Reed was elected beauty queen of her high school and Campus Queen of her college. The latter honor resulted in her photo making the L.A. papers, and as a result she was invited to take a screen test with MGM, which signed her in 1941. She played supporting roles in a number of minor films (at first being billed as "Donna Adams"), then in the mid '40s she began getting leads; with rare exceptions, she portrayed sincere, wholesome types and loving wives and girlfriends. She went against type playing a prostitute in From Here to Eternity (1953), for which she won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar. Rarely getting rewarding roles, she retired from the screen in 1958 to star in the TV series "The Donna Reed Show," which was a great success and remained on the air through 1966. After 1960 she appeared in only one more film. In the mid '80s she emerged from retirement to star in "Dallas;" Barbara Bel Geddes returned to the show in 1985, and Reed won a $1 million settlement for a breach of contract suit against the show's producers. She died of cancer several months later.