Ted Donaldson (born August 20, 1933 in New York City) is an American former child actor.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Donaldson was the son of singer-composer Will Donaldson and Will’s wife, Jo. His mother died when he was 4+1⁄2 years old. His stepmother was radio organist and composer Muriel Pollock. He attended the Professional Children’s School in New York City.
Donaldson began his acting career in December 1937 when he appeared in an NBC radio show. In 1941, he played Tiny Tim in a week-long serialized version of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol that was presented on Wheatena Playhouse.
From 1949 to 1954, he played Bud, the son of Robert Young’s character in the radio version of Father Knows Best. He was offered the same role on the television version of the series, but turned it down, saying, “I didn’t want to be typed. I didn’t want to be a 21-year-old playing a 15- or 16-year-old kid. I wanted to do other things.” As an adult, he called that “one of the two or three most stupid things I have not done because not only would the salary have been very nice for five years, but the residuals would have also.”
As an 8-year-old, Ted portrayed Harlan in the Broadway stage production of Life With Father. In 1943, he performed alongside Gregory Peck in the play Sons and Soldiers.
The performance led to a starring role as Arthur “Pinky” Thompson in his first movie, Once Upon a Time (1944), opposite Cary Grant and Janet Blair. Columbia Pictures put him under contract after the film was finished. In 1945, Donaldson was cast in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, which marked the directorial debut of Elia Kazan.
Donaldson also starred as Danny Mitchell in the 1940s Rusty series of eight films about a German shepherd dog. At age 19, he had his last credited feature film role as Jerry Fortness in Phone Call from a Stranger (1952).
In recent years, Donaldson has given a number of interviews about his film career.