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The original Gidget: Sandra Dee

Look at me, I'm Sandra Dee. Like a lot of young boomer babes, when I was a preteen the girl I most wanted to be was Sandra Dee. Living in the cold of the Canadian north I'd watch Sandra Dee and James Darren as Gidget and Moondoggie on the late late show and swoon myself to sleep. Gidget, whether it was Sandra Dee in the original, or Deborah Walley in Gidget Goes Hawaiian or even Cindy Carol in Gidget Goes to Rome (which I inexplicably sat through twice in a movie theater in Niagara Falls when I was ten) or Sally Fields in the TV show, was always the cute one but lacking in the more obvious feminine charms of her female rivals. She was the girl next door, the wholesome one. 

And despite her lack of breasts, her inability to cut a more alluring sexual figure, she was the one to get her man. That's so far from the way we think now but that's the way it was back then, getting your man was the end, daddy-o. Gidget's basic desire for Moondoggie to see the woman within the cute childish exterior always resonated with me. To tell you the truth I do know why I sat through Gidget Goes to Rome twice, I fell pretty hard for ol' Moondoggie in the original Gidget
Why? Watch and listen!


My Sandra Dee obsession continued too. I loved her in those stupid, vapid Tammy movies but also in the classic Imitation of Life and A Summer's Place and it all began on a beach in Southern California.

I didn't pay any attention to Sandra Dee's personal life so when she died in 2005 in Thousand Oaks, California I was astonished to learn that I'd followed my girlish idol all the way from Canada to the beaches of Southern California, only to wind up, like Sandra Dee, living just minutes away in a stifling suburban community. I was also astonished to learn she'd battled alcoholism, depression and a lousy marriage to Bobby Darin. You just can't judge a book, or a life, by its cover, no matter how cute. 

It all began with the novel by Fredrick Kohner based on his own daughter Kathy's real life adventures on the beaches of Southern California. And wound up on screen in a 1959 movie starring Sandra Dee, James Darren and Cliff Robertson as the Big Kahuna for you to stream on Google Play and Vudu today.

 Originally posted on May 5, 2015