Donna Reed

Active - 1941 - 2014  |   Born - Jan 27, 1921 in Dennison, Iowa, United States  |   Died - Jan 14, 1986   |   Genres - Comedy, Drama, Romance

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Biography by AllMovie

Reed was elected beauty queen of her high school and Campus Queen of her college. The latter honor resulted in her photo making the L.A. papers, and as a result she was invited to take a screen test with MGM, which signed her in 1941. She played supporting roles in a number of minor films (at first being billed as "Donna Adams"), then in the mid '40s she began getting leads; with rare exceptions, she portrayed sincere, wholesome types and loving wives and girlfriends. She went against type playing a prostitute in From Here to Eternity (1953), for which she won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar. Rarely getting rewarding roles, she retired from the screen in 1958 to star in the TV series "The Donna Reed Show," which was a great success and remained on the air through 1966. After 1960 she appeared in only one more film. In the mid '80s she emerged from retirement to star in "Dallas;" Barbara Bel Geddes returned to the show in 1985, and Reed won a $1 million settlement for a breach of contract suit against the show's producers. She died of cancer several months later.

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  • Was elected campus queen while at Los Angeles City College.
  • Made film debut in the 1941 crime drama The Get-Away under the name Donna Adams.
  • Though best known for such wholesome roles as Mary Bailey (James Stewart's wife) in It's a Wonderful Life (1946) and housewife Donna Stone on The Donna Reed Show (1958-63), she won her Supporting Actress Oscar for playing a prostitute in From Here to Eternity (1953).
  • Second husband Tony Owen produced The Donna Reed Show as well as Beyond Mombasa, a 1956 adventure film in which she was the female lead.
  • Cofounded the antiwar organization Another Mother for Peace in 1967.
  • Replaced Barbara Bel Geddes in Dallas for the 1984-85 season, but was fired when Bel Geddes returned; Reed successfully sued the producers for breach of contract.
  • The Dennison, IA, movie theater she attended as a child was renamed the Donna Reed Center for the Performing Arts following her death.