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Sandra Dee ‘Grateful’ for Son Dodd After Bobby Darin’s Death

Sandra Dee arrived at The Polo Lounge contained in the Beverly Hills Hotel with a smile. “We sat at a desk within the again, and he or she regarded stunning,” recollects former Hollywood Reporter columnist Sue Cameron to Closer. “Then, I ordered an iced tea, and he or she ordered a martini…after which one other one.”

A dozen years earlier, a showbiz commerce publication had proclaimed Sandra the “No. 1 Star of Tomorrow” because of her portrayals of spirited, partaking, healthful younger girls within the motion pictures. In 1959, she starred in two of the 12 months’s largest hits, the surfer-girl comedy Gidget, and the romantic drama A Summer Place. But the sunny persona of Sandra Dee was purely a fabrication. The secret ache the actress carried would taint the triumphs of her life and drive her to an early demise at age 62. “She actually needed to die,” says Cameron. 

Sandra Dee ‘Grateful’ for Son Dodd After Bobby Darin's Death
Kobal/Shutterstock

By the time Sandra met the author within the Nineteen Seventies, she’d already been married and divorced from singer Bobby Darin, the daddy of her son, Dodd, and dropped by Universal, the studio that signed her as a teen. “Sometimes I really feel like a has-been that by no means was,” Sandra mentioned in 1967.

It can be one other 20 years earlier than Sandra revealed her full life story. “My actual father was a drunk,” Sandra, who was born Alexandra Zuck in Bayonne, New Jersey, confided in 1991. After he disappeared, Sandra was raised by her overprotective mom, Mary, who dressed her like a doll and spoon fed her till the age of 6, but turned a blind eye when Eugene Douvan, the well-off, a lot older man she wed in 1950, started sexually abusing Sandra.  


“By the time I used to be 11, I knew it wasn’t proper. But what may I do, inform my mom? I figured she knew,” mentioned Sandra, who was compelled to sleep between her mom and stepfather in mattress.

Like so many victims of sexual abuse, she developed an consuming dysfunction as a option to exert management over her personal physique. “My mom tried to get me to eat. We had screaming, tortured fights,” she recalled.  

Days after her stepfather died whereas present process coronary heart surgical procedure in 1956, Sandra auditioned for the producer who would carry her to Hollywood. “Sandra liked appearing,” says Cameron. “When she was in entrance of the digital camera was the one time she felt free.”

Sandra remembered her days as Hollywood’s brightest younger star as enjoyable, “however it was my mom who actually liked all of the acclaim,” she mentioned. “She was in her glory.” 
The actress continued to battle privately with anorexia — in her heyday, she stood 5-foot-5 and weighed 90 kilos. It obtained so dangerous that Sandra needed to be hospitalized a number of instances.

Ironically, Sandra’s mom compelled her to just accept her first date with Bobby Darin, her costar in 1961’s Come September. “She didn’t determine on my having a very good time with out her,” mentioned Sandra, who initially discovered the Bronx, New York-born singer too cocky. Within months, the younger performers had been engaged.

A furious Mary boycotted the couple’s December 1960 marriage ceremony, however she quickly wormed her approach again into Sandra’s head. “Sandra married Bobby in defiance of her mom and her mom did every little thing to kill it,” says Cameron. There had been additionally different points, together with Bobby’s jealousy and late nights and Sandra’s ingesting, that contributed to their 1967 divorce — however they by no means fell out of affection. “They each at all times needed to get again collectively,” mentioned Cameron. “They had been taking a look at a home in Bel Air to purchase after they obtained married once more.” 

Sadly, it wasn’t meant to be. Bobby, whose coronary heart had been broken by a childhood case of rheumatic fever, underwent a double valve alternative in 1972. Months later, he uncared for to take antibiotics earlier than a dental process, which resulted in blood poisoning. “It was deliberate,” insists Cameron. “He may inform his coronary heart was failing and he didn’t need to stay like that anymore.” Bobby died after present process his second open coronary heart surgical procedure at age 37, leaving Sandra emotionally devastated. “My mother by no means recovered from my dad’s passing,” their son Dodd mentioned. “Quite a lot of her died the day he died.”

Cameron remained pleasant with Sandra and visited her Beverly Hills residence. At one level, she was working as a tv government and provided Sandra the possibility to star in a cleaning soap opera. “Many actors suppose that could be a comedown, however I knew she wanted the cash,” says Cameron. “I may see that she needed to do it, however her mom killed the deal.”

Sandra Dee ‘Grateful’ for Son Dodd After Bobby Darin's Death
Kobal/Shutterstock

Despite all that had gone on between them, Mary remained a drive in her daughter’s life for a few years. “She was the mom from hell,” says Cameron, who was by no means allowed to go to with Sandra in non-public. “Her mom would both sit there and take heed to the dialog or stand simply outdoors the door.”

But earlier than Mary’s demise in 1988, Sandra confronted her concerning the abuse she suffered by the hands of her stepfather and her mom’s failure to cease and even acknowledge it. “She ignored me,” Sandra recalled. “My mom erased the abuse from her personal thoughts. It didn’t exist, so she didn’t must really feel responsible.”

Sandra died of kidney failure in 2005 introduced on by years of substance abuse and hunger diets. “You must be very robust to outlive all she suffered, and he or she couldn’t,” says Cameron, who provides that the only supply of sunshine in Sandra’s later years was her son, Dodd, who by no means faltered in his love. “She was so grateful to Dodd. She actually liked him,” says Cameron. “She felt the love from him and that introduced her pleasure.”

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