Actresses of the 50s and 60s

Sandra Dee 1942 – 2005

In 1942, American on August 11, 2017 at 10:03 am

In 1959, the 5ft 5ins tall Dee was seen to embody the wholesome, all-American ideal in Gidget (a nickname meaning “girl midget”). Despite not measuring up to the bikinied girls on the beach, she is courted by the two grooviest surfers in town, Moondoggie (James Darren) and Kahoona (Cliff Robertson).

At Universal Studios her image of a budding beauty was polished. First, there was Douglas Sirk’s ripe remake of Imitation Of Life (1959), in which Dee, feeling neglected by her glamorous acting mother (Lana Turner), falls in love with her mother’s boyfriend (John Gavin).

Then there was The Wild And The Innocent (1959), a western with 54-year-old Gilbert Roland and 35-year-old Audie Murphy panting after 17-year-old Dee.

Max Steiner’s insistent theme from A Summer Place (1959) had Dee and her blond male equivalent, Troy Donahue, making love to its strains on the Maine coast. The film came at the start of the sexually permissive era, and consists of Dee complaining about the “cast-iron girdle” her mother buys to hide her burgeoning curves.

In 1960, Dee met pop idol Bobby Darin in Portofino, Italy, while they were appearing together in Come September (1961), and they were married soon after. In the film, the couple represented the younger generation up against oldsters Rock Hudson and Gina Lollobrigida. Dee and Darin, now fan magazine favourites, co-starred as newly weds in If A Man Answers (1961).

Dee made a rather pale replacement for Debbie Reynolds in Tammy Tell Me True (1961) and Tammy And The Doctor (1963), but was well cast as the daughter of the American ambassador in love with the Russian ambassador’s son in Peter Ustinov’s Romanoff And Juliet (1961), and as conservative James Stewart’s rebellious daughter in Take Her, She’s Mine (1962).

After the breakup of her marriage to Darin in 1967, however, she found there was not much work for an ageing teenage star. The Guardian.

 

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