Mary Eleanor Donahue (born April 19, 1937), best known as Elinor Donahue, is an American actress. The naturally red-headed Donahue played Robert Young's eldest/popular daughter, Betty Anderson, on the 1950s sitcom, Father Knows Best. She was married for nearly 30 years to producer Harry Ackerman, whom she met on the set of that series. She and Harry Ackerman had three children together: Peter, James, and Christopher Ackerman.
Donahue was born in Tacoma, Washington, the daughter of Doris Genevieve (née Gelbaugh) and Thomas William Donahue. Her mother was a theatrical costumer, who moonlighted as a department store saleswoman in order to pay for her daughter's dancing lessons. Appearing in dancing-chorus film roles from the age of five, Donahue was at one point a ballet-school classmate of future Fred Astaire partner Barrie Chase. Donahue was a child actor working in vaudeville and had several bit parts in movies as a teenager, including Love is Better Than Ever (1952), starring Elizabeth Taylor.
She achieved stardom for her role as the elder daughter, Betty, on the television family series Father Knows Best. Her co-stars were Robert Young, Jane Wyatt, Billy Gray, and Lauren Chapin.