'Father Knows Best' star Elinor Donahue: See her then and now

If you've been catching re-runs of "Father Knows Best," you've probably been wondering what Elinor Donahue is up to these days. Here to help, folks!

Donahue is now 81 years old, but she was just a teenager when she landed the role of Betty "Princess" Anderson, the eldest daughter of Robert Young's Jim Anderson. The series premiered on CBS in 1954, quickly making Donahue one of the most recognizable faces in America.

Amid the height of the show's popularity, Donahue decided to tie the knot at just 19 years old. Reflecting on that decision years later, she would tell People, "I decided I wanted to be a grown-up. And how do you do that? You go off and get married and have a baby and you don't have any more problems."

Elinor Donahue: Then and Now
See Gallery
Elinor Donahue: Then and Now
February 1965: Promotional portrait of the cast of the television series, 'Father Knows Best'. Clockwise from lower left: Billy Gray, Elinor Donahue, Robert Young, Jane Wyatt and Lauren Chapin.
Robert Young and Jane Wyatt with the TV family from the show 'Father Knows Best.' The children are, left to right: Billy Gray, Lauren Chapin, and Elinor Donahue.
Elinor Donahue on an episode of Diff'rent Strokes.

Elinor Donahue with two co-stars in 1947.

Elinor Donahue on a 1972 episode of The Odd Couple.
Elinor Donahue on an 1973 episode of The Odd Couple.

Elinor Donahue with her husband, Lou Genevrino, in 2015.

Elinor Donahue on a 1979 episode of The Love Boat.

Former Father Knows Best co-stars Robert Young, Elinor Donahue, Jane Wyatt, Lauren Chapin and Billy Gray attend 36th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards on September 23, 1984.

Elinor Donahue on an episode of Fantasy Island in 1981.

Elinor Donahue at the Spirit of America Benefit Gala on December 13, 1990.
Elinor Donahue in 2007, attending the The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences 10th Anniversary Celebration of The Archive Of American Television.
Elinor Donahue speaks on a panel at the 15th annual official Star Trek convention at the Rio Hotel & Casino on August 3, 2016.

It wasn't meant to be -- she and her first husband would divorce in 1961 -- but the failed relationship led to a longtime marriage with producer Harry Ackerman. They wed in 1962 and remained together until his death in 1991. A year after his passing, she wed again. She's a proud mom of six children.

"Father Knows Best" wrapped in the late 1950s, but the cast would reunite two decades later for reunion specials in 1977. By that time, Donahue had appeared in dozens of programs -- "Andy Griffith," "Star Trek" and "77 Sunset Strip," to name a few -- and became a fan-favorite character during her three-year run on "The Odd Couple."

As for her co-stars: Robert Young, who played the titular father, died at 91 in 1998 while his on-screen wife, Jane Wyatt, died at 96 in 2006. Donahue's fictional siblings are doing well: Billy Gray is 80 and Lauren Chapin 73, and they both live in Los Angeles.

Take a look in the gallery above to see Donahue's transformation over the years.

Read Full Story