Edit
Elinor Donahue Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (2) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (3) | Trivia (6)

Overview (2)

Date of Birth 19 April 1937Tacoma, Washington, USA
Birth NameMary Eleanor Donahue

Mini Bio (1)

Tap dancing at the age of 16 months, pert and pretty Elinor Donahue has been entertaining audiences for six decades. Born Mary Eleanor Donahue in Tacoma, Washington in 1937, she appeared as a radio singer and vaudeville dancer while still a mere toddler, then was picked up by Universal Studios at the age of 5. Cast in minor child roles in such pictures as Mister Big (1943), the precocious youngster eventually moved to MGM but didn't attain the juvenile stardom of a Margaret O'Brien or Elizabeth Taylor, whom she supported in both The Unfinished Dance (1947) and Love Is Better Than Ever (1952), respectively. Still and all, Elinor's talent and wholesome appeal was recognized and the 50s brought her into the TV era, where she became more accessible, finally winning nationwide "girl-next-door" notice in her late teens as the oldest daughter of "ideal" parents Robert Young and Jane Wyatt in the classic family show Father Knows Best (1954). Suffering more than her share of teen angst, she played Betty ("Princess") Anderson from 1954 to 1960. By the time the series was finished, she seemed ripe for romantic ingénues. She became Andy Griffith's first longstanding girlfriend on The Andy Griffith Show (1960) for one season, but then suffered a major slump. She revived in the 70s with steady roles on The Odd Couple (1970) (as Tony Randall's girlfriend), Mulligan's Stew: Pilot (1977) as a typical sunny mom, and as a guest for countless other shows, including Barnaby Jones (1973), Newhart (1982) and The Golden Girls (1985). An extremely pleasant personality, she was primarily tapped into playing nice, friendly, unflashy parts in both lightweight comedy and dramatic. Possessing a suitable voice for commercials and cartoons, she has lately found recurring roles on Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman (1993) and a few soaps, including Santa Barbara (1984) and Days of Our Lives (1965), the latter in which she played a rare malicious part. Though she may not have had much of a chance to shine in her career, Elinor has certainly been a steady, reliable player who has not let her fans down with her obvious warmth and pleasing disposition. The widow of TV executive producer Harry Ackerman (he was 25 years her senior), whose list of credits included Leave It to Beaver (1957), Bewitched (1964) and Gidget (1965), and a mother of four sons, Elinor lives with her third husband, contractor Louis Genevrino (married since 1992), in California. In 1998, she published a memoir entitled "In the Kitchen with Elinor Donahue", in which she relived some of her memories of Hollywood along with providing more than 150 of her top-grade recipes.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Spouse (3)

Lou Genevrino (4 January 1992 - present)
Harry Ackerman (8 June 1962 - 3 February 1991) (his death) (3 children)
Richard Smith (11 June 1955 - 11 August 1961) (divorced) (1 child)

Trivia (6)

She has four sons: Brian Ackerman, Peter Ackerman, James Ackerman and Chris Ackerman and two step-children: Susan Peterson and Stephen Ackerman.
Today, those who fondly recall the archetypal 1950s family sitcom Father Knows Best (1954) may be surprised to learn that when the series debuted in 1954, the show did so poorly in the ratings that CBS canceled it in March of 1955. A flood of protests came from viewers insisting that the show be reinstated. The show was moved to an earlier time, and it gradually became a hit.
Acting mentor was Robert Young.
Her late husband Harry Ackerman was almost 24 years her senior.
The song "Ellie's Smile" by Jonathan Lore is a tribute to Elinor, and includes references to her career.
Performing in A.R. Gurney's play, "Love Letters", with Efrem Zimbalist Jr., October 18, 2003 at the Clark Center for the Performing Arts in Arroyo Grande, California. [September 2003]

See also

Other Works | Publicity Listings | Official Sites | Contact Info

Contribute to This Page