Vital Signs

The Legacy of Sandra Dee

A first-wave Baby Boomer, I grew up the 1950’s and early 60’s.  We teenage girls yearned to look like Sandra Dee (a.k.a. Alexandra Zuck), who passed away on February 20, 2005.  If we couldn’t remake ourselves into the image of “Gidget,” then Mouseketeer-turned-beach-babe Annette Funicello, Carol Lynley (Blue Denim), Tuesday Weld (Rally Round the Flag, Boys!), Shelley Fabares (Ride the Wild Surf), or Natalie Wood (West Side Story) had to do.  There were others, of course.  But Sandra Dee defined the era.

Our mothers’ female idols included Elizabeth Taylor, Hedy Lamar, Judy Garland, and Ingrid Bergman.  Audrey Hepburn, Leslie Caron, and Debbie Reynolds were crossovers, but they, too, were replaced by packaged “stars” that catered almost exclusively to the nation’s teen and preteen culture, not to young adults, as in the past.

Sandra, Annette, Carol, and Tuesday all had “the look”: wide-eyed innocence that telegraphed the enthusiasm of a much-coveted, just-opened Christmas present.  They also had perfect curves.  The “Twiggy” look came later, and we 50’s girls, steeped as we were in a Gidget/Annette mind-set, were stumped as to why anybody would want to look like—well, like most of us.  Only as adults did we discover that Sandra Dee starved...

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