The Donna Reed Show's Shelley Fabares was an Elizabeth Taylor fangirl

The teenage star got star-struck, too.

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Ah, celebrities... They're just like us! Occasionally, a story will emerge that lets us see our venerated idols as equals. Look, there's Alan Alda at a Dunkin Donuts! The stars we admire are human after all.

It's nice to be reminded that even the glamorous people on TV are, in the end, just people. 

Shelley Fabares, the teenaged Mary Stone on The Donna Reed Show, was no stranger to feverish fandom. Her role on the show was crucial to the series' success. Within the first season, Fabares established herself as a favorite among her teenage audience. Little did those adolescent viewers know, though, that their TV hero had more in common with them than might be expected.

A 1961 article in The Ottawa Journal reports on a story of a star-struck young Shelley Farbares during her first trip to New York City. Or, at least, Fabares would've been star-struck had she actually seen any stars. She was working on bad info, though, and missed out on the chance to see her favorite Hollywood icon. Fabares was acting on a false rumor that Elizabeth Taylor was going to be in the audience of Broadway's "Carnival" at the Imperial Theatre. The stars didn't properly align, though, and Fabares didn't cross Taylor's path.

"I just wanted to SEE her," said Fabares, who didn't let the missed connection ruin her trip to the East Coast. Instead, she kept her eyes peeled as she wandered and explored the Big Apple.

It seems as though her life on the Warner Bros. lot didn't make her any less of a stargazer. Fabares was no better prepared to meet her Hollywood peers than anybody else would be.

"I don't know any stars," said Fabares. "Even on the set, I never see anyone except the people I work with [Donna Reed, Carl Betz, and Paul Peterson]. You read about stars going to famous nightclubs and so on, but if you go to one of those places, the only people you see are tourists."

She hoped, though, that New York would prove more exciting and celebrity-filled.

"I walked down Broadway last night, and I rode the subway. I saw my first Broadway play. I've been to some awfully nice restaurants. It's not like Los Angeles. I think I would have been disappointed if it was like Los Angeles."

It was a good time to switch up the view. At the time of the interview, in October of 1961, Fabares was seventeen and had spent most of her life in Los Angeles. She was born in the shadows of the studios and grew up in and around Hollywood. Fabares' older sister was also an actress, and her Aunt Nanette, too, was a former child star.

A final detail included in the interview reveals that Favares was, at the time, weighing the benefits of college. Ultimately, The Donna Reed Show beat out UCLA. Shelley was a series regular through 1963, when her character, Mary, left to attend school.

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12 Comments

Big3Fan 11 months ago
I'm a lifelong Shelley fanboy.
Mblack 11 months ago
I always liked Shelley on One Day at a Time.

She was in two Elvis films.

She was married to Lou Adler, but they split before Monterey Pop.
teire 11 months ago
She was a good match as a daughter for Donna Reed.
Andybandit 11 months ago
It is so cool that Shelley Fabares and Mike Farrell who BJ Honeycutt are married. That have a story about TDRS. Does that mean it is coming to MeTv. Yeah right.
Runeshaper 11 months ago
That's interesting. Living in NY, I did see a few stars and I did get star-struck LOL
LoveMETV22 11 months ago
What a fun story. The Accompanying video clip of " Shelley Fabares debuted massive hit “Johnny Angel" was a nice added touch. Loved the opening paragraph that shows celebrities too are just humans. Although as it said " Look, there's Alan Alda at a Dunkin Donuts!" is not likely to be a common occurrence for most, "you never know who you might see", according to the Dunkin' Youtube page:
LoveMETV22 LoveMETV22 11 months ago
Although " The Donna Reed Show" is not a regular program on the broadcast schedule, it would make a nice addition. There are however (5) full episodes available for viewing in the "VIDEOS" link/button at the top of the page.
cperrynaples LoveMETV22 11 months ago
You can see TDRS on Catchy Comedy! It's all over the daily schedule!
LoveMETV22 cperrynaples 11 months ago
Yes....However there maybe individuals for w/e reason that don't receive CC or aren't quite sure they would enjoy the show. So in a way the 5 episodes are a preview of sorts. Yes they can always get it via Frndly, along with others series, if they choose to.
KJExpress LoveMETV22 11 months ago
Thanks for posting these clips. I don't think I've ever seen The Donna Reed Show more than once or twice. Sometimes it's fun to go back in time, so I may want to check them out. 🙂
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