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Troy Donahue
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A Tribute to Troy Donahue
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Troy Donahue's co-stars

Troy co-starred with some amazing women during his lifetime, eight of whom are profiled here. To avoid favoritism, they're listed alphabetically by first name.

Connie Stevens

Multitalented singer-turned-actress Connie Stevens appeared with Troy Donahue in three early 1960s movies: Parrish, Susan Slade and Palm Springs Weekend. Off-screen, their friendship spanned 40 years.

After forming her own vocal group in 1953, Connie graduated to stage acting and movie bit parts before hitting the big time in Jerry Lewis' Rock-a-Bye Baby in 1958. The following year, she won the role of songbird Cricket Blake in the top-rating tv series Hawaiian Eye. She also became a box office favorite in the teen movie department, and enjoyed a successful recording career, charting number one in 1961 with the ballad, Sixteen Reasons.

Connie went on to make numerous film and television appearances - including a regular co-starring role with George Burns in Wendy and Me -but experienced a slump in her showbiz career during the 1980s. It served only to motivate her. In 1989 she launched her own skincare range, "Forever Spring", and subsequently built a $100 million business. She also produced, directed and edited the documentary A Healing, which won four film festival awards.

Today, Connie Stevens is listed among the top 500 female executives in the United States, works tirelessly for humanitarian causes, and maintains an active show biz career.

Connie Stevens was one of the last people to visit Troy prior to his fatal heart attack. "He had some adversity in his life and challenged it all," she said shortly after his death. "He was full of hope and trying his best ... I had never seen him happier, never more at peace with himself."

Diane McBain

Former teen model Diane McBain began her movie career as a bit player in Warner Bros Westerns before winning a role in 1960's Ice Palace, starring Richard Burton.

She featured in two movies with Troy - Parrish in 1961 and A Distant Trumpet in 1964 - but lost her man in the first instance to Sharon Hugueny, and in the second to Suzanne Pleshette.

Between October 1960 and September 1962, Diane shared the small screen with Troy in the private eye television series Surfside 6. She worked extensively in movies and tv throughout the 1960s before semi-retiring to look after her family.

Diane and Troy were friends as well as co-stars. "Troy and I got along very well [making Parrish]," she told Fantasy Femmes of Sixties Cinema author Tom Lisanti. And "I liked doing Surfside 6 very much. It was a lot of fun. The guys were all great to work with."

On viewing this website in July 2003, Diane made further comment. "I loved Troy a lot. He was a very good guy and I miss that he isn't here now," she said. "He was much too young when he passed."

Joey Heatherton

Dancer, actor and singer Joey Heatherton appeared in two movies with Troy Donahue - one in 1965, and the other 25 years later.

Joey made her Broadway debut in the 1959 production of The Sound of Music. Around the same time, she set her sights on a recording career and released four singles in the late 1950s and early to mid '60s. One of them featured the title song from the 1965 movie My Blood Runs Cold, a psychological thriller in which she starred opposite Troy in his inaugural bad-boy role.

Joey's career encompassed less than a dozen movies but she appeared regularly on tv, most notably as an all-singing/all-dancing sexpot dynamo in variety shows such as Dean Martin Presents the Golddiggers. She was also a Vegas headliner, cut a record album, and starred in her own sitcom.

In 1990, Joey joined Troy in the John Waters '50s spoof Cry-Baby, starring Johnny Depp. They both played parental roles: Joey as Milton's mother; Troy as Wanda's father.

Troy Donahue & Suzanne Pleshette
Suzanne Pleshette & Troy

Troy Donahue & Sandra Dee - A Summer Place
Troy & Sandra Dee

Troy Donahue & Connie Stevens - Parrish
Troy & Connie Stevens

Sandra Dee

Exquisite blonde Sandra Dee began her career as a 12-year-old model, graduating to television commercials and then the big screen in 1957 when she featured in Until They Sail.

Four more movies followed, including the teen beach-pic sensation Gidget in 1959. That same year she made A Summer Place, pairing romantically with Troy Donahue in his first starring role.

"Sandra said she was very eager to work with me," revealed Troy to Dodd Darin, author of Dream Lovers (1994).

"I couldn't even figure out how she would know who I might be. But it was a nice line and gave me a sense of security and a feeling that everything was going to be okay. And it was. Sandra and I loved worked together."

Troy and Sandra became lifelong friends, but their relationship remained platonic.

"I found Sandra attractive, but I knew for some reason that nothing was going to get me to make a move on her," admitted Troy to Dodd Darin. "It was out of the question, and I can't explain why, other than to say I felt that she would have broken."

Sandra was one of the brightest and most beautiful stars of the late '50s and 1960s. She married mega-talented singer/actor Bobby Darin in 1960 and appeared with him in three movies. They divorced in 1967.

According to all reports, Bobby was the love of her life and his death in 1973 left her distraught. Apart from rare movie and television appearances, she has avoided the limelight ever since.

Stories this page:
© Sharyn Peacocke 2003

Stefanie Powers

A popular support actress during the 1960s in movies such as If A Man Answers, Experiment in Terror and The Young Interns, Stefanie Powers played Troy Donahue's love interest in the zany teen flick Palm Springs Weekend in 1963.

However, her greatest claims to fame occurred much later as the popular co-star of tv's Hart to Hart (1979-84), and as the long-term companion of Hollywood superstar, William Holden, who she never married but with whom she shared a passion for the protection of wild animals.

Stefanie is one smart cookie. She speaks no less than six languages - English, Polish, Spanish, French, Italian and Swahili - and is president of The William Holden Wildlife Foundation.

Suzanne Pleshette

Gorgeous brunette Suzanne Pleshette (she with the husky voice) was Troy Donahue's co-star in two movies and one very brief marriage.

Theater provided Suzanne with her first professional acting experience, but she broke into films when Jerry Lewis signed her for The Geisha Boy in 1958.

From that time on, Suzanne balanced movie acting with broadway and television appearances, receiving Emmy nominations and top reviews for much of her work. Her success continues to this day.

In the first half of the '60s, Suzanne and Troy sizzled romantically on screen in Rome Adventure and A Distant Trumpet, a relationship that spilled over into real life. They married early in 1964, but were divorced after only nine months. According to Suzanne there was no acrimony.

"Troy was a sweet, good man," she recalled in one interview. "We just were never destined to be married. We just didn't have the same values. But I'm not bitter. He taught me to laugh."

Valerie Allen

The daughter of a vaudeville artist and a Ziegfield Girl, Valerie Allen danced in Vegas chorus lines during the mid 1950s. She was contracted to Paramount for several movies between 1956 and 1959, including Pillow Talk and The Five Pennies.

A Suzanne Pleshette/Ava Gardner lookalike, Valerie played a support role in the Troy Donahue movie Come Spy With Me in 1966, and then married Troy the same year. They divorced in 1968 after doing various theater productions together.

Valerie later became an executive at RCA, scripted soap operas, and worked as a cruise ship social director. In 2002 she wrote a novel set in Hollywood.

Zheng Cao

Respected mezzo-soprano Zheng Cao was Troy Donahue's co-star-in-life from October 1991 until his death a decade later. He described her as his "talented, beautiful girlfriend" and indicated that their relationship had brought him great happiness.

Born in China, Zheng Cao holds degrees from the Shanghai Conservatory and the Curtis Institute of Music.

While studying, she worked as a singer on the Holland America cruise line where she met Troy, who was running acting seminars on the same ship. Reports suggest that they travelled widely together from that time on.

"We're very serious, very committed to each other. It's the greatest relationship I've ever had in my life," said Troy in July 1998. "And to come at a time like this in a way that it's all happening, it's a dream."

Zheng Cao's extensive professional credits include performances with the San Francisco Opera, the San Francisco Ballet, the Grand Theatre de Geneve, Cincinnati Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, San Diego Opera, Opera de Lyon and New York City Opera in productions such as Die Walküre, Rusalka, Salome, Elektra, Le nozze di Figaro, Madama Butterfly, Idomeneo , Parsifal, The Rake's Progress, The Aspern Papers, Faust and Don Giovanni.

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