Son of director Daniel Petrie and brother of director/writer Daniel Petrie Jr., Donald was born in Manhattan and moved to Los Angeles while still in his teens. His entertainment family also includes his mother who is a producer, sisters Mary (a writer) and June, former vice-president of MGM/UA studios.
He began his entertainment career as a television actor and then decided to follow in his father's profession and took up directing.
He was accepted at the prestigious American Film Institute where he made the short film, The Expert. The film caught the eye of Steven Spielberg who asked Petrie to direct an episode of his Amazing Stories television series.
Petrie accepted the challenge and sat in the director's chair for the "Mister Magic" episode, starring Sid Caesar.
Petrie continued working in television and began a fruitful period directing several hours of a number of series, but only within their first seasons.
These include MacGyver, L.A. Law (for which he was nominated for a Directors Guild of America Award) and The Equalizer. He received an Emmy nomination for the Afterschool Special "Have you Tried Talking to Patty?"
Looking at the lives of three young working-class women in a seaside town, the film was applauded by both critics and audiences.
The film would also earn Petrie an Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature.
He followed this success with two more comedies, Opportunity Knocks (1990) and the ever popular Grumpy Old Men (1993), before settling down to television again to direct episodes of Chicago Hope.
His luck began to change however, when he attempted to do kids' films directing Richie Rich (1994), and My Favorite Martian (1999), both of which performed dismally at the box office.
Since the start of the new millennium, Petrie has kept busy directing comedies such as Miss Congeniality (2000) starring Sandra Bullock, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003) starring Kate Hudson, Welcome to Mooseport (2004) starring Ray Romano and Just My Luck (2006) starring Lindsay Lohan.
Chasing Dinner (2007)
Just My Luck (2006)
Welcome to Mooseport (2004)
How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003)
Miss Congeniality (2000)
My Favorite Martian (1999)
The Associate (1996)
The Favor (1994)
Richie Rich (1994)
Grumpy Old Men (1993)
Opportunity Knocks (1990)
Mystic Pizza (1988)
Qualcuno paghera? (1987)