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|Donahue in Hawaiian Eye, 1959|
|Birthday/Birthplace||Merle Johnson, Jr.
(1936-01-27)January 27, 1936
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Deceased||September 2, 2001(2001-09-02)
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
|Cause of death||Heart attack|
Troy Donahue (New York, January 27, 1936 – Santa Monica, California, September 2, 2001) was an American film actor and teenage idol in the late 1950s. early 1960’s.
Born in New York, his real name was Merle Johnson, Jr. . In the beginning, Donahue was a journalism student at Columbia University in New York, later deciding to work as an actor in Hollywood, California, where he was represented by Rock Hudson’s agent, Henry Willson. According to a Robert Hofler biography of 2005, The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson: The Pretty Boys and Dirty Deals of Henry Willson, Willson tried unsuccessfully to use the name Troy with Rory Calhoun and with James Darren, until he finally gave it to Donahue . The young actor made his name with papers without credits in The Monolith Monsters and Man Afraid in 1957, which opened the way for others of greater importance in various feature films.
He performed in Monster on the Campus, Live Fast, Die Young, and The Tarnished Angels, all 1958 films. In 1959, along with the youthful star Sandra Dee, he worked on A Summer Place, a film that made him a star , mainly among the adolescent public. Later he signed a contract with Warner Bros., making several first roles in productions such as Rome Adventure and A Distant Trumpet. In both films he acted with Suzanne Pleshette, an actress with whom he married in 1964, and from which he divorced that same year.
After the premiere of My Blood Runs Cold (1965), Donahue’s contract with Warner Bros. came to an end. From that moment he had to fight to find papers, and had problems of drug addiction and alcoholism. On October 21, 1966, he married actress Valerie Allen in Dublin, Ireland, divorcing the couple in 1968.
Donahue worked with Van Williams between 1960 and 1962 on the ABC television series Surfside 6. After this production, Donahue joined the cast of Intriga in Hawaii to participate in the last season, 1962-1963, playing the director of Philip Barton hotel. In 1970 he starred in the television series The Secret Storm, and in 1974 he was chosen to make his best performance, that of Connie Corleone’s fiancé in The Godfather II. His character was called Merle Johnson, which was Donahue’s real name.
Troy Donahue spent his last years with mezzo-soprano Zheng Cao, dying from an acute myocardial infarction in 2001 in Santa Monica, California. He was 65 years old. His remains were incinerated, and the ashes were given to his relatives.
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