Bobby Darin & Sandra Dee’s Son ‘Felt Helpless’ over Her Addiction & Was with Her Until Her Death

Stephen Thompson
Dec 02, 2021
04:20 P.M.
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Sandra Dee's once happy life began to fall apart when her ex-husband, Bobby Darin, died after undergoing heart surgery. The tragic circumstances forced Dee into alcohol addiction and left her only son helpless.

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Born as Alexandra Zuck in Bayonne, New Jersey, on April 23, 1942, American Actress Sandra Dee was one of Hollywood's biggest stars in the 1950s thanks to her startling performances in the box office hits "Gidget" and "A Summer Place."

Although she achieved massive success and enjoyed a stellar career, her childhood experiences were not the best.

American singer Bobby Darin and his wife, actress Sandra Dee circa 1964. [Left] | American singer Bobby Darin (1936 - 1973) celebrates the birthday of his wife, actress Sandra Dee, with their son Dodd, circa 1966. [Right] | Photo: Getty Images

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Dee was born to a teenage New Jersey Russian mother who married an alcoholic at a young age. The couple soon divorced, and Dee grew up in a broken home. 

DEE'S CAREER

However, her tragic childhood experiences did not stop her love for the spotlight. Dee's journey into the world of entertainment began when she was only eight years old.

She became a Conover model, earning seventy thousand dollars every year, and at 12, she was already a successful model. When Dee was 14 years old, she made her acting debut, appearing in "Until They Sail." 

US actress Sandra Dee wearing a sleeveless blue dress and sitting in a tapestry chair, circa 1965. | Photo: Getty Images

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The subsequent years were terrific for the young star who was privileged to feature in box office hits. Other films the actress starred in during her career in the 1960s include "If A Man Answers," "Come September," "Tammy and the Bachelor," and many others.

During the 1970s and 1980s, Hollywood's landscape had changed, and audiences no longer turned up to see the sugary-sweet fare that turned Dee into a star in the early '60s. Her only big-screen movie in the '70s was "The Dunwich Horror."

The mother of one also acted in four made-for-television films and was featured in various television series like "American Style," "Fantasy Island," "Love," and "Night Gallery."

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Portrait photo of American actress Sandra Dee circa 1960. | Photo: Getty Images

HOW DID DEE AND DARIN MEET?

Many may have idolized Dee due to her gorgeous physique and ability to execute a role flawlessly. Still, her attention to her personal life also made several fans admire the star.

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Before her demise, the actress was a proud mother and former wife of late American singer and actor Bobby Darin. The Hollywood stars crossed paths on the classic movie "Come September," wherein they featured together. 

Portrait of American singer and actor Bobby Darin circa 1960. | Photo: Getty Images

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Dee's first impression of Darin was not pleasant. His confidence and swagger turned her off, and she perceived them the wrong way.

However, Darin loved her and clearly stated that she would be his wife — a statement the actress did not foresee coming true. The "A Summer Place" star was just 18 years old at the time and had no dating experience. 

Tragically, the actress passed away in February 2005 at 62 at Los Robles Hospital and Medical Center in Thousand Oaks, California.

American actor and singer Bobby Darin with his wife, actress Sandra Dee at the 33rd Academy Awards, Santa Monica, California on April 17, 1961. | Photo: Getty Images

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RELATIONSHIP AND MARRIAGE

Dee soon began ignoring Darin on set, but the actor was very persuasive, and in the end, the duo fell madly in love with each other and began dating. Not long after, the lovebirds got engaged and hastily tied the knot in March 1960. 

The following year, the couple welcomed their only child and son, Dodd Mitchell. After the birth of her son, Dee will often find herself tired, and after reporting this to her doctors, they gave her amphetamines to help cope with the fatigue.

American singer Bobby Darin with his wife, actress Sandra Dee, circa 1962. | Photo: Getty Images

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THEIR DIVORCE

Unfortunately, Sandra Dee cultivated a liking to amphetamines and soon got addicted to the drug. Things spiraled down and got worse when the actress had little time for her baby. Her addiction finally led to her and Darin's divorce in 1967.

After her divorce, the model never remarried but maintained a close relationship with Darin. Despite their differences, Dee stood by the actor and was by his side when he battled heart ailments.

Actress Sandra Dee poses for a photo on November 3, 1959 in Los Angeles. | Photo: Getty Images

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LIFE AFTER DARIN'S DEATH

Sadly, in 1973, Darin died at 37 after undergoing open-heart surgery. Dee was greatly pained by the loss of her ex-husband, but the grief was nothing compared to what she faced in the subsequent years.

In the 1980s, the actress lost her mother, negatively impacting her life. Dee became a recluse and found solace in a bottle of scotch. She eventually became a heavy alcoholic, and the effects were so severe that she missed Dodd's wedding.

American actor and singer Bobby Darin with his wife, actress Sandra Dee at the 33rd Academy Awards, Santa Monica, California on April 17, 1961. | Photo: Getty Images

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Altogether, her son was very understanding and was always there for her; however, he wished she could live an everyday life or develop a sense of self. He often felt helpless as his mother was battling addiction and an eating disorder.

However, Dee was able to set her life back on track with the help of Dodd. She went for therapy, and in 1991, she appeared in a Los Angeles stage production of "Love Letters."

Actress Sandra Dee attends a dinner party in Los Angeles, California circa 1966. | Photo: Getty Images

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DEE'S CHILDHOOD TRAUMA

That same year, she made a shocking revelation about her childhood. She had suffered childhood trauma because her stepfather, Eugene Douvan, sexually abused her.

Dee told her mother about the incidents, and when she never acknowledged what was happening, the actress had no support nor a confidant. It became the catalyst to her addiction and eating disorder problems. 

American actor and singer Bobby Darin with his wife, actress Sandra Dee at the 33rd Academy Awards, Santa Monica, California on April 17, 1961. | Photo: Getty Images

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PRESERVING DEE AND DARIN'S MEMORIES

Dodd detailed his parents' lives and relationships in his book titled "Dream Lovers: The Magnificent Shattered Lives of Bobby Darin and Sandra Dee."

The movie stars' son said he published the book to make his parents immortal, to capture their contributions and fascinating lives written for all to see on the web. Dodd also oversees Darin's music catalog and is in charge of marketing his parents' names and likenesses.

Studio portrait of American actress Sandra Dee, circa 1960. | Photo: Getty Images

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DEE'S DEATH AND GRANDCHILDREN

Tragically, the actress passed away in February 2005 at 62 at Los Robles Hospital and Medical Center in Thousand Oaks, California.

According to the nursing supervisor, Cynthia Mead, Dee had been in the hospital for two weeks to treat kidney disease. There, she developed pneumonia, which contributed to her demise.

The Hollywood star was survived by her son and two grandchildren — Alexa and Olivia — whom she met before her death. The sisters are all grown up and take after their grandparents' footsteps in the entertainment industry.

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