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In Search of Donna Reed Paperback – February 12, 2001

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: University of Iowa Press (February 12, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0877457727
  • ISBN-13: 978-0877457725
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #320,649 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"Donna Reed probably came closer than any other actress to being the archetypal sweetheart, wife and mother," asserts Fultz, in this workmanlike biography. Probably best known as Mary in It's a Wonderful Life, the Iowa-born Reed (1921-1986) embodied the "nice" girl and the "good" woman in most of her films, although she earned an Oscar for her portrayal as a (rather sanitized) prostitute in From Here to Eternity. When film roles dwindled in the late 1950s, Reed turned to television and, with her producer husband, Tony Owen, developed The Donna Reed Show, which became a solid hit and ran for eight years. With the Vietnam War escalating in the 1960s, Reed, long a staunch Republican, began to move closer to the political center; as the mother of two sons of draftable age, she was committed to the antiwar effort. Her return to TV in the 1970s was marred by her unhappiness over what she saw as slipshod TV production and, later, her bitterness over her unexplained firing from Dallas in 1985. It was her last role, as she died in January 1986 of pancreatic cancer. The prose is often awkward ("Donna's two sons would be fodder for the Viet maw" or "Social life resumed in Sunny Cal"), and Fultz's efforts to characterize Reed as a feminist seem somewhat arbitrary, although in later life she did become more politicized. But what comes through most clearly is the image of a traditional woman committed to familyAi.e., Donna Reed. (June) FYI: Fultz has served as editor of Univ. of Nebraska's Bison Books and was the primary source for A&E's Biography presentation of the life of Donna Reed.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“ ... engagingly traces Donna Reed's life from a rural Iowa childhood to stardom in film ... to her sometimes surprising later years.” -- Charles Maland, University of Tennessee

“ Jay Fultz has captured the real Donna, her wisdom and her Iowa spunk, in a work of scholarship—and love.” -- Bob Thomas, Associated Press

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Donna Reed on March 27, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Reading "In Search of Donna Reed" literally took me back to Iowa. In 1996, I traveled there from my home in Pennsylvania to learn more about the woman's whose (adopted) name I shared. Growing up Donna Reed in the 1960s was no treat and the name caused me much embarrassment. But as I grew older and learned more about the woman, I felt better about it. I decided to go to Iowa much as I had decided to seek out my family's ancestral town in Germany. Though I was certainly not related to Donna Reed, I felt a kinship to her born out of the shared name. As a young reporter, I vowed I would one day try to interview her. Instead I waited too long and saw her name flash across my computer screen with the word "obit" behind it. A strange sensation, to say the least. I decided I needed to learn about her first-hand. In Iowa, I got the chance to meet and/or interview her widower, children, friends in Denison and co-stars. Certainly, the woman I got to know through their eyes is indeed reflected in Jay Fultz's writings. I regret that in life she did not get the acclaim she should have been accorded not just as an actress, but as an activist and businesswoman. "In Search of Donna Reed" is a solid read and a fine way to learn more about her essentially wonderful life.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Herbert Boomhower on September 9, 2000
Format: Hardcover
In this long-awaited biography of Hollywood's consummate lady, this 1998 volume reads like the proverbial breath of fresh air. Author Jay Fultz recreates an era and a family that at once reminds the reader that it is indeed those examples of grass roots beginnings that oftentimes begets greatness and achievement. In addition to relating the tale of Donna Reed's film and television career, Mr. Fultz also shows clearly the making of a devoted American citizen, spawned by a classic example of the American family, i.e., practitioners of hard work, faith, and patriotism. The book shows that Miss Reed infused her work in Hollywood with elegance, grace and charm, but never forgetting that she was a person of intellect and ideas and strong beliefs about the world around her. More hosannas should be aimed at the legendary lady that was Donna Reed, and Jay Fultz's biography makes a great beginning.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 4, 1998
Format: Hardcover
This book traces the history of Donna Reed, her family, and how it was that she came to Hollywood. It is interesting to find out how Miss Reed survied in her early days with MGM and her subsequent work with other major studios. Her participation in the films - "It's A Wonderful Life", "Green Dolphin Street", "Picture of Dorian Gray", and "From Here to Eternity" are discussed. Also addressed is the formation and eight season run of "The Donna Reed Show", and how she became involved in a peace movement orginization in the mid-sixties, known as 'Another Mother for Peace'. For me personally, it saddened me know how poorly women of the era were treated and viewed by the male dominated movie industry. To survive with most of ones ethics and character intake, took an enormous amount of inner strength and fortitude. I understand more thoroughly why Mom kept the business on the street side of the door. Donna Reed was also among the founding feminist in the Hollywood entertainment business.............
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Gooch on December 24, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I rediscovered Donna Reed less than a month ago. I had forgotten just how good she was in It's a Wonderful Life. The more I saw, the more I looked. The more I looked, the more I realized just how far the public perception of her is from reality. I found a copy of Jay Fultz's "In Search Of Donna Reed" online and ordered it. By the time it arrived I had become immersed in IAWL facts and all I could find out about this woman who had seemed to appear and shine so brilliantly for a moment and then disappear. My only memory of her show was that it seemed loved and hated-I never saw it, so you can guess where my dad stood. Soon I would learn that, for some strange reason she was, and still is, the undeserving victim of a very determined slander campaign. I picked up the book and met Miss Mullenger. She was the sweetest little girl who just seemed to get better with age. Her performance in It's a Wonderful Life is so much like the Donnabelle Mullenger I met in this book-bringing the sense of quality that, I think is one of the reasons it endures. She is the reason Mr. Stewart's anguish is real, because I can see it reflected on the very real face of Donna's Mary. The hurt she felt at his hands two years later was one answer I was seeking, they had such perfect "chemistry" in IAWL, why is this the only film they both star in? According to Jay, she would say to "ask Miss Allyson."

Two days after I met her, I felt as if a near and dear relative was at death's door. Even though I KNEW that twenty years had passed, reading (at work) Mr. Fultz's account of the death of this remarkable woman awakened in me a sense of loss so powerful that I had to finish reading it in my car...

While looking for a way to contact Mr.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Robert J Spooner on March 3, 2003
Format: Paperback
Ever since I saw the movie "It's a wonderful life" 9 years ago, I have been captivated by this truly amazing woman! Since then I have purchase many items about Donna Reed Mullenger, her biography (In seach of Donna Reed, which was truly a work of art, and I sure can relate to the feeling Mr.Fultz has for her!) also many movies staring this wonderful creature. I only wish I would have known her personnally...
Anyway, I sure would like to see more DVD movies available to the public, staring the beautiful Miss Reed.
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