Reed, Donna (1921-1986)

views updated

Reed, Donna (1921-1986)

With The Donna Reed Show (1958-1966), actress Donna Reed was one of the most popular women of early television. While the character she played was a typical television housewife of the 1950s, Reed was also a pioneer as one of the only women at the time who produced her own shows. She began her career playing sweethearts and wives in films of the 1940s—in 1946 she appeared opposite Jimmy Stewart in the film classic It's a Wonderful Life. Reed eventually attempted to break out of good-girl roles by portraying a prostitute in From Here to Eternity (1953), for which she won an Academy Award. When the film industry did not provide her other parts she wanted, Reed decided turn to the new medium of television, where she became a huge star. After her show went off the air in the 1960s, she continued to act periodically until her death.

—Jill A. Gregg

Further Reading:

Fultz, Jay. In Search of Donna Reed. Des Moines, University of Iowa Press, 1998.