Donna Reed, 64, the actress who won the 1953 Oscar for best supporting actress for her portrayal of a prostitute in "From Here To Eternity" and later played a model wife and mother on her own television program, died of cancer Jan. 14 at her home here.
Her last role was as Miss Ellie Ewing in the CBS-TV soap opera "Dallas." She appeared in the 1984-1985 season and then was replaced by Barbara Bel Geddes, who originated the part and left it to undergo heart surgery. Miss Reed filed suit and eventually settled out of court for $1 million.
Her most acclaimed role was that of a beautiful hooker in "From Here To Eternity," which was based on the James Jones novel about life in the Army just before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. But she probably was best remembered as Mrs. Stone, the wife of a pediatrician and mother of two on ABC-TV's "The Donna Reed Show." The program ran for eight seasons beginning in 1958.
Born Donna Belle Mullenger on Jan. 27, 1921, on a farm in Denison, Iowa, Miss Reed always looked like the girl next door. In 1938, she went to Hollywood and studied stenography and office efficiency at Los Angeles City College.
In 1940, she was elected Campus Queen and came to the attention of talent scouts. In 1941, she did a screen test at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer with Van Heflin. Both were signed to contracts. During the next five years she played "nice girl" roles in a series of movies that included "The Shadow of the Thin Man," "The Courtship of Andy Hardy" and the "The Picture of Dorian Gray."
In 1946, she played her first major role, opposite James Stewart in the Frank Capra classic, "It's a Wonderful Life." Other film credits included "Green Dolphin Street," "The Last Time I Saw Paris" and "The Benny Goodman Story."
A lifetime Republican, Miss Reed surprised many when in 1970 she became co-chairwoman in Beverly Hills of Another Mother for Peace, an organization opposed to American involvement in Vietnam.
"I'd been overwhelmed by hopeless despair over the war, having two sons who might have to go to Vietnam to fight in a war I don't believe in," she said in an interview at the time. "Then, one night, at a rally for Eugene McCarthy, a mike was put in front of me unexpectedly and I heard myself speaking what I thought. And here I was trained at MGM, where nobody ever spoke out about anything."
Miss Reed's first marriage, to makeup man William Tuttle, ended in divorce, as did her second marriage, to producer Tony Owen.
Survivors include her husband, retired Army Col. Grover Asmus, whom she married in 1974, and four children by her second marriage.