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Remembering an Iowa icon | Happy 100th birthday, Donna Reed

Donna Reed's 100th birthday jumpstarts a year-long centennial celebration across the state.

Legendary Iowa actress Donna Reed, born Donnabelle Mullenger in the town of Denison, would be turning 100 years old Wednesday. 

Jumpstarting a year-long centennial celebration, Donna's daughter, Mary Anne Owen, moved to Iowa to share the positive message of her mother.

"I think she's part of our American heritage," Owen said.

Gov. Kim Reynolds agrees, proclaiming Jan. 27, 2021 as "Donna Reed Day."

“Donna Reed’s life really was wonderful,” Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs Director Chris Kramer said in a release. “She was an Iowa icon, a gifted actress, a savvy businesswoman and a visionary humanitarian who always kept in touch with her hometown. We can all learn from her example.” 

Reed won the 1954 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in "From Here to Eternity."

To keep her legacy alive, volunteers at the Donna Reed Center and Heritage Museum in Denison work to preserve Reed's archives along with sharing some special memoires.

"She saved everything from the film career and the television show," Owen said. "It's stuff I didn't even know about when I was growing up."

Credit: Don Schmith
Journalist, Jackie Schmillen, holds Donna Reed's Academy Award

Beyond being an actress, producer and mother, Reed was also an activist. 

She corresponded with soldiers during World War II saving hundreds of letters. In the 1960's during the Vietnam War, she co-chaired Another Mother for Peace.

Credit: donnareed.org
Donna Reed with soldiers from World War II

And her legacy continues to give back, even today, with the Donna Reed Foundation.

"Our mission is really to be an educational foundation. But we really want to help kids who have a dream, get them educated, you know make them better people," Owen said. 

"Here's an incredibly beautiful woman, talented, savvy businesswoman you know tried to take control of her career as much as she could and give back and really make the world a better place."

A modern woman while still being the girl next door and someone we are proud to call an Iowa icon. 

To learn more about the celebration and the scholarships that are available to students go to donnareed.org.

WATCH: Donna Reed wins 1954 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in "From Here to Eternity"

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