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(written from a Production point of view)
Elinor Donahue (born 19 April 1937; age 79) is an American actress who played Federation Commissioner Nancy Hedford in "Metamorphosis", a second season episode of Star Trek: The Original Series. She is perhaps best remembered for her Emmy Award-nominated role as Betty "Princess" Anderson, the eldest daughter in the popular 1950s sitcom Father Knows Best. Fellow TOS guest actress Jane Wyatt (Amanda Grayson) portrayed her mother on this series.
Born Mary Elinor Donahue in Tacoma, Washington, she began working in radio and in vaudeville when she was only a child. At the age of 5, she began appearing in minor roles in feature films. In 1950, she appeared in The Happy Years, a comedy starring a young Dean Stockwell. That same year, she and her soon-to-be TV co-star Jane Wyatt were seen in the musical My Blue Heaven. Donahue also had roles in films such as Three Daring Daughters (1948), Tea for Two (1950), and Love Is Better Than Ever (1952). In 1959, she and Phyllis Douglas can be seen in the drama Girls Town.
Donahue portrayed "Princess" Anderson for all six seasons of Father Knows Best, which ran from 1954 through 1960. She is also known for recurring roles as Felix Unger's love interest, Miriam Welby, on The Odd Couple and as pharmacist Ellie Walker during the first season of The Andy Griffith Show. Donahue was among the recipients of the Legend Award that was given to The Andy Griffith Show by the TV Land Awards in 2004.
In 1977, Donahue starred as the wife of Lawrence Pressman's Michael Mulligan in the NBC series Mulligan's Stew. Soap opera enthusiasts may remember her two-year stint of evil nurse Kate Honeycutt on Days of Our Lives and her brief role as Dr. Anderson on Santa Barbara (starring Judith Anderson). She later played Chris Elliott's aloof mother on the cult 1990s FOX sitcom Get a Life and had a recurring role on Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman (with many other Star Trek "one timers" such as Chad Allen and Jason Leland Adams), portraying the title character's sister, Rebecca. Donahue also had brief recurring roles on The Flying Nun and Coach.
In addition to her regular and recurring TV roles, Donahue has made guest appearances on shows such as Have Gun - Will Travel (in an episode with Whit Bissell and Paul Fix), The Virginian (in an episode directed by Don McDougall), The Rookies (with Bert Remsen), Petrocelli (starring Susan Howard and David Huddleston), Barnaby Jones (starring Lee Meriwether), Fantasy Island (starring Ricardo Montalban), Happy Days, The Golden Girls, and Murder, She Wrote (with David Warner and William Windom). She more recently appeared in episodes of Friends, Ellen, and Cold Case. In the latter, she co-starred with Thomas Kopache. In the "Friends" episode "The One Where Nana Dies Twice" (09:43) she wears a Redshirt.
Donahue has also continued acting in feature films, with appearances in the 1983 comedy Going Berzerk (co-starring Rosalind Chao, Paul Dooley, Richard Libertini, and Kurtwood Smith), the 1990 hit Pretty Woman (with Jason Alexander and Dey Young), and the 1991 horror sequel Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare (co-written by Michael De Luca). Donahue also appeared in the 1995 made-for-TV movie The Invaders, starring Scott Bakula. She more recently played Lady Palimore in Disney's 2004 film The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement, starring Chris Pine and John Rhys-Davies.
Donahue is the widow of television producer Harry Ackerman, to whom she had been married for nearly 29 years. They had three children together. She also has an older son from a previous marriage. Donahue married her third husband, contractor Louis Genevrino, in 1992. In 1998, Donahue published a memoir entitled In the Kitchen with Elinor Donahue, in which she relived some of her memories of Hollywood along with providing more than 150 of her own recipes.