Monday, February 21, 2005

Sandra Dee, Hunter S. Thompson -- RIP

I'm getting really tired of having people die. I never met either Sandra Dee or Hunter S. Thompson(and what a pairing) but their passing has affected me nevertheless.

Sandra Dee hasn't appeared in a movie or on TV for about 30 years now, but people my age still remember her vividly. In a lot of minds she's inextricably linked with the irksome strains of "Theme from a Summer Place" because she starred in the movie with Troy Donahue, and of course to some of us she'll always be Gidget. That was her curse, I guess, but in a way it's really not. I haven't seen an image of her from her later years, so age won't wither her in my mind's eye. It probably wouldn't, even if I did happen to see a recent picture. I like to think she'd have been a lot like Barbara Burnett Smith, still pretty and bubbly even as a grandmother. [Musical digression that I can't resist: The Four Preps appeared in Gidget, and sang a couple of songs. "Cinderella" was one of them, a great number. Far superior, I might add to "Theme from a Summer Place."]

I'll always remember Hunter S. Thompson for a couple of things, his book about the Hell's Angels, real knockout, and his "Fear and Loathing" articles in Rolling Stone, back in the days when Rolling Stone still mattered. Maybe it still matters to some people, and for all I know, it does. But to me in the late '60s and a good portion of the '70s, it mattered a lot, and Thompson's writing, accompanied by those great Ralph Steadman illustrations, was one of the highlights.


Aldo said...

and John Raitt too!

Tom Sutpen said...

There's probably nothing about Thompson that hasn't been, or won't be said that I can add to the discourse. It simply wasn't good news.

Sandra Dee, though. What's interesting about her is that for the longest time she was too easy to dismiss as a Hollywood non-entity of the 50s . . . George Nader in a dress, so to speak. But what started to strike me a few years back about some of her performances (particularly in films like Sirk's "Imitation of Life") was a slightly troubled quality just underneath that sunny, well-scrubbed, fresh-faced demeanor. I don't know if this represented a depth of her talents or something she couldn't completely hide from the camera, but it's there. And it makes her a lot more interesting an actress than she seemed to be for a long time.