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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, September 3, 2001

Troy Donahue, heartthrob of 1950s-'60s, dead at 65

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — Actor Troy Donahue, a blond, blue-eyed heartthrob of the 1950s and '60s who starred in teen romances like "A Summer Place" died Sunday. He was 65.

Troy Donahue and Sandra Dee starred in the 1959 film "A Summer Place," which made him a matinee idol.

Associated Press library photo • June 1997

Donahue died at St. John's Hospital and Medical Center in Santa Monica after suffering a heart attack on Thursday, said family friend Bob Palmer.

The actor played Sandra Dee's young lover in 1959's "A Summer Place," a role that made him a teen matinee star.

"He was a good-looking, blond guy who looked great on the beach," Palmer said.

Donahue went on to star in a series of teen romances, including "Parrish" (1961), "Rome Adventure" (1962) and "Palm Springs Weekend (1963).

Donahue was born Merle Johnson Jr. on Jan. 27, 1936, according to a Warner Bros. studio biography from 1960. The New York City native moved at 19 to Hollywood, where he was discovered by Warner Bros. The release of "A Summer Place" made him for a time the studio's top fan-mail draw.

During his heyday, Donahue split his time between the movies and television, appearing in ABC's detective series "Surfside Six." He was given his screen moniker by Henry Willson, the same film agent who named Rock Hudson.

Donahue was married at least four times, including to actress Suzanne Pleshette. He is survived by a sister, two children and his fiancee, mezzo soprano Zheng Cao.