The Donna Reed Show

The Donna Reed Show is an American sitcom starring Donna Reed as the middle-class housewife Donna Stone. Carl Betz co-stars as her pediatrician husband Dr. Alex Stone, and Shelley Fabares and Paul Petersen as their teenage children, Mary and Jeff. The show originally aired on ABC from September 24, 1958 to March 19, 1966. When Fabares left the show in 1963, Petersen's younger sister, Patty Petersen, joined the cast as adopted daughter Trisha. Patty Petersen had first appeared in the episode "A Way of Her Own", on January 31, 1963. Janet Landgard was a series regular from 1963-1965 as Karen Holmby.[1]

The Donna Reed Show
First season title screen
StarringDonna Reed
Carl Betz
Shelley Fabares
Paul Petersen
Patty Petersen
Theme music composerJohn Seely
Opening theme"Happy Days"
Composer(s)Irving Friedman
William Loose
Stu Phillips
Hans J. Salter
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons8
No. of episodes275
Producer(s)Tony Owen
William S. Roberts
CinematographyGert Andersen
Editor(s)Richard Fantl
Robert B. Hoover
Camera setupSingle-camera
Running time22–24 minutes
Production company(s)Screen Gems
DistributorScreen Gems
Original networkABC
Picture formatBlack-and-white
Audio formatMonaural
Original releaseSeptember 24, 1958 (1958-09-24) 
March 19, 1966 (1966-03-19)

Bob Crane and Ann McCrea appeared in the last seasons as Dr. Dave Kelsey and his wife, Midge, friends of the Stones, and Darryl Richard became a near regular in thirty-two episodes 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, and young Jay North of CBS's Dennis the Menace.

The series was created by William S. Roberts and developed by Reed and her then husband, producer Tony Owen. Episodes revolved around typical family problems of the period such as firing a clumsy housekeeper, throwing a retirement bash for a colleague, and finding quality time away from the children. Then-daring themes such as women's rights and freedom of the press were occasionally explored.

The show had an uncertain start in the ratings and was almost cancelled, but fared better when it was moved from Wednesday to Thursday nights. In the show's middle seasons, Fabares sang what became a #1 teen pop hit "Johnny Angel", and Petersen had above average success with the song "My Dad", also introduced during the course of the series.

The Donna Reed Show was one of television's top 25 shows in 1963-1964. Reed was repeatedly nominated for Emmy Awards between 1959 and 1962, and won a Golden Globe as Best Female TV Star in 1963. She eventually grew tired of the workaday grind involved in the program, and it was cancelled in 1966 after 275 episodes.

The series was sponsored by Campbell Soup Company, with Johnson & Johnson as the principal alternate sponsor (succeeded in the fall of 1963 by The Singer Company).[2] Following first-run, the show entered daytime reruns on ABC and then syndication on Nick at Nite and TV Land for several years. It is currently shown on Decades (TV network). The first five seasons have been released on DVD.

This show was the first TV family sitcom to feature the mother as the center of the show. Reed's character, Donna Stone, is a loving mother and wife, but also a strong woman, an active participant in her community, a woman with feelings and a sense of humor. According to many of Reed's friends and family, Reed shared many similarities to the character that she portrayed on screen, implying that the fictional Donna Stone was a near-identical copy of Reed herself.

In a 2008 interview, Paul Petersen (Jeff Stone) stated:

[The Donna Reed Show] depicts a better time and place. It has a sort of level of intelligence and professionalism that is sadly lacking in current entertainment products. The messages it sent out were positive and uplifting. The folks you saw were likable, the family was fun, the situations were familiar to people. It provided 22-and-a-half-minutes of moral instructions and advice on how to deal with the little dilemmas of life. Jeff and Mary and their friends had all the same problems that real kids in high school did.[3]

Petersen continued,

That's what the show was really about, the importance of family. That's where life's lessons are transmitted, generation to generation. There's a certain way in which these are transmitted, with love and affection.[3]


Episodes revolve around the lightweight and humorous sorts of situations and problems a middle-class family experienced in the late 1950s and the early 1960s set in fictional Hilldale, state never mentioned.

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 Gibraltar, but often found himself in situations that tested his patience: in one episode, 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 various household and family affairs, the show sometimes addressed edgier issues such as women's rights ("Just a Housewife" and "All Women Are Dangerous") freedom of the press ("The Editorial"), and in the final season drug addiction was seriously addressed ("The Big League Shock").


David Tucker writes in The Women Who Made Television Funny that most family sitcoms of the 1950s such as Father Knows Best, The Life of Riley, and The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet focus on the father figure with the mother as "adjunct". He points out however that The Donna Reed Show "established the primacy of the mother on the domestic front" and notes that Mother Knows Better was even briefly considered as the show's title.[4] Though The Donna Reed Show did sometimes use recycled Father Knows Best scripts that had been slightly altered, such as character name changes.

The series was created by William Roberts and developed by Reed and her then husband, producer Tony Owen (the production company "Todon" is an amalgamation of their first names.) Roberts intended the show to respectfully picture the many demanding roles a stay-at-home woman was expected to master - wife, mom, companion, housekeeper, cook, laundress, seamstress, PTA officer, choir singer, scout leader, etc. - all the while being "effervescent, immaculate, and pretty."[4] Reed stated, "We started breaking rules right and left. We had a female lead, for one thing, a strong, healthy woman. We had a story line told from a woman's point of view that wasn't soap opera."[4] In addition, Reed described her show, accordingly: "I would call The Donna Reed Show a realistic picture of small town life - with an often humorous twist. Our plots revolve around the most important thing in America — a loving family."

In its first year on the struggling ABC network, the show was up against Milton Berle's popular Texaco Star Theater and Reed ratings were low. ABC nearly cancelled the show, but it was renewed and ratings improved when the show was moved from Wednesday to Thursday nights. The series flourished for the next seven years, but made television's top 25 only in 1963-1964. In a 1964 interview, Reed said, "We have proved on our show that the public really does want to see a healthy woman, not a girl, not a neurotic, not a sexpot...I am so fed up with immature 'sex' and stories about kooky, amoral, sick women."[5]

The opening credits showed Reed coming down the stairs to answer the telephone. She hands the receiver to Alex, then goes to the front door to hand the children their bag lunches and schoolbooks as they leave for school. Alex then leaves, kissing his wife good-bye. On some opening themes, he forgets to kiss Donna good-bye, but returns as she closes the door to give her a quick kiss. She closes the door and smiles happily. A late series variant showed Donna departing after her husband, possibly for shopping, church or community matters, or some other concern. Reed brought personal friends Esther Williams, Jimmy Hawkins, and Buster Keaton to the program in guest spots.[4]

On February 1, 1962, Fabares debuted her single "Johnny Angel" in the episode "Donna's Prima Donna". It rose to #1 and sold over a million copies.[6] Petersen introduced his single "My Dad" eight months later on October 25, 1962. It peaked at #6.[6]

By 1962 Reed felt the writers were running out of fresh ideas and had exhausted plot devices. She also wanted to spend more time with her family and was worn out from producing nearly 30 episodes a year. To coincide with Fabares's plans to leave at the end of season 5 (1962-1963), Reed and her husband decided to end the show. Since the series was still very popular ABC offered Reed a more lucrative contract with an extension of three seasons, to which she agreed. Their new contract called for fewer episodes and other incentives to allow Reed more personal time.

Beginning in Season 6 there was a reduction in the number of episodes produced, and work hours were shortened to please Reed.[4] In season 5, (1963) Mary departed for college, reducing Fabares's appearances, something which continued yearly with her role becoming a minor character. Fabares left the full-time cast to pursue opportunities in films. She eventually returned seven times for guest appearances (Season 6 episodes 8, 11, 14-Season 7 episodes 5, 15, 30 & Season 8 episode 13). Following Fabares's departure, Petersen's real-life sister Patty Petersen joined the show as Trisha, a runaway orphan eventually adopted by the Stones.[7] The program achieved its highest Nielsen ratings in Season 6, reaching #16 after Fabares' departure. A possible reason for higher ratings was the addition of new characters, Ann McCrea and disc jockey-turned actor Bob Crane as the Stones' neighbors, Midge and Dave Kelsey. This not only provided both Donna and Alex with best friends, but co-conspirators, as well. So popular were their roles that by the fall of 1964, both McCrea and Crane began receiving billing in the opening credits of the program. Crane left the series in 1965 to star in the CBS sitcom Hogan's Heroes. As a result, he was written out of the show although his character continued to be referred to and McCrea's character remained with the program. Also, towards the end of the series, actor Darryl Richard was regularly featured as Jeff Stone's best friend, Morton "Smitty" Smith. Richard first appeared in 1962 and "Smitty" became a major character after Season 6.

In the spring of 1966, Reed had grown tired of the weekly grind and wanted to retire. The program was rated #89 during its final season. After 275 episodes and eight seasons on ABC, The Donna Reed Show ended its prime-time run. Reed expressed no interest in taking on another series, declined television guest appearances, and shunned films because she thought their depictions of women vapid.

She did express interest in a television reunion for the Stone family at one point, but the concept was discarded after Carl Betz's death in 1978. Tucker writes that women libbers of the 1970s targeted the Donna Stone character as an unrealistic portrait of a modern woman and a stereotype of the impossibly perfect wife and mother. He believes that Reed "gave motherhood a tinge of glamour it usually lacked on TV".[4]

Characters and cast


  • Donna Stone (Donna Reed) is the idealized middle class housewife to Alex, and the mother of Mary and Jeff. She grew up on a farm and became a nurse. She sometimes works as a nurse on the show. Donna was married to Alex when she was 18 and the couple live in fictional Hilldale. She participates in community activities such as charity campaigns and amateur theatricals. Like several television wives and mothers of the 1950s, she inexplicably wears heels, pearls, and chic frocks to do the housework. (Note: In one episode, it is revealed that Donna Stone's maiden name, like Donna Reed, is Donna Belle Mullenger and she is also from Denison, Iowa.)
  • Alex Stone (Carl Betz) is a pediatrician. Like most television couples of the 1950s, Alex and Donna sleep in twin beds. The two show a physical affection for each other slightly more intense than other television couples of the period.
  • Mary Stone (Shelley Fabares) is 14 "almost fifteen" and a freshman in high school when the show opens. She has a few boyfriends during the course of the show with Jimmy Hawkins as Scotty being a regular. Mary plays the piano like a professional and studies ballet. She leaves the show to attend college.
  • Jeff Stone (Paul Petersen) is "almost twelve" when the show opens. He is a typical American boy; he plays sports, likes to eat, and teases his older sister. Jeff is a complex character: he champions the underdog at school but cheats at board games. Atypical for the fictional children in 1960s sitcoms, Jeff and Mary often get away with "talking back" to their parents.
  • Trisha (Patty Petersen) is a runaway orphan the age of eight whom the Stones adopt after Mary leaves for college. She remained for the duration of the program.


  • Dr. Dave Kelsey (Bob Crane) and his wife Midge (Ann McCrea) are friends of the Stones. Dave, Alex's colleague, appeared for the first time on March 14, 1963 in the episode "The Two Doctor Stones". Dave continued on the series until 1965; Midge appeared from 1963–1966. Crane's character was written out of the show at the end of season 7 when he was cast in the CBS series, Hogan's Heroes. McCrea remained with the show until its conclusion.
  • David Barker (Charles Herbert) - a young military school student who the Reeds look after in many episodes. David is very disobedient and troubled in the beginning but the Reed family soon grow to love and reform him.
  • Uncle Bo (Jack Kelk) is Dr. Boland, Alex's bachelor colleague and friend in the first season.
  • Morton "Smitty" Smith (Darryl Richard) is Jeff's best friend and first appeared on the show in 1962.
  • Zachary Blake (Stephen Pearson) is Jeff's friend in the early seasons.
  • Herbie Bailey (Tommy Ivo) is Mary's fairly regular boyfriend.
  • Scotty (Jimmy Hawkins) is another of Mary's boyfriends. He appeared in two first season episodes as her boyfriend 'George Haskell'. Hawkins' character returned to the show in season 3 as 'Scotty', one of Mary's dates (for seasons 3-4) then as 'Jerry' for seasons 7 & 8 (his last appearance was in December, 1965).
  • Roger (Jan Stine) is Mary's boyfriend in several third season episodes.
  • Angie (Candy Moore) is Jeff's girlfriend in several fourth season episodes. Moore returned to the program during season 8 as Jeff's 'new' girlfriend Bernice/Bebe, in episodes 3, 12, 16, & 19. Moore had just finished 3 seasons playing Lucille Ball's teenaged daughter Chris on The Lucy Show. Moore was written out after season 3 (1965). Moore had acted on the program from 1962-1965. 'The Lucy Show' was her last acting assignment as a major character on a regular network program.
  • Babs (Melinda Plowman) is Mary's first season best girlfriend.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Wilgus (Howard McNear and Kathleen Freeman) are busybody Stone neighbors in season one.
  • Lydia Langley (Mary Shipp) is Donna's snobbish acquaintance in the early seasons.

Guest stars

The Donna Reed Show featured several celebrity guest stars appearing as themselves during its eight-year run. Baseball player Don Drysdale appeared in four episodes while Willie Mays appeared in three episodes and Leo Durocher once. Musician Harry James and singers Tony Martin and Lesley Gore appeared as themselves. Gore was featured in the series' finale, "By-Line--Jeff Stone", on March 19, 1966. Lassie and film director George Sidney appear as themselves in the 1961 episode "The Stones Go To Hollywood". The episode plugged Sidney's then current feature film, Pepe, in which Reed made a cameo appearance.

Silent film comedian Buster Keaton guest starred in two episodes, "A Very Merry Christmas" (December 24, 1958) as Charlie, a hospital janitor who brings gifts to the children's ward, and "Now You See It, Now You Don't" (1965). Child actor Charles Herbert also had a recurring guest role in four episodes as David Barker, a runaway child whom the Stones assist. In the 1960 crossover episode "Donna Decorates", Jay North appeared with his Dennis the Menace co-star, Joseph Kearns as Mr. George Wilson. Esther Williams guest starred as Molly, a fashion designer and friend of Donna's who is herself about to marry a doctor in "The Career Woman" (1960). In real life, Williams and Reed had been close friends since the early 1940s, when they were rising MGM contract stars.

Several actors guest starred numerous times in different roles including Richard Deacon, Gale Gordon, Harvey Korman, Miyoshi Umeki, Doodles Weaver, and Dick Wilson.

As Fabares co-starred in the Mickey Mouse Club serial Annette before the Donna Reed Show, four other Annette co-stars (Deacon, Cheryl Holdridge, Doreen Tracey & Mary Wickes) would also make respective guest appearances on this show.

Other notable guest stars include:


Season 1 (1958–59)

No. in
Title Directed by Written by Original air date
11"Weekend Trip"Andrew McCulloughPhil LeslieSeptember 24, 1958 (1958-09-24)
22"Pardon My Gloves"Oscar RudolphAlan Lipscott & Bob FisherOctober 1, 1958 (1958-10-01)
33"The Hike"Oscar RudolphJay Sommers & Don NelsonOctober 8, 1958 (1958-10-08)
44"Male Ego"Oscar RudolphNate MonasterOctober 15, 1958 (1958-10-15)
55"The Football Uniform"Oscar RudolphWilliam Cowley & Peggy ChantlerOctober 22, 1958 (1958-10-22)
66"The Foundling"Oscar RudolphJohn WhedonOctober 29, 1958 (1958-10-29)
77"Three Part Mother"Oscar RudolphNate MonasterNovember 5, 1958 (1958-11-05)
88"Change Partners and Dance"James V. KernWilliam RobertsNovember 12, 1958 (1958-11-12)
99"Dough Re-Mi"Oscar RudolphAlan Lipscott & Bob FisherNovember 19, 1958 (1958-11-19)
1010"Guest in the House"Oscar RudolphJohn WhedonNovember 26, 1958 (1958-11-26)
1111"The Baby Contest"Oscar RudolphWilliam Cowley & Peggy ChantlerDecember 3, 1958 (1958-12-03)
1212"The Beaded Bag"Oscar RudolphNate MonasterDecember 10, 1958 (1958-12-10)
1313"The Busy Body"Oscar RudolphTBADecember 17, 1958 (1958-12-17)
1414"A Very Merry Christmas"Oscar RudolphNate MonasterDecember 24, 1958 (1958-12-24)
1515"Mary's Double Date"Oscar RudolphAlan Lipscott & Bob FisherDecember 31, 1958 (1958-12-31)
1616"Jeff's Double Life"Oscar RudolphBill ManhoffJanuary 7, 1959 (1959-01-07)
1717"Nothing But the Truth"Oscar RudolphJohn WhedonJanuary 14, 1959 (1959-01-14)
1818"It's the Principle of the Thing"Oscar RudolphJerry Davis & Tom AugustJanuary 21, 1959 (1959-01-21)
1919"Jeff vs. Mary"Oscar RudolphTeleplay by: Henry Sharp & Alan Lipscott & Bob Fisher
Story by: Alan Lipscott & Bob Fisher
January 28, 1959 (1959-01-28)
2020"Have Fun"Oscar RudolphJohn WhedonFebruary 4, 1959 (1959-02-04)
2121"Donna Plays Cupid"Oscar RudolphTeleplay by: Henry Sharp & Alan Lipscott & Bob Fisher
Story by: Alan Lipscott & Bob Fisher
February 11, 1959 (1959-02-11)
2222"Love Thy Neighbor"Oscar RudolphNate MonasterFebruary 18, 1959 (1959-02-18)
2323"The Report Card"Oscar RudolphNate MonasterFebruary 25, 1959 (1959-02-25)
2424"Boys Will Be Boys"Oscar RudolphJohn WhedonMarch 4, 1959 (1959-03-04)
2525"The Ideal Wife"Oscar RudolphNate MonasterMarch 11, 1959 (1959-03-11)
2626"Mary's Campaign"Oscar RudolphNate MonasterMarch 18, 1959 (1959-03-18)
2727"The Flowered Print Dress"Oscar RudolphNate MonasterMarch 25, 1959 (1959-03-25)
2828"April Fool"Oscar RudolphJerry Davis & Tom AugustApril 1, 1959 (1959-04-01)
2929"The Parting of the Ways"Oscar RudolphJohn WhedonApril 8, 1959 (1959-04-08)
3030"The Hero"Oscar RudolphJohn WhedonApril 15, 1959 (1959-04-15)
3131"Do You Trust Your Child?"Oscar RudolphJerry Davis & Tom AugustApril 22, 1959 (1959-04-22)
3232"Grateful Patient"Oscar RudolphNate MonasterApril 29, 1959 (1959-04-29)
3333"The Testimonial"Oscar RudolphNate MonasterMay 6, 1959 (1959-05-06)
3434"Miss Lovelace Comes to Tea"Oscar RudolphHenry SharpMay 13, 1959 (1959-05-13)
3535"Tomorrow Comes Too Soon"Oscar RudolphNate MonasterMay 20, 1959 (1959-05-20)
3636"Advice to Young Lovers"Oscar RudolphJohn WhedonMay 27, 1959 (1959-05-27)
3737"Operation Deadbeat"Oscar RudolphSi Rose & Seaman JacobsJune 3, 1959 (1959-06-03)

Season 2 (1959–60)

No. in
Title Directed by Written by Original air date
381"That's Show Business"Oscar RudolphJerry Davis & Tom AugustSeptember 24, 1959 (1959-09-24)
392"Sleep No More My Lady"Oscar RudolphHenry SharpOctober 1, 1959 (1959-10-01)
403"A Penny Earned"Oscar RudolphTom AugustOctober 8, 1959 (1959-10-08)
414"A Friend Indeed"Oscar RudolphTom AugustOctober 15, 1959 (1959-10-15)
425"The First Child"Oscar RudolphNate MonasterOctober 22, 1959 (1959-10-22)
436"Going Steady"Oscar RudolphNate MonasterOctober 29, 1959 (1959-10-29)
447"The Neighborly Gesture"Oscar RudolphJohn WhedonNovember 5, 1959 (1959-11-05)
458"Nothing Like a Good Book"Oscar RudolphJohn WhedonNovember 12, 1959 (1959-11-12)
469"Flowers for the Teacher"Oscar RudolphNate MonasterNovember 19, 1959 (1959-11-19)
4710"All Mothers Worry"Oscar RudolphNate MonasterNovember 26, 1959 (1959-11-26)
4811"Jeff Joins a Club"Oscar RudolphTom AugustDecember 3, 1959 (1959-12-03)
4912"The Punishment"Oscar RudolphNate MonasterDecember 10, 1959 (1959-12-10)
5013"A Difference of Opinion"Ida LupinoNate MonasterDecember 17, 1959 (1959-12-17)
5114"The Homecoming Dance"Robert Ellis MillerJohn WhedonDecember 24, 1959 (1959-12-24)
5215"The Lucky Girl"Oscar RudolphNate MonasterDecember 31, 1959 (1959-12-31)
5316"The Broken Spirit"Lawrence DobkinNate MonasterJanuary 7, 1960 (1960-01-07)
5417"The Secret"Norman TokarNate MonasterJanuary 14, 1960 (1960-01-14)
5518"The New Mother"Oscar RudolphJohn WhedonJanuary 21, 1960 (1960-01-21)
5619"Just a Housewife"Oscar RudolphNate MonasterJanuary 28, 1960 (1960-01-28)
5720"The Free Soul"Norman TokarFrank TarloffFebruary 4, 1960 (1960-02-04)
5821"The First Quarrel"Robert Ellis MillerNate MonasterFebruary 11, 1960 (1960-02-11)
5922"A Place to Go"Oscar RudolphJohn WhedonFebruary 18, 1960 (1960-02-18)
6023"A Night to Howl"Lawrence DobkinJohn WhedonFebruary 25, 1960 (1960-02-25)
6124"The Editorial"Lawrence DobkinNate MonasterMarch 3, 1960 (1960-03-03)
6225"The Gentle Dew"Norman TokarJohn WhedonMarch 10, 1960 (1960-03-10)
6326"The Fatal Leap"Andrew McCulloughJohn WhedonMarch 17, 1960 (1960-03-17)
6427"The Perfect Pitch"Norman TokarTom & Helen AugustMarch 24, 1960 (1960-03-24)
6528"Pickles for Charity"Norman TokarNate MonasterApril 7, 1960 (1960-04-07)
6629"Mary's Growing Pain"Lawrence DobkinJohn WhedonApril 14, 1960 (1960-04-14)
6730"Alex Runs the House"Lawrence DobkinTom & Helen AugustApril 21, 1960 (1960-04-21)
6831"The Career Woman"Lawrence DobkinNate MonasterApril 28, 1960 (1960-04-28)
6932"Jeff, the Financial Genius"Hy AverbackHenry SharpMay 5, 1960 (1960-05-05)
7033"Mary's Crusade"Lawrence DobkinNate MonasterMay 12, 1960 (1960-05-12)
7134"The First Time We Met"Robert Ellis MillerNate MonasterMay 19, 1960 (1960-05-19)
7235"The Gossip"Robert Ellis MillerFrank TarloffMay 26, 1960 (1960-05-26)
7336"Love's Sweet Awakening"Robert Ellis MillerFrank TarloffJune 2, 1960 (1960-06-02)
7437"The Wedding Present"Hy AverbackPhil SharpJune 9, 1960 (1960-06-09)
7538"Cool Cat"Andrew McCulloughJacqueline TrotteJune 16, 1960 (1960-06-16)

Season 3 (1960–61)

No. in
Title Directed by Written by Original air date
761"Weekend"Andrew McCulloughSam AdamsSeptember 15, 1960 (1960-09-15)
772"The Mystery Woman"Norman TokarBarbara AvedonSeptember 22, 1960 (1960-09-22)
783"Donna Decorates"Andrew McCulloughSeymour FriedmanSeptember 29, 1960 (1960-09-29)
794"The Love Letter"Robert Ellis MillerTom & Helen AugustOctober 6, 1960 (1960-10-06)
805"How the Other Side Lives"James SheldonJohn WhedonOctober 20, 1960 (1960-10-20)
816"Alex's Twin"Jeffrey HaydenNate MonasterOctober 27, 1960 (1960-10-27)
827"Worried Anyone?"Robert Ellis MillerClifford GoldsmithNovember 3, 1960 (1960-11-03)
838"Higher Learning"Jeffrey HaydenHugh Wedlock & Howard SnyderNovember 10, 1960 (1960-11-10)
849"Never Marry a Doctor"Andrew McCulloughJohn WhedonNovember 17, 1960 (1960-11-17)
8510"It Only Hurts When I Laugh"Jeffrey HaydenDouglas MorrowNovember 24, 1960 (1960-11-24)
8611"The Model Daughter"Robert Ellis MillerTom & Helen AugustDecember 1, 1960 (1960-12-01)
8712"Decisions, Decisions, Decisions"Jeffrey HaydenTheodore & Mathilde FerroDecember 8, 1960 (1960-12-08)
8813"Donna Goes to a Reunion"Robert Ellis MillerJohn WhedonDecember 15, 1960 (1960-12-15)
8914"Someone is Watching"Robert Ellis MillerJohn WhedonDecember 22, 1960 (1960-12-22)
9015"The Lean and Hungry Look"Robert Ellis MillerTom & Helen AugustDecember 29, 1960 (1960-12-29)
9116"Character Building"Jeffrey HaydenClifford GoldsmithJanuary 5, 1961 (1961-01-05)
9217"World's Greatest Entertainer"Norman TokarBarbara AvedonJanuary 12, 1961 (1961-01-12)
9318"Variations on a Theme"Jeffrey HaydenJohn WhedonJanuary 19, 1961 (1961-01-19)
9419"The Stones Go to Hollywood"Ted HaworthPhil SharpJanuary 26, 1961 (1961-01-26)
9520"Donna Directs a Play"Robert Ellis MillerTom & Helen AugustFebruary 2, 1961 (1961-02-02)
9621"Trip to Nowhere"Robert Ellis MillerJohn WhedonFebruary 9, 1961 (1961-02-09)
9722"The Geisha Girl"Norman TokarTom & Helen AugustFebruary 16, 1961 (1961-02-16)
9823"The Busy People"James NeilsonHugh Wedlock & Howard SnyderFebruary 23, 1961 (1961-02-23)
9924"Tony Martin Visits"Robert Ellis MillerHugh Wedlock & Howard Snyder & Phil SharpMarch 2, 1961 (1961-03-02)
10025"Aunt Belle's Earrings"Robert Ellis MillerHenry SharpMarch 9, 1961 (1961-03-09)
10126"Poodle Parlor"Jeffrey HaydenJohn WhedonMarch 16, 1961 (1961-03-16)
10227"Mary's Heart Throb"Norman TokarJohn WhedonMarch 23, 1961 (1961-03-23)
10328"Donna's Helping Hand"Norman TokarJohn WhedonMarch 30, 1961 (1961-03-30)
10429"The Merry Month of April"Robert Ellis MillerJohn WhedonApril 6, 1961 (1961-04-06)
10530"Music Hath Charms"Jeffrey HaydenJohn WhedonApril 13, 1961 (1961-04-13)
10631"Let's Look at Love"Jeffrey HaydenClifford GoldsmithApril 20, 1961 (1961-04-20)
10732"For Better or Worse"Norman TokarTeleplay by: Phil Sharp & David R. Schwartz
Story by: Nate Monaster
April 27, 1961 (1961-04-27)
10833"Jeff, the Treasurer"Jeffrey HaydenJohn ElliotteMay 4, 1961 (1961-05-04)
10934"The Good Guys and the Bad Guys"Robert Ellis MillerJohn WhedonMay 11, 1961 (1961-05-11)
11035"Military School"Robert Ellis MillerHenry SharpMay 18, 1961 (1961-05-18)
11136"Mary's Driving Lesson"Robert Ellis MillerTom & Helen AugustMay 25, 1961 (1961-05-25)
11237"The Mustache"Jeffrey HaydenPhil SharpJune 1, 1961 (1961-06-01)
11338"Mary's Little Lambs"Jeffrey HaydenTom & Helen AugustJune 8, 1961 (1961-06-08)

Season 4 (1961–62)

No. in
Title Directed by Written by Original air date
1141"One Starry Night"Jeffrey HaydenSummer LongSeptember 14, 1961 (1961-09-14)
1152"A Rose is a Rose"Robert Ellis MillerClifford GoldsmithSeptember 21, 1961 (1961-09-21)
1163"The Close Shave"Norman TokarSummer LongSeptember 28, 1961 (1961-09-28)
1174"Mouse at Play"Jeffrey HaydenJohn WhedonOctober 5, 1961 (1961-10-05)
1185"The Monster"Jeffrey HaydenJohn WhedonOctober 12, 1961 (1961-10-12)
1196"New Girl in Town"Jeffrey HaydenMichael FessierOctober 19, 1961 (1961-10-19)
1207"One of Those Days"Jeffrey HaydenJohn WhedonOctober 26, 1961 (1961-10-26)
1218"All is Forgiven"Andrew McCulloughJohn WhedonNovember 2, 1961 (1961-11-02)
1229"The Electrical Storm"Barry ShearAndy WhiteNovember 9, 1961 (1961-11-09)
12310"The Paper Tycoon"Jeffrey HaydenSheila J. LynchNovember 16, 1961 (1961-11-16)
12411"Private Tutor"Earl BellamyFrank FoxNovember 23, 1961 (1961-11-23)
12512"Alex, the Professor"Jeffrey HaydenBarbara HammerNovember 30, 1961 (1961-11-30)
12613"The Fabulous O'Hara"Barry ShearDouglas MorrowDecember 7, 1961 (1961-12-07)
12714"Way of a Woman"Norman TokarJohn WhedonDecember 14, 1961 (1961-12-14)
12815"A Very Bright Boy"Jackie CooperTrue BoardmanDecember 21, 1961 (1961-12-21)
12916"The Toughest Kid in School"Norman TokarHenry SharpDecember 28, 1961 (1961-12-28)
13017"Dr. Stone and His Horseless Carriage"Norman TokarSummer LongJanuary 11, 1962 (1962-01-11)
13118"For Angie with Love"Norman TokarBarbara HammerJanuary 18, 1962 (1962-01-18)
13219"Aloha Kimi"Norman TokarPaul WestJanuary 25, 1962 (1962-01-25)
13320"Donna's Prima Donna"Barry ShearBarbara HammerFebruary 1, 1962 (1962-02-01)
13421"Explorer's Ten"Barry ShearDavid R. SchwartzFebruary 8, 1962 (1962-02-08)
13522"The New Office"Norman TokarLeo Solomon & Ben GershmanFebruary 15, 1962 (1962-02-15)
13623"The Golden Trap"Jeffrey HaydenPaul WestFebruary 22, 1962 (1962-02-22)
13724"Free Flight"Gene NelsonJohn WhedonMarch 1, 1962 (1962-03-01)
13825"The Wide Open Space"Jeffrey HaydenSummer LongMarch 8, 1962 (1962-03-08)
13926"The Fireball"Norman TokarPaul WestMarch 15, 1962 (1962-03-15)
14027"Once Upon a Timepiece"Robert Ellis MillerDavid R. SchwartzMarch 22, 1962 (1962-03-22)
14128"Hilldale 500"Barry ShearJohn WhedonMarch 29, 1962 (1962-03-29)
14229"Winner Takes All"Norman TokarJohn WhedonApril 5, 1962 (1962-04-05)
14330"Skin Deep"Jeffrey HaydenPaul WestApril 12, 1962 (1962-04-12)
14431"The Fortune Teller"Jeffrey HaydenJohn WhedonApril 19, 1962 (1962-04-19)
14532"Man of Action"Barry ShearPaul WestApril 26, 1962 (1962-04-26)
14633"Donna Meets Roberta"Jeffrey HaydenSummer LongMay 3, 1962 (1962-05-03)
14734"The Caravan"Barry ShearPhil SharpMay 10, 1962 (1962-05-10)
14835"The Swingin' Set"Gene NelsonPaul WestMay 17, 1962 (1962-05-17)
14936"On to Fairview"Jeffrey HaydenPaul WestMay 24, 1962 (1962-05-24)
15037"The Man in the Mask"Norman TokarTeleplay by: Paul West & Tom & Helen August
Story by: Tom & Helen August
May 31, 1962 (1962-05-31)
15138"The Father Image"Richard L. BarePaul WestJune 7, 1962 (1962-06-07)
15239"Dear Wife"Stanley Z. CherryPaul WestJune 14, 1962 (1962-06-14)

Season 5 (1962–63)

No. in
Title Directed by Written by Original air date
1531"Mister Nice Guy"Jeffrey HaydenPaul WestSeptember 20, 1962 (1962-09-20)
1542"Mrs. Stone and Doctor Hyde"Gene NelsonBarbara AvedonSeptember 27, 1962 (1962-09-27)
1553"To Be a Boy"Gene NelsonPaul WestOctober 4, 1962 (1962-10-04)
1564"Who Needs Glasses?"Jeffrey HaydenSummer LongOctober 11, 1962 (1962-10-11)
1575"Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary"Andrew McCulloughElroy Schwartz & Austin KalishOctober 18, 1962 (1962-10-18)
1586"My Dad"Gene NelsonBarbara AvedonOctober 25, 1962 (1962-10-25)
1597"Fine Feathers"Gene NelsonAndy WhiteNovember 1, 1962 (1962-11-01)
1608"Rebel with a Cause"Gene NelsonBarbara AvedonNovember 8, 1962 (1962-11-08)
1619"Big Star"Jeffrey HaydenPaul West & Barbara AvedonNovember 15, 1962 (1962-11-15)
16210"Man to Man"Andrew McCulloughPaul WestNovember 22, 1962 (1962-11-22)
16311"The Baby Buggy"Andrew McCulloughJohn WhedonNovember 29, 1962 (1962-11-29)
16412"The Makeover Man"Andrew McCulloughJohn WhedonDecember 6, 1962 (1962-12-06)
16513"The Winning Ticket"Andrew McCulloughPhil DavisDecember 13, 1962 (1962-12-13)
16614"The Soft Touch"Andrew McCulloughBen Gershman & Milton PascalDecember 20, 1962 (1962-12-20)
16715"Jeff Stands Alone"Andrew McCulloughBarbara AvedonDecember 27, 1962 (1962-12-27)
16816"Just a Little Wedding"Barry ShearBarbara AvedonJanuary 3, 1963 (1963-01-03)
16917"A Woman's Place"Andrew McCulloughNorm Liebmann & Ed HassJanuary 10, 1963 (1963-01-10)
17018"The Chinese Horse"Gene NelsonPaul WestJanuary 17, 1963 (1963-01-17)
17119"The New Look"Andrew McCulloughPhil DavisJanuary 24, 1963 (1963-01-24)
17220"A Way of Her Own"Andrew McCulloughPaul WestJanuary 31, 1963 (1963-01-31)
17321"Three is a Family"Andrew McCulloughPaul WestFebruary 7, 1963 (1963-02-07)
17422"Big Sixteen"Gene NelsonBarbara AvedonFebruary 14, 1963 (1963-02-14)
17523"Pioneer Woman"Gene NelsonBarbara AvedonFebruary 21, 1963 (1963-02-21)
17624"The House on the Hill"Gene NelsonBarney Slater & Michael CramoyFebruary 28, 1963 (1963-02-28)
17725"Where the Stones Are"Gene NelsonSeymour FriedmanMarch 7, 1963 (1963-03-07)
17826"The Two Doctors Stone"Barry ShearBarbara AvedonMarch 14, 1963 (1963-03-14)
17927"Everywhere That Mary Goes"Gene NelsonPaul WestMarch 21, 1963 (1963-03-21)
18028"The Handy Man"Andrew McCulloughPaul WestMarch 28, 1963 (1963-03-28)
18129"Friends and Neighbors"Barry ShearBarbara AvedonApril 4, 1963 (1963-04-04)
18230"Boys and Girls"Barry ShearAndy WhiteApril 11, 1963 (1963-04-11)
18331"All Those Dreams"Gene NelsonBarbara AvedonApril 18, 1963 (1963-04-18)
18432"All Women Are Dangerous"Barry ShearPhil DavisApril 25, 1963 (1963-04-25)
18533"The Big Wheel"Barry ShearBarbara AvedonMay 2, 1963 (1963-05-02)
18634"Day of the Hero"Barry ShearPhil DavisMay 9, 1963 (1963-05-09)

Season 6 (1963–64)

No. in
Title Directed by Written by Original air date
1871"The Playmate"TBATBASeptember 19, 1963 (1963-09-19)
1882TBATBATBASeptember 26, 1963 (1963-09-26)
1893TBATBATBAOctober 3, 1963 (1963-10-03)
1904TBATBATBAOctober 10, 1963 (1963-10-10)
1915TBATBATBAOctober 17, 1963 (1963-10-17)
1926TBATBATBAOctober 24, 1963 (1963-10-24)
1937TBATBATBAOctober 31, 1963 (1963-10-31)
1948TBATBATBANovember 7, 1963 (1963-11-07)
1959TBATBATBANovember 14, 1963 (1963-11-14)
19610TBATBATBANovember 21, 1963 (1963-11-21)
19711TBATBATBANovember 28, 1963 (1963-11-28)
19812TBATBATBADecember 5, 1963 (1963-12-05)
19913TBATBATBADecember 12, 1963 (1963-12-12)
20014TBATBATBADecember 19, 1963 (1963-12-19)
20115TBATBATBADecember 26, 1963 (1963-12-26)
20216TBATBATBAJanuary 2, 1964 (1964-01-02)
20317TBATBATBAJanuary 9, 1964 (1964-01-09)
20418TBATBATBAJanuary 16, 1964 (1964-01-16)
20519TBATBATBAJanuary 23, 1964 (1964-01-23)
20620TBATBATBAJanuary 30, 1964 (1964-01-30)
20721TBATBATBAFebruary 6, 1964 (1964-02-06)
20822TBATBATBAFebruary 13, 1964 (1964-02-13)

Season 7 (1964–65)

No. in
Title Directed by Written by Original air date
2191"Operation Anniversary"TBATBASeptember 17, 1964 (1964-09-17)
2202"Dad Drops By"Gene ReynoldsPhil SharpSeptember 24, 1964 (1964-09-24)
2213"Play Ball"Gene NelsonSam Locke & Joel RappOctober 1, 1964 (1964-10-01)
2224"Who's Who on 202?"TBATBAOctober 8, 1964 (1964-10-08)
2235"The Daughter Complex"TBATBAOctober 15, 1964 (1964-10-15)
2246"The Tycoons"TBATBAOctober 22, 1964 (1964-10-22)
2257"Instant Family"TBATBAOctober 29, 1964 (1964-10-29)
2268"Royal Flush"Gene ReynoldsPaul WestNovember 5, 1964 (1964-11-05)
2279"Circumstantial Evidence"TBATBANovember 12, 1964 (1964-11-12)
22810"Anyone Can Drive?"TBATBANovember 19, 1964 (1964-11-19)
22911"Surprise, Surprise"TBATBANovember 26, 1964 (1964-11-26)
23012"Quads of Trouble"Fred de CordovaMannie Manheim & Erna LazarusDecember 3, 1964 (1964-12-03)
23113"Donna's Bank Account"Barry ShearKeith Fowler & Phil LeslieDecember 10, 1964 (1964-12-10)
23214"It's All in the Cards"Barry ShearLeonard GersheDecember 17, 1964 (1964-12-17)
23315"Old Faithful"Fred de CordovaBarbara AvedonDecember 24, 1964 (1964-12-24)
23416"Overture in A-Flat"TBATBADecember 31, 1964 (1964-12-31)
23517"Thy Name is Woman"Gene NelsonBen StarrJanuary 7, 1965 (1965-01-07)
23618"Joe College"Alan RafkinBarbara AvedonJanuary 14, 1965 (1965-01-14)
23719"Painter Go Home"TBATBAJanuary 21, 1965 (1965-01-21)
23820"Home Wreckonomics"TBATBAJanuary 28, 1965 (1965-01-28)
23921"The Windfall"TBATBAFebruary 4, 1965 (1965-02-04)
24022"Now You See It, Now You Don't"Gene NelsonRichard Conway & Roland MacLaneFebruary 11, 1965 (1965-02-11)
24123"The Gift Shop"Gene NelsonPaul WestFebruary 18, 1965 (1965-02-18)
24224"The Stamp Collector"Andrew McCulloughSam Locke & Joel RappFebruary 25, 1965 (1965-02-25)
24325"Peacocks on the Roof"Andrew McCulloughPaul WestMarch 4, 1965 (1965-03-04)
24426"Guests, Guests, Who Needs Guests?"TBATBAMarch 11, 1965 (1965-03-11)
24527"The Unheroic Hero"TBATBAMarch 18, 1965 (1965-03-18)
24628"The Mysterious Smile"TBATBAMarch 25, 1965 (1965-03-25)
24729"The Rolling Stones"TBATBAApril 1, 1965 (1965-04-01)
24830"Indoor Outing"Fred de CordovaMilton PascalApril 8, 1965 (1965-04-08)

Season 8 (1965–66)

No. in
Title Directed by Written by Original air date
2491TBATBATBASeptember 16, 1965 (1965-09-16)
2502TBATBATBASeptember 23, 1965 (1965-09-23)
2513TBATBATBASeptember 30, 1965 (1965-09-30)
2524TBATBATBAOctober 7, 1965 (1965-10-07)
2535TBATBATBAOctober 14, 1965 (1965-10-14)
2546TBATBATBAOctober 21, 1965 (1965-10-21)
2557TBATBATBAOctober 28, 1965 (1965-10-28)
2568TBATBATBANovember 4, 1965 (1965-11-04)
2579"Trees"TBATBANovember 11, 1965 (1965-11-11)
25810TBATBATBANovember 18, 1965 (1965-11-18)
25911TBATBATBANovember 25, 1965 (1965-11-25)
26012TBATBATBADecember 2, 1965 (1965-12-02)
26113TBATBATBADecember 9, 1965 (1965-12-09)
26214TBATBATBADecember 16, 1965 (1965-12-16)
26315TBATBATBADecember 23, 1965 (1965-12-23)
26416TBATBATBADecember 30, 1965 (1965-12-30)
26517TBATBATBA1966 (1966)
26618TBATBATBA1966 (1966)
26719TBATBATBA1966 (1966)


The series was originally syndicated by Screen Gems, and, later, Columbia Pictures Television and Sony Pictures Television. In 2008, Sony lost the full rights to the estates of Donna Reed and Tony Owen, but reruns aired on Nick at Nite from 1985 through 1994 and on TV Land from 2002 through 2004.

MeTV began airing reruns of the show (seasons 1 through 5) starting in September 2011.

In 2017 Decades began airing the show as part of their daytime "Through The Decades" lineup.

As at 2018, the first five seasons of the show are available on Prime Video in Canada.

Home media

For a limited time in 2004, General Mills offered a DVD of two episodes inside boxes of Total cereal and Oatmeal Crisp.[8] Virgil Films and Entertainment (under license from the estates of Donna Reed and Tony Owen) released the first three seasons of the show on DVD in Region 1. Virgil also released a four-episode "best of" DVD on April 13, 2010.[9]

On December 17, 2010, it was announced that MPI Home Video had acquired the rights to release seasons 4 and 5 of The Donna Reed Show.[10] Season 4 was subsequently released on December 20, 2011 and Season 5 was released on December 4, 2012.[11]

On September 30, 2014, MPI Home Video re-released the first season on DVD.[12] Season 2 was re-released on March 24, 2015.[13] Season 3 was re-released on June 30, 2015.[14]

Season Ep # Release Date
Season 1 37 October 28, 2008
September 30, 2014 (re-release)
Season 2 38 July 28, 2009
March 24, 2015 (re-release)
Season 3 38 December 1, 2009
June 30, 2015 (re-release)
Season 4 39 December 20, 2011
Season 5 34 December 4, 2012

Awards and nominations

Year Award Result Category Recipient
1959Emmy AwardsNominatedBest Actress in a Leading Role (Continuing Character) in a Comedy SeriesDonna Reed
1960NominatedOutstanding Performance by an Actress in a Series (Lead or Support)Donna Reed
1961NominatedOutstanding Performance by an Actress in a Series (Lead)Donna Reed
1962NominatedOutstanding Continued Performance by an Actress in a Series (Lead)Donna Reed
1963Golden Globe AwardWonBest TV Star – FemaleDonna Reed
1994Young Artist AwardsWonFormer Child Star Lifetime Achievement AwardShelley Fabares
1997WonFormer Child Star Lifetime Achievement AwardPaul Petersen
2004TV Land AwardNominatedFavorite Teen Dream – FemaleShelley Fabares
  • In Gilmore Girls season 1 episode 14 "That Damn Donna Reed", Rory and her boyfriend Dean have a disagreement about women's roles after watching an episode of the show. The episode involved Reed's character making a ton of food. Later, Rory dresses up in a dress like Donna Reed and serves Dean a steak dinner.


  1. Donna Reed Org
  2. Leibman, Nina Clare (1995). Living Room Lectures: The Fifties Family in Film and Television. University of Texas Press. p. 58. ISBN 0-292-74684-9.
  3. Glenn Garvin, “Life was better in 'Donna Reed' world, cast member Paul Petersen says”, Catholic Online. December 10, 2008 (Retrieved 2018-07-21.)
  4. Tucker, David C. The women who made television funny: ten stars of 1950s sitcoms. McFarland. pp. 109ff.
  5. "Don't Call The Donna Reed Show 'Situation Comedy'". Archived from the original on February 6, 2011.
  6. Bronson, Fred (2003). The Billboard Book of Number 1 Hits: The Inside Story Behind Every Number One Single on Billboard's Hot 100 from 1955 to the Present. Billboard Books. p. 107. ISBN 0-8230-7677-6.
  7. Fultz, Jay (1998). In Search of Donna Reed. University of Iowa Press. p. 151. ISBN 0-87745-625-9.
  8. Lambert, David (January 9, 2004). "Site News – Sony, General Mills serve TV-on-DVD for Breakfast: King Of Queens, Barney Miller, Mad About You, & Donna Reed". Archived from the original on October 2, 2008.
  9. Lambert, David (February 10, 2010). "The Donna Reed Show – Box Front Art Changes on Virgil's 'Family Favorites' DVD". Archived from the original on February 14, 2010. Retrieved March 15, 2010.
  10. Lambert, David (December 17, 2010). "The Donna Reed Show - MPI Home Video Picks Up DVD Rights to the 4th and 5th Seasons". Archived from the original on September 2, 2012. Retrieved January 15, 2013.
  11. Lambert, David (September 24, 2012). "The Donna Reed Show - 'Season 5' Announced by MPI: Date, Cost, Box Art, More!". Archived from the original on January 5, 2013. Retrieved January 15, 2013.
  12. MPI Home Video is Preparing to Re-Release 'Season 1' on DVD Archived December 20, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  13. MPI Sets a Finalized Date for their 'Season 2' Re-Release Archived December 20, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  14. MPI Home Video to Re-Release 'Season 3' this Summer Archived March 20, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
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