The Info List - Donna Reed

Donna Reed
Donna Reed
(born Donna Belle Mullenger; January 27, 1921 – January 14, 1986) was an American film and television actress and producer. Her career spanned more than 40 years, with performances in more than 40 films. She is well known for her role as Mary Hatch Bailey
Mary Hatch Bailey
in Frank Capra's 1946 film It's a Wonderful Life. In 1953, she received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
for her performance as Lorene Burke in the war drama From Here to Eternity. Reed is probably most widely known for her work in television, notably as Donna Stone, a middle-class American mother and housewife in the sitcom The Donna Reed Show
The Donna Reed Show
(1958–66), in which her character was more assertive than most other television mothers of the era. She received numerous Emmy Award
Emmy Award
nominations for this role and the Golden Globe Award for Best TV Star in 1963. Later in her career, Reed replaced Barbara Bel Geddes
Barbara Bel Geddes
as Miss Ellie Ewing
Miss Ellie Ewing
in the 1984–85 season of the television melodrama, Dallas; she sued the production company for breach of contract when she was abruptly fired upon Bel Geddes' decision to return to the show.


1 Early life 2 Career

2.1 The Donna Reed
Donna Reed
Show 2.2 Dallas

3 Personal life

3.1 Political views

4 Death 5 Legacy 6 Radio 7 Filmography 8 Awards and nominations 9 References

9.1 Citations 9.2 Sources

10 External links

Early life[edit] Reed was born Donna Belle Mullenger on a farm near Denison, Iowa, the daughter of Hazel Jane (née Shives; July 16, 1899 – July 17, 1975) and William Richard Mullenger (July 4, 1893 – July 15, 1981).[1] The eldest of five children, she was raised as a Methodist.[2] In 1936, while she was a sophomore at Denison (Iowa) High School, her chemistry teacher Edward Tompkins gave her the book How to Win Friends and Influence People. The book is said to have greatly influenced her life. Upon reading it she won the lead in the school play, was voted Campus Queen and was in the top 10 of the 1938 graduating class. Tompkins went on to work on the Manhattan Project.[3] After graduating from Denison High School, Reed planned to become a teacher but was unable to pay for college. She decided to move to California to attend Los Angeles City College on the advice of her aunt. While attending college, she performed in various stage productions, although she had no plans to become an actress. After receiving several offers to screen test for studios, Reed eventually signed with MGM; however, she insisted on finishing her education first.[4] Career[edit]

Donna Reed
Donna Reed
as Mary Hatch
Mary Hatch
and James Stewart as George Bailey from It's a Wonderful Life

In 1941 after signing with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Reed made her film debut in The Get-Away opposite Robert Sterling; she was billed as Donna Adams. MGM
soon changed her name to Donna Reed, as there was anti-German feeling during World War II.[5] She starred in The Courtship of Andy Hardy and had a supporting role with Edward Arnold in Eyes in the Night
Eyes in the Night
(1942). In 1943, she appeared in The Human Comedy with Mickey Rooney, and in They Were Expendable in 1945. Her "girl-next-door" good looks and warm onstage personality made her a popular pin-up for many GIs during World War II. She personally answered letters from many GIs serving overseas.[6] In 1945, Reed struggled with an English accent and with a passive, underwritten role as Gladys Hallward in the first cinema adaptation of the Oscar Wilde novel The Picture of Dorian Gray. The following year she collaborated with her Denison High school chemistry teacher Edward R. Tompkins (who, as noted earlier, worked on the Manhattan Project) on the 1947 MGM
film The Beginning or the End, which dealt with the history and concerns of the atom bomb.[7] In 1946, MGM
also lent her to RKO Pictures
RKO Pictures
for the role of Mary Bailey in Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life. The film has since been named as one of the 100 best American films ever made by the American Film Institute and is regularly aired on television during the Christmas season.[8] Following the release of It's a Wonderful Life, Reed appeared in Green Dolphin Street (1947) with Lana Turner
Lana Turner
and Van Heflin. In 1949 she expressed a desire for better roles.[9] Several years later, she performed in Scandal Sheet (1952). Reed in 1953 played the role of Alma "Lorene" Burke, girlfriend of Montgomery Clift's character, in the World War II
World War II
drama From Here to Eternity. The role earned Reed an Academy Award
Academy Award
for Best Supporting Actress for 1953.[10] The Donna Reed
Donna Reed
Show[edit] From 1958 to 1966, Reed starred in The Donna Reed
Donna Reed
Show, a television series produced by her then-husband, Tony Owen. The show featured her as Donna Stone, the wife of pediatrician Alex Stone (Carl Betz) and mother of Jeff (Paul Petersen) and Mary Stone (Shelley Fabares). The show ran for eight seasons on ABC.[11] Reed won a Golden Globe Award and earned four Emmy Award
Emmy Award
nominations for her work on the series. Reed described her show as "[...] a realistic picture of small town life with an often humorous twist. Our plots revolve around the most important thing in America—a loving family." In the show, Reed's character, Donna Stone, is a loving mother and wife, but also a strong, smart woman with feelings and a sense of humor.[12] But some feminists criticized the show, asserting that it promoted submissiveness among housewives. In a 1979 interview, Reed, who had raised four children, responded, "I played a strong woman who could manage her family. That was offensive to a lot of people."[13] In a 1984 television interview, Reed said of her show, "I felt that I was making, for women, a statement. This mother was not stupid. She wasn't domineering, but she was bright and I thought rather forward-thinking, happily married."[14] In a 2008 interview, Paul Petersen, who portrayed her son Jeff Stone in the series, also shared his opinions about the production's significance:

That's what the show was really about, the importance of family. That's where life's lessons are transmitted, generation to generation. There's a certain way in which these are transmitted, with love and affection...[The Donna Reed
Donna Reed
Show] depicts a better time and place. It has a sort of level of intelligence and professionalism that is sadly lacking in current entertainment products. The messages it sent out were positive and uplifting. The folks you saw were likable, the family was fun, the situations were familiar to people. It provided 22-and-a-half-minutes of moral instruction and advice on how to deal with the little dilemmas of life.[15]


Donna Reed
Donna Reed
as Miss Ellie Ewing
Miss Ellie Ewing
Farlow in Dallas

When The Donna Reed Show
The Donna Reed Show
ended its run in 1966, Reed took time off from acting to concentrate on raising her children and engaging in political activism. She returned to acting in the 1970s, appearing in various guest spots in television series and television movies.[16] In the 1984–85 season of the television series Dallas, Reed replaced Barbara Bel Geddes
Barbara Bel Geddes
as Miss Ellie Ewing. Of the show, Reed explained in a 1984 interview,

One of the main reasons Dallas is successful is the family. They all stick together. They may squabble, but they pull for one another and live under one roof, which is really tribal, and it's not true anymore! And I think deep down, everyone misses that.[14]

When Bel Geddes agreed to return to the role for the 1985–86 season, Reed was abruptly fired.[17] Reed failed in attempts to stop the 1985–86 season from going into production while she tried to get reinstated in the role of Miss Ellie.[17] She sued for breach of contract, later settling out of court for over $1 million.[18] Personal life[edit]

Reed, Tony Owen, and their four children in 1959. Standing is Penny Jane; seated from left are Tony, Jr., Mary and Tim.

From 1943 to 1945, Reed was married to make-up artist William Tuttle. After they divorced, in 1945 she married producer Tony Owen (1907–1984). They raised four children together: Penny Jane, Anthony, Timothy, and Mary Anne (the two older children were adopted). After 26 years of marriage, Reed and Owen divorced in 1971. Three years later, Reed married Grover W. Asmus (1926-2003), a retired United States Army
United States Army
colonel. They remained married until her death in 1986.[1][19] Political views[edit] Reed, who was a registered Republican, was interested in politics. Her interest was piqued during the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
when she became concerned that her oldest son, Tony, might be drafted. In 1967, Reed became a peace activist and co-chaired the anti-war advocacy group, Another Mother for Peace. The group's slogan was, "War is not healthy for children and other living things."[20][21] In a 1971 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Reed said, "In the beginning, we felt [Tony] should serve his country in a noncombatant role. But he wouldn't even accept that, feeling the whole thing was immoral. He didn't trust the government or the military. I've learned a lot from Tony."[22] In addition to opposing the Vietnam War, Reed also opposed nuclear power plants. She supported Democratic Senator Eugene McCarthy from Minnesota in the 1968 presidential election. He was a strong anti-war advocate.[23] Death[edit]

Donna Reed's grave

Donna Reed
Donna Reed
died of pancreatic cancer in Beverly Hills, California, on January 14, 1986, 13 days shy of her 65th birthday. She had been diagnosed with the illness three months earlier and told it was at a terminal stage. Her remains are interred in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles.[18][24] Legacy[edit]

In 1987, Grover Asmus (Reed's widower), actresses Shelley Fabares
Shelley Fabares
and Norma Connolly, and numerous friends, associates, and family members created the Donna Reed
Donna Reed
Foundation for the Performing Arts. Based in Reed's hometown of Denison, the non-profit organization grants scholarships for performing arts students, runs an annual festival of performing arts workshops, and operates the Donna Reed
Donna Reed
Center for the Performing Arts.[25] Denison hosts an annual Donna Reed
Donna Reed
Festival.[26] Reed's childhood home was located on Donna Reed
Donna Reed
Drive in Denison but was destroyed by a fire in 1983.[27] Reed's Academy Award
Academy Award
is on display at the W. A. McHenry Museum in Denison.[28] Donna Reed
Donna Reed
has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Hollywood Walk of Fame
at 1610 Vine Street. In May 2010, Turner Classic Movies
Turner Classic Movies
honored Reed as their star of the month[29] which saw Mary Owen pay a special tribute to her mother.[30] In a 2011 article, actress Shelley Fabares
Shelley Fabares
(who played Mary Stone on The Donna Reed
Donna Reed
Show) wrote,

[Donna Reed] definitely became my second mother. She was a role model and remains so to this day. I still periodically hear her voice in my head when I am making a decision about doing something, I hear her urging me on to make the stronger decision of the two. I just adored her.[31]

Fabares also described Reed as "a real Iowa girl. There is a bedrock decency to people in the Midwest. They are thoughtful and ready to help you if something needs to be done. She never lost that Midwest girl."[31] Radio[edit]

Year Title Role Notes

1947 Lux Radio Theatre

episode: It's A Wonderful Life

1948 Lux Radio Theatre

episode: You Were Meant For Me

1949 Lux Radio Theatre

episode: High Barbaree

1949 Lux Radio Theatre

episode: Deep Waters

1951 Lux Radio Theatre

episode: To Please A Lady

1952 Screen Guild Theatre

episode: The Mating of Millie[32]

1954 Lux Radio Theatre

episode: The Naked Jungle

1955 Lux Radio Theatre

episode: Rawhide


Year Title Role Notes

1940 Convicted Woman Inmate Uncredited

1941 The Get-Away Maria Theresa 'Terry' O'Reilly Alternative title: The Getaway

1941 Shadow of the Thin Man Molly

1941 Babes on Broadway Jonesy's Secretary Uncredited

1942 The Bugle Sounds Sally Hanson

1942 The Courtship of Andy Hardy Melodie Eunice Nesbit

1942 Mokey Anthea Delano

1942 Calling Dr. Gillespie Marcia Bradburn

1942 Apache Trail Rosalia Martinez

1942 Eyes in the Night Barbara Lawry

1942 Personalities


1943 The Human Comedy Bess Macauley

1943 Dr. Gillespie's Criminal Case Marcia Bradburn Alternative title: Crazy to Kill

1943 The Man from Down Under Mary Wilson

1943 Thousands Cheer Customer in Red Skelton
Red Skelton

1944 See Here, Private Hargrove Carol Holliday

1944 Gentle Annie Mary Lingen

1945 The Picture of Dorian Gray Gladys Hallward

1945 They Were Expendable Lt. Sandy Davyss

1946 Faithful in My Fashion Jean Kendrick

1946 It's a Wonderful Life Mary Hatch
Mary Hatch
Bailey Alternative title: Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life

1947 Green Dolphin Street Marguerite Patourel

1948 Beyond Glory Ann Daniels

1949 Chicago Deadline Rosita Jean D'Ur

1951 Saturday's Hero Melissa Alternative title: Idols in the Dust

1952 Scandal Sheet Julie Allison Alternative title: The Dark Page

1952 Rainbow 'Round My Shoulder Herself Uncredited

1952 Hangman's Knot Molly Hull

1953 Trouble Along the Way Alice Singleton Alternative title: Alma Mater

1953 Raiders of the Seven Seas Alida

1953 From Here to Eternity Alma "Lorene" Burke Winner: Academy Award
Academy Award
for Best Supporting Actress

1953 The Caddy Kathy Taylor

1953 Gun Fury Jennifer Ballard

1954 They Rode West Laurie MacKaye

1954 Three Hours to Kill Laurie Mastin

1954 The Last Time I Saw Paris Marion Ellswirth / Matine

1954 The Ford Television Theatre Lydia Campbell Episode: "Portrait of Lydia"

1955 The Far Horizons Sacajawea Alternative title: The Untamed West

1955 Tales of Hans Anderson

Episode: "Wee Willie Winkie"

1956 The Benny Goodman Story Alice Hammond

1956 Ransom! Edith Stannard Alternative title: Fearful Decision

1956 Backlash Karyl Orton

1956 Beyond Mombasa Ann Wilson

1957 General Electric Theater Rayna Episode: "Light from Tormendero"

1957 Suspicion Letty Jason Episode: "The Other Side of the Curtain"

1958 The Whole Truth Carol Poulton

1958–1966 The Donna Reed
Donna Reed
Show Donna Stone 275 episodes

1960 Pepe Herself Cameo

1974 Yellow-Headed Summer

1979 The Best Place to Be Sheila Callahan TV Movie

1983 Deadly Lessons Miss Wade TV Movie

1984 The Love Boat Polly / Gwen 2 episodes

1984–1985 Dallas Miss Ellie Ewing
Miss Ellie Ewing
Farlow 24 episodes, (final television appearance)

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Title Result

1953 Academy Award Best Actress in a Supporting Role From Here to Eternity Won

1963 Golden Globe Award Best TV Star – Female The Donna Reed
Donna Reed
Show Won

1964 Golden Apple Awards Most Cooperative Actress


1959 Emmy Award Best Actress in a Leading Role in a Comedy Series The Donna Reed
Donna Reed
Show Nominated

1960 Emmy Award Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Series (Lead or Support) The Donna Reed
Donna Reed
Show Nominated

1961 Emmy Award Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Series (Lead) The Donna Reed
Donna Reed
Show Nominated

1962 Emmy Award Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actress in a Series (Lead) The Donna Reed
Donna Reed
Show Nominated

2004 TV Land Awards The Most Irreplaceable Replacement Dallas Nominated

2006 TV Land Awards The Most Irreplaceable Replacement Dallas Nominated

References[edit] Citations[edit]

^ a b " Donna Reed
Donna Reed
Biography (1921–1986)". Film Reference. Retrieved December 6, 2015.  ^ Field, Eunice. "My Story is Not for Children—or Prudes". Donna Reed Show. Retrieved December 6, 2015.  ^ "75-year history of Broadway Elementary building celebrated". Denison Bulletin-Review. March 20, 2012. Retrieved April 9, 2017.  ^ Royce 1990, p. 2. ^ Monush, Barry (2003). Screen World Presents the Encyclopedia of Hollywood Film Actors: From the Silent Era to 1965. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 628. ISBN 1-55783-551-9.  ^ Rohter, Larry (May 24, 2009). "Dear Donna: A Pinup So Swell She Kept G.I. Mail". The New York Times. Retrieved December 6, 2015.  ^ " Donna Reed
Donna Reed
Talking to Scientist". Gettyimages.com. Retrieved 2 December 2017.  ^ Royce 1990, p. 5. ^ Schallert, Edwin. " Donna Reed
Donna Reed
Declares Self in Revolt Against Sweet, Simple, Negative Roles", Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
(1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 23 Oct 1949: D1 ^ Phillips, Gene D. (1999). Major Film Directors of the American and British Cinema. Lehigh University Press. p. 118. ISBN 0-934223-59-9.  ^ Olson 2000, pp. 82–83. ^ "Don't Call The Donna Reed Show
The Donna Reed Show
'Situation Comedy'". Donnareedshow.com. Retrieved 2 December 2017.  ^ Gilbert, Tom (2011-12-27). "Donna Reed's show reflects an era when mother, too, knew best". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.  ^ a b Rona Barrett Remembers Donna Reed
Donna Reed
(1921–1986) on YouTube ^ "Life was better in 'Donna Reed' world". Catholic.org. Retrieved 2 December 2017.  ^ " Donna Reed
Donna Reed
Biography (1921–1986)". biography.com. Archived from the original on 2009-07-16. Retrieved 2008-11-01.  ^ a b " Donna Reed
Donna Reed
Loses Bid for 'Dallas' Role". The New York Times. 1985-06-19. Retrieved 2008-11-01.  ^ a b "The Television Generation Mourns Its Favorite Surrogate Mother, Tough but Tender Donna Reed". People. 1986-01-27. Retrieved 2008-11-01.  ^ Scott Royce, Brenda (1990). Donna Reed: A Bio-bibliography. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 7. ISBN 0-313-26806-1.  ^ "Gettysburg Times – Google News Archive Search".  ^ Hevly, Bruce William; Findlay, John M. (1998). The Atomic West. University of Washington Press. p. 208. ISBN 0-295-97716-7.  ^ "Her New Role: A Mother for Peace". Milwaukee Journal. Retrieved 24 January 2013.  ^ Kauffman, Bill (2011-12-29) "Iowa Votes for Peace", The American Conservative, 29 December 2011 ^ Donna Reed
Donna Reed
at Find a Grave ^ " Donna Reed
Donna Reed
Foundation for the Performing Arts". donnareed.org. Retrieved 2008-11-01.  ^ Whye, Mike (2004). The Great Iowa Touring Book: 27 Spectacular Auto Trips. Big Earth Publishing. p. 37. ISBN 1-931599-35-1.  ^ Fultz, Jay (1998). In Search Of Donna Reed. IA: University of Iowa Press. ISBN 0-87745-625-9.  ^ " Donna Reed
Donna Reed
Foundation for the Performing Arts". donnareed.org. Retrieved 2010-05-04.  ^ "Now Playing: Donna Reed
Donna Reed
– (TCM Original) May 2010". tcm.com. Retrieved 2010-05-03.  ^ "Now Playing: Donna Reed: Star of the Month – (TCM Original) Mary Anne Owen". tcm.com. Retrieved 2010-05-26.  ^ a b King, Susan (2011-12-26). "Classic Hollywood: 'The Donna Reed Show'". Los Angeles Times.  ^ Kirby, Walter (April 13, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 48. Retrieved May 11, 2015 – via Newspapers.com. 


Fultz, Jay (1998). In Search of Donna Reed. Iowa City, IA: University of Iowa Press. ISBN 978-0-87745-625-4.  Olson, James Stuart (2000). Historical Dictionary of the 1950s. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 82, 83. ISBN 0-313-30619-2.  Royce, Brenda Scott (1990). Donna Reed: A Bio-bibliography. Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 2. ISBN 0-313-26806-1.  Tucker, David C. (2007). The Women Who Made Television Funny: Ten Stars of 1950s Sitcoms. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 0-7864-2900-3. 

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Donna Reed.

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Donna Reed
on IMDb Donna Reed
Donna Reed
at the TCM Movie Database Donna Reed
Donna Reed
at AllMovie Donna Reed
Donna Reed
TCM Star of the Month May 2010 The Donna Reed
Donna Reed
Foundation for the Performing Arts The Donna Reed
Donna Reed
Show Photographs and literature

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Academy Award
Academy Award
for Best Supporting Actress


Gale Sondergaard
Gale Sondergaard
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Kim Hunter
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(1951) Gloria Grahame
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Donna Reed
(1953) Eva Marie Saint
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Beatrice Straight (1976) Vanessa Redgrave
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Marcia Gay Harden


Jennifer Connelly
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v t e

Golden Globe Award
Golden Globe Award
for Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy

Donna Reed
Donna Reed
(1962) Inger Stevens
Inger Stevens
(1963) Mary Tyler Moore
Mary Tyler Moore
(1964) Anne Francis
Anne Francis
(1965) Marlo Thomas
Marlo Thomas
(1966) Carol Burnett
Carol Burnett
(1967) Diahann Carroll
Diahann Carroll
(1968) Carol Burnett/ Julie Sommars
Julie Sommars
(1969) Mary Tyler Moore
Mary Tyler Moore
(1970) Carol Burnett
Carol Burnett
(1971) Jean Stapleton
Jean Stapleton
(1972) Cher/ Jean Stapleton
Jean Stapleton
(1973) Valerie Harper
Valerie Harper
(1974) Cloris Leachman
Cloris Leachman
(1975) Carol Burnett
Carol Burnett
(1976) Carol Burnett
Carol Burnett
(1977) Linda Lavin
Linda Lavin
(1978) Linda Lavin
Linda Lavin
(1979) Katherine Helmond
Katherine Helmond
(1980) Eileen Brennan
Eileen Brennan
(1981) Debbie Allen
Debbie Allen
(1982) Joanna Cassidy
Joanna Cassidy
(1983) Shelley Long
Shelley Long
(1984) Estelle Getty/ Cybill Shepherd
Cybill Shepherd
(1985) Cybill Shepherd
Cybill Shepherd
(1986) Tracey Ullman
Tracey Ullman
(1987) Candice Bergen
Candice Bergen
(1988) Jamie Lee Curtis
Jamie Lee Curtis
(1989) Kirstie Alley
Kirstie Alley
(1990) Candice Bergen
Candice Bergen
(1991) Roseanne Barr
Roseanne Barr
(1992) Helen Hunt
Helen Hunt
(1993) Helen Hunt
Helen Hunt
(1994) Cybill Shepherd
Cybill Shepherd
(1995) Helen Hunt
Helen Hunt
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Calista Flockhart
(1997) Jenna Elfman
Jenna Elfman
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Sarah Jessica Parker
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Lena Dunham
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WorldCat Identities VIAF: 64808702 LCCN: n79071839 ISNI: 0000 0001 1767 5213 GND: 119030594 SUDOC: 061554472 BNF: cb14009985k (data) BNE: XX1071401 SN