Shelley Fabares literally grew up in front of motion picture and television audiences. A child model turned actress, she appeared on live TV with Frank Sinatra at the age of nine playing a lost child to whom he sang “Young at Heart.” She then appeared with Sinatra in Our Town. As a teenager she played Mary Stone on The Donna Reed Show. Her career spread from television to the recording industry with her million-selling record “Johnny Angel” and from there to teen-oriented features. She is the only actress to have co-starred with Elvis Presley in three films. In the late 1960s she starred in the Emmy-winning Brian’s Song, followed by several TV series including Coach. In 1984, Fabares married actor Mike Farrell.
When her mother’s health deteriorated, Fabares and her sister became “caregivers” before the term was commonly known. A diagnosis of multi-infarct dementia (probably Alzheimer’s Disease) led to years of anguish and frustration as they were unable to stop their mother’s descent.
Fabares became one of the first well-known people involved with the then-fledgling Alzheimer’s Association. She has traveled extensively for the Association as national spokesperson and member of the board of directors. She is a respected speaker on Alzheimer’s, raising awareness and much needed research funds. She has testified before the U.S. Congress six times.
In recent years Fabares’ health caused a slowdown in her public life. Now recovered from a hip replacement in 1998 and a liver transplant in 2000, she is speaking across the country and looking forward to the next adventure, whatever that may be.