Ellie Walker (Elinor Donahue) has more miles than a NYC taxi, but from the show, she is the one.
Started on Father knows best...
She did a cookbook...
Was a hottie in her day....
And if you need to see a modern one... (paper bag time)
Mary Eleanor Donahue was born in Tacoma, Washington, just prior to the outbreak of World War II. As a young child, she had a talent for dancing, and by age two she had an entire act. Elinor soon began singing on the radio, and soon moved to Hollywood. Her first big part was in “Mr. Big,” a film for Universal. She appeared in several more films throughout the 1940’s and 50’s, including The Unfinished Dance, Her First Romance, and Love Is Better Than Ever.
By the time Elinor was 14, TV had become popular, and she appeared in a number of dramatic and variety shows, including “The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show,” “The Steve Allen Show,” and “Schlitz Playhouse of Stars.” She was also known as Betty “Princess” Anderson on “Father Knows Best.” She then joined the cast of the “Andy Griffith Show” as Andy’s romantic interest, pharmacist Ellie Walker.
Elinor has fond memories of working with the entire TAGS cast and crew. “I loved working with Ron Howard, who was the most talented child actor I’ve ever worked with ... He was just the best. ... I don’t know how he did it, but he was just wonderful. ... Ron was just this little old guy, but he was a child.” She adds, “I used to have great fun with Frances Bavier and Don Knotts.”
About the time she left TAGS, Elinor married legendary Screen Gems producer Harry Ackerman. She also began spending more time raising her family, which includes sons Brian, Peter, James and Christopher. Elinor still found time for commercials and a number of guest performances on various TV shows and films. She had a recurring role on “The Odd Couple” from 1972-1974, and her career became more hectic as the decade continued. In the 1980’s Elinor had guest roles on “Barnaby Jones,” “The Love Boat,” “Newhart,” “The Golden Girls,” and “Murder She Wrote.”
In the 1990’s, Elinor appeared on “Coach,” “Friends,” and had a recurring role on “Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman.” She supplied the voice of Mom in the popular syndicated cartoon “Eek the Cat.” She also appeared on-screen in 1990’s “Pretty Woman” and has worked frequently on the stage in various productions.
What’s her favorite role ever? “Whatever I’m doing at the present time tends to be the one that’s my favorite,” she says with characteristic diplomacy. “But I had a wonderful time on ‘The Andy Griffith Show.’ I had a terrific time on ‘Father Knows Best.’ “
Husband Harry Ackerman passed away in 1991. Since 1992, Elinor has been happily married to Louis Genevrino, a noted hardwood floor contractor, who also has a background in dancing and acting. When not working, Elinor enjoys doing needlepoint, cooking, biking, swimming and walking. She’s involved with a number of charitable organizations as well.
It’s clear that Elinor Donahue is the kind of talented and good citizen—and nice person—in real life that Ellie Walker represents in Mayberry. We’re fortunate that she passed through our favorite small town and helped get TAGS off to such a good start.
Nov '04 Elections are about one thing and one thing only.
Will the war on terror be fought in Baghdad or NYC ???