Real Name: William Paul Petersen - Birthdate: September 23, 1945 - Birthplace: Glendale, CA. - Height: 5' 11" - Weight: 155 lbs. -
Hair: Dark Brown - Eyes: Brown
Paul Petersen is one of the few young actors in Hollywood to have made the transition from child performer through the teens and into young manhood, growing each year in stature as a young star in television, motion pictures, and the recording field. He has made the transition smoothly, accepting his professional responsibilities with an appreciation for and an enjoyment of his work that has been inherent since he started his career at the age of eight. More than half of his professional years have been spent on "The Donna Reed Show". He still calls his television mother "Miss Reed". His tenure on the show as a typical son in a typical American family has brought him a great many enviable rewards. He has also written and sold two episodes of the series. A new contract with Screen Gems and its parent company, Columbia Pictures, assures Paul's future. He will also be starred in a motion picture each year, and his records will continue to be released by Colpix, another branch of Columbia Pictures, where his singles and albums have exceeded the Hallmark of success, a million sales. The contract is non-exclusive, permitting Paul to make other feature pictures and television shows, do personal appearances and theatrical roles. This current state of affluence is in sharp contrast to Paul's early childhood which was spent, with his parents and older sister Pamela, on the Cherokee County, Iowa farm of his aunt and uncle. Economic necessity was the reason for the family of Wilma and Lawrence Petersen moving from Paul's birthplace, Glendale, California. During the years on the farm Paul was taught to read by his mother at the age of four. She also enrolled him in music, tap dancing and dramatic schools at an early age. He vividly remembers the kind of punishment that was meted out when he misbehaved, a bite of raw liver. He admits this was often. It wasn't a terribly effective punishment; he still likes liver in any form provided it is cooked. His father, of Danish descent, worked as a mechanic and when the family fortunes improved, the Petersens returned to California. Shortly thereafter, Walt Disney sent out a call for young tap dancers for "The Mickey Mouse Club" and Paul was chosen as one of the famous troupe. Although it had never been the family aim to make actors of their children, Paul took to the life as if it were a perpetual picnic. From the start there was question in his mind that he would be anything else but a performer. It was his choice, he enjoyed it, and therefore adapted to it without any of the traumas sustained by some children who are pushed into becoming kid actors by their parents. By the time he reached his teens, he was well known to both television and motion picture audiences and boasted a sizeable fan club with members from coast to coast. His movie credits include, "This Could Be The Night" (MGM), "Monolith Monsters" (Universal) and "Houseboat" (Paramount) in which he played the son of Cary Grant and Sophia Loren. He has played important television roles in "Playhouse 90", "Lux Video Theatre", "Ford Theatre", "G.E. Theater" and "The Virginian". Paul attended regular grammar school, finishing the seventh grade, but he has attended public high school only three days; once to register, once to practice for graduation, and once to graduate. His education was conducted at the Columbia Studio School under the direction of Dr. Lillian Barkley. He held one of the 10 highest academic records among high school seniors in the State of California at the time of his graduation. He is one of a group of 20 top students participating in a California State Board of Education continuing program to determine how effectively education is used in the pursuit of careers. The object of the program is to help figure out better methods of education. Paul's greatest passion in his sports car, a Cobra, with an English body and a high-powered Ford engine. The car originally cost $9,000, but he has spent several thousands more to keep it at peak perfection. To learn how to handle this fast racing sports car, he attended the Caroll Shelby School of High Performance Driving, considered the best in the country. Located in Riverside, California, the school teaches racing and driving control and Paul holds a certificate classifying him as an expert race car driver. He is president of the Cobra Owners Club, frequently competing with his team in slalom races, run on large parking lots against the clock, when one-hundredth of a second can win or lose the race. For regular driving, he has a fire engine red Volkswagen, a graduation present from Donna Reed and her husband, Tony Owen, who produces the show. Paul hopes to acquire a 1928 Rolls Royce "for kicks". Pursuing his education, he takes extension courses at Los Angeles City College in mechanical drawing and art appreciation, in preparation for studying architecture. He has also studied philosophy and history at night at Valley College in the San Fernando Valley. He is a demon speed reader, having read "War and Peace" in one night and taking a quiz on it the next day. While he was studying college subjects at the Columbia School, his young sister Patty, now a regular on "The Donna Reed Show", sat next to him doing her fourth grade work and his series girlfriend, Janet Landgard, sat on the other side doing high school work. The school also included Jay North ("Dennis the Menace") and Bobby Buntrock ("Hazel") along with Shelley Fabares and "visitors", children who were appearing in various series and were required to attend school while working. During any television hiatus, Paul makes personal appearances at teen hops, fairs and amusement parks all over the country, as well as doing summer stock. He recently served as National Teenage Chairman of the March of Dimes, and for two years before that as co-chairman with the former Luci Baines Johnson. Paul considers himself a personality singer and the object of the appearances is not to become the world's greatest singer, but to build drawing power and to entertain. He enjoys the personal contact with the young people who come to hear him, often joining them in the audience or going out with them for coffee or soft drinks. If they become too exuberant while he's singing, he stops the show until they calm down. His followers don't throw jelly beans as with The Beatles and some rock 'n roll groups, but they have been known to throw pennies on stage, which can hurt even more than jelly beans. Paul goes through a lot of wardrobe at some of the hops when the fans get carried away and tear at his clothes for souvenirs. He is a clothes buff and has been named Best Dressed Teen by CALMAC, a West Coast stylist organization. He has his suits and slacks tailored and has visited every men's specialty shop in Los Angeles with the man who designs his television costumes as advisor. He loves to shop and has a large collection of Norfolk jackets, blazers, hats and sweaters in his personal wardrobe. Paul is learning business administration by the practical method. With his manager's advice, he bought a 5-unit apartment house in Sherman Oaks. His Danish-Scotch mother and step-father, Paul Ashby, are resident managers. Paul's father is a new development engineer at Lockheed Aircraft Corporation. When Paul started looking for a home of his own, it was assumed by some real estate salesmen that he would want a swingin' bachelor pad. Instead, he bought a four-year old hillside house in Beverly Hills with a canyon view, lots of trees and landscaping. His study-bedroom is filled with books, many on philosophy, stereo components and records, including operatic and classical. If he gets into an infrequent mood, he holes up in his quarters, plays records, reads and throws the phone out, making forays on the refrigerator for snacks. His sister Pamela, two years older and divorced, lives with him. She's as great a cook as his mother and he especially enjoys her company over coffee in the morning before he goes to work. Pamela has two cats, loved by Paul's Weimeraner, Pokey. Pokey's coloring, according to his master, is mouse brown on a frosty morning. Paul is pleased that his house has five doors, "you can get out any place but up." The young star is, he says, a night person who enjoys cars, girls and stars. He frequents the discotheques, bowls, plays pool and particularly enjoys ballet and opera at the new Los Angeles showplace, The Music Center. His ideal way of living would be to go to college the fall semester and work the remaining eight months of the year. Paul has a strong bond with his family, giving his younger sister credit for charming her way into the role of little sister on "The Donna Reed Show". Other members of the cast feel he more or less engineered it. He finds it rather difficult to dish out discipline as her big brother, but he's learning a lot about kids, watching her grow up. His ultimate aim is to be a success in any field he tackles, mainly in acting and in marriage. He wants at least nine kids and enough money to raise them. He also wants to adopt all the orphans he can support around the world and then get them all together for Christmas. "If," he says, "I were to die tomorrow, there's only one thing I'd miss and that's not having had a family. I have everything else I could possibly want." He also feels that when he does depart this world, he'd like to go with at least two enemies who respect, not hate, him. That, with lots and lots of friends, would assure him that he had had a good life.
"This Could Be The Night" (MGM)
"Monolith Monsters" (Universal)
"The Happiest Millionaire" (Walt Disney)
"The Day The World Ended" (AIP)
"The Long Ride Home" (Columbia)
"Journey to Shiloh" (Universal)
"The Donna Reed Show" (8 years)
"Lux Video Theatre"
"St. Valentine's Day"
"Where The Action Is"
"Something For a Lonely Man"
Albums: "Lollipops and Roses"
"Bye Bye Birdie" (With James Darren and Shelley Fabares)
"Teenage Triangle" (With James Darren and Shelley Fabares)
"More Teenage Triangle" (With James Darren and Shelley Fabares)
Singles: "My Dad" b/w "Little Boy Sad"
"Amy" b/w "Goody-Goody"
"Girls in the Summertime" b/w "Mamma, Your Little Boy Fell"
"Keep Your Love Locked" b/w "What Did They Do Before Rock 'N Roll"
"She Can't Find Her Keys" b/w "Very Unlikely"
"Cheerleader" b/w "She Rides With Me"
"Hey There Beautiful" b/w "Where is She?"
"Happy b/w "Little Dreamer"
"See The Ring" b/w "You Don't Need Money"
"Chained" b/w "Don't Let It Happen To Us"
"Best Foot Forward" - Cain Park Theatre, Cleveland, Ohio
"Kataki" - Edward Ludlum Theatre, Hollywood, California
"Most Photographed Teenager In Show Business" - Professional Photographers Assoc.
"Best Dressed Teenager In Show Business" - CALMAC
"Best Teen Actor On Television" - 16 Magazine
"Outstanding Young Star Of The Year" - Harlequinade Awards