Sanford and Son: Top Five Donna Harris Episodes.

Kendall Rivers
4 min readMay 12, 2023


Fred had shared the company of many lovely ladies of the course of the show but the beautiful, charming and no nonsense Donna Harris was his main squeeze. At first sight Fred and Donna seemed like a mismatch, but one figures that Donna was very much like Fred’s late wife Elizabeth which is why they seemed to just work. Although Lamont started off hating “The Barracuda”, after a while he grew to appreciate her charm as much as the rest of us. Like Lamont, Donna was very much the straight man in the episodes she appeared in and Lynn Hamilton did a great job anchoring everyone else. Here’s a tribute to the nurse any man would want to have.

5. The Barracuda. Season 1, episode 10.

Synopsis: Fred proposes marriage to Donna Harris, a widow whom Fred is in love with. Lamont can’t understand why a practical nurse in her 40’s would be interested in a 65-year old junk dealer, and does his best to oppose their impending nuptials.

It was in this episode that Donna was introduced for the first time and so was the animosity between her and Lamont that would be the subject of a few episodes. It was nice to see the beginning of Fred and Donna’s love story as well as showing where Donna and Lamont started, but of course as time went on Lamont grew to accept Donna in his and his father’s life. Both were the most sensible and grounded people in the entire show.

4. Jealousy. Season 2, episode 4.

Synopsis: Donna, Fred’s fiancee, brings a patient, Osgood Wilcox over for dinner at the Sanford residence and it becomes apparent that Osgood is interested in more than just medical care from Donna. Meanwhile, Lamont encourages Fred to believe there is something going on between Osgood and Donna resulting in a confrontation.

This is one of the truly classic episodes of this show. Roscoe Lee Browne was a great guest star in this one and the the crazy competition between Fred and Osgood was hilarious. Donna’s denouncement of Fred, Osgood and Lamont’s shenanigans was just as good.

3. Donna Pops The Question. Season 5, episode 8.

Synopsis: Donna wants to marry Fred, but another man proposes to her first.

A great romantic episode, Fred and Donna’s relationship reaches it’s natural development as Donna gives Fred the ultimate ultimatum in any relationship. While I know that this is a Donna centric article, props has got to go to Redd Foxx’s amazing performance in one particular scene as he has an emotional conversation with his late wife Elizabeth. It was a fresh and welcoming change to the usual comedic conversations Fred had with his late wife.

2. The Members of the Wedding\The Engagement. Season 3, episode 9.

Synopsis: Fred and Donna enjoy an evening out on the town but then Donna breaks the news that she has had another man propose marriage to her. Not wanting to lose her, Fred decides to propose marriage himself and they plan a small wedding ceremony. However, Lamont is totally against the whole thing and has Aunt Esther and family confront Donna and question her intentions.

You may have noticed that this episode has appeared quite a bit in this series of top fives and it is because it is truly one of my very favorites. Everyone in the episode was perfect and Ms. Hamilton was no exception. One of the few episodes that shows Donna drop her naturally sweet and calm demeanor and go straight savage!

  1. Fred & Carl & Fred & Donna. Season 2, episode 9.

Synopsis: Fred and Donna’s on again off again relationship is back on and he invites her to dinner. Later, Fred gets a visit from a saleslady who peaks his interest and he blindly invites her to dinner, forgetting all about Donna. Thanks to Lamont’s manipulations, he makes sure Fred has to juggle the dates around, keeping up appearances.

As I said before, Donna was usually the straight man to Fred and the other characters and rarely got to branch out comedically, but in this episode Lynn Hamilton got to give some of the laughs as opposed to just helping to set them up. Donna’s jealousy was hilarious and Ms. Hamilton’s deepening Donna’s voice when she got mad was a riot. The whole dinner scene is classic.

Honorable Mentions: The Return of the Barracuda and A House is not a Pool Room.

Next time we’re gonna take a look at the top five best episodes featuring tv’s funniest and hippest cops: Smitty, Hoppy and Swanny. Till next time, folks!



Kendall Rivers

Kendall is a screenwriter who’s a huge fan of classic tv and movies. He enjoys creating good stories and characters.