Thursday, July 21, 2011

Donna Reed

Here's the opening from Season 1. I used to watch this program all the time. Of course, it was long before Dan Akroyd became famous. In this opening video, Carl Betz reminds me of Dan. Does anyone else notice any resemblance?

Rather than rewrite the entire history and plot line, I thought the author who provided this info to Wikipedia did a great job. I couldn't do any better, so I've pasted it below. If you'd like more details, just Google the Donna Reed Show or click on the previous Wikipedia link to go to the reference page.

The Donna Reed Show is an American sitcom starring Donna Reed as the upper middle class housewife Donna Stone. Carl Betz appears as her pediatrician husband Alex, and Shelley Fabares and Paul Petersen as their teenage children Mary and Jeff. The show originally aired on ABC at 10 pm from September 24, 1958 to March 19, 1966.

When Fabares left the show in 1964, Petersen's little sister Patty Petersen joined the cast as adopted daughter Trisha. Bob Crane and Ann McCrea appeared in the last seasons as the Kelseys, friends of the Stones, and Darryl Richard became a near regular as Smitty, Jeff's best buddy. The show featured a variety of celebrity guests including Esther Williams as a famous dress designer, baseball superstars Don Drysdale and Willie Mays as themselves, teen heartthrob James Darren as a pop singer with the measles, canine superstar Lassie as herself, and young Jay North as Dennis the Menace.


Donna is the wife of Dr. Alex Stone, a pediatrician practicing in fictional Hilldale, and the mother of teenagers Mary and Jeff. The plot revolves around the lightweight and humorous sorts of situations and problems a middle class family experienced in the late 1950s and the early 1960s. Donna, for example, would sometimes find herself swamped with the demands of community theatricals and charity drives; Mary had problems juggling boyfriends and finding dresses to wear to one party or another; and Jeff was often caught in situations appropriate to his age and gender such as joining a secret boys' club, avoiding love-smitten classmates, or bidding at auction on an old football uniform. Alex was the family's Rock of Gibralter, but often found himself in situations that tested his patience: in one episode for example, Donna volunteered him as the judge of a baby contest, and, in another episode, Mary insisted her gawky, geeky boyfriend was the spitting image of her father. Very occasionally eccentric relatives would descend on the Stones to complicate the household situation. When Mary left for college in the middle seasons, a runaway orphan named Trisha was adopted by the family. In the last seasons, Jeff would spend much time with best buddy Smitty, and Donna and Alex would find best friends in Dave Kelsey, Alex's professional colleague, and his wife Midge. While mainly concerned with mundane household and family affairs, the show sometimes addressed edgier issues such as women's rights ("Just a Housewife") and freedom of the press ("The Editorial").

It was a great program that entertained America for seven and a half years. Sometimes we forget the really good programs from those early days. Thanks guys.

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