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7 fun facts about Donna Reed

The Donna Reed Show made Donna Reed herself an icon. Her recipes and advice appeared in women's magazines across the country. She even received the Mother's Committee Award.

Read on for more interesting tidbits about one of America's favorite moms. 


A photo inspired 'The Donna Reed Show'

Donna Reed was unsure what concept her own series would look like. But when a Screen Gem executive saw a joyful picture of Donna Reed with her real-life family, the idea began to take shape.


'The Donna Reed Show' wasn't one-dimensional

Donna's character showed a stay-at-home mother was as equally capable as her husband. She not only excelled in family life, but was extremely active in her community as well. Reed herself thought the show "broke the rules" for showing stories from a strong woman's perspective without soaking it in soap opera.


The cast admired Donna

On-screen son Paul Petersen credits the loving care of Reed and Betz for helping him navigate the waters as child star. On-screen daughter Shelley Fabares thought of her as a "second mother" and admired her "integrity, strength, will, humor, and a capacity to be curious."


Reed was a team player

Reed often encouraged writers to create stories in which other characters had the main focus. When Bob Crane left the series, she also made sure Ann McCrea (Crane's on-screen wife) stuck around until the end of the series.


Campbell's Soup helped the show

The series' ratings were especially tame in the beginning. But its sponsor, Campbell's Soup, liked the wholesome show and didn't bail on it. Eventually, as word of mouth spread, it took off. Campbell's Soup can also be seen in the background in many grocery store scenes.


A reunion almost happened

In 1977, Father Knows Best had a highly-rated reunion TV movie. Its success prompted The Donna Reed Show's cast to talk of a reunion too. Unfortunately, Carl Betz passed in 1979, and the project never happened.


The series almost had a different name

Unlike other popular shows at the time, Donna's mother character was the series' center, not the father figure. In fact, the show was almost called Mother Knows Best.

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