Donna Reed [1921-1986]
American leading lady, from a small town in Iowa, who's real name was Donna Mullenger. While a college student in L.A., she was spotted in a play and signed to a film contract.
Donna Reed began playing small parts starting in 1941. By 1945, she was starring in films, beginning with THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY, based on the Oscar Wilde story of a degenerate Londoner in the late 1800's. Donna Reed then starred in Frank Capra's classic, IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, with James Stewart, playing the adoring wife of an adventurous young man who ultimately finds his life at home more engrossing than his lust for adventure.
Also in 1945, Reed was boarding a plane for Burbank, CA from Mexico, where she had obtained a divorce from her first husband, when she was bumped off the plane in favor of a military officer. Before the plane landed in California, it crashed, killing everyone on board.
In 1953, Donna Reed played a prostitute in the critically acclaimed, FROM HERE TO ETERNITY, with Burt Lancaster, a steamy drama played against the backdrop of the bombing of Pearl Harbor in World War II. The film won 8 Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Reed won an Oscar as Best Supporting Actress.
Donna Reed was also the star of THE DONNA REED SHOW, [1958-1966], a long running television program about the tribulations of an idealized American family. The show was nominated 4 times for Emmys.
Reed was an anti-nuclear activist and a protester against the Vietman War. She founded the activist group, Another Mother for Peace.
Donna Reed was hired for one season in the long running television series, DALLAS, playing Ellie Ewing in the 1984-5 season. Reed was replacing actress Barbara Bel Geddes, who then wanted her role back the following season. Donna Reed sued the production company, who made her a $1 million dollar out-of-court settlement.
Reed had this to say about her experience in Hollywood: "Forty pictures I was in, and all I remember is 'What kind of bra will you be wearing today, honey?' That was always the area of big decision - from the neck to the navel."
Donna Reed's other films include:
THE GETAWAY (1941)
SHADOW OF THE THIN MAN (1941)
THE HUMAN COMEDY (1943)
THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY (1945)
IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946)
GREEN DOLPHIN STREET (1947)
BEYOND MOMBASA (1956)
THE WHOLE TRUTH (1958)
YELLOW-HEADED SUMMER (1974)
Donna Reed's television credits also include:
THE BEST PLACE TO BE (1979)
DEADLY LESSONS (TV Movie) (1983)
DALLAS (TV Series) (1984 -1985)