is a retired American actress.Petersen was born in Glendale, California, the youngest of three children. When her parents divorced in 1962, she and older brother Paul Petersen moved in with their mother, who later remarried. Paul...

    ) is a runaway orphan about age 6 the Stones adopt after Mary leaves for college. She remained for the duration.

Secondary

  • Dr. Dave Kelsey (Bob Crane
    Bob Crane
    Robert Edward "Bob" Crane was an American actor and disc jockey, best known for his performance as Colonel Robert E...

    ) and his wife Midge (Ann McCrea) are friends of the Stones. Dave is Alex's colleague, and appeared 1963–65. Midge appeared 1963–66. Dave virtually disappeared after Crane received his own series, Hogan's Heroes
    Hogan's Heroes
    Hogan's Heroes is an American television sitcom that ran for 168 episodes from September 17, 1965, to March 28, 1971, on the CBS network. The show was set in a German prisoner of war camp during the Second World War. Bob Crane had the starring role as Colonel Robert E...

    .

  • Uncle Bo (Jack Kelk) is Dr. Boland, Alex's bachelor colleague and friend in the first season.

  • Morton "Smitty" Smith (Darryl Richard
    Darryl Richard (actor)
    Darryl Richard , is a former child actor who appeared on television from 1955 until 1966...

    ) is Jeff's best friend and first appeared on the show in 1962.

  • Zachary Blake Stephen Pearson
    Stephen Pearson
    Stephen Paul Pearson is a Scottish footballer who plays for Bristol City, on loan from Derby County in the English Championship. He is a full international for Scotland, and also played for Motherwell, Celtic and Stoke City.-Early career:Pearson was born in Lanark...

    ) is Jeff's friend in the early seasons.

  • Herbie (Tommy Ivo
    Tommy Ivo
    Tommy Ivo , also known as "TV Tommy", is an actor and drag racer, who was active in the 1960s racing community. In the late 1950s, Ivo raced a twin Nailhead Buick engined dragster which was the first Gasoline Powered dragster to break the nine-second barrier. The car held the Drag News Standard...

    ) is Mary's fairly regular boyfriend.

  • Scotty (Jimmy Hawkins
    Jimmy Hawkins
    James F. Hawkins , known as Jimmy Hawkins, and later, Jim Hawkins, is an American actor and film producer whose career began as a child actor to such Hollywood stars as Lana Turner, Spencer Tracy, James Stewart, and Donna Reed...

    ) is Mary's boyfriend. He appeared in two first season episodes as her boyfriend George Haskell.

  • Roger (Jan Stine) is Mary's boyfriend in several third season episodes.

  • Babs (Melinda Plowman) is Mary's first season best girlfriend.

  • Mr. and Mrs. Wilgus (Howard McNear
    Howard McNear
    Howard Terbell McNear was an American film, television and radio character actor. McNear is best remembered as Floyd Lawson, the barber in The Andy Griffith Show and as Doc Charles Adams in CBS Radio's Gunsmoke .-Career:McNear was born in Los Angeles, California to Luzetta M. Spencer and Franklin...

     and Kathleen Freeman
    Kathleen Freeman
    Kathleen Freeman was an American film, television, and stage actress. In a career that spanned more than 50 years, she portrayed tart maids, secretaries, teachers, busybodies, nurses, and battle-axe neighbors, almost invariably to comic effect.-Early life:Freeman was born in Chicago, Illinois...

    ) are busybody Stone neighbors in season one.

  • Lydia Langley (Mary Shipp) is Donna's snobbish acquaintance in the early seasons.

Guests

  • Jack Albertson
    Jack Albertson
    Jack Albertson was an American character actor dating to vaudeville. A comedian, dancer, singer, and musician, Albertson is perhaps best known for his roles as Manny Rosen in The Poseidon Adventure , Grandpa Joe in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, Amos Slade in the 1981 animated film The Fox...

     and Cheerio Meredith appeared in "Alex's Twin"

  • Estelle Winwood
    Estelle Winwood
    Estelle Winwood was an English stage and film actress who moved to the United States in mid-career and became celebrated for her longevity.-Early life and early career:...

     and Margaret Dumont
    Margaret Dumont
    Margaret Dumont was an American comedic actress. She is remembered mostly for being the comic foil to Groucho Marx in seven of the Marx Brothers films...

     guest starred in "Miss Lovelace Comes To Tea" (1959).

  • Swimmer Esther Williams
    Esther Williams
    Esther Jane Williams is a retired American competitive swimmer and MGM movie star.Williams set multiple national and regional swimming records in her late teens as part of the Los Angeles Athletic Club swim team...

     appeared in the second season episode, "The Career Woman" (1960). In real life, Williams and Reed were close friends and had been so since the early 1940s when they were rising MGM contract stars.

  • Lassie
    Lassie
    Lassie is a fictional collie dog character created by Eric Knight in a short story expanded to novel length called Lassie Come-Home. Published in 1940, the novel was filmed by MGM in 1943 as Lassie Come Home with a dog named Pal playing Lassie. Pal then appeared with the stage name "Lassie" in six...

     and film director George Sidney
    George Sidney
    George Sidney was an American film director and film producer who worked primarily at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.-Career:...

     appear in "The Stones Go To Hollywood" (1961). The episode plugged Sidney's current feature film, Pepe
    Pepe
    -People:Pepe is a nickname for José , and an Italian surname.Pepe is a nickname for any person called José, but is also often used with different connotations. Etymologically, it derives from the name of Saint Joseph, the reputed father of Jesus. Thus 'PP' = padre putativo...

    . Reed made a cameo appearance in the film.

  • Jay North
    Jay North
    Jay North is an American actor. Beginning a prolific career as a child actor at the age of six, North became a household name during the early 1960s for his role as the well-meaning, but mischievous, Dennis Mitchell on the CBS situation comedy Dennis the Menace, based on the comic strip created...

     appeared in one 1960 episode, "Donna Decorates", as his television character, Dennis the Menace. Joseph Kearns
    Joseph Kearns
    Joseph Sherrard Kearns was an American actor, who is best remembered for his role as George Wilson in the CBS television series Dennis the Menace from 1959 until his death in 1962.-Biography:...

     appeared in the same episode as his character in North's series, Mr. Wilson.

  • Cloris Leachman
    Cloris Leachman
    Cloris Leachman is an American actress of stage, film and television. She has won eight Primetime Emmy Awards—more than any other performer—and one Daytime Emmy Award...

     and John Astin
    John Astin
    John Allen Astin is an American actor who has appeared in numerous films and television shows, and is best known for the role of Gomez Addams on The Addams Family, and other similarly eccentric comedic characters.-Early years:...

     are featured in the fourth season episode, "Mouse At Play" (1961).

  • Don Drysdale
    Don Drysdale
    Donald Scott "Don" Drysdale was a Major League Baseball player and Hall of Fame right-handed pitcher with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was one of the dominant starting pitchers of the 1960s, and became a radio and television broadcaster following his playing career...

     appeared as himself in two 1964 episodes, "Play Ball" and "My Son the Catcher".

  • Willie Mays
    Willie Mays
    Willie Howard Mays, Jr. is a retired American professional baseball player who played the majority of his major league career with the New York and San Francisco Giants before finishing with the New York Mets. Nicknamed The Say Hey Kid, Mays was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1979, his...

     appeared in three episodes as himself: "Play Ball" and "My Son the Catcher" (both 1964) and "Calling Willie Mays" (1966).

  • Buster Keaton
    Buster Keaton
    Joseph Frank "Buster" Keaton was an American comic actor, filmmaker, producer and writer. He was best known for his silent films, in which his trademark was physical comedy with a consistently stoic, deadpan expression, earning him the nickname "The Great Stone Face".Keaton was recognized as the...

     guest starred in two episodes, "A Very Merry Christmas" (1958) as a hospital janitor who brings gifts to the children's ward and "Now You See It, Now You Don't" (1965).

  • Miyoshi Umeki
    Miyoshi Umeki
    was a naturalized American actress and standards singer. She was best known for her roles as Katsumi, the wife of Joe Kelly , in the 1957 film Sayonara, as Mei Li in the 1958 Broadway musical and 1961 film Flower Drum Song, and as Mrs. Livingston, the housekeeper of Bill Bixby's and Brandon Cruz's...

     appeared in "The Geisha Girl" (1961) and "Aloha, Kimi" (1962).

  • Binnie Barnes
    Binnie Barnes
    Gertrude Maud "Binnie" Barnes was an English-American actress. She was born in Islington to a Jewish father and an Italian mother and was brought up Jewish, although she converted to Catholicism later in life....

     guest starred in two episodes, "Just a Little Wedding" (1963) and the final episode "By-Line: Jeff Stone" (1966).

  • Judson Pratt
    Judson Pratt
    Judson Pratt was an American actor whose longest continuing work was in thirteen episodes of ABC's Walt Disney Presents and NBC's Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color. A native of Hingham in Plymouth County, Massachusetts, Pratt appeared in numerous television westerns and drama series from...

     appeared as Metcalfe in "Is There a Small Hotel?"

  • George Hamilton
    George Hamilton (actor)
    George Stevens Hamilton is an American film and television actor.-Early life:Hamilton was the youngest son of bandleader George "Spike" Hamilton and his first wife, Ann Stevens . He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, and lived in Blytheville, Arkansas...

     appeared in a first season episode as Mary's blind date.

  • Lesley Gore
    Lesley Gore
    Lesley Gore is an American singer. She is perhaps best known for her 1963 pop hit "It's My Party", which she recorded at the age of 16. Following the hit, she became one of the most recognized teen pop singers of the 1960s.- Biography :Gore was born in New York City, New York. She was raised in...

     played herself in the final episode "By-Line: Jeffrey Stone" (1966).

  • James Darren
    James Darren
    James William Ercolani , known by his stage name James Darren, is an American television and film actor, television director, and singer.-Career:...

     played pop singer Buzz Berry in a first season episode.

  • Johnny Washbrook
    Johnny Washbrook
    John "Johnny" Washbrook is a former child actor best known for his role as 12-year-old Ken McLaughlin on the western television series My Friend Flicka, originally broadcast from 1956-1957 on CBS.-My Friend Flicka:...

    , star of the television drama My Friend Flicka, appeared once as a boy named Bill.

  • Gary Lockwood
    Gary Lockwood
    Gary Lockwood is an American actor probably best known for his iconic 1968 role as the astronaut Dr. Frank Poole in 2001: A Space Odyssey.-Early life:...

     played a soldier with a crush on Mary.

  • Lee Aaker
    Lee Aaker
    Lee William Aaker is a former American child actor known for his appearance as Rusty "B-Company" in the television program The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin.- Biography :...

    , star of television's The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin
    The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin
    The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin is an American children's television program which originally aired in 166 episodes on ABC from October 1954 until August 1959. It starred child actor Lee Aaker as Rusty, a boy orphaned in an Indian raid, who was being raised by the soldiers at a US Cavalry post known...

    , played a shy, stuttering boy who became Mary's partner in a school dance show.

  • Mouseketeer Bobby Burgess
    Bobby Burgess
    Robert Wilkie "Bobby" Burgess is an American dancer and singer. As a child he was an original Mouseketeer and later in life a regular on the The Lawrence Welk Show.-Early life:...

     portrayed Mary's football player boyfriend. Burgess later became a regular on The Lawrence Welk Show
    The Lawrence Welk Show
    The Lawrence Welk Show is an American televised musical variety show hosted by big band leader Lawrence Welk. The series aired locally in Los Angeles for four years , then nationally for another 27 years via the ABC network and first-run syndication .In the years since first-run syndication...

    .

Syndication and DVD releases


The series was originally syndicated by Screen Gems
Screen Gems
Screen Gems is an American movie production company and subsidiary company of Sony Pictures Entertainment's Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group that has served several different purposes for its parent companies over the decades since its incorporation....

, and, later, Columbia Pictures Television
Columbia Pictures Television
Columbia Pictures Television was the second name of the Columbia Pictures television division Screen Gems . The studio changed its name on September 4, 1974.-1974-1982:...

 and Sony Pictures Television
Sony Pictures Television
Sony Pictures Television, Inc. is an American and global television production/distribution subsidiary of Sony Pictures Entertainment. In turn, the latter is part of the Japanese conglomerate Sony.-Background:...

. In 2008, Sony lost the full rights to the estates of Donna Reed and Tony Owen, and as a result the series is now rarely seen on television, although reruns aired on Nick at Nite
Nick at Nite
Nick at Nite is the nighttime Cable network that broadcasts over the channel space of Nickelodeon on Sundays from 8.p.m.-7.am., Monday through Fridays from 9 p.m.-7 a.m. and Saturdays from 10 p.m.-6 a.m. . Though it shares channel space with Nickelodeon, A.C. Nielsen Co...

 from 1985 through 1994 and on TV Land
TV Land
TV Land is an American cable television network launched on April 29, 1996. It is owned by MTV Networks, a division of Viacom, which also owns Paramount Pictures, and networks such as MTV and Nickelodeon...

 in 2002.

For a limited time in 2004, General Mills
General Mills
General Mills, Inc. is an American Fortune 500 corporation, primarily concerned with food products, which is headquartered in Golden Valley, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis. The company markets many well-known brands, such as Betty Crocker, Yoplait, Colombo, Totinos, Jeno's, Pillsbury, Green...

 offered a DVD of two episodes inside boxes of Total cereal
Total (cereal)
Total is a range of breakfast cereals made by General Mills for the United States market. It consists of whole grain wheat flakes. Some varieties of Total supply 100% of the US Department of Agriculture's recommended daily allowance for each of the following different vitamins and dietary...

 and Oatmeal Crisp
Oatmeal Crisp
Oatmeal Crisp is a cereal brand from General Mills. It consists of flattened oatmeal flakes glazed with a sugary coating. There were six types: Raisin, Almond, Triple Berry, Apple Brown Sugar, Maple Nut, and Vanilla Yogurt...

. Virgil Films and Entertainment (under license from the estates of Donna Reed and Tony Owen) released the first three seasons of the show on DVD in Region 1. Virgil also released a 4-episode "best of" DVD on April 13, 2010. On December 17, 2010, it was announced that MPI Home Video
MPI Home Video
MPI Home Video is a home entertainment company that produces and distributes popular documentaries, films and television series on DVD & Blu-ray for the home video market. MPI Home Video is a subsidiary of MPI Media Group which was founded in 1976 by brothers Malik & Waleed Ali...

 had acquired the rights to release seasons 4 and 5 of The Donna Reed Show. Season 4 will be released on December 20, 2011 and Season 5 sometime to be announced in 2012.
Season Ep # Release Date
Season 1 37 October 28, 2008
Season 2 38 July 28, 2009
Season 3 38 December 1, 2009
Season 4 39 December 20, 2011

Awards and nominations

Year Award Result Category Recipient
1959 Emmy Awards  Nominated Best Actress in a Leading Role (Continuing Character) in a Comedy Series Donna Reed
1960 Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Series (Lead or Support) Donna Reed
1961 Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Series (Lead) Donna Reed
1962 Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actress in a Series (Lead) Donna Reed
1963 Golden Globe Award
Golden Globe Award
The Golden Globe Award is an accolade bestowed by the 93 members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association recognizing excellence in film and television, both domestic and foreign...

 
Won Best TV Star – Female Donna Reed
1994 Young Artist Awards  Won Former Child Star Lifetime Achievement Award Shelley Fabares
1997 Former Child Star Lifetime Achievement Award Paul Petersen
2004 TV Land Award Nominated Favorite Teen Dream – Female Shelley Fabares

External links