The original Gidget and late ’50s, early ’60s cutie pie starlet Sandra Dee would have turned 70 years old today. We doubt the actress would still be willing to brave a surfboard in her senior years, but the scenario is funny to imagine given Dee’s clean-cut, wholesome image that often pegged her as a total square. While her peers were slinking across the big screen, Dee was busy perfecting her lifelong role as the wide-eyed ingénue and singing innocent songs about falling in love.
However, the performer’s career proves appearances can be deceiving. The teen idol struggled with drug and alcohol problems, and an eating disorder her entire life — having started starving herself as an up-and-coming model early in her career.
We looked at other Hollywood, chart topping teen idols whose clean-cut images betrayed their messy and often tragic lives. Although many fans assume their favorite stars are practically invincible, these teen talents prove the shocking truth about humans: we’re all flawed.
A former vaudeville singing act, the always self-conscious Judy Garland grew up in Hollywood next to studio sirens like Ava Gardner and Lana Turner never quite feeling like she fit in. At just thirteen years old Garland was primed to be an eternally youthful, girl next door type, and her iconic role in The Wizard of Oz reinforced the image in the minds of audiences everywhere. While Garland’s stellar singing voice and bright smile were starting to take over the screen, studio giant MGM was busy feeding the actress pills to keep her on task, leading to a lifelong addiction. Despite her struggles, Garland was one of the few teen idols who made a successful leap from young superstar to adult actress.