CAROLE LOMBARD - My Favorite Actress

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Donna Reed: Classic Movie Goddess Part 3

Here are some interesting facts about Donna Reed:

Birth name: Donna Belle Mullenger
Height: 5'7"
27 January 1921 - 14 January 1986 (pancreatic cancer)

Despite her association with the squeaky-clean and conservative 1950s, Reed became an anti-nuclear activist and anti-Vietnam protester. She also founded the group Another Mother for Peace.

Her last husband Grover Asmus started a program called the Donna Reed Foundation that led to the Donna Reed festival held yearly in Denison, IA. It's a celebration of Donna, and includes classes, performances. Many stars attend such as Shelley Fabares, Debbie Reynolds, and Loren Janes.

In the scene from It's a Wonderful Life (1946) where she and James Stewart throw rocks at the old Granville house, director Frank Capra had originally planned to use a double in Donna's place to throw the rock. Miss Reed, however, was an accomplished baseball player in high school and threw very well, as evidenced by her toss in the movie.

Four children by husband/producer Tony Owen : Penny, Tony, Timothy and Mary. Two were adopted. Mary, their last child, was born to them in 1957, a year before the start of Donna's classic TV show, which Tony executive produced.

Learned of her firing from "Dallas" (1978) from a reporter while on a vacation to Paris. She was in the process of suing the show's producers before her death in January, 1986.

The woman on the cover of Rush's Permanent Waves album is modeled after her.

In Italy, a great deal of her films were dubbed by Renata Marini and Dhia Cristiani (most notably From Here to Eternity (1953)). Occasionally she was also dubbed by Miranda Bonansea (in Green Dolphin Street (1947)), Rosetta Calavetta and Micaela Giustiniani. The great Lidia Simoneschi also lent her voice to Reed in Frank Capra's much celebrated It's a Wonderful Life (1946).

Although she her image was generally associated that of the the squeaky-clean, conservative 1950s housewife and mother, she won her Oscar for From Here to Eternity (1953) for playing a prostitute.

Had a close relationship with her TV daughter, Shelley Fabares. Was considered by Fabares as her second mother until Reed's death in 1986.

1 comment:

Gordon Pasha said...

Hello Monty,

Leaving aside the ever varying definitions of the words liberal and conservative, I am not so sure just how “squeaky-clean” the 1950s were. I know that has become relatively common usage among many who were not around then. But it is not a phrase I would use. I lived roughly 3,652 days in the 1950s, some 720 of them in the military.

The decade started with The Korean War (nothing very squeaky or clean about that) and ended with the intensifying of the Cold War, which spilled over into the early Sixties when we had the Cuban Missile Crisis and The Berlin Wall. (Not much squeaky and clean about the Cold War I‘ll tell you.) Ask the elder Hungarians about 1956.

And I lived in the South Bronx, where life was neither squeaky nor clean. There was much heroin, endless amounts of alcohol and gang violence was a norm. The streets were filthy. So the world was in turmoil most of the time and the mean streets were rarely seen by those in academe who like to picture decades to suit their preconceptions.

I read your blog regularly and I very much like Donna Reed. And I love Jane Fonda and Irene Dunne – different ends of the political spectrum. And like you, I am aghast that many of this generation do not know much about the good Ms. Kelly’s films. Perhaps that lack of knowledge extends to memories of decades past, particularly that in which Grace was prominent.

Just a different point of view from one who was there. I last commented to you on Joseph Cotten and I suspect we have more shared interests than differences.




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