Shelley Fabares

Michele Ann Marie "Shelley" Fabares (/fæˈbr/; born January 19, 1944) is an American actress and singer. She is best known for her television roles as Mary Stone on the sitcom The Donna Reed Show (1958–1963) and as Christine Armstrong on the sitcom Coach (1989–97), the latter of which earned her two Primetime Emmy Awards nominations.

Shelley Fabares
Shelley Fabares 1991.jpg
Fabares in 1991
Michele Ann Marie Fabares

(1944-01-19) January 19, 1944 (age 77)
Other namesShelly Fabares
  • Actress
  • singer
Years active1947–2006
(m. 1964; div. 1980)

(m. 1984)
RelativesNanette Fabray (aunt)

In 1962, her recording of "Johnny Angel" reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.


Early lifeEdit

Fabares was born in Santa Monica, California on January 19, 1944.[1] She is the niece of actress Nanette Fabray (née Fabares).[2]

Her father was James Alan Fabares, who was born in Algiers, New Orleans on 2 August 1909, and died in Los Angeles on 10 December 1977, and her mother was Elsa R. Eyler, who died from Alzheimer's disease in 1992. She has an older sister Nanette ("Smokey").(Source:[3]

Early TV appearancesEdit

Fabares's acting debut was at the age of 3. At the age of 10, she made her first appearance on television in an episode of Letter to Loretta, "The Clara Schuman Story" (1954).[citation needed]

Early TV appearances included the Producers' Showcase adaptation of Our Town starring Frank Sinatra and Paul Newman. She was Young Cathy in a Matinee Theatre adaptation of Wuthering Heights.[citation needed]

Fabares had small parts in The Girl Rush (1955), Never Say Goodbye (1956), The Bad Seed (1956), Rock, Pretty Baby! (1956), Jeanne Eagels (1957), Marjorie Morningstar (1958), and Summer Love (1958).[citation needed]

On TV she was in Captain Midnight, Annie Oakley, Fury, and Colgate Theatre.[4]

She portrayed Moselle Corey on Annette (1958) starring Annette Funicello.[5]

She guest starred on Mr. Novak, The Eleventh Hour, Arrest and Trial, and The Twilight Zone ("Black Leather Jackets").[6][7]

The Donna Reed ShowEdit

The Donna Reed Show: (clockwise from bottom left) Paul Petersen, Donna Reed, Carl Betz, and Shelley Fabares, 1958

In 1958, Fabares landed the role of Mary Stone in the long-running family sitcom The Donna Reed Show. This ran until 1966. Fabares quickly established herself as a favorite with teen audiences.[8][7]

"Donna Reed was simply an extraordinary woman, a woman of great strength, kindness, integrity and compassion," said Fabares later of her television mother.[9]


Fabares' national popularity led to a recording contract and two "Top 40" hits, including "Johnny Angel," which went to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in April 1962, and peaked at number 41 in the UK.[2][10] It sold over one million copies and was certified gold.[11] She released an album, Shelley!. "I was stunned about that, to put it mildly," she later said. "After all, I never could sing."[12]

This was followed by a second album, The Things We Did Last Summer (album), which included two hit songs "Johnny Loves Me" (no. 21) and "The Things We Did Last Summer" (no. 46).

Fabares left The Donna Reed Show in 1963 (she would return periodically until its end in 1966) to pursue other acting opportunities. She released a third album, Teenage Triangle in 1963.

Film careerEdit

Fabares was one of the female leads in the surf film Ride the Wild Surf (1964).[7] She was Elvis Presley's leading lady in Girl Happy (1965) for MGM[7] and played the love interest of Peter Noone of Herman's Hermits in Hold On! at the same studio.[citation needed]

MGM made a pilot for a TV series based on Meet Me in St. Louis with Fabares in the lead but no network was receptive to it.[citation needed]

She was reunited with Elvis for Spinout (1966) at MGM and Clambake (1967), at United Artists.[7]

Sam Katzman cast her as the love interest of a young Hank Williams Jr. in A Time to Sing (1968).[7]

TV guest spotsEdit

Film roles dried up in the late 1960s and Fabares went back to guest starring on shows like The Ghost & Mrs. Muir,[13] Daniel Boone, Medical Center, Lancer, Bracken's World, and The Interns.[14]

Fabares said she went through a period where she struggled to find work. "I went to bed on Tuesday having worked since I was 3. I got up Wednesday morning and didn't work for four years, went to bed Wednesday night after four years, got up and interviewed for a Mannix episode and started working again. I think this business is very cyclical. You go through busy times and you go through dead times."[15]

After Mannix, she was in Longstreet, Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law, Love, American Style, Rockford Files, McCloud and Cade's County.

"I wasn't a big risk-taker," she said later. "I should have been more aggressive. I was nervous and scared to try something really different."[12]

Fabares had support roles in TV movies like Brian's Song (1971) (playing the wife of Brian Piccolo, played by James Caan), and Two for the Money (1972). Her performance in Brian's Song earned her a Golden Globe nomination.[16]

The Brian Keith Show, The PracticeEdit

Fabares had a regular role on The Brian Keith Show (1972–1974), known as The Little People during its first season, which lasted for 47 episodes.[17]

When the show ended she resumed guest shots: Police Story, Ironside, The Rockford Files, The Rookies, Matt Helm, Medical Story, Marcus Welby, M.D., Barnaby Jones, and Spencer's Pilots.[citation needed]

She had a role in the TV movie Sky Heist (1975) and from 1976 to 1977 had a regular part on The Practice with Danny Thomas.[citation needed]

Forever Fernwood, One Day at a Time and Highcliffe ManorEdit

She then had a regular role on Forever Fernwood.

In 1978, Fabares played Francine Webster on the CBS sitcom One Day at a Time, a role she reprised for the last three years of the show. "I was Francine, a rather villainous character," she said later. "She was wonderful. She saw the world only through her eyes, and it never occurred to her that other people didn't."[18]

She was also in episodes of Lucan, Vega$, The Incredible Hulk, Hello, Larry, and Fantasy Island.

Fabares was in the TV movies Pleasure Cove (1979), Donovan's Kid (1979), Friendships, Secrets and Lies (1979) and Gridlock (1980).

She had the starring role in the TV series Highcliffe Manor (1979) but it only lasted six episodes.


In the 1980s Fabares could be seen on Mork & Mindy, Matt Houston, The Love Boat, Newhart, and Murder, She Wrote.[citation needed]

She did a TV movie Memorial Day (1983) with Mike Farrell who became her husband, as well as movies Suburban Beat (1985), The Canterville Ghost (1985), Hot Pursuit (1987), and Run Till You Fall (1988).[citation needed]


In 1989, she won the role of Christine Armstrong Fox on the ABC sitcom Coach. "Here was an intelligent, funny, well-written series," Fabares said "And the people putting it on wanted me to play a very successful, ambitious woman in it."[12]

The series originally struggled in the ratings until it shifted to play after Roseanne. It was a hit and played until 1997.

For her work, Fabares was nominated twice for a Primetime Emmy Award,[19] and, in 1994, she was honored by the Young Artist Foundation with its Former Child Star "Lifetime Achievement" Award for her role as Mary Stone on The Donna Reed Show.[20]

During the series' run Fabares appeared on Love or Money (1990), Deadly Relations (1993), The Great Mom Swap (1995), and A Nightmare Come True (1997).

Later careerEdit

After Coach ended in 1997, Fabares voiced the role of Martha "Ma" Kent on Superman: The Animated Series. She reprised the role twice, once for a 2003 episode of Justice League and again for the direct-to-video film Superman: Brainiac Attacks (2006).

She was in Playing to Win: A Moment of Truth Movie (1998).

From 2004 to 2011 she produced the Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Personal lifeEdit

In 1964, Fabares married producer Lou Adler. They separated in 1966 and divorced in 1980.[21] Since 1984, she has been married to actor Mike Farrell.[22]

In October 2000, Fabares received a liver transplant after being diagnosed with autoimmune hepatitis.[23][24]


Year Title Role Notes
1955 The Girl Rush Kim Halliday (Age 9) Uncredited
1956 Never Say Goodbye Suzy Parker
1956 The Bad Seed Margie Uncredited
1957 Jeanne Eagels Teenage Girl Uncredited
1958 Summer Love Twinkie Daley
1958 Marjorie Morningstar Seth's Girl Friend Uncredited
1964 Ride the Wild Surf Brie Matthews
1965 Girl Happy Valerie Frank
1966 Hold On! Louisa Page Alternative title: There's No Place Like Space
1966 Spinout Cynthia Foxhugh
1967 Clambake Dianne Carter
1968 A Time to Sing Amy Carter
1987 Hot Pursuit Buffy Cronenberg
1990 Love or Money LuAnn Reed Alternative title: For Love or Money
2006 Superman: Brainiac Attacks Martha Kent (Voice) Direct-to-video release
Year Title Role Notes
1954–1958 The Loretta Young Show Marie Schumann
2 episodes
1955 Our Town Rebecca Gibbs 1 episode
1955 Matinee Theater Young Cathy 1 episode
1955 Captain Midnight Mary Kingsley 1 episode
1956 Annie Oakley Prudy Warren 1 episode
1957 Fury Midge Mallon 1 episode
1958 Walt Disney Presents: Annette Moselle Corey 15 episodes
1958–1965 The Donna Reed Show Mary Stone 191 episodes
1959 The Rebel Nora Hendry 1 episode
1963 Mr. Novak Dani Cooper 2 episodes
1964 The Eleventh Hour Carol Hamilton 1 episode
1964 Arrest and Trial Donna Blaney 1 episode
1964 The Twilight Zone Ellen Tillman 1 episode: Black Leather Jackets
1968 The Ghost & Mrs. Muir Vanessa 1 episode
1969 Daniel Boone Charity Brown 1 episode
1969 Lancer Melissa Harper 1 episode
1969 Bracken's World Hilary Saxon 1 episode
1969 Medical Center "Mike" Carter 1 episode
1971 Longstreet Marianne Franklin 1 episode
1971 Brian's Song Joy Piccolo Television movie
1971 Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law Lorraine Latham 1 episode
1972 McCloud Natalie Rudell 1 episode
1972 Two for the Money Bethany Hagen Television movie
1972 Cade's County Stephanie 1 episode
1972–1974 The Little People/The Brian Keith Show Dr. Anne Jamison 47 episodes
1974 Police Story Annette Weiner 1 episode
1974 Ironside Charlotte Black 1 episode
1974 The Rockford Files Jolene Hyland 1 episode
1975 The Rookies Ann McNeal 1 episode
1975 Matt Helm Chris/Tina 1 episode
1975 Barnaby Jones Susan Burke 1 episode
1976 Marcus Welby, M.D. Norma Fritchie 1 episode
1976 Spencer's Pilots Annette 1 episode
1976-1977 The Practice Jenny Bedford 27 episodes
1977–1978 Forever Fernwood Eleanor Major Unknown episodes
1978 Vega$ Linda Stockwood 1 episode
1978 The Incredible Hulk Holly Cooper 1 episode
1978–1984 One Day at a Time Francine Webster 23 episodes
1979 Hello, Larry Marion Alder 3 episodes
1979 Highcliffe Manor Helen Blacke 6 episodes
1980–1981 Mork & Mindy Cathy 3 episodes
1980–1985 The Love Boat Various roles 3 episodes
1983 Matt Houston Barbara Newton 1 episode
1983 ABC Afterschool Special Fran Brogliatti 1 episode
1983 Memorial Day Ellie Walker Television movie
1985 The Canterville Ghost Lucy Television movie
1985 Suburban Beat Mimi Television movie
1987 Newhart Diane Beckwith 1 episode
1988 Run Till You Fall Kathy Reuben Television movie
1989 Murder, She Wrote Liza Caspar 2 episodes
1989–1997 Coach Christine Armstrong 199 episodes
1993 Deadly Relations Shirley Fagot Television movie
1995 The Great Mom Swap Millie Ridgeway Television movie
1996 Superman: The Last Son of Krypton Martha Kent (Voice) Television movie
1996–1998 Superman: The Animated Series Martha Kent (Voice) 8 episodes
1997 A Nightmare Come True Lily Zarn Television movie
1998 Playing to Win: A Moment of Truth Movie Nancy Erickson Television movie
2003 Justice League Martha Kent (Voice) 1 episode


Studio albumsEdit

Featuring four tracks each by Shelley, James Darren and Paul Petersen
  • Bye Bye Birdie—Colpix CP-454/SCP-454—1963
Songs from the movie sung by Shelley, The Marcels, James Darren and Paul Petersen
  • More Teenage Triangle—Colpix CP-468/SCP-468—1964
Second compilation featuring Shelley, James Darren and Paul Petersen

Soundtrack songsEdit


  • Rare Items And Big Hits Colpix (1989)
  • The Best of Shelley Fabares Rhino R2 71651—1994
  • Shelley Fabares Johnny Angel Collectables #9931 July 2005
  • Shelley Fabares Meets Paul Petersen Collectables Records July 2009
  • Growing Up-The 1962 Recordings Jasmine 2014


Year Title B-Side U.S. Label and number
February 1962 "Johnny Angel" "Where's It Gonna Get Me" 1[2] Colpix 621
April 1962 "What Did They Do Before Rock 'n' Roll"(with Paul Petersen) "Very Unlikely"
(with Paul Petersen)
Colpix 631
May 1962 "Johnny Loves Me" "I'm Growing Up" 21[26] Colpix 636
August 1962 "The Things We Did Last Summer" "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do" 46[27] Colpix 654
December 1962 "Telephone (Won't You Ring)" "Big Star" 109[28] Colpix 667
March 1963 "Ronnie, Call Me When You Get a Chance" "I Left a Note to Say Goodbye" 72[29] Colpix 682
October 1963 "Welcome Home" "Billy Boy"
Colpix 705
January 1964 "Football Season's Over" "He Don't Love Me"
Colpix 721
September 1964 "I Know You'll Be There" "Lost Summer Love"
Vee-Jay VJ632
May 1965 "My Prayer" "Pretty Please"
Dunhill D-4001
August 1966 "See Ya 'Round On the Rebound" "Pretty Please"
Dunhill D-4041

Awards and nominationsEdit

Year Award Result Category Film or series
1993 Primetime Emmy Award Nominated Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Coach
1994 Coach
1965 Laurel Awards Nominated New Faces, Female
2004 TV Land Award Nominated Favorite Teen Dream - Female The Donna Reed Show
1994 Young Artist Award Won Former Child Star Lifetime Achievement Award The Donna Reed Show


  1. ^ Strodder, Chris (2000). Swingin' Chicks of the '60s: A Tribute to 101 of the Decade's Defining Women. Cedco. p. 35. ISBN 978-0768322323.
  2. ^ a b c Bronson, Fred (2003). The Billboard Book of Number 1 Hits: The Inside Story Behind Every Number One Single on Billboard's Hot 100 from 1955 to the Present (5 ed.). Billboard Books. p. 107. ISBN 978-0823076772.
  3. ^ "Bio Shelley Fabares". All Shelley Fabares. Retrieved 2021-01-04.
  4. ^ Korman, Seymour (4 June 1960). "TOPS WITH TEENS: Shelley Fabares Likes Boys, Music, Swimming, Chocolate Cake, and (again!) Boys". Chicago Daily Tribune. p. C25.
  5. ^ Terrace, Vincent (2011). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010 (2nd ed.). Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. p. 49. ISBN 978-0-7864-6477-7.
  6. ^ "Shelley Fabares Gets 2nd 'Mr. Novak' Role". Los Angeles Times. 9 July 1963. p. C7.
  7. ^ a b c d e f "Shelley Fabares". TV Guide. Retrieved 19 April 2020.
  8. ^ Fink, John (25 September 1960). "Terrific Teen: Fabares Believe It or Not, She's Shy!" Chicago Daily Tribune. p. B18.
  9. ^ King, Susan (16 May 1993). "Five Years Of Coach; Shelley Fabares marks 100th show". [Montreal]: The Gazette p. F6.
  10. ^ "Shelley Fabares - Johnny Angel". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2012-04-04.
  11. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 145. ISBN 978-0214204807.
  12. ^ a b c Mirabella, Alan (28 November 1989). "'Coach' is New Life for Shelley Fabaes". Orlando Sentinel p. E6.
  13. ^ "Shelley Fabares Role". Los Angeles Times 4 September 1968. p.H14.
  14. ^ "Shelley Fabares Set for Lancer Episode". Los Angeles Times 4 February 1969. p. G14.
  15. ^ "Shelley Fabares Has Half-Century of Screen Presence". Orlando Sentinel. Los Angeles Times]]. 28 July 1996. Retrieved 10 March 2020.
  16. ^ Lane, Lydia (15 March 1972). "BEAUTY: Actress Learned Hard Way". Los Angeles Times. p. I-13.
  17. ^ Anderson, Jack (23 December 1972). "Donna's 'little girl' grows up" Chicago Tribune p. B5.
  18. ^ Buck, Jerry (9 July 1991). Veteran Fabares Likes Challenge of 'Coach' Role". [Ft Lauderdale]: Sun-Sentinel p. 3E.
  19. ^ Lisanti, Tom (20 May 2015). Fantasy Femmes of Sixties Cinema: Interviews With 20 Actresses From Biker, Beach and Elvis Movies. McFarland. p. 283. ISBN 978-1476601168.
  20. ^ "15th Annual Youth in Film Awards". Young Artist Academy. Archived from the original on 2000-07-09. Retrieved 2011-03-31.
  21. ^ "Shelley Fabares". Glamour Girls of the Silver Screen. Retrieved 2012-04-04.
  22. ^ Sanz, Cynthia (15 April 1991). "Shelley Fabares Fell for a Former M*A*S*H-Er, Mike Farrell". People. 35: 72. ISSN 0093-7673.
  23. ^ Slaughter, Adele (24 April 2002). "Shelley Fabares 'coaches' life-giving game plan". USA Today. Retrieved 2009-05-08.
  24. ^ "Shelley Fabares: Illness and Liver Transplant". MedicineNet. 22 April 2003. Retrieved 2012-04-04.
  25. ^ a b c "Shelley Fabares". AllMusic. 19 January 1944. Retrieved 2012-04-04.
  26. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1996). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits (6th ed.). New York: Watson-Guptill Publications. p. 212. ISBN 978-0823076321.
  27. ^ "Shelley Fabares". AllMusic. 1944-01-19. Retrieved 2012-04-04.
  28. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2005). Bubbling Under The Billboard Hot 100 1959-2004 (2nd ed.). Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 94. ISBN 0-89820-162-4.
  29. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2003). Top Pop Singles 1955-2002 (10th ed.). Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 234. ISBN 978-0898201550.

External linksEdit