Troy Donahue – Bio, Spouse, Son, was he gay, is he dead or alive?

The term “sex symbol” is as old as Hollywood itself, and Troy Donahue, one of the first teenage idols of his day, was among the men privileged to earn the title back in the ’60s. Donahue rose to fame in the early ’60s for his roles in a number of Warner Bros films, but unfortunately his career didn’t go as he would like. Read on for the highlights and the struggles he encountered along the way.

Troy Donahue Bio

Troy Donahue was born Merle Johnson Jr. Donahue aspired to be an actor from a young age. However, his parents never supported him, instead wanting him to pursue a career in a more stable field such as medicine, law or in the culinary industry. Donahue got his acting genes from his mother, who was a stage actress, while his father worked at General Motors as a film department manager.

Raised in New York City, Donahue was well connected to Long Island and was exposed to many Broadway actors. Donahue followed his parents’ wishes and enrolled in a New York military academy. However, his plans to attend the US Military Academy at West Point were dashed by a knee injury. Unfortunately, his father passed away when he was 14 years old. He then worked for a short time as a messenger in a film company founded by his father. He then enrolled at Columbia University to study journalism. At school, his passion for acting won him over and saw him move to Hollywood.

In Hollywood, Donahue met an agent Henry Willson, who changed his name from Merle Johnson to Troy Donahue. To start his professional career, Donahue signed a contract with Universal Pictures in 1956, but was only allowed to act in small roles until 1959, when his new contract with Warner Bros. landed him a role in A Summer Place that became his breakthrough film.

Donahue was then typecast in a number of films and soap operas aimed at teenagers, granting him teen idol status. Unfortunately, in the mid-’60s, Donahue found himself on a downward spiral in his career, in part due to the fact that his youthful audiences had matured and his subsequent films were no longer appealing.

Donahue lived at the height of his luxury career in the early ’60s, but as his career declined, he realized his meager pay, far from what a star should earn, wasn’t enough to sustain his lifestyle. He had to file for bankruptcy and after that it was never the same.

A frustrated Donahue delved into drugs and alcohol to the detriment of a career he was struggling to revive. He received $10,000 for a small part in 1974’s The Godfather Part II which sadly would be his most enduring role, despite appearing in a dozen other films. Troy Donahue got his addiction under control in the ’80s but couldn’t quite complete his career comeback.

Is he dead or alive?

Troy Donahue passed away on September 2nd, 2001 after suffering a heart attack a few days earlier on August 30th. Despite being unable to return to the saddle, Troy Donahue continued to act in parts. His last film role was in 2000’s The Boys Behind the Desk His career might not have properly propelled him back into the limelight, but Troy Donahue found peace in his final years. After sobering up with the help of Alcoholics Anonymous, he became a Christian and credited his faith with helping him find strength.

Troy Donahue’s spouse and son

Atypical for teenage idols, Troy Donahue has had romantic relationships with many women in his life. He had four short-lived marriages, all of which ended in divorce. The chains of divorce were undoubtedly part of what compounded his problems with his profession. His spouses included actress Suzanne Pleshette (1964); Valerie Allen (1966 – 1968), Alma Sharpe (1969 – 1972) and Vicki Taylor (1979 – 1981). From the 1990s until his death, Donahue was in a relationship with Chinese-American opera singer Zheng Cao.

Troy Donahue never had a child with either of his child wives, however, one of the women he casually romanced in the ’60s brought it to his knowledge in the ’80s that he had fathered a son with her. She introduced him to the boy named Sean, who was already a teenager in his eighties. Sean had known all along that Troy Donahue was his father.

was he gay

This is reflected in his diverse relationships with women, Troy Donahue was not gay. He himself confirmed this in the 80s after rumors about his sexual preferences began to surface. Turns out Donahue was mistaken for a Hollywood actor.

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