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Janet Landgard, ‘The Swimmer’ and ‘The Donna Reed Show’ Actor, Dies at 75

Flowers on a casket. (Unsplash)

Janet Landgard, who starred in 1968’s “The Swimmer” alongside Burt Lancaster and played Paul Petersen’s love interest for three seasons on “The Donna Reed Show,” has died. She was 75.

Petersen shared the news of co-star Landgard’s death on Facebook, noting that cancer “took her life earlier this week.” He added that Landgard was “the best TV girlfriend my alternate ego, Jeff Stone, ever had on the last three years of ‘The Donna Reed Show.’ Janet was gorgeous, inside and out… We were always close no matter the time or distance.”

Landgard was born on Dec. 2, 1947, in Pasadena, Calif. She made her onscreen debut in 1963 on “The Donna Reed Show,” playing a girl named Sabrina in one episode of the sitcom’s fifth season. She also guested on ABC’s “My Three Sons” that year.

Landgard returned to portray Jeff’s (Petersen) girlfriend Karen on 11 episodes of “The Donna Reed Show” through 1965. She was presented as one of 10 rising young talents on the TV special “The Hollywood Deb Stars of 1965,” hosted by Carolyn Jones and George Gobel, and later served as a hostess on “Dream Girl of ’67.”

In Columbia Pictures’ 1968 drama “The Swimmer,” directed by Frank Perry, Landgard starred as Julie Ann Hooper, a former babysitter to Lancaster’s character, Ned Merrill. The following year, she appeared in the western drama “Land Raiders,” starring Telly Savalas, George Maharis and Arlene Dahl. Landgard’s last two credits before she left acting include the 1971 ABC telefilm “The Deadly Dream” and the Victor Buono-led “Moonchild.”

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