Donna McKenzie is an American television actress and spokesmodel best known for playing Annie Houghton in the TV series, Beyond Our Dreams.
Born in Warren, Michigan in 1958, she attended Lincoln High School in the 1970s with Jack Gable. Through their school years, Jack had a long unrequited infatuation on Donna. Unfortunately, McKenzie eventually ended up dating and marrying Greg Patulla, the school quarterback. The two of them later had two children.
Patulla later got a job at McKenzie Pools And Spas, the company created and run by Donna's father. He later started using her as the McKenzie Girl in TV Commercials for the company, allowing her to become a local media celebrity due to the commercials which also ran in Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana, making millions of dollars for the company. The TV commercials became so popular that Donna was often allowed to appear in other TV spots for Pepsi, Burger King, Nabisco and Atari.
Buoyed by her TV popularity, Donna yearned to be an actual actress, but she was turned down in numerous auditions. However, by the 90s, her father's swimming pool company was struggling financially, and the popularity of her TV appearances was waning. In 1991, she had a bizarre dream she had made an appearance on Jack's TV show, Beyond Our Dreams, in New York City while dressed in her old cheerleader outfit. Believing this was a omen, she convinced Greg to take her on a business trip to New York City where she tried reuniting with Jack, encountering him and Louise Fletcher coming out of the studio. Asking for Jack's help into breaking into the business, he offered her the part of Annie Houghton, a lesbian maid that falls in love with Laura Claybourne's character, a role turned down by actress Brenda Becker. Although Jack gave her the limited part to placate her, Donna's natural comedic timing and personality came through the character, and she made the role more popular than he had expected. Staying through to the end of the series, Donna also had roles in the TV shows "Psycho Dad," "McKenzie Falls," "Incredible Stories" and "Zombie High" and appearances in the movies "Jungle Joanie," "Custodians of the Cosmos 2" and "The Chaser."
Shortly after her cameo in "Beyond Our Dreams: Return to Ashford Falls," Donna took a break from acting to take a vacation with her kids. Being with them reminded her how much she loved being a mom and she gave up acting, having become burned out on it. Having become wealthy since the sale of her father's company, she retired to become a full-time mom and return to Warren, Michigan.