February 20, 2005 by

Sandra Dee

55 comments

Categories: Actors, Hollywood

sdee.jpgSandra Dee, an actress who starred in numerous teen films as the beautiful All-American girl next door, died on Feb. 20 of complications from kidney disease. She was 62.

Born Alexandra Zuck, the New Jersey native was still in elementary school when her mother pushed her into modeling. At 14, she signed a seven-year contract with Universal Studios and moved to California. By the time she made her screen debut in the 1957 movie “Until They Sail,” the studio had changed her name to Sandra Dee. Dee’s performance in that film earned her a Golden Globe nomination for New Star of the Year.

During the 1960s, Dee achieved fame and fortune starring in more than a dozen teen movies, such as “Gidget,” “The Reluctant Debutante,” “The Restless Years” and “Tammy and the Doctor.” Young girls adopted Dee’s fresh-faced appearance and perky personality; teenaged boys viewed the starlet’s wide-eyed innocence as both charming and approachable.

Sixteen-year-old Dee and 24-year-old pop singer Bobby Darin dated for only a month before eloping in 1960. The couple made three films together (“Come September,” “If a Man Answers” and “That Funny Feeling”), and had a son, Dodd, before breaking up in 1967. Their divorce tarnished Dee’s clean-cut image and prompted Universal to drop her. She managed to land a few small film and TV roles in the 1970s, but for the most part, her career in Hollywood was over. In 1978, audiences were reminded of Dee’s former image when actress Stockard Channing sang “Look At Me, I’m Sandra Dee” in the hit film “Grease.”

For most of her life, Dee struggled with anorexia and bulimia. She also abused drugs and alcohol, and suffered from chronic depression. Unable to find steady work in later years, these conditions only worsened. When her mother died in 1988, Dee stopped eating, dropped down to 80 pounds and spent three years as a shut-in. With Dodd’s aid and years of therapy, Dee was able to turn her life around.

In 1994, Dodd published a biography of his parents’ stormy marriage titled “Dream Lovers: The Magnificent Shattered Lives of Bobby Darin and Sandra Dee.” The couple’s relationship was also chronicled in the 2004 biopic “Beyond the Sea,” starring Kevin Spacey and Kate Bosworth.

Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee Download “Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee”

55 Responses to Sandra Dee

  1. Linda Barr

    My heart goes out to the family of Sandra Dee, she was a beautiful person, and wonderful actress. May she rest in peace.
    Respectfully,
    Linda Barr

  2. Judy Eimer

    Her life was filled with so much tragedy. I only hope she was able to have some happiness in her 62 years of life.
    Only the good die young.
    With Much Sadness,
    Judy Eimer

  3. CANDY SMITH

    THIS YOUNG LADY WAS A ICON FOR ME. I LOVED HER IN ALL OF HER MOVIES. MY FAVORITE WAS TAMMY AND THE DOCTOR I AM SORRY TO HEAR OF HER DEATH SHE WAS A BEAUTIFUL LADY. SHE WILL BE MISSED.
    A AVID FAN

  4. kathy

    Sandra Dee was an all american wholesome girl this world will miss. Hollwood could learn a lot from her movies as our youth needs to go back to a clean and healthy way of LIFE

  5. Monica Holmes Thomas

    Some of my favorite moments with my mother surround our sitting in the den and watching old movies staring Sandra Dee. May you rest in peace in the loving arms of our Saviour. I pray God’s comfort on the family as they mourn the loss of such a truly dynamic actress and human being.
    Praying God’s Infinite Comfort,
    Monica Holmes Thomas

  6. Marsha Dokey

    Sandra Dee was such an inspiration! It is so sad that she bought so much happiness to many lives and yet had so much unhappiness in hers. She had such a wholesome image something that is missing in most actresses today. I will always remember her movies (“Gidget” being my favorite). Her spirit will always live on. My daughters also enjoyed her movies and hopefully this will pass on to their daughters. Sandra you were the best!
    We love you and will miss you!

  7. valerie

    Dee [and Bobby] had a loving supportive son, Dodd who was a solid, supportive influence throughout Sandra’s life [he is devastated by her passing.] Dodd and his own supportive wife presented her with two grandchildren whom she adored and saw regularly. During the last years of her life she was looking into kidney transplant info [enduring kidney dialysis 3/wk., successfully] and most recently planning a comeback of sorts, including appearing on The Larry King Show. Her closest friend and companion stated that she was finally coming into her own, doing well and that her passing therefore came as a surprise [to her].
    I will never hear the Theme from “A Summer Place” without seeing her beautiful face and remembering my own place during that summer so long ago.
    God bless Dodd and his loving family. Sandra is safe now.

  8. Gerri Cummins

    My brother Jim has been a fan of Sandra Dee ever since they both were teen-agers. He is now 63 and still has her photos everywhere in his apartment. Her death is a big loss to her son as well as my brother. She will always be in his heart.
    May she rest in peace.
    Gerri

  9. Betty

    Sandra Dee was one of the most beautiful actress to grace the screen. Every girl of my generation wanted be Sandra Dee. She may be gone but she will never be forgotten. Rest in peace dear Sandra.

  10. Sandra Dee Morris

    I was born in 1960 and named after this beautiful woman. I feel a personal loss, somehow, with her death. I lost my father last year and I know the pain her son is going through. My prayers and thoughts are with the family–it’s always harder to be left behind.
    Sandee

  11. Rich

    I feel sorrowful for Dodd’s loss and what a sad upbringing he must of had. I have looked all over for his book, “Dream Lovers”. Can’t find it anywhere. Hope Dodd the best.

  12. A Thankful Mom

    As a mother of a young girl I try to rent good, approriate movies for my daughter and I to watch.
    10 years later my 18 year old daughter still loves Gidget and Sandra Dee. There are nights we still curl up with a bowl of popcorn and watch Sandra, loving ever minute of her. Thank you for helping to make wonderful memories for me and my daughter.

  13. Robbie

    I loved sandra dee in the movies she played in especially the imitation of life that show will live forever in my heart as will as the tammy and the dr
    we will miss you sandra dee

  14. Rodney

    Most of your movies were shown at a time when we as African-Americans did not have movie images to look up to. We loved your movies; you brought joy and laughter in a time when the country (media) did not consider as important.
    Thanks we grew up on you.

  15. suzanne

    i always envied you, sandra dee, because you were small and perky and adorable, and i was big and clumsy and detestable. then i saw that when the hollywood bastards were through with you, they sailed you off the back steps like last year’s Christmas tree. then you had to sit in obscurity and keep your mouth shut. no one was allowed to know about the pain you must have endured. we unfamous people always think famous people who are out of the public eye are simply gone, vaporized by our indifference.
    i just wanted you to know that despite my envy i adore all your movies. there’s something deeply comforting and sweet about them, and seeing one of them always makes me feel like a young girl again.
    so sleep in heavenly peace, dear sandra dee;
    i hope you and bobby darin are walking hand-in-hand down the streets of glory . . .

  16. bobby

    All the guys of my generation (59 graduate) were in love with Sandra Dee. I still love to watch her movies and feel all the old feelings. I am happily married (43 years) but have always carried a torch for her. May she rest in peace, finally. Love, Bobby

  17. Judy Whitford

    I was saddened to hear about the death of Sandra tonight. We, of your generation, always looked up to you and looked forward to your next adventure on film. Of all of the movies you made, “A Summer Place”, was always my favoite. I saw a special a number of years back, when your son Todd appeared with you, and I was so saddened to hear about the trials and tribulations you had endured over the years. What a blessing it was that he loved you so much and offered so much strenght to you. It reminded me of how sad I felt when I learned of the tragic life Connie Francis had also endured.
    My prayer is with your family tonight, as I know that you now are free of pain and rest safely in the loving arms of our Savior.
    Judy

  18. Victoria

    I just recently heard of the passing of Sandra Dee. My sincerest simpathy to Dodd Darin and his family. What a lovely lady. I am a young african-american women and is closer to Dodd’s age than his mothers, but I saw her in Imitation of Life and loved her. The film was so inspiring and really sent such a message. I watched it with my mother and grandmother when I was younger.
    Such a wonderful actress. May God Bless you all, and remember the promise of the Lord.

  19. S.WC

    I WAS BORN IN THE 70’S, AND I HAVE NEVER HEARD OF HER UNTIL TODAY, EASTER SUNDAY. I WAS WATCHING THE MOVIE CALLED “TAMMY AND THE DOCTOR”. AFTER SEEING MRS.SANDRA DEE WE WERE SO IMPRESSED, AND WE FELT HER ACTING WAS SO REFRESHING. WE HAD NEVER SEEN THIS IN ANY ACTRESS BEFORE. SO WE RUSHED TO FIND HER ALL THAT WE COULD ABOUT HER.
    TO OUR GREAT SADDNESS WE WERE TOO LATE. WE ONLY SAW HER ONCE, BUT YOU WOULD HAVE THOUGHT WE HAD KNOWN HER OUR ENTIRE LIVES.
    BE NOW WITH THE ANGELS, THEN BE ALLOWED TO BORN AGAIN!!!

  20. maggie

    I have always loved Sandra and have seen every movie she played.My faves were the gidget roles
    I was saddened to hear of her passing cause I believe she could have been one of the best actresses of today if she had wanted to go on with her career because she was an ageless beauty
    and could of really gave some of those big movie stars [who think they are] a real big run for their money.But I believe where she is now she is the biggest star that shines on forever.
    Keep on shining Sandra!Seea in the movies…
    Maggie

  21. Patricia

    Sandra Dee was my idol. I loved her so much. I am 62 years old about the same age as she. I had a very stressful teen life but never knew she did as well. I thought she had the perfect life. My regret is that, even though I thought I knew her, I never got to meet her. May God bless her dear heart and I know that heaven is rejoicing with her presence. Bless her son Dodd, daughter in -law and grandchildren. I know she will watch over them. Good-by Sandra Dee, we miss and love you so much. Your fan forever, Patty

  22. Sharon

    As a grandmother I know first hand how hard it is to find movies and stars that I am not ashamed for my precious grands to see. The children could watch Sandra Dee in anything she was in. I am so sorry that her private life was not as happy and carefree as her screen life. God Bless you Sandra and prayers go to Dodd and his family.

  23. Linda Newman

    Loved Sandra and everything she stood for. She was a big part of my life, especially in the early 60’s. She will never be forgotten and her beauty will never be surpassed. I’m sorry she suffered in her last years. She deserved better.
    She was and is my favorite actress.

  24. ida milian

    Sorry to hear that my favorite actress from the 60’s . has pass away She was my idol and will be in our hearts for ever. God bless her family.
    For his family , my respects

  25. Barbara

    I was heartbroken to learn of Sandra’s death. I have seen every movie she was in and came to love her in all of them. She was the best in everything she did on screen. Truly a beautiful girl and a lovely woman. Will love you forever…Sandra Dee.

  26. David

    just wanted to say I Love her movies,she had such a pretty face and a beautiful soul that will empact lifes from generations to generations.she will be dearly missed.Hollywood’s lost is Heaven’s gain.

  27. NANCY DINICOLA

    I LOVED SANDRA DEE’S MOVIES. SHE WAS A GREAT ACTRESS. I WAS TOLD AS A SMALL GIRL THAT WE WERE COUSINS, I AM ALSO FROM NEW JERSEY. SOMEDAY I WILL FIND OUT. I WILL MISS HER VERY MUCH.

  28. Tammy

    My mother loved your movies! Obviously where do you think I got my name! It’s wonderful being named after such a beautiful and talented women!

  29. Anthony Habib

    Thank you, Kevin Spacey, for helping us to remember one of the great stars of our younger years. Sandra, wherever you are, remember how loved you are, and you will never be a has-been.

  30. marc

    sandra dee will always be remembered as the beautiful girl nextdoor that will always remain in our hearts and her films will live on forever.

  31. sammi

    i loved sandra dee in her movies like tammy and the dr.and tammy tell me true,
    she was the best to play tammy i think,
    thank you sammi

  32. Audrey

    I grew up wanting to be Sandra Dee. I loved her films and enjoyed watching her. I thought Bobby Darin and her were great. I was a big fan of him and still buy his cd’s now, but still have his albums. I thought that Sandra was beautiful and had a wonderful smile. She will be missed. Thank you for giving me the time to write my thoughts down.

  33. Shannon Morgan

    I felt so sad when I heard Sandra Dee died. I remember, I was in the sixth grade, when my Grandmother took me to see “A Summer Place.” I will bet you that I have seen it twenty times. I know all of her lines by heart.
    I loved every movie she did but I especially loved “A Summer Place” and “Gidget.”
    You don’t see innocence in movies much anymore and a lot of her movies were about that.
    Thank you Sandra for all of your movies! Be happy!
    Shannon Morgan

  34. Erin

    My mother called me on feb 20th 2005 to tell me “your favourite actress died today”. I adored Sandra Dee especially The Reluctant Debutante.
    The incredible part is that my mother passed away exactly a year later on feb 21st 2006 after a brief and sudden illness. She was 62 too.
    LOve to all the Sandra Dee fans

  35. Dena Hergenrider

    Reading all these tributes brings back many memories for me. Sandra Dee was my idol when I was young. I hope you know how much you helped me, just watching you on the screen. I had a turbulent life growing up and you put me in dreamland… I was able to escape for awhile..

  36. Carolyn McGlone

    I really loved watching Sandra Dee in the movies. My favorite movie of hers was Tammy and the doctor. Sh truly was a beautiful woman.I used to look forward to when her movies were on . I will miss her. I am so sorry for her family, and may God be with them

  37. dolly

    I’m 63yrs old and I’m a superfan of Sandra Dee , my daughter gave me the book Dream Lovers for christmas ,her life seems to be a sad story ,we’ll miss her angelic face and her decent movies.Today we sure need those kind of movies for our young people.Sandra , you always have a place in my heart

  38. catherine scott

    iam a few years younger than sandra dee i always thought of her as being a good clean actress the actresses of today could learn a lot from her she gave a good performance in all her films i think she was a very honest person her beauty came from inside her a lovely person she will be sadly missed

  39. Breanna

    I absolutley loved Snadra Dee especially in Gidget I am obbsessed with that movie and I loved her in them. I just can’t belive that sweet innocent little girl grew up in such a non-innocent way.
    R.I.P~ Sandra Dee!!

  40. GIOVANNA FROM FLORENCE iTALY

    I USED TO WATCH HER MOVIES IN THE LATE 7OS AND EALRY 80 ( I WAS BORN IN 62) DAYDREAMING ABOUT HAVING THE KIND OF LOVERS SHE HAD IN THE MOVIES.
    aT THAT TIME i WAS MADLY IN LOVE WITH A ROMANTIC AMERICAN AND HER MOVIES MADE ME FEEL IN TOUCH WITH THE u.s. and consequeltly with my sweetheart; I WAS LITTLE and cute and she was one of my models….I am very sorry she had such a terrible life ;I am sure in a next life she will be totally hqppy; gio

  41. Sandra Dee

    I am so sorry that she had unhappiness in her life such as she did. I bet there were many happy moments as well. We all have our sorrow and I am sorry to hear that she had bouts with depression and eating disorders.
    I think she was beautiful and am very sorry that people stopped her from having a acting career because of a divorce. Very very sad. That should not have happened at all. I wish she was still here.
    God bless her family!
    God speed Sandra Dee!
    love,
    sandy Dee

  42. Crystal Arnold

    I have been a fan of Sandra Dee before I even knew who the pretty Gidget girl was or the girl with the Doctor. My mom had me watching those movie since I was really young. I have grown into an even bigger fan. I have almost all of her movies. I laugh now because looking back in school my friends would always call me Sandra Dee they were making fun of me for staying pure. Little did they know that only made me more sure that what I was doing was good. Sandra Dee was and will always be the best woman for girls to look up to. With so much in her life that had gone wrong GOD BLESS SANDY for all she brought to her fans. I hope Sandra Dee is looking down from heaven with Bobby Darin by her side and knows how much she is missed. You were always an angel Sandra Dee now we ca envy God because he has you that much closer to him.

  43. mark lee rook

    she was the most super fantastic girl in the whole wide world.you just wanted to pick her up and carry home, like a genie in a bottle. she’ll never be forgotten because of her films. i’ll always love you sandra dee…wish i could have known you
    goodbye, mark

  44. lynn m.

    I just read most of these lovely tributes…and want to share my sense of loss I still feel in Sandra’s absence.
    I too felt such a lift of spirit in seeing her in her films and she presented a lovely role model for us young ladies way back in the 50′ and 60’s. Looking at her films today transports me back to a more sweet and innocent time in America…one we should all try to recaputure…somehow, in some way…
    Lynn

  45. Bonnie Jones

    The misfortune that Sandra had to suffer because of the divorce is a bitter pill to swallow, looking back. Ruthless studio decision to just throw her away is unspeakably cruel. Today a divorce wldn’t have an effect on a clean cut image. The anorexia/bulemia, drugs/alcohol and chronic depression clearly a direct result of being manipulated thruout her life by her mother and then dropped by studios. An unjustifiable tragedy.

  46. Michael Giguere

    My Mother Nancy Louise Carroll talked alot of you, and Bobby Darin too as I was growing up, I never really knew who you were until a few years ago.
    I saw A Summers Place for the first time in which you were fabulous.
    This movie was what my mother spoke of many times, and of course the popular song to go with it.
    I will remember you always….

  47. William Charlton

    I met Sandra Dee a Griffit park in the Sand Fernando while horse back riding. At that time she was not a good rider and I offered to help her learn how to ride. Since she did not want her friend to know I rode with on saturdays for two months. I never knew someone who held so much back.We were friends and the time I was with her
    were some of the best time of my life.She will always be in my heart with love.Thany you Sandra for letting be a part of your life.

  48. Josie Bell

    I truely loved everything Sandra Dee worked on, I grew up watching her and still to this day I watch her movies, My favorite is “Come September”
    I loved that her and Bobby were together, what a perfect couple, He was right…..
    Beyond the Sea was a great tribute to both of them. How sad it all was, and how beautiful it all was. I made my kids and now my grandkids know who they both were…. Thanks Sandy and Bobby,Jo

  49. Bill Neislar

    God Bless You Sandra Dee! You were the most beautiful and most talented actress in the world!
    The world is a much lesser place without you! We miss you dearly!
    Love, Bill Neislar

  50. Theodore

    I always admired Sandra in many of her movies. She was one of my favorites. However, I have to know something.
    When she died, did she live on the ocean with a white-sand beach which had palm trees and a cement wall, perhaps 2-1/2 feet tall?
    HAMMYTEE@Hotmail.com

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