In the 1950s and 1960s, Troy Donahue was a well-liked actor and musician mostly recognized for his attractive physique.
But the actor would experience constant stress from his popularity and followers for most of his life.
Sadly, his life and all the misfortunes would eventually lead to a surprise.
Whenever I hear the song “Summer Place,” which brings back memories of Troy Donahue, I remember seeing the movie in the cinema as a young child. Wow, he impressed me with his appearance!
Troy Donahue, who was youthful, blond, blue-eyed, and attractive, was to many of us the epitome of American beauty in the 1950s and 1960s. The actor’s look drew innumerable young female followers.
Even though he was just a Hollywood star for a short while, most people are still familiar with his name, even though others may have forgotten him.
Despite his prominence, he appears to have received poor pay. His life began to spiral into disaster, only to be stopped when he met his adolescent son.
Merle Johnson gave birth to Donahue in New York City. The boy’s desire to be an actor started early due to his mother’s influence as a theatrical actress. In an interview he gave to People magazine in 1984, he revealed:
“I recall being exposed to Broadway and theatrical people all the time.”
He eventually enrolled at Columbia University to study journalism, but he continued to pursue his love by performing in stock plays. He already had a new name, an agency, and studio officials when he first appeared on the screen.
“At first, they were thinking of Paris, Helen of Troy’s lover. But I suppose they reasoned that they couldn’t call me Paris Donahue since there was already a Paris, France, and a Paris, Illinois.”
The actor eventually made his movie debut in Man Afraid. Two years later, he joined Warner Bros, the business that recognized his potential.
“They had asked me to light a cigarette, and when I did, Troy recalled that they shouted and collapsed.”
He appeared in the 1959 movie A Summer Place, which catapulted him to fame and became a sought-after item.
Donohue quickly changed from a decent guy cast alongside a beautiful blonde woman to an adolescent idol by portraying the good guy in many of these roles. Despite his notoriety, he struggled financially.
He admitted, “I was living like a movie star but wasn’t being paid like one,” and continued, “I lived way over my head and got into great trouble.”
In the late 1950s, Sandra Dee and Troy Donahue were a wonderful romantic movie combination. Troy has had four marriages throughout his career.
His first union was with Suzanne Pleshette, and his subsequent unions with Valerie Allen, Alma Sharpe, and Vicky Taylor all ended in divorce.
He started suffering as his romantic life worsened, and began using drugs. His bad habits also hindered his acting career.
His life had become a complete mess by the end of the 1960s.
“I was constantly intoxicated. I used to get up at 6:30 in the morning, drink a half-pint of vodka, guzzle three aspirins mixed with codeine, and then do four lines of cocaine,” he revealed.
However, Donahue has insisted that his addiction never ruined any sets he worked on and that he was never intoxicated or incapacitated. The actor claimed that his job wasn’t the reason he started drinking in the first place.
He started drinking while in the seventh grade and preparing for a test. With time, this became a habit that threatened to ruin his future.
He supposedly lived in the bushes at Central Park as a young man, keeping everything he owned in a bag.
His fourth failed marriage was the turning point for the addiction, which persisted throughout his career. The actor decided to quit drinking and sought medical assistance in May 1982. He clarified:
“I consider my abstinence to be a miracle. I take things one day at a time. The obsession with not drinking has surpassed the obsession with drinking. I was quite lucky.”
Soon after starting his sober journey, Donahue encountered a former love interest from Los Angeles. As they caught up, the woman pointed to a 13-year-old child and informed the actor that Sean was his son and that he went by the name of Sean.
Not only did Donahue believe her right away because the timeframe made sense, but he also did so because he instantly recognized the youngster as a juvenile version of himself.
Fortunately, the father and son hit it off right away. The two parents set up visitations for Sean to get to know his father. Sean’s mother never requested child support. Donahue’s fight with drugs and alcohol taking over so much of his life had already caused him to be separated from his biological son.
His addictions also affected his professional life. He stopped receiving offers for high-profile parts about this time and began appearing in movies like Cry-Baby, Bad Blood, and Assault of the Party Nerds.
In an interview from 1998, Donahue stated that he was unconcerned about this shift toward B-movies. Despite doubters, he believed himself to be a good actor and thought his career would end.
Donahue passed away from a heart attack in 2001, just a few years after this interview, at the age of 65.
He had maintained a healthy lifestyle and a close bond with the son he had only recently discovered since being sober.
Undoubtedly, Troy was a really attractive young man who made for a great character on TV! I’m sorry to hear about his difficulties, but maybe we won’t forget him. Troy, thanks for all the memories!