‘Mad as Hell’ Donna Reed Fails to Shut Down ‘Dallas’

From Associated Press

A “mad as hell” Donna Reed lost a bid today to regain her role as Miss Ellie on “Dallas” when a judge refused to halt production of the hit television series.

The latest chapter in what is shaping up as a real-life soap opera came when Superior Court Judge John L. Cole denied Reed’s request to issue a preliminary injunction.

Such an order could have halted production on scenes involving the Miss Ellie character indefinitely, possibly up to a year. Cole denied a similar motion last month that asked for production to be stopped immediately, but for a short period of time.


Suit Will Continue

Despite the two setbacks, attorney Michael Donaldson said he will proceed with Miss Reed’s $7.5-million breach-of-contract lawsuit that was filed last month.

No new hearing dates have been set on the suit, which contends that CBS-TV, which broadcasts the show on Friday nights, induced Lorimar Productions to replace Reed with Barbara Bel Geddes, the original Miss Ellie on the series.

“She’s a 64-year-old Iowa farm girl who has certain principles and class. . . . She intends to stand on them,” Donaldson said. “She’s mad as hell and will continue to wage this battle.”

Reed signed a three-year contract in October, 1984, to play Miss Ellie, but Lorimar informed her in April that the company had decided to reinstate Bel Geddes in the role.

$17,250 Salary Being Paid

Lorimar is paying what it owes according to Miss Reed’s contract, which is $17,250 a week for the next two years, Donaldson acknowledged. He contended that the contract permitted Lorimar to suspend Reed if she defaulted in her duties by injury or illness, but not because they wanted to replace her.

He said Reed believed when she signed the contract that she would be appearing as Miss Ellie, and not sitting back and collecting her salary. Reed said in the lawsuit that her exposure on “Dallas” was worth far more than the wages.


“Our position is pay-or-play is not mentioned in the contract,” Donaldson said.