ANY MENTION OF "GREASE" ALWAYS ENDS UP WITH A LOT OF CONVERSATION ABOUT SANDRA DEE. SHE IS IDOLIZED AS THE HAPPY, BUBBLY TEEN REPRESENTATIVE OF AN ENTIRE GENERATION. EVERYBODY LOVED SANDRA DEE. ME, TOO.
Sandy was really the original blonde cutie pie who captured people's hearts as "Gidget," the ingenue in "A Summer Place," and Lana Turner's daughter in "Imitation of Life." There were many more movies, and, for a time, she was the biggest star in the business.
As a child, I idolized her, so when I went to work for the Hollywood Reporter, I requested an interview with her. We met at The Polo Lounge, and instead of sweet, shiny Sandra Dee, I saw a troubled, aged before her time woman who had vodka and cigarettes for lunch. I was extremely upset--not disappointed. I was upset for her and what surely was not a fairy-tale life. She looked hard and worn...and so very fragile and sad.
The next time we saw each other was several years later at a party. She approached me and told me how much she loved seeing me on TV. (I had just done 27 shows to promote a book). The little girl inside me said, "Oh my God, Sandra Dee watched ME??? She was looking good that day. She was sober and celebrating her son's book (Dodd Darin--her son with Bobby Darin.) I was so happy she looked well.
By this time, it had come out that her step-father sexually abused her and her mother looked the other way because she still wanted the marriage. She used Sandy as a pack mule to support everyone and didn't give a damn about the abuse. I met her mother. She was scary.
|Here's mom now. She's forever in my thoughts, too......|
I loved Bobby Darin, and we're not going to go into that now except to say that he and Sandy were the loves of each other's lives. I heard that from both of them personally. What a tragedy on both sides. They never really were apart for very long, no matter whether they were divorced or not. Sandy's mother was furious at the union because it would take her "meal-ticket" away from work.
After Bobby died and I knew Sandy was not in good shape, I ended up at ABC-TV. Sandy's money was running out, and I went over to her house to offer her a show on ABC. She was drinking vodka again all throughout meeting and I knew she'd say no. She wasn't up to working.
A while later, a close friend of hers asked me if I'd meet with Sandy to write her book with her. She told me that I was the only one Sandy would trust to do it. We met in a park and talked about everything. At the time we spoke, the book market was not looking for her kind of bio. I wanted to work with her very badly, but I wanted to make sure we could sell the book. Because I knew it wouldn't sell at that time, I turned down working with her. I WILL REGRET TO MY DYING DAY NOT SAYING YES. How I would have loved to have spent months and months with her, hearing her truth, and bringing it to the world.
On February 20th, it will have been eleven years since she died of kidney issues because of alcohol. She would have been 74. God bless you, Sandy.