Dwayne Hickman was Elinor Donahue's first crush

They worked together when she was 12. "He was the first boy I ever had a crush on."

Everett Collection

In 1984, Elinor Donahue appeared on Happy Days in her one and only guest spot in an episode called "School Dazed."

By this point, her Andy Griffith Show co-star Ron Howard had already departed the show.

In the Happy Days episode, Donahue played a concerned and sensitive mother to a troubled teen whom Joanie befriends.

For Donahue, she was ready to play mother roles, but it wasn’t all she wanted to play. The Eighties became a time when she felt the roles for female actors her age were fewer and further in between.

"I’m in that age group of actresses who need more roles written for them," Donahue told the Columbia Record in 1984. "Even the villainesses are getting younger."

Playing mothers would have to do.

The year before Donahue appeared on Happy Days, she was called to play a different mother role in a TV movie that was designed for former child stars like her.

For the 1983 movie High School, U.S.A., the president of NBC at the time, Brandon Tartikoff, got the idea that he wanted to bring the most popular 1950s child stars together onscreen with the most popular 1980s child stars.

That’s how Donahue was cast to play mother to Nancy McKeon (The Facts of Life) and husband to Ken Osmond (Leave It to Beaver).

Other Eighties child stars included Michael J. Fox of Family Ties, Todd Bridges of Diff’rent Strokes, and both Crystal Bernard and Cathy Silvers of Happy Days.

Other child stars from Donahue’s era when she played Betty Anderson on Father Knows Best, included Angela Cartwright of The Danny Thomas Show, Tony Dow of Leave It to Beaver, Barry Livingston of My Three Sons and both Bob Denver and Dwayne Hickman from The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.

"I think it’s a fascinating concept," Donahue told the Green Bay Press-Gazette in 1983. "They got just about everybody from the 1950s."

For Donahue, perhaps the sweetest reunion was with Hickman, whom she revealed to the Press-Gazette played a different role in her life growing up as a child star: her first real crush.

Donahue had appeared in an installment of Vacation Playhouse with Hickman when she was 12 and he was 14, and she said:

"He was the first boy I ever had a crush on. He was so courtly. When I first met him, I put out my hand and he kissed it. I was so impressed."

After reuniting with Hickman for High School, U.S.A., Donahue was called to do Happy Days, where she kept the nostalgia going.

When the show’s final season was announced, newspapers touted Donahue as the season’s biggest guest star in preview pieces teasing how the show would end.

Donahue never escaped her strong association with family shows, and she was glad to play mother roles that suited her age and her particular household name.

In 1984, she told the Longview News-Journal that Happy Days provided a realistic picture of how it felt for her as a mother who behind the scenes of her hit TV shows had raised her four teenaged boys.

That’s why she was glad to take the guest role in this "very special" episode of Happy Days and when asked what advice she had for parents looking out for their kids, whether it’s in the '50s, '80s, or today, her parenting advice to keep kids out of trouble holds strong: "By being there, and being aware, and watching, and talking about it."

 
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?
Close

20 Comments

Post a comment
magnetprod1 6 months ago
MeTV Need to put on Dobie Gillis.
Great show with Bob Dever as Maynard G Krebs.
F5Twitster 6 months ago
"For Donahue, perhaps the sweetest reunion was with Hickman, whom she revealed to the Press-Gazette played a different role in her life growing up as a child star..."

WHO she revealed to the press-Gazette played a different role...
Zip 6 months ago
Don't forget her "mom" role on Get A Life, where she never had to change out of her bathrobe the whole series. She was awesome!
Jon 6 months ago
I have "High School USA" in my tape/DVD collection, since I taped it during a local 1990s rerun. I thought the love interest between Dwayne Hickman & Angela Cartwright's characters was a bit creepy if you consider their age difference, especially back in the 1950s/1960s.
Runeshaper 6 months ago
Elinor Donahue = AWESOME! Sounds like a super mom too!
MrsPhilHarris 6 months ago
I liked Miss Ellie too but I my fav girlfriend of Andy’s was Miss Peggy.
Load previous comments
Zip MrsPhilHarris 6 months ago
Plot twist: Barney's the father.

Just kidding.
I always believed that the
reason Joanna Moore quit playing Peggy MacMillan after only four episodes
is because she WAS Pregnant and she was going to have a baby (Tatum O'Neal) a few months later. Its very easy
to figure out because Joanna Moore left TAGS
After only four episodes in
1962 and Tatum O'Neal was
Born in 1963 a few months
After Joanna Moore left TAGS . I am glad that we
Figured out the Peggy MacMillan disappearing
Into thin air Mystery.
Now it is up to me to
Figure out why these
Characters on HAPPY Days
Vanished into Thin Air:
Chuck Cunningham
Bag Zombroski
Moose
Marsha Simms
Wendy
Trudy
Spike
Gloria
Eugene Belvin
Melvin Belvin
Flip Phillips
KC Cunningham
Rebel
Bruiser
Daphne
Cynthia Brannigan
And the mysterious disappearance of
HILDA MAE and ED SAWYER on The Andy Griffith Show .
Plus the disappearing of
ED SAWYER s True Love
Lucy Mathews (Marlene Willis).ED Sawyer was played by William Lanteau.
MrsPhilHarris Zip 6 months ago
Barney? 😳
Andybandit 6 months ago
She was always my favorite of Andy's girlfriends I wish she stayed longer than one season. Helen should have left the show.
Peggy MacMillan was Tops
On The Andy Griffith Show.
Back in the 1960s I also
Liked Mary Ann Summers (Dawn Wells) on Gilligan's Island and Lou Ann Poovie
(Elizabeth MacRae) on
Gomer Pyle USMC.
Also Thaila Menniger (Tuesday Weld) on Dobie Gilli's and Julie Foster
(Cheryl Holdridge) on
Leave It To Beaver were
Great girlfriends for Dobie
Gillis and Wally Cleaver.
Chris Carmichael (Candy
Moore) on The Lucy Show
and Angela Brown (Ann
Marshall) and Nancy Drew
(Pamela Sue Martin ) were
Also wonderful actresses.
ACTUALLY Peggy MacMillan and Lou Ann Poovie were
Fantastic characters and
Mary Ann Summers was
Another fantastic character.
Angela Brown (Ann Marshall) was on My Favorite Martian for 3 episodes only.
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?