Old School Americana & Nostalgia


Janet Landgard, Star of ‘The Donna Reed Show,’ Dead at 75

Janet Landgard, Star of ‘The Donna Reed Show,’ Dead at 75

Janet Landgard, the actress who starred as the leading lady in The Swimmer and as Paul Petersen’s crush in The Donna Reed Show, has passed away at the age of 75. 

Petersen, who was her lifelong friend, broke the news of her death on his personal Facebook page on Nov. 10. He shared that she had been “gravely ill” with cancer. But she never let him know how bad it was. 

“Typical behavior from the best TV girlfriend my alternate ego, Jeff Stone, ever had on the last three years of The DonnaReed Show,” he continued. “Janet was gorgeous, inside and out…a flawless Scandinavian beauty that literally stunned jaded Hollywood types into silence.”

“’Easy on the eyes’ doesn’t begin to describe her,” he continued. “We were always close no matter the time or distance. She gave me a share in her racehorse, Pioneer Prince, who didn’t run well in his last race November 3rd at Santa Anita where he broke well but faded down the stretch. And doesn’t that describe all of us?”

Janet Landgard died on Nov. 6. 

“You will always be with me, Janet…in my heart, and on that television signal spreading out through the universe. Not a bad way to transition!” he concluded. “Love you, Paul Jeff Stone Petersen 11/10/2023.”

Janet Landgard’s First Role Was Alongside Paul Petersen

The actress’ first onscreen role was alongside Petersen in the classic TV series. She starred as Sabrina in a 1963 Season 5 episode and then returned as Karen for the final three seasons of the series. During that run, she also had a guest spot on My Three Sons

On The Donna Reed Show, Janet Langard portrayed Jeff’s girlfriend in 11 episodes. Because of that role, she was named as one of the ten most promising young stars during a televised special called The Hollywood Deb Stars of 1965

Landgard’s most high-profile project came in 1968’s The Swimmer when she played Julie Hooper to Burt Lancaster’s Ned Merrill. Following that movie, Langard only starred in three more projects, Land RaidersThe Deadly Storm, and Moonchild. The actress retired from Hollywood in 1971.