Ted Donaldson

Ted Donaldson

Donaldson (center) with Conrad Nagel and Margaret Lindsay in Adventures of Rusty (1945)
Born (1933-08-20) August 20, 1933
New York City, New York, U.S.
Occupation Actor
Years active 19371953

Ted Donaldson (born August 20, 1933, in New York City, New York) is an American former child actor.

Early years

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Donaldson was the son of singer-composer Will Donaldson his wife, Jo. His mother died when he was 4 1/2 years old. His stepmother was radio organist Muriel Pollock.[1] He attended the Professional Children's School in New York City.[2]


Peggy Ann Garner and Ted Donaldson in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945)

Donaldson began his acting career in December 1937 when he appeared in an NBC radio show.[2] In 1941, he played Tiny Tim in a week-long serialized version of Dickens' A Christmas Carol that was presented on Wheatena Playhouse.[3]

From 1949 to 1954, he played Bud, the son of Robert Young's character in the radio version of Father Knows Best.[4] He was offered the same role on the television version of the series, but turned it down, saying, "I didn't want to be typed. I didn't want to be a 21-year-old playing a 15- or 16-year-old kid. I wanted to do other things."[1] As an adult, he called that "one of the two or three most stupid things I have not done because not only would the salary have been very nice for five years, but the residuals would have also."[1]

As an 8-year-old, Ted portrayed Harlan in the Broadway stage production of Life With Father. In 1943, he performed alongside Gregory Peck in the play Sons and Soldiers.[1]

The performance led to a starring role as Arthur "Pinky" Thompson in his first movie, Once Upon a Time (1944), opposite Cary Grant and Janet Blair. Columbia Pictures put him under contract after the film was finished. In 1945, Donaldson was cast in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, which marked the directorial debut of Elia Kazan.[5]

Donaldson also starred as Danny Mitchell in the 1940s Rusty series of eight films about a German shepherd dog.[1] At age 19, he had his last credited feature film role as Jerry Fortness in Phone Call from a Stranger (1952).



  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Goldrup, Tom; Goldrup, Jim (2002). Growing Up on the Set: Interviews with 39 Former Child Actors of Classic Film and Television. McFarland. pp. 57–66. ISBN 9780786412549. Retrieved 2 November 2016.
  2. 1 2 Collura, Joe (September 2016). "Ted Donaldson: A Natural". Classic Images (495): 76–81.
  3. "Holiday Serial". Broadcasting. December 15, 1941. p. 28. Retrieved 2016-06-12.
  4. Dunning, John (1998). On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 243. ISBN 978-0-19-507678-3.
  5. "Ted Donaldson". Growing Up on the Set: Interviews with 39 Former Child Actors of Classic Film and Television. Retrieved 6 February 2014.


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