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Troy Donahue Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (4) | Trivia (23) | Personal Quotes (1) | Salary (1)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 27 January 1936New York City, New York, USA
Date of Death 2 September 2001Santa Monica, California, USA  (heart attack)
Birth NameMerle Johnson Jr.
Height 6' 2" (1.88 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Troy Donahue was a journalism student at Columbia University when he began playing in stock productions. He made his film debut in Man Afraid (1957) and in 1959 signed as a contract player with Warner Bros., which promoted him to stardom with A Summer Place (1959) that year. He was soon a teenage heartthrob, his blond hair and blue eyes appearing frequently on the covers of movie magazines. His most successful film was Parrish (1961), in which he played the title character. A few years after that his career went into a decline; he made only a few television movies between the mid-'60s and his small role in The Godfather: Part II (1974) (in which his character's name, Merle Johnson, was actually his real name). His later films were almost entirely for the low-budget home video market, e.g., Sexpot (1990) and Nudity Required (1990).

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Spouse (4)

Vicky Taylor (3 March 1979 - 1981) (divorced)
Alma Sharpe (15 November 1969 - 1974) (divorced)
Valerie Allen (21 October 1966 - 16 November 1968) (divorced)
Suzanne Pleshette (4 January 1964 - 8 September 1964) (divorced)

Trivia (23)

Used his real name, Merle Johnson, for his character in The Godfather: Part II (1974).
Taught acting classes on Holland America cruise ships.
At the time of his death he lived with his fiancée, the mezzo-soprano Zheng Cao.
Survived by daughter Janine & 3 grandchildren, as well as a son, Sean (born 1970).
Starting drinking alcohol in seventh grade (age 13). After being dropped by Warner Brothers in 1966 (age 30) he became an alcoholic. Admitted that he was addicted to pain killers, amphetamines, & cocaine, and used marijuana daily. Joined AA in 1982 (age 46) and turned his life around with his sobriety.
Received his movie name of "Troy Donahue" from the same person who named Rock Hudson: Hollywood press agent Henry Willson.
He toured in a producton of "Bye Bye Birdie" toward the end of his life.
8/30/01: Suffered a heart attack. He never recovered and died at St. John's Hospital and Medical Center in Santa Monica, CA, 9/2/01.
Former co-star and long-time friend Connie Stevens visited Donahue the day before he died.
Son of Edith (Frederickson), a stage actress, and Merle Johnson Sr., a vice-president at General Motors. His mother was born in New York, to Swedish parents. His father was born in Illinois. Troy's paternal grandfather was English.
His admittedly limited talent was slightly chided in the smash Broadway musical "A Chorus Line." The lyric went: "If Troy Donahue could be a movie star, then I could be a movie star!"
After his father's death, at age 14 Troy was sent to military school. As a cadet, he became friends with a classmate, Francis Ford Coppola. This led to his being cast in The Godfather: Part II (1974).
Along with Doug McClure, was the inspiration for The Simpsons (1989) character "Troy McClure".
During the early 1980s, his personal and professional fortunes had sunk so low that he was literally living on a bench in New York's Central Park.
Died just eleven days before his A Summer Place (1959) costar, Dorothy McGuire.
1/23/05: Ranked #10 in TV Guide's list of "TV's 25 Greatest Teen Idols".
His name was used in the lyrics for the song, "Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee" in the musical, Grease. ("As for you Troy Donahue...").
Underwent successful angioplasty surgery upon his arrival in hospital, but then suffered a second heart attack and was given a heart bypass.
Having migrated to Hollywood after dropping out of Columbia University, the sun-bleached blond was discovered and offered a Universal screen test by director William Asher while munching on a cheeseburger at a beachside diner.
Suffered from arthritis and was taking the arthritis painkiller Vioxx at the time he died of a heart attack.
Talks about his early days at Universal, and the sci-fi movie Monster on the Campus (1958), in the book, "A Sci-Fi Swarm and Horror Horde" (McFarland, 2010), by Tom Weaver.
As a recurring guest on Ruth Lyons' The 50/50 Club (1949), which broadcast at noon from the powerful WLW-T in Cincinnati, in the late '40s through the '50s and '60s, Troy had a huge fan in Ruth's teenage daughter Candy Laird Newman, and gave her, as a surprise, a walk-on part in Palm Springs Weekend (1963). It was announced on Ruth's show by Candy, and everyone was very excited for her. She was only on for a few seconds, but it was a very big deal for Candy, who died of cancer in the early 1960s at age 20.
The December 1, 1971, issue of Variety, in the Hollywood Production Pulse section, reports the film Without Last Rights (or Rites) starring Troy Donahue, directed by Michael Meola, began filming Nov 12, 1971, in Paterson, NJ. No evidence the film was completed or released.

Personal Quotes (1)

[Discussing his role in A Summer Place (1959), with Sandra Dee] What I did basically was knock up Gidget, and you just don't do that!

Salary (1)

Hawaiian Eye (1959) $3,000 /week

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