The Donna Reed Show: Wikis


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The Donna Reed Show
Donna Reed Show 01.JPG
First season title screen
Genre Sitcom
Starring Donna Reed
Carl Betz
Shelley Fabares
Paul Petersen
Patty Petersen
Bob Crane
Jimmy Hawkins
Theme music composer John Seely
Opening theme "Happy Days"
Composer(s) Irving Friedman
William Loose
Stu Phillips
Hans J. Salter
Country of origin United States
Language(s) English
No. of seasons 8
No. of episodes 275
Producer(s) Tony Owen
Bill Robert
Editor(s) Richard Fantl
Robert B. Hoover
Cinematography Gert Andersen
Running time 22–24 minutes
Production company(s) Screen Gems
Original channel ABC
Picture format Black-and-white
Audio format Monaural
Original run September 24, 1958 (1958-09-24) – March 19, 1966 (1966-03-19)
Status Ended

The Donna Reed Show is an American sitcom which aired on ABC from September 24, 1958 to March 19, 1966. The series stars Donna Reed, who won a Golden Globe Award for her role as Donna Stone, the matriarch of the Stone family. The series was sponsored by Campbell Soup Company with Johnson & Johnson as the principal alternate sponsor.[1]



The series focused on middle class couple, Donna Stone (Reed), a housewife to pediatrician Alex Stone, played by Carl Betz. The couple had two children together, Mary (Shelley Fabares) and Jeff (Paul Petersen). Episodes featured problems of the 1950s such as planning a bash for a retiring colleague, firing an inept housekeeper, and finding quality time away from the kids.

In 1962, Shelley Fabares recorded a single called "Johnny Angel" which debuted in one of the show's fourth season episodes. The single later became a number one hit and sold over a million copies.[2] By the start of the 1962–1963 season (the show's fifth year), Reed felt that the program was reaching an impasse and that the writers were running out of fresh ideas. With Fabares planning to leave at the end of the season, Reed originally was going to end The Donna Reed Show in the spring of 1963. However, since the series was still very popular, ABC offered Reed a more lucrative contract to continue and as a result, the program was renewed for another three years. At this time, Fabares left the show in 1963 to pursue other acting and singing opportunities, and her character Mary went away to college (Mary later reappeared periodically). Paul Petersen's real-life sister Patty Petersen then joined the show as Trisha, a runaway who was eventually adopted by the Stones.[3] Paul Petersen also had a recording career with his biggest hit being the 1962 single "My Dad", for Colpix Records. Like "Johnny Angel", Petersen's "My Dad" was also featured in an episode of the show.[2]

In the spring of 1966, despite the fact that the series was still garnering decent ratings, Reed had grown tired of the weekly grind and wanted to retire. And so, after eight very successful years on the ABC Television Network, The Donna Reed Show ended its prime-time run.

Characters and cast



Donna Reed as Donna Stone, Paul Petersen as Jeff Stone, Shelley Fabares as Mary Stone, Carl Betz as Alex Stone, (first season, 1958)
  • Donna Stone (Donna Reed) grew up on a farm. She is a "Graduate Nurse" and sometimes works as a nurse on the show. Donna was married to Alex when she was 18 and the couple live in the fictional city of Hilldale. She participates in community activities such as charity campaigns and amateur theatricals. Like several television wives and mothers of the 1950s, Donna wears heels, pearls, and chic frocks to do the housework.
  • Alex Stone (Carl Betz) is a pediatrician with an office in the Stone house. 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) 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) is "almost twelve" when the show opens. He is a typical American boy; he plays sports, likes to eat, and argues with his older sister.
  • Trisha (Patty Petersen) is a runaway child the Stones adopt after Mary leaves for college. She remained for the duration.
  • Dr. Dave Kelsey (Bob Crane) and his wife Midge (Ann McCrea) are friends of the Stones. Dave is Alex's colleague. The character Dave appeared 1963–1965. And the character Midge appeared 1963–1966.

Secondary first season characters

The first season had many recurring characters that appeared as neighbors, service people (such as the dry cleaning man), and family friends.

  • Babs (Melinda Plowman) is Mary's girl friend.
  • Scotty (Jimmy Hawkins) is Mary's boyfriend. He appeared in two first season episodes as her boyfriend George Haskell.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Wilgus (Howard McNear and Kathleen Freeman) are busybody Stone neighbors.
  • Lydia Langley (Mary Shipp) is Donna's snobbish acquaintance.
  • Uncle Bo (Jack Kelk) is Alex's bachelor colleague and friend, Dr. Boland. Jeff and Mary call him Uncle Bo.
  • Zachary Blake (Stephen Pearson) is Jeff's friend.

Guest stars

  • Lassie appeared in one episode set in Hollywood.
  • Jay North appeared in one 1960 episode, "Donna Decorates", as his television character, Dennis the Menace.
  • Don Drysdale appeared as himself in two 1964 episodes, "Play Ball" and "My Son the Catcher".
  • Willie Mays appeared in three episodes as himself over the show's run: "Play Ball" and "My Son the Catcher" (both 1964) and "Calling Willie Mays" (1966)
  • Buster Keaton 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 appeared in "The Geisha Girl" (1961) and "Aloha, Kimi" (1962)
  • Judson Pratt appeared as Metcalfe in one of the last episodes, "Is There a Small Hotel?"
  • George Hamilton appeared in a first season episode as Herbie, Mary's date
  • James Darren played pop singer Buzz Berry in a first season episode
  • Johnny Washbrook appeared once as a boy named "Bill".
  • Gary Lockwood played a soldier with a crush on Mary.

Production notes

The series was developed by Reed and then-husband producer Tony Owens. Upon its premiere, The Donna Reed Show garnered low ratings (it was scheduled opposite NBC's Texaco Star Theater), but gradually improved and built a following.[4] Throughout its eight year run, the series only ranked in the Nielsen Top 25 once (1963–1964 season).[5] After eight seasons and 275 episodes, the series ended in 1966.[6]

In an early third season episode, the set received an extreme make-over. The kitchen was upgraded with smart new cabinets, countertops, refrigerator, stove, double-oven wall unit, and accessories like cannisters and bread box. A gag featured the double-oven unit. Donna still stood awkwardly to one side of the stove to cook and she still sat on one side of the kitchen table with Mary. In the living room, Alex's wing chair was recovered as a birthday gift but the family then decided the rest of the room looked dull. Donna repaints the living room with the assistance of guest star Jay North as Dennis the Menace. The room is refurnished with several smart new pieces including a couch, a large book case, a desk, and a commode near the front door. The front door too is replaced. The refurbishing spree extended to the cast as well. Mary began wearing her hair long and loose rather tied in a pony tail, Jeff wore a brush cut, and Donna stepped into form-fitting gingham house dresses while dispensing with the shawl collars of previous seasons.


The series was originally syndicated by Screen Gems, and, later, Columbia Pictures Television and Sony Pictures Television. In 2008, Sony lost the full rights to the estates of Donna Reed and Tony Owen, and as a result this show is now rarely seen on television, although reruns aired on Nick at Nite from 1985 through 1994 and on TV Land in 2002.

DVD releases

For a limited time in 2004, General Mills offered a DVD of two episodes inside boxes of Total and Oatmeal Crisp.[7]

Virgil Films and Entertainment (under license from the estates of Donna Reed and Tony Owen) have released The Donna Reed Show on DVD in Region 1. The studio has released Seasons 1–3 on DVD.[8]

A 4-episode "best of" release is set to be released April 13, 2010 from Virgil Films and Entertainment.[9]

Season Ep # Release Date
Season 1 37 October 28, 2008
Season 2 38 July 28, 2009
Season 3 38 December 1, 2009
Family Favorites DVD Ep # Release Date
The Donna Reed Show 4 April 13, 2010

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


  1. ^ Leibman, Nina Clare (1995). Living Room Lectures: The Fifties Family in Film and Television. University of Texas Press. pp. 58. ISBN 0-292-74684-9. 
  2. ^ a b Bronson, Fred (2003). The Billboard Book of Number 1 Hits: The Inside Story Behind Every Number One Single on Billboard's Hot 100 from 1955 to the Present. Billboard Books. pp. 107. ISBN 0-823-07677-6. 
  3. ^ Fultz, Jay (1998). In Search of Donna Reed. University of Iowa Press. pp. 151. ISBN 0-877-45625-9. 
  4. ^ Scott Royce, Brenda (1990). Donna Reed: A Bio-Bibliography. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 8. ISBN 0-313-26806-1. 
  5. ^ Leibman, Nina Clare (1995). Living Room Lectures: The Fifties Family in Film and Television. University of Texas Press. pp. 268. ISBN 0-292-74684-9. 
  6. ^ Scott Royce, Brenda (1990). Donna Reed: A Bio-Bibliography. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 9. ISBN 0-313-26806-1. 
  7. ^ Lambert, David (2004-01-09). "Site News – Sony, General Mills serve TV-on-DVD for Breakfast: King Of Queens, Barney Miller, Mad About You, & Donna Reed". 
  8. ^ Lambert, David (2009-08-03). "The Donna Reed Show - Virgil Plans an October Bow for The Complete 3rd Season". 
  9. ^ Lambert, David (2010-02-10). "The Donna Reed Show - Box Front Art Changes on Virgil's 'Family Favorites' DVD". Retrieved 15 March 2010. 

External links

Simple English

The Donna Reed Show
Format Situation Comedy
Starring Donna Reed
Carl Betz
Shelley Fabares
Paul Petersen
Country of origin
Language(s) English
No. of episodes 151
Running time 30 minutes
Original channel ABC
Original run September 24, 1958March 19, 1966

The Donna Reed Show was an American situation comedy. It aired on ABC network from 1958 to 1966. It starred Donna Reed as Donna Stone, a housewife to Doctor Alex Stone, played by Carl Betz. The couple had two children together, Mary and Jeff.

The series was fairly normal for a situation comedy. The focus of the series was on parenting problems. The love lives and activities of the children were also a main part of the series. The series was very unusual at the time because Donna would help solve the children's problems alone while Alex worked. It was also unique because Donna often worked as a nurse, at a time when most television mothers were housewives.

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