TROY DONAHUE Biography - Actors and Actresses


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Name: Troy Donahue                                                                   
Born: 27 January 1936                                                                 
Died: 2 September 2001                                                               
Troy Donahue (January 27, 1936 - September 2, 2001) was an American actor, known     
for being a teen idol.                                                               
Born Merle Johnson, Jr., Donahue was initially a journalism student at Columbia       
University before he decided to become an actor in Hollywood, where he was           
represented by Rock Hudson's agent, Henry Willson. According to Robert Hofler's       
2005 biography, The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson: The Pretty Boys and Dirty           
Deals of Henry Willson, Willson tried out the name Troy on Rory Calhoun and           
James Darren, with no success, before it finally stuck to Donahue. The blond         
heartthrob established himself with uncredited roles in The Monolith Monsters         
and Man Afraid in 1957, leading to larger parts in several films.                     
He starred in Monster on the Campus, Live Fast, Die Young, and The Tarnished         
Angels, all in 1958, and opposite fellow teen idol Sandra Dee in A Summer Place       
in 1959. The latter made him a huge star, especially among teenage audiences. He     
signed a contract with Warner Bros. and played several successive leading roles       
in films such as Rome Adventure and A Distant Trumpet. The latter two co-starred     
Suzanne Pleshette, whom he married in 1964 but divorced later that same year.         
After the release of My Blood Runs Cold (1965), Donahue's contract with Warner       
Bros. ended. He later struggled to find new roles and had problems with drug         
addiction and alcoholism. He was married again in 1966, to actress Valerie Allen,     
but they divorced in 1968. In 1970 he appeared in the daytime drama The Secret       
Storm. In 1974 he was cast in his most high profile role, a small part in The         
Godfather Part II as the new fiance of Connie Corleone. His character was called     
Merle Johnson, Donahue's real name.                                                   
Donahue also starred in the 1960s television series Surfside 6.                       
Donahue spent his last few years with his fiancee, mezzo-soprano Zheng Cao. He       
died of a heart attack at the age of 65.