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What is Elinor Donahue’s Net Worth?
Summary of Elinor Donahue’s Net Worth
|Net Worth:||$3 Million|
|Salary:||No public information|
|Income:||No public information|
|Date of Birth:||Apr 19, 1937|
|Profession:||Actor, Voice Actor|
|Nationality:||United States of America|
Elinor Donahue has an estimated net worth of $3 Million.
Elinor Donahue (born Mary Eleanor Donahue on April 19, 1937) is an American actress best known for her role of Betty Anderson, the eldest daughter of Jim and Margaret Anderson in the 1950s sitcom Father Knows Best.
Elinor Donahue’s Early Life
On April 19, 1937, Donahue was born in Tacoma, Washington, the daughter of Doris Genevieve (née Gelbaugh) and Thomas William Donahue.
Donahue began performing in dance films at age five and was a classmate of future Fred Astaire partner Barrie Chase in ballet school. As a teenager, she played several small roles in films, including Love Is Better Than Ever (1952), starring Elizabeth Taylor. She played one of the daughters in Three Daring Daughters (1948) and Mamie Van Doren’s sister in Girls Town (1959).
Elinor Donahue’s Career
Elinor Donahue is imbued with a particular sweetness suited for a medium as intimate as the television set—the innovative device itself, in combination with the actual individuals or groups of individuals who have for decades planted themselves in front of the TV since and before Donahue’s image was first displayed there in the 1950s.
Donahue is best known to TV viewers as Betty “Princess” Anderson on Father Knows Best (FKB), which originally aired on CBS, NBC, and ABC from 1954 to 1960. With a show business career that began when she was a mere two years old, Donahue continues to this day utilizing her theatrical gifts and charms in the craft she so dearly loves.
She made her debut as a radio singer and vaudeville dancer while just a toddler, and was contracted by Universal Studios at five years old. Soon cast in movies like Mister Big (1943), Donahue later switched to MGM in films such as The Unfinished Dance (1947, with Margaret O’Brien) and Love Is Better Than Ever (1952, with Elizabeth Taylor).
In 1954 she found teen fame as the sweet-natured Princess on FKB, which, based on the 1949 radio show, starred former movie idol Robert Young and fellow female TV icon Jane Wyatt as her parents James and Margaret Anderson. Her younger siblings were portrayed by Billy Gray (James, Jr., a.k.a. Bud) and Lauren Chapin (Kathy, a.k.a. Kitten).
After Father folded, Donahue played Ellie Walker, an early steady love interest to Sheriff Andy Taylor on the first season of The Andy Griffith Show. By the early 1970s, Donahue returned to acting with a recurring role as Miriam Welby,
girlfriend to Tony Randall’s Felix Unger on the hit ABC series The Odd Couple (based on the Neil Simon play and feature film). The Welby name was a nod to Robert Young’s post-Father ABC hit, Marcus Welby, M.D., and, as Donahue muses today, it was Randall’s idea to pay tribute to Young’s TV doctor: “Tony thought that was funny.”
Following The Odd Couple, Donahue was featured in a new family show on NBC called Mulligan’s Stew, which began as a movie-of-the-week. The film was well received in the ratings then became a series, if only lasting one season. According to Donahue, the show was “rushed into production before it was ready.”
But it was a valiant attempt to return family programming to the small screen. She portrayed Jane Mulligan, opposite Lawrence Pressman as her husband Michael, both of whom oversaw a brood that featured a then teen Suzanne Crough (the youngest from The Partridge Family).
The show was a modern-day version of The Waltons, in which Donahue played a grown-up version of her FKB Princess persona with a family of her own. In actuality, she would play in two holiday Father TV-movie sequels in late 1977: The Father Knows Best Reunion and Home for the Holidays.
Donahue later appeared in countless other television shows, including guest shots on Barnaby Jones, Newhart, The Golden Girls, and Friends and had regular roles on the 1990s sitcom Get a Life and the CBS western drama Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman (as Rebecca Quinn, older sister to Jane Seymour). She’s also enjoyed regular roles on the daytime serials Santa Barbara and Days of Our Lives, on which she played Nurse Hunnicut.
With her pleasant personality, Donahue portrayed mostly affable parts in both sitcoms and drama shows, delivering a calming presence that shined by way of just her voice, which was also utilized for various commercials and animated series.
As to her days as Betty on Father Knows Best, Donahue assesses:
I was a teenager playing a teenager. How hard could it be? You know, really, truly. I did, however, before filming began attend Beverly Hills High for about five weeks, as I’d never experienced a lot of things that normal young people do. I’d never been in a large classroom experience. I’d never run to classes or had a locker. I never took a gym class, never went to a football game or a sock hop. I got to do all those things and I’m sure it helped. I used a nickname when I was at Beverly Hills High. It seemed like all the girls had cute monikers. And mine was Mimi. So that’s where Betty Anderson kind of came from.
While fellow female teen angels like Shelley Fabares were showcased in Hollywood magazines and publicity spreads of the day, Donahue was not. It was something Eugene B. Rodney, FKB’s producer, would not allow. As she explains, “He wanted us to be thought of as family as far as the show went and every now and then I would get some publicity or I would be invited to a something and he would kind of allow me to go to a beach party or something with Natalie Wood or whatever . . . but very, very, very, very seldom.”
Town & Country Magazine wanted to feature Elinor in a fashion spread, but, in Rodney’s eyes, the periodical was ultimately not considered appropriate for Betty Anderson, so the feature was scrubbed. She does, however, recall one particular article and photo essay that was acceptable in Rodney’s view. It was with a then young Jack Jones, who later became famous in the classic TV world for performing the opening theme song for TV’s The Love Boat. “We were seeing one another at some point,” Donahue explains, “and we were, you know, sipping a soda together and going bowling together—I don’t bowl. You know, it was a setup. And he kind of allowed that because I was at an age where that was an okay thing to do.”
Apparently, FKB star and coproducer Robert Young believed in the same press restrictions for Donahue and her young costars Billy Gray and Lauren Chapin.
As she recalls, It’s possible. To us, he was just one of the guys. So, I don’t know? On the weekends, maybe they sat down and worked out production stuff, but I don’t think so. I think he just did what he did and Mr. Rodney took care of what he did. Even though he was a coproducer on the show, he stayed totally away from any one of us thinking he had anything to do with the work except playing his part. And if he wanted to change a line, he had to go to the telephone on the set and call Mr. Rodney in the office and work it out with him. We couldn’t change an “if,” “and,” or “but” once we got those scripts. No ad- libbing, whatsoever. Robert Young called Mr. Rodney the benevolent despot!
Although her FKB days may not have been filled with many magazine features, there were other monumental moments that helped to fill in the gap, before and after the series was in production. Years after the show stopped filming, a Catholic girls school in the area of South Pasadena, California, hosted Betty Anderson Day. As Donahue recalls, the day’s festivities centered around a school luncheon at which she was the guest of honor. “It was just so cute and very sweet.”
As to how it feels all these years later to be considered a television icon, Donahue replies, “It’s flattering that anyone would consider me an icon, but I don’t.”
That isn’t to say she hasn’t enjoyed the experience of being recognized by fans on the street. She recalls two humorous instances in particular, during which she happened to be accompanied by her husband, prolific television producer Harry Ackerman:
We were in a store and checking out of a little gift shop. The cashier pointed her finger at me and said, “I know you. You used to be on—on, uh—on, uh—gosh, what was it?” And I said, “Father Knows Best.” And she said, “No, no.” She said, “It starred that man—what was his name?” And I said, “Robert Young.” And she said, “No, no . . .” And this went on until Harry and I looked at each other and I said, “Gee, I just don’t know.”
My most memorable encounter with a fan was in New York for the Daytime Emmys in the mid-80s. Harry was nominated for an afternoon special and it won. I don’t remember what it was called.
And I was at that time appearing on Days of Our Lives. I’d been on for about a year and a half, two years, and I did ultimately close to three seasons.
So, we came in the back way of the Waldorf Astoria to miss the crowds and the red carpet—all that foofaraw because both he and I were shy and what we didn’t know was that the entrance that we came in had another crowd of diehard fans of Days of Our Lives. And we came through the door and then we paused to look at this printout we had to try and find the ballroom.
And I heard this thundering like b-rum b-rum b-rum—footsteps behind me like a herd. And people yelling, “Nurse Hunnicut! Nurse Hunnicut!” And I turned around and this group of people swooped down—it must have been twenty people, which seemed like a lot when they were all, you know, rushing at you. And that was very funny. I thought Harry was very pleased. And I enjoyed it.
Peter Ackerman, one of Elinor’s three sons with Harry Ackerman, offers this assessment about his famous mom:
I know she enjoys meeting her fans, and I always liked those encounters growing up. I remember very well grocery shopping with my mother when, to me, a grown man would walk up to her and begin stammering while he worked to get out that he was in love with Betty Anderson, when he was growing up, and thus had a crush on her.
Even today I meet people like him or women (and sometimes men) who say “I wanted to be just like her.” I consider it a privilege that I got to see grace in action as my mother acknowledged these people when they approached her. I think rather than an idol or an icon, these examples show that she was a part, on Father Knows Best, of a show that illustrated what the American family could be like; she emulated the standard to which people could try to attain. This reminds me of my dad’s shows, as well; they showed us who we could try to be if we lived out our better natures. Instead, today, in television there is so much that presents humor as dumbed down.
Elinor Donahue’s Personal Life
Elinor married Richard Smith in 1955, divorced in 1961, one child; married Harry Ackerman in 1962, he died in 1991, three children; married Lou Genevrino in 1992 and they are still together.
In 1998 Elinor published a memoir and cookbook entitled, “In the Kitchen with Elinor Donahue. She also wrote a book about the sometime mysterious but true relationships that exist between pet owners and their pets entitled, “The Cat Who Read the Mail” (2005).
In numerous stage productions, she appeared most recently in “Never Too Late” at the New Theatre in Overland, Kansas.
Elinor Donahue’s Salary
Elinor Donahue is rich, so you can assume that her salary is higher than that of an average person.
But again, she has not publicly disclosed her salary for privacy reasons. Therefore, we cannot give an accurate estimate of her salary.
Elinor Donahue’s Income
Elinor Donahue might have many sources of income such as investments, business and salary. Her income fluctuates every year and depends on many economic factors.
We have tried to research, but we cannot find any verified information about her income.
Elinor Donahue’s Assets
Given Elinor Donahue’s estimated net worth, she should own some houses, cars, and stocks, but Elinor Donahue has not publicly disclosed all of her assets. So we cannot get an accurate figure on her assets.
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