Elinor Donahue, the fresh-faced actress who played the eldest daughter Betty Anderson in the 1950s TV show "Father Knows Best," will serve as grand marshal of the annual Hesperia Days Parade on Saturday, Sept. 20, according to parade organizers.

"This is the first time in a long time that we've had a grand marshal of some note," said Richard Lupton, who serves as chairman of the Hesperia Kiwanis parade committee. "Usually it's well-known local people who are our grand marshals."

But having actress Donahue agree to lead the annual parade is special because she embodies a simpler, more wholesome America, said Lupton, a member of the Hesperia Recreation and Park District board of directors and a former Hesperian of the Year. "And she's always had a great reputation."

After "Father Knows Best" ended its six-year run in 1960, Donahue acted in many other TV shows and movies including "Star Trek," "The Days of Our Lives" and "Pretty Woman." Donahue was married to the late Harry Ackerman, a highly successful Screen Gems TV executive who executive produced "Dennis the Menace," "The Donna Reed Show," "Bewitched," "I Dream of Jeannie," "The Monkees," "Father Knows Best," where the couple met on set, and many other popular shows.
Donahue is the mother of Chris Ackerman, a graphic artist at Mojave Copy in Victorville.

The 2008 edition of the parade also will help commemorate other milestones as well.

"It's the 60th year of Hesperia Days," said Becky Otwell, president of the Hesperia Kiwanis and a longtime parade organizer. "It's the 50th year of our Kiwanis club, and the city is celebrating 20 years. It's just one of those banner years."

The parade, which runs along Main Street from Timberlane to E Avenue, is a centerpiece of the weekend-long Hesperia Days celebration, which is put on by the park district. This year's parade theme is "Celebrate."

"We've already ordered beautiful weather for the parade," Lupton said.