During her rich and long career of over six decades, Elinor Donahue played many roles, but it seems like portraying Betty Anderson, the eldest child of Jim and Margaret Anderson on the 1950s American sitcom “Father Knows Best” is what she’s best remembered for. The show lasted for six years and aired on the radio. It was very popular and reached the top ten most watched American shows.
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“We were very, very close.” — #ElinorDonahue, on her #FatherKnowsBest co-stars. The 82-year-old is watching the show now for the first time — 65 years after its debut. ⠀ Here’s the cast in the 1977 #Christmas reunion movie. #RobertYoung #JaneWyatt #BillyGray #LaurenChapin
But Elinor didn’t stop at this show. In fact, while filming it, she also took part in “Crossroads” and in the “George Burns and Gracie Allen Show.” She was so busy playing in three shows that she said how she never really had the time to watch them.
“By the time we’d get home at night and have our dinner, we’d be getting ready to learn our lines, go to sleep to get up and do it again. So, I never saw the show,” she told Closer.
Elinor’s career in the film industry seemed a bright one, and her mother even sacrificed her job in order to accompany her then minor daughter on set.
After “Father Knows Best” Elinor took roles in “The Andy Griffith Show”, “Dr Kildare”, “Star Trek” and “Mork & Mindy.” This now 83-year-old iconic actress played different roles in over 70 TV Shows and many movies like Winter Wonderland and Pretty Woman.
When it comes to her private life, Elinor first married at the age of 19. According to her, tying the knot with the first person to propose to her and have a child with them would help her grow up as she felt 13 when she was 19. “I’d never had a chance to grow into a real person so I was not mature at all. I’d had no high school friends…I had this idea if I ran away and got married and had a baby I’d be a grown up.”
She recalls how her first husband, the sound man on “Father Knows Best” Richard Smith, proposed. “We had gone to see a movie and after he whispered in my ear ‘I love you and I’d like to marry you’ and I said ‘Okay,” Elinor said laughing. They had one son together and divorces six years later.
A year later, Elinor married TV producer Harry Ackerman. They had three sons together and a very happy marriage and life. Then, after being married for almost 30 years, Ackerman died in 1991. The following year, the actress married for the third time in her life and is still together with her current husband Lou Genevrino.
Watch Elinor speak of her marriage and children in the video below.