Elinor Donahue (born April 19, 1937) is the actress who portrayed Stan Zbornak's third wife Katherine in the episode of The Golden Girls titled "Stan Takes a Bride". The naturally red-headed Donahue played Robert Young's eldest/popular daughter, Betty Anderson, on the 1950s sitcom, Father Knows Best, which has proved to be her best known acting role to date. She was married for nearly thirty years to producer Harry Ackerman, whom she met on the set of that series. She and Harry Ackerman had three children together: Peter, James, and Christopher Ackerman.

Early life and career[edit | edit source]

Elinor was born in Tacoma, Washington, the daughter of Doris Genevieve (née Gelbaugh) and Thomas William Donahue.[2] Appearing in dancing-chorus film roles from the age of five, Donahue was at one point a ballet-school classmate of future Fred Astaire partner Barrie Chase. Donahue was a child actress working in vaudeville and had several bit parts in movies as a teenager, including Love Is Better Than Ever (1952), starring Elizabeth Taylor.

Father Knows Best[edit | edit source]

Elinor achieved stardom for her role as the elder daughter, Betty, on the television family series Father Knows Best. Her co-stars were Robert Young, Jane Wyatt, Billy Gray as her brother, James "Bud" Anderson, Jr., and Lauren Chapin as the younger sister, Kathy or "Kitten".

Donahue has had roles on many television programs. She was a musical judge in ABC-TV's Jukebox Jury (1953–54).[3] While in the first season of Father Knows Best, she also appeared on The Ray Bolger Show, starring Ray Bolger as a song-and-dance man. Thereafter, she was cast with James Best, Ann Doran, and J. Carrol Naish in the 1956 episode "The White Carnation" of the religion snthology series, Crossroads. She also guest starred on John Bromfield's syndicated crime drama, U.S. Marshal.

Donahue portrayed Georgiana Balanger in the 1960 episode "Dennis and the Wedding" on the CBS sitcom, Dennis the Menace, with Jay North as the mischievous Dennis Mitchell. Balanger is the niece of Joseph Kearns's character, George Wilson, and Dennis is the ringbearer at her wedding.[4]

Donahue was also cast in 1960 with Marion Ross in an episode ("Duet") of the syndicated crime drama series The Brothers Brannagan. She played Miriam Welby on ABC's The Odd Couple, Jane Mulligan on Mulligan's Stew, and Nurse Hunnicut on Days of our Lives. Donahue was featured in several episodes of CBS's The Andy Griffith Show as pharmacist Ellie Walker, even getting a mention in the opening credits. The character was intended to be a love interest for Sheriff Andy Taylor, but after one season (1960–1961), Donahue decided to ask for a release from her three-year contract.[5]

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External links[edit | edit source]

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