The Donna Reed Show's Shelley Fabares was an Elizabeth Taylor fangirl
The teenage star got star-struck, too.
Ah, celebrities... They're just like us! Occasionally, a story will emerge that lets us see our venerated idols as equals. Look, there's Alan Alda at a Dunkin Donuts! The stars we admire are human after all.
It's nice to be reminded that even the glamorous people on TV are, in the end, just people.
Shelley Fabares, the teenaged Mary Stone on The Donna Reed Show, was no stranger to feverish fandom. Her role on the show was crucial to the series' success. Within the first season, Fabares established herself as a favorite among her teenage audience. Little did those adolescent viewers know, though, that their TV hero had more in common with them than might be expected.
A 1961 article in The Ottawa Journal reports on a story of a star-struck young Shelley Farbares during her first trip to New York City. Or, at least, Fabares would've been star-struck had she actually seen any stars. She was working on bad info, though, and missed out on the chance to see her favorite Hollywood icon. Fabares was acting on a false rumor that Elizabeth Taylor was going to be in the audience of Broadway's "Carnival" at the Imperial Theatre. The stars didn't properly align, though, and Fabares didn't cross Taylor's path.
"I just wanted to SEE her," said Fabares, who didn't let the missed connection ruin her trip to the East Coast. Instead, she kept her eyes peeled as she wandered and explored the Big Apple.
It seems as though her life on the Warner Bros. lot didn't make her any less of a stargazer. Fabares was no better prepared to meet her Hollywood peers than anybody else would be.
"I don't know any stars," said Fabares. "Even on the set, I never see anyone except the people I work with [Donna Reed, Carl Betz, and Paul Peterson]. You read about stars going to famous nightclubs and so on, but if you go to one of those places, the only people you see are tourists."
She hoped, though, that New York would prove more exciting and celebrity-filled.
"I walked down Broadway last night, and I rode the subway. I saw my first Broadway play. I've been to some awfully nice restaurants. It's not like Los Angeles. I think I would have been disappointed if it was like Los Angeles."
It was a good time to switch up the view. At the time of the interview, in October of 1961, Fabares was seventeen and had spent most of her life in Los Angeles. She was born in the shadows of the studios and grew up in and around Hollywood. Fabares' older sister was also an actress, and her Aunt Nanette, too, was a former child star.
A final detail included in the interview reveals that Favares was, at the time, weighing the benefits of college. Ultimately, The Donna Reed Show beat out UCLA. Shelley was a series regular through 1963, when her character, Mary, left to attend school.