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Sandra Dee

Sandra Dee
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Sandra Dee Biography

She was the only child of John and Mary Zuck, who divorced when Sandra was a toddler. She was raised solely by her mother until she re-married in 1950. Eugene Douvan, a New York real-estate entrepreneur, became Sandras stepfather. The young girl endured years of sexual abuse from her stepfather while she also suffered from anorexia. Both the abuse and her eating disorder would continue to haunt Sandra for the rest of her life. Sandra took her stepfathers name and the Douvans relocated from Long Island to Manhattan in 1952. She was enrolled in The Professional Childrens School, a school whose flexible curriculum was conducive to child performers. Sandras first modeling job was for Girl Scouts Magazine, which enabled her to eventually sign with a modeling agency. At the age of 12, the actress was discovered by producer Ross Hunter. Hunter launched her movie career and persuaded Universal Studios to sign the young actress to a seven-year contract. It was during this time that Sandra Douvan adopted the stage name Sandra Dee. After the death of her stepfather, Dee and her mother moved to California to further pursue Dees acting career. Dee landed the role as the original Gidget (1959) and replaced Debbie Reynolds in Tammy Tell Me True (1961). She also starred in a series of dramas: Imitation of Life (1959), A Summer Place (1959), and Portrait in Black (1960). In 1960, while filming Come September (released in 1961), 18-year-old Dee co-starred and fell in love with teen icon Bobby Darin. The two were married in December of 1960 and had a son, Dodd, the following year. The couple would also star together in If a Man Answers (1962) and That Funny Feeling (1965). The marriage lasted seven years and abruptly ended in 1967 concurrent with the end of Dees film career. Darin died at the early age of 37 from congestive heart failure and his death took quite a toll on Dee. She went into a state of severe depression, began to drink heavily and abused drugs. In the 1970s, Dee made a few unsuccessful appearances in TV movies. Ironically, the 1978 movie Grease, with its song Look at Me, Im Sandra Dee, poked fun at Dees wholesome personality but also renewed her popularity among a new generation of moviegoers. At the age of 41, Dee completed her last motion picture, Lost (1983), which received little notoriety from critics and audiences. Dee died on February 20, 2005 from kidney disease in Thousand Oaks, California. She was 62.

Sandra Dee Awards

YearAwardCategoryForResult
1967 Laurel Awards Female Star Nominated
1966 Laurel Awards Female Star Nominated
1965 Laurel Awards Female Star Nominated
1964 Laurel Awards Top Female Comedy Performance Take Her, She's Mine (1963). Nominated
1963 Laurel Awards Top Female Comedy Performance If a Man Answers (1962). Nominated

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Sandra Dee Trivia

  • Her mother, Mary Douvan, lied about Sandy's age so that she could put her in school and get a job. She was 4 when she entered the 2nd grade. Her mother kept this lie going for the rest of Sandy's life. In her first movie opposite the 20 year old John Saxon in The Restless Years (1958), Sandy was only 13 rather than the reported 15.
  • Son, Dodd Mitchell Cossotto, with Bobby Darin.
  • By 1965, she was the last major star still under an exclusive contract. Was Universal Studios last actress under contract.
  • Made her modeling debut in Girl Scouts Magazine.
  • After her once-hot career fell apart in the 1970s, she fell victim to anorexia, alcoholism and depression. To the delight of her fans, she resurfaced briefly after two decades of seclusion and was warmly embraced at Beverly Hill's Canon Theatre in a stage production of "Love Letters" with her "Restless Years" film co-star John Saxon.
  • Has suffered from anorexia for most of her life.
  • Was diagnosed with throat cancer and kidney failure in 2000
  • Has two granddaughters - Alexa and Olivia (children of Sandra's son Dodd and his wife, Audrey)
  • Measurements: claims she rapidly developed as a girl and wore a 34D bra as a teen. (Source: Celebrity Sleuth magazine)
  • One of the most successful teenage movie stars of the 20th century, Dee was listed on the Quigley Publications Top Ten Money-Making Stars poll four years in a row, from 1960 through 1963, achieving her highest ranking of #6 in 1961.
  • Is immortalized in the popular song "Look At Me, I'm Sandra Dee" from the motion picture Grease. The song mocked her squeaky-clean image but Dee reportedly said in a statement that she didn't mind, and always had a big laugh about it.
  • She received renewed attention after the release of the movie Beyond the Sea (2004), the biopic about her late husband Bobby Darin that recalled and detailed their stormy, headline marriage. Despite its painful aspects, she reportedly approved of the project and gave it her blessing.
  • Universal Studios concocted the name 'Sandra Dee' for her by shortening her first name and by using her stepfather's surname initial "D" to sign vouchers.


Sandra Dee Photos

  • Sandra Dee Robinson

    Operation Healthy Africa "Hands for Healing" Benefit Gala at Beverly Hilton Hotel on October 15, 2011

  • Sandra Dee Robinson

    Operation Healthy Africa "Hands for Healing" Benefit Gala at Beverly Hilton Hotel on October 15, 2011

  • Sandra Dee Robinson

    Operation Healthy Africa "Hands for Healing" Benefit Gala at Beverly Hilton Hotel on October 15, 2011

  • Sandra Dee Robinson

    Operation Healthy Africa "Hands for Healing" Benefit Gala at Beverly Hilton Hotel on October 15, 2011

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