Don Louis Agrati was born June 8, 1944, in San Diego, California. His parents were Mary B. Castellino, a talent agent, and Lou Anthony Agrati, a sausage maker. He had a sister named Latina who became an actress going by the name of Lani O’Grady. Don was raised in Lafayette, California before he was signed by the Disney Company to be on The Mickey Mouse Club, which led to him moving closer to the Disney studios in Burbank, California. He graduated from Burbank High School in 1962.
Don came onto the show in its third and final season, and like most of the other replacement cast members, was relegated to the secondary Blue Team. Don was used much more than the other Blue Team members, though, since the show’s director, Sidney Miller (who personally recruited Don to the show) liked him. Don was a musical prodigy, and was proficient on several musical instruments before he was hired for the show as a kid, and also had taken some singing and dancing lessons. Sidney recognized that Don had that elusive star quality, and made sure he was used to the best extent possible on the show.
On the show, Don’s singing talents were often put to use, though his dancing skills were not used much. The area of performing in which he excelled the most, acting, was the most on display, as he was cast as the lead in several skits. When he sang, he was usually paired with Linda Hughes, who was also a third-season replacement cast member on the show. While they didn’t get to be in the roll call or closing segment, as those bits had been recorded before they joined the show, Don and Linda were the most used of any of the third season replacement cast on the show.
While on The Mickey Mouse Club, Don used his real surname. After leaving the show, he began using the stage name Don Grady, because it seemed more Irish, and he wanted an Irish-sounding surname for his professional name. At the time, in Hollywood, he thought an Irish surname would open more doors to him than an Italian one would
While Don was only on the show for one season, he went on to bigger and better show business projects quickly. Sidney’s intuition about Don was correct. He was a natural star. Don quickly racked up acting credits, including in several western films and TV shows in that genre. Don also did some period pieces, such as a Civil War film that did well at the box office. He worked with some famous actors while he was still a kid.
In 1960, Don was cast in the TV role for which he is best known today, that of the middle son, Robbie Douglas, on the TV show My Three Sons. Don was on this show for eleven years and gained national and international fame for it. The show debuted on ABC, then moved to CBS in 1965. While on the show, he started his own band called The Greefs, and this band appeared in a fictional capacity on the show and even wrote two original songs for the show.
These songs were called “A Good Man to Have Around the House” and “Leaving it Up to You. Don also recorded a single for the Palace Guard while on the show, with the songs on the single being “Little People” and “Summertime Game.” Don joined a band called The Yellow Balloon, and was their drummer; this band’s self-titled song was a minor hit in 1967. Don did all of this while appearing on My Three Sons, and also attended Los Angeles City College for a while during his time on the show. He was a busy guy, doing a TV show full-time, being a part-time musician, and also going to school, yet he managed to do it all and to do it well.
In addition, Don did other acting projects while on My Three Sons, including appearances on such shows as The Eleventh Hour, The F.B.I., and Mr. Novak.
Don was eventually frustrated with the limited character development of Robbie on My Three Sons. Cast changes in the show in later seasons remedied those frustrations. The actor playing the eldest son left the show, and the fictional family adopted a new youngest son, leaving Don in the position of the eldest son on the show. This expanded his role and character development by quite a bit.
After My Three Sons ended in 1971, Don pursued a career in music. He did some composing on films and tv shows, such as the film Switch and the theme song for The Phil Donahue Show. He also did some composing for a Las Vegas multimedia show that starred Michael Crawford, David Cassidy, Tommy Tune, and Rick Springfield.
Don performed, as well. He was in a touring production of Pippin and performed in non-touring versions of Damn Yankees and Godspell. Don released an album in 2008 called Boomer: JazRokPop, which was a collection of songs that were written for and about his own Baby Boomer generation. This was his first album release since his first original album, Homegrown, which was released by Elektra Records in 1973.
As far as his personal life goes, Don married a woman named Julie Boonisar, but they divorced in 1979. They did not have any children together. He later married Virginia “Ginny” Lewsader in 1985, after meeting her at Disneyland. They had two children together, a son named Joey and a daughter named Tessa. Don and Ginny were married for twenty-seven years, with their marriage ending only with Don’s crossing to the other side in 2012 of myeloma at the age of sixty-eight. By all accounts, this marriage was a loving, happy, and fulfilling one for both of them. Don crossed over in Thousand Oaks, California. He is buried at the Pierce Brothers Valley Oaks Memorial Park in Westlake Village, California.