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EPISODE 015: Paul Petersen began his show-business career at the age of 9 as a Mouseketeer on the Mickey Mouse Club. He appeared in the 1958 movie Houseboat with Sophia Loren and Cary Grant, but achieved stardom playing teenager Jeff Stone from 1958 to 1966 on the ABC family television sitcom, The Donna Reed Show. With the fame he achieved on The Donna Reed Show, Petersen received recording offers and had several hit record singles. In 1962, the sentimental teen pop song "My Dad" was performed on The Donna Reed Show with Petersen singing the tune to his on-screen father, actor Carl Betz. Released as a single in the same year, it reached number six on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Throughout eight seasons and decades of reruns in syndication, The Donna Reed Show became part of American popular culture. After the show had ended, Paul went on to appear in numerous movies and TV shows well into the 1990’s. After his years as a child actor, Petersen obtained a degree in literature and went on to write 16 adventure novels. In 1977, Petersen's autobiography entitled Walt, Mickey and Me: Confessions of the First Ex-Mouseketeer was published. He has served as a board member of the Donna Reed Foundation and works for the Donna Reed Festival, which takes place annually on the third week of June in Reed's hometown of Denison, Iowa. He has also served on the board of directors of Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), a national media performers AFL-CIO union based in Los Angeles. In 1997, Petersen was honored by the Young Artist Foundation with its Former Child Star "Lifetime Achievement" Award for his role on the series, The Donna Reed Show. In 1990, following the suicide of former child star Rusty Hamer, Petersen established the organization, A Minor Consideration, which supports child stars and other child laborers through legislation, family education, and personal intervention and counseling for those in crisis.
Join Dr. Jen as she talks with the respected actor about his career successes and advocacy in this episode of Rock ‘N Healthy Lifestyles!
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