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Here’s What Happened to Carl Betz Before, During and After Playing Dr. Stone on ‘The Donna Reed Show’

Although it may get lumped together with a lot of Classic TV sitcoms from its era of the 1950s and 1960s — most notably Father Know Best The Donna Reed Show was something different. For starters, it presented a strong, intelligent woman at its center in the form of the actress’ Donna Stone, who was more often than not forced to take charge of the family while husband Dr. Alex Stone, played by Carl Betz, was out working in their community. But for his part, Alex was no doofus having the wool pulled over his eyes by his wife or their children, Mary (Shelley Fabares) and Jeff (Paul Petersen). As far as Carl was concerned, this was extremely important — especially since this was his first TV series (which is currently airing on the MeTV Network).

He was born Carl Lawrence Betz in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on March 9, 1921, the oldest of four children born to Carl W. (a chief chemist at a local lab) and Mary Leona Betz. Carl grew up in the suburbs of both Crafton and Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania. Driven to act at an early age — 10, to be specific — he actually got together with six of his friends to create their own theatrical company which would put on shows for people of the neighborhood in his grandmother’s basement.

Screen Gems

Graduating in 1939 from Mt. Lebanon High School, he secured a scholarship to Duquesne University. During the summer, however, he performed in Pittsburgh summer stock theater and, as a result, made the decision to transfer to Carnegie Mellon University, which at the time was called Carnegie Tech. There he studied drama, though all of that was interrupted in 1942 when he was drafted into the United States Army to fight in World War II. There, he initially stationed in Italy and North Africa and would eventually become a technical sergeant with the Corps of Engineers.

The end of the war meant a return to Carnegie Tech where he earned his drama degree. Following graduation, he found work as a radio disk jockey and announcer, but then decided he wanted to move to New York City to really give acting a chance. Soon after arriving, he scored a role in the 1952 Broadway production of The Long Watch, after which he toured with Veronica Lake in the summer stock play, The Voice of the Turtle. quoted him as saying, “Those were good times for the beginning actor. There were so many summer stock companies. We worked for room and board and the princely sum of $45 a week. By eliminating haircuts, we managed to keep ourselves in shaving cream, clean shirts and beer.”

For much more of Carl Betz’s journey, please scroll down.