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from the Imitation of Life trailer (1959)
April 23, 1942(1942-04-23)
Bayonne, New Jersey, U.S.
Thousand Oaks, California, U.S.
Sandra Dee (April 23, 1942 – February 20, 2005) was an American actress. Dee began her career as a model and progressed to film. Best known for her portrayal of ingenues, Dee won a Golden Globe Award in 1959 as one of the year’s most promising newcomers, and over several years her films were popular. By the late 1960s her career had started to decline, and a highly publicized marriage to Bobby Darin ended in divorce.She rarely acted after this time, and her final years were marred by illness; she died as a result of renal failure.
Dee was born Alexandra Zuck in Bayonne, New Jersey. Her parents divorced before she was five. Her mother was of Carpatho-Rusyn ancestry and raised her in the Russian Orthodox Church. Changing her name to Sandra Dee, she became a professional model by the age of four and subsequently progressed to television commercials.There has been some confusion as to Dee’s actual birth year, with evidence pointing to both 1942 and 1944. According to her son Dodd Darin in his book Dream Lovers, she was born in 1944, but since Dee started modeling and acting at a very young age, she and her mother falsely inflated her age by two years so she could find more work. Therefore 1942 was listed as her birth year in official studio press releases, leading to that year being considered truthful in verifiable sources. If Dee was indeed born in 1944, she was 16 when she married the 24 year-old Bobby Darin in 1960.
Sandra Dee made her first film, Until They Sail, in 1957, and the following year, she won a Golden Globe Award for New Star Of The Year – Actress, along with Carolyn Jones and Diane Varsi.She became known for her wholesome ingenue roles in such films as The Reluctant Debutante, Gidget, Imitation of Life, and A Summer Place. She later played “Tammy” in two Universal sequels to Tammy and the Bachelor in the role created by Debbie Reynolds.During the 1970s, Dee took very few acting jobs but made occasional television appearances.
Her marriage to Bobby Darin in 1960 kept her in the public eye for much of the decade. They met while making the 1961 film Come September together. She was under contract to Universal Studios, which tried to develop Dee into a mature actress, and the films she made as an adult – including a few with Darin – were moderately successful. They had one son, Dodd Mitchell Darin (also known as Morgan Mitchell Darin). She and Darin divorced in 1967 and Darin died in 1973.In 1994, Dee’s son Dodd Darin published a book about his parents, Dream Lovers: The Magnificent Shattered Lives of Bobby Darin and Sandra Dee, in which he chronicled his mother’s anorexia, drug and alcohol problems and her disclosure that she had been sexually abused as a child by her stepfather, Eugene Douvan.
Dee’s adult years were marked by ill health. She admitted that for most of her life she battled anorexia nervosa, depression and alcoholism. In 2000, it was reported that she had been diagnosed with several ailments, including throat cancer and kidney disease. Complications from kidney disease led to her death on February 20, 2005, at the Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center in Thousand Oaks, California.Sandra Dee is interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Hollywood Hills, not far from her mother, Mary C. Douvan, who died on December 27, 1987. She is survived by her son, her daughter-in-law and two granddaughters.
One of the popular songs of the Broadway musical and 1978 movie Grease is called, “Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee.” Dee’s life with Bobby Darin was dramatized in the 2004 film Beyond the Sea, in which Kevin Spacey played Darin and Dee was played by Kate Bosworth. Sandra Dee is referenced as a sex symbol in Motley Crue’s song “Come on and Dance” off of their debut album Too Fast For Love.
|1957||The Snow Queen||Gerda||Voice: English version|
|Until They Sail||Evelyn Leslie|
|1958||The Reluctant Debutante||Jane Broadbent|
|The Restless Years||Melinda Grant||Alternative title: The Wonderful Years|
|1959||A Stranger in My Arms||Pat Beasley||Alternative title: And Ride a Tiger|
|Gidget||Gidget (Frances Lawrence)|
|Imitation of Life||Susie, age 16|
|The Wild and the Innocent||Rosalie Stocker|
|A Summer Place||M
|1960||Portrait in Black||Cathy Cabot|
|1961||Romanoff and Juliet||Juliet Moulsworth||Alternative title: Dig That Juliet|
|Tammy Tell Me True||Tambrey “Tammy” Tyree|
|Come September||Sandy Stevens|
|1962||If a Man Answers||Chantal Stacy|
|1963||Tammy and the Doctor||Tambrey “Tammy” Tyree|
|Take Her, She’s Mine||Mollie Michaelson|
|1964||I’d Rather Be Rich||Cynthia Dulaine|
|1965||That Funny Feeling||Joan Howell|
|1966||A Man Could Get Killed||Amy Franklin||Alternative title: Welcome, Mr. Beddoes|
|1967||Doctor, You’ve Got to Be Kidding||Heather Halloran|
|1970||The Dunwich Horror||Nancy Wagner|
|1971||Ad est di Marsa Matruh|
|1971-1972||Night Gallery||Ann Bolt
|1972||The Manhunter||Mara Bocock||Television movie|
|The Daughters of Joshua Cabe||Ada||Television movie|
|Love, American Style||Bonnie Galloway||1 episode|
|1972||The Sixth Sense||Alice Martin||1 episode|
|1974||Houston, We’ve Got a Problem||Angie Cordell||Television movie|
|1977||Fantasy Island||Francesca Hamilton||Television movie|
|1978||Police Woman||Marie Quinn||1 episode|
|1983||Fantasy Island||Margaret Winslow||1 episode|
|1994||Frasier||Connie (Voice)||1 episode|
- Sandra Dee at the Internet Movie Database
- Sandra Dee at the TCM Movie Database
- Sandra Dee at Find a Grave
- Biography.com biography of Sandra Dee
- Merkin, Daphne (December 25, 2005). “Gidget Doesn’t Live Here Anymore”. The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/25/magazine/25dee.html?ex=1293166800&en=5e51192381477d9e&ei=5090. Retrieved May 23, 2010.
- The Golden Years website