Jeff Donnell

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Jeff Donnell
Jean Marie Donnell

(1921-07-10)July 10, 1921
DiedApril 11, 1988(1988-04-11) (aged 66)
Years active1942–1988
William Anderson
(m. 1940; div. 1953)

(m. 1954; div. 1956)

John Bricker
(m. 1958; div. 1963)

Radcliffe Bealey
(m. 1974; div. 1975)

Jean Marie "Jeff" Donnell (July 10, 1921 – April 11, 1988) was an American film and television actress.

Early years[edit]

Donnell was born in South Windham, Maine, to Harold and Mildred Donnell, when her father was superintendent at a boys' reformatory in that town.[1] As a child, she adopted the nickname "Jeff" after the character in her favorite comic strip, Mutt and Jeff.[2][note 1][1] To avoid gender confusion, she was sometimes billed as "(Miss) Jeff Donnell."

Donnell graduated from Towson High School, Towson, Maryland, in 1938 and attended the Leland Powers School of Drama in Boston, Massachusetts. Later, she studied at the Yale School of Drama.[2][1]


Donnell was signed to a contract by Columbia Pictures while she was active with the Farragut Playhouse in New Hampshire, and she made her film debut in My Sister Eileen (1942).[3] She later had roles in some RKO films.

She was not a major star, but she did have a lengthy film and television career in various supporting roles, including the role of Gidget's mother Dorothy Lawrence in Gidget Goes Hawaiian and Gidget Goes to Rome.[3] She also played Hannah Marshall in the Gidget television series.[4]:391 She portrayed Mrs. Bennett in the TV series Julia,[4]:548 and in 1966 she made five appearances on Dr. Kildare as Evelyn Driscoll.

For three seasons, she portrayed George Gobel's wife, Alice, in The George Gobel Show (1954–1957) on NBC-TV,[4] and she played Ethel on the Matt Helm TV series.[4]:667

Donnell and Frank Lovejoy in In a Lonely Place (1950)

Her other notable appearances in movies and television include:

Personal life[edit]

Donnell's first marriage was in 1940 to William "Bill" Anderson, who was her teacher at the Leland Powers Dramatic School. She had her only children with him, Michael Phineas (b. 1942) and Sarah Jane (b. 1948), before their divorce in 1953.[1]


Donnell died of a heart attack on April 11, 1988, aged 66. Her sudden absence from General Hospital, on which she had a recurring role as the Quartermaines' housekeeper at the time of her death, was explained away by the writers as her character having won the lottery and quit her job.


  1. ^ Newspaper columnist Erskine Johnson wrote in a July 12, 1943, article, "... an uncle nicknamed her Jeff when she was three years old and the name stuck."


  1. ^ a b c d Johnson, Erskine (July 12, 1943). "Hollywood: 'Miss' Jeff Donnell Doing All Right". The Ithaca Journal. New York, Ithaca. p. 8. Retrieved 8 March 2019 – via
  2. ^ a b "Wade Ballard, "The Jeff Donnell Story"". Archived from the original on 2011-07-24. Retrieved 2007-10-02.
  3. ^ a b Monush, Barry (2003). Screen World Presents the Encyclopedia of Hollywood Film Actors: From the silent era to 1965. Hal Leonard Corporation. pp. 198–199. ISBN 9781557835512. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d Terrace, Vincent (2011). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010 (2nd ed.). Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. p. 384. ISBN 978-0-7864-6477-7.

External links[edit]