“The Donna Reed Show” was not only one of the most popular family television programs of that era, it’s still referenced in many other shows today! You can see the cast watch the show in “Gilmore Girls”, and it has also been prominently featured on the AMC hit series “Mad Men”, an American period-drama hit television series.
“Mad Men” is also set in the 1960s and one of the ways that the writers and producers gave the show that 1960s feel, was by having their characters constantly be shown watching “The Donna Reed Show”. What an authentic addition, as there was likely not a home in America that didn’t tune in to the show at that time.
TV Family Turned Into a Real-Life Family
With the shows we grow up to love and cherish, we can't help but wonder if the characters portrayed on-screen become friends off-screen. With "The Donna Reed Show" lasting for 8 years, it was only natural that the whole cast became very close, proving that the show has not only impacted Donna Reed’s career but also her personal life.
The two cast members that became particularly close with Donna Reed were Paul Petersen and Shelley Fabares. They both played her children in the show, but outside of the show, they have been reported to frequently visit her at her home, even decades after the show had ended. Some friendships really do last forever!
Conservative Turned Liberal
Donna Reed never shied away from expressing her political views and ideologies. She was a conservative and was a registered Republican for most of her life. Being the trendsetter that she was, her fans watched as her political views shifted and she consequently reevaluated their own political views and beliefs.
During the late 1960s, the war in Vietnam took place and Donna was a strong opponent of conflict. Because her personal views on war deviated from her original political party, she had gradually become more liberal. She campaigned against the war while serving as the co-chair of an anti-war organization called Another Mother for Peace.
It’s a Wonderful Life
Naturally, "The Donna Reed Show" opened up other big doors for the actress. And because of her amazing talent, she has also played other characters that have been widely praised and regarded as iconic. She starred as Mary, in "It’s a Wonderful Life", a film that has cemented its legacy as one of the most classic Christmas movies of all time.
She played the character that was Jimmy Stewart’s love interest. Those two major roles played by her made Donna Reed one of the most beloved Hollywood stars of all time. As if that wasn't enough, Donna Reed also won an Academy Award for her role in "From Here to Eternity."
Not Too Cool for School
What's more interesting about this incredible woman is that during her childhood she never dreamed of becoming an actress. Actually, her childhood dream was to become a teacher but she was unable to pay for college. Donna had always stressed the importance of education and she was known as being a straight-A student herself.
So she moved to California and attended Los Angeles City College and to support herself she performed in various stage productions. Soon enough, she began to receive many offers from various studios for auditions and screen tests thanks to her talent and beauty. But because her education was so important to her, she made it a point to finish school first, before signing with MGM and starting her acting career.