Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Star of the Month-Donna Reed

 Donna Reed

BIRTH: January 27, 1921

DEATH: January 14, 1986

AGED: 64 years

DIED FROM: Pancreatic cancer 

REAL NAME: Donna Belle Mullenger

AFFAIRS: Lew Ayres and, maybe, Frank Sinatra but that’s just a rumour

MARRIED: 3 times

CHILDREN: 4 kids with 2 eldest being adopted

OSCAR WINS: Best Supporting actress for From Here To Eternity 


TALENT: Was pretty good in sports. She was quite good in Baseball so, when she threw the rock at the house breaking the glass, it was really Donna who threw that rock in the scene from “It’s A Wonderful Life.”

KNOWN FOR: Being wholesome although she won the Oscar for playing a whore. Co-founding the anti Vietnam war organization, “Another Mother for Peace”. Suing and winning her case for being fired from the TV show, “Dallas.”

How can anyone not love Donna Reed most famous for her starring role, opposite James Stewart, in the great film, “It’s A Wonderful Life” but also known a the most wonderful mom in “The Donna Reed Show” who epitomized the perfect mom. I still have to see that show but the kids who played her kids on TV never said a bad word about her and, in fact, Shelley Fabares considered her a second mom. She was a Republican but that didn’t mean she always agreed with the Party. During the Vietnam war, when her son could have been drafted, she co-founded “Another Mother for Peace” and worked tirelessly against the war. She also wrote to many GI’s during World War 2 when they wrote her letters because she felt she needed to. She was one of many actresses who were pin-ups during this time but she was more rare for actually responding to their letters. Later on, she played on Dallas, replacing Barbara Bel Geddes but was unceremoniously fired by the producers when Barbara decided to come back. For some reason, the audience never took to Donna Reed but , no matter, she sued the producers for breach of contract and won her case. Sadly, she died too young, in my opinion,  but will always be remembered for Mary, the woman who loves George Bailey.


1. It’s A Wonderful Life-1946

2. The Picture of Dorian Gray-1945

3. The Were Expendable-1945

4, Green Dolphin Street-1947

5, Beyond Glory-1948

6, From Here To Eternity-1953

7. The Caddy-1953

8. The Last Time I Saw Paris-1954

9. Far Horizons-1955

10. The Benny Goodman Story-1956


  1. Enjoyed The Donna Reed show when it aired. I was so young then, lol.

    1. You saw some great shows that don’t appear any more.

  2. I remember the Donna Reed show. I think she's a great pick.

    1. Thanks! I think she deserves to be known

  3. I remember her well, but didn't know that she died so young. What a pity! Interesting that we share the same birth date (different year, of course). ☺

    1. Well, Happy Birthday…this month:)). Yes, she was too young.

  4. I didn’t know that about Dallas. Happy new year, Birgit.

    1. Happy New Year! Es, I remember how badly she was treated including the masses who wanted Bel Geddes but bashed Donna Reed.

  5. We used to watch The Donna Reed Show back in the '60's. One weekend, the Decades channel ran the show all weekend. I sat and watched and was amazed at how many of the shows I remembered.

    1. I wish they would bring this back on our channel that shows old shows. I’d watch it.

  6. I've only seen her in It's A Wonderful Life. I think I need to add From Here to Eternity to my list.

    1. Oh, yes, that should be on your blind spot this year.

  7. Oh, sigh. I see your spam folder got my comment again.

  8. Hi Birgit,

    Sorry so late with this! An excellent choice for the month!

    For someone who never had a really big film career, respectable but she wasn't someone who carried her films like Lana Turner, Ava Gardner or June Allyson, she still managed to appear in at least two classics with Wonderful Life and Eternity.

    She was always second or third billed in her films once she moved into leading lady status but she was wise to see the handwriting on the wall and jump into television where like Lucy she was a much bigger success than she ever was on the big screen.

    She gives a beautiful performance in It's a Wonderful Life but I think the best she ever was is as Lorene/Alma in From Here to Eternity. She and Montgomery Clift connected and I think rose each other's game in their interactions which made their story so compelling. She was the right choice for the role too though I know she certainly wasn't the first one. Initially it was between Gloria Grahame and Shelley Winters but Shelley said no because she had just given birth and wanted to spend time with her before returning to work. Gloria had other commitments. Both of course would have given fine performances but they were more on the nose to type than Donna which made her stand out more. Carolyn Jones, who with her wide searching eyes and quiet intensity would have been terrific, was also up for it but fell ill and the studio pushed Donna though Zinnemann wasn't at first convinced.

    I've seen all of her feature films and outside those two classics they are a routine lot. Winning that Oscar kept her up there in the cast list but didn't lead to better written roles.

    My top 5 of her films based her roles in them (as opposed to film quality except the first two):

    From Here to Eternity
    It's a Wonderful Life
    They Were Expendable
    Green Dolphin Street

    1. Merry after Christmas and Happy New Year. Glad you like my first pick for this year. You know, I have never seen an episode of the Donna Reed Show. They never showed it here I Canuckland like .any others. I agree with all that you have stated and I like your list. But still need to see Ransom and Dolphin St.