Donna Reed passed away in 1986, but her legacy continues up to this day. Her widower, Grover Asmus, with the help of many of Donna’s family and friends, established the Donna Reed Foundation for the Performing Arts. They offer grants and scholarships for students that are taking up courses in performing arts.
Since its creation, the Donna Reed Foundation has already established a long tradition of programs that recognize excellence in the performing arts. The contributions of Donna Reed herself as an actress and the foundation that was created in her honor ensure that her legacy will never be forgotten.
Billboard Hot 100
"The Donna Reed show" did not only open doors to the acting careers of its casts. The show also had some notable unexpected hit songs which led to successful the singing careers of its cast. Probably the most famous of these songs was “Johnny Angel” which was sung by Shelley Fabares.
The song was originally sung and recorded by both Laurie Loman and Georgia Lee, but the two previous versions were not successful. When Shelley Fabares sang it and it was featured in "The Donna Reed Show", it became a huge hit and even made it to number one on the Billboard Hot 100.
Paul Petersen the Singer
Paul Petersen was one of the breakout singers that were on the cast of "The Donna Reed Show". He performed a song called “My Dad” on the show, and it immediately became a sensation. It was then released as a single and it reached an honorable 6th place on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart.
The song “My Dad” was found to be very heart-warming and true in spirit by many of the show’s fans. It is a song about how a dad was viewed by an adoring daughter. Because of this, Petersen received many recording offers which produced many other hit songs which include “She Can’t Find Her Keys”. A song that was also featured on the show.
The Donna Reed Festival
Every year, a festival in honor of Donna Reed is held in Denison, Iowa, named: “The Annual Donna Reed Performing Arts Festival and Workshops". This festival is organized by the Donna Reed Foundation for the Performing Arts. At this festival, they offer different workshops and seminars related to performing arts.
The foundation also offers scholarships and merit awards to individuals who qualify for post-secondary education and desire to pursue an education or a career in the performing arts. The festival is held every year in the third week of June. One of the organizers of the festival is Paul Petersen, who played Donna’s son on the Show. He's also become a member of the Donna Reed Foundation.
She Helped Jump-Start Bob Crane’s Career
After Reed witnessed Bob Crane's killer performance on "The Dick Van Dyke Show", she decided that she had to have him on hers, and offered him a guest role on her show. Not surprisingly, the episode he appeared in was a hit, and his character, Dr. David Kelsey, was incorporated into the show's storyline, thus Crane became a regular cast member.
He played a good friend of the family and he was also a colleague of Donna's husband. Dave continued on the series until 1965. After Crane's run in the show ended in 1965, he was offered a starring role on the hit show "Hogan’s Heroes", and the rest is history.