Marilyn Monroe on the set of There’s No Business Like Show Business, 1954.
The Donahues – husband and wife Terry and Molly, and their three offspring Steve, Katy and Tim – are a song and dance act. Their survival as a performing act of five and as a family collective is presented. Under their family name, Terry and Molly were a successful vaudeville act in the early 1920s, they who subsequently under the names the Three Donahues, the Four Donahues and the Five Donahues, trotted out Steve, then Steve and Katy, then Steve, Katy and Tim on stage as early as they being toddlers. Molly was able to convince Terry to give the kids a stable education at a boarding school as the two of them continued their on the road career in Molly wanting the kids to have a normal life. They were pleasantly surprised that the kids grew up not only to have musical performing talent, but wanted to perform as a family unit as the Five Donahues. That harmony on and off stage was threatened first by Steve contemplating following another calling – the threat not only in his thought of leaving the act, but in the nature of that calling – and second when Tim becomes infatuated with up and coming singer Vicky Parker, who unlike the naturally talented Donahues, has to tailor her act to showcase her assets. While Vicky is not a bad person per se despite Molly’s thoughts to the contrary, Vicky’s drive to become a star with Tim’s addictive nature proves to be a potentially destructive combination.