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January 2, 2022

Troy Donahue: Popular Sex Symbol in the 1950s and ’60s

Born 1936 in New York City, American actor and singer Troy Donahue signed with Universal Studios in 1956. They started him off in small roles in films such as Man Afraid, Man of a Thousand Faces, The Tarnished Angels, Above All Things, and The Monolith Monsters (all 1957). He began appearing on TV in a guest part in Man Without a Gun, and achieved good reviews for a brief, but effective part in Imitation of Life (1959), playing a man who beats up his girlfriend after he discovers she is black.

The big break of Donahue’s career came when he was cast opposite Sandra Dee in A Summer Place, made by Warner Bros. in 1959. Warner signed him to a long-term contract. A Summer Place was a hit and made Donahue a name, especially among teenaged audiences. In 1960, he was named by Film Daily as one of the five “finds” of the year.

Donahue also had a brief tenure as a recording artist at the height of his fame in the early 1960s, releasing a handful of singles for Warner Bros. Records, including “Live Young” and “Somebody Loves Me”. However, none of his recordings entered the Billboard Hot 100 list.

Donahue continued to act in films throughout the 1980s and into the late 1990s. However, he never obtained the recognition that he had in the earlier years of his career. His final film role was in the 2000 comedy film The Boys Behind the Desk, directed by Sally Kirkland.

Donahue suffered a heart attack and died in 2001 at the age of 65. Take a look at these vintage photos to see portraits of a young and handsome Troy Donahue in the 1950s and 1960s.


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