She too, was the girl next door, albiet sometimes a hillbilly and sometimes a surfer.

Hello, everybody. Joe Morella and Frank Segers, your classic movie mavens, here again.  Our thoughts of Annette Funicello last week rekindled thoughts of another star of the 50s and 60s who epitomized the era, Sandra Dee.

Dee played Tammy (originated by Debbie Reynolds), she played Gidget, and she played the tortured by sexual drive teenager in the 1959 tale of adultery and adolescent love at a Maine resort,  A Summer Place. But Joe’s favorite Sandra Dee film is her first, Robert Wise’s 1957 melodrama, Until They Sail, which stars Paul Newman, Joan Fontaine, Jean Simmons and Piper Laurie.

The film is forgotten today, but worth seeing.  It deals with the frustration and family problems of the women “left behind” during World War II.  But it’s set in New Zealand, not in The United States. A very unusual debut film for Dee.

Sandra Dee had a meteoric rise in films and was considered one of the top box office draws for four years during the early 60s.

She met singer Bobby Darin on the set of 1961’s Come September (another of Joe’s favorites, not for Dee or Darin, but for Rock Hudson and Gina Lollobridgida). Dee and Darin soon wed and Universal tried, unsuccessfully to launch them as a new duo in romantic comedies.

Soon after the birth of their only child Dee retired.  She became a recluse after her divorce and Darin’s death.

Still looking lovely, Sandra Dee resurfaced when her son Dodd Darin published a book about his famous parents. In the book he revealed her troubled past which included anorexia and drug and alcohol addictions.

She died at 62.

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