Born Merle Johnson in New York on January 27, 1936, Troy Donahue was a journalism major at Columbia University when he decided to try his hand at acting. In 1957, his boy-next-door good looks helped him score a few small parts in such films as The Monolith Monsters (with Grant Williams) and Man Afraid (with George Nader). The following year, Donahue was cast larger roles in eight films, including Monster on the Campus, Summer Love, and Live Fast, Die Young. When Tab Hunter grew discontented with his Warner Bros. contract and bought it back from the studio, Warners signed Troy Donahue to replace him.

Troy DonahueTroy DonahueTroy DonahueTroy DonahueTroy DonahueTroy Donahue and Connie Stevens

LEFT and CENTER: Beefcake photos and portraits of Troy Donahue. RIGHT: With fellow Warner Bros. contract player Connie Stevens

Donahue met actress Suzanne Pleshette on the set of Rome Adventure (1962; with Angie Dickinson), and after wrapping up shooting on another film, A Distant Trumpet (1964), the couple married in January 1964. The marriage got off to a shaky start, and the couple parted ways later that year. In 1965, with the release of My Blood Runs Cold (with Joey Heatherton and Nicholas Coster) came the end of Troy Donahue's contract with Warner Bros. As with many other former contract players, good roles began drying up for him. Donahue remarried in 1966, this time to actress Valerie Allen, whom he'd met on the set of Come Spy With Me (1967), but the marriage dissolved in 1968. Donahue did a couple of TV movies that aired on NBC in the late 1960s (Split Second to an Epitaph and The Lonely Profession), and in 1970 he took a role on the CBS daytime drama The Secret Storm.

the films of troy donahue

A Summer Place (1959)

Dorothy McGuire, Troy Donahue, Constance Ford, Arthur Kennedy, Sandra Dee, and Richard Egan

Scene from A Summer Place with Dorothy McGuire, Constance Ford, Arthur Kennedy, Sandra Dee, and Richard Egan

The Crowded Sky (1960)

Troy Donahue

As a Navy jet pilot in The Crowded Sky

Surfside 6 (TV series, 1960-1962)

Troy DonahueTroy DonahueTroy Donahue, Lee Patterson, and Van WilliamsTroy Donahue and Constance FordMargarita Sierra, Troy Donahue, Lee Patterson, Diane McBain, and Van Williams

From Donahue's ABC TV series Surfside 6. LEFT and CENTER A: Donahue as Sandy Winfield. CENTER B: With co-stars Lee Patterson and Van Williams. CENTER C: With Constance Ford in a 1961 episode titled Little Star Lost. RIGHT: With series regulars Margarita Sierra, Lee Patterson, Diane McBain, and Van Williams

Parrish (1961)

Troy Donahue, Dean Jagger, and Claudette ColbertTroy Donahue and Hampton Fancher

LEFT: With Dean Jagger and Claudette Colbert in the love story Parrish. This film marked Claudette Colbert's last big screen appearance. RIGHT: Donahue gets the best of Hampton Fancher

Susan Slade (1961)

Troy Donahue

Rare color promotional photo from Susan Slade

Rome Adventure (1962)

Troy Donahue and Angie Dickinson

With Angie Dickinson in the romantic drama Rome Adventure

Palm Springs Weekend (1963)

Troy Donahue, Jerry Van Dyke, and Stefanie PowersTroy Donahue and Stefanie PowersTroy DonahueTroy Donahue and Stefanie Powers

From Palm Springs Weekend. LEFT: With Jerry Van Dyke and Stefanie Powers. CENTER A: With Stefanie Powers at the record shop. CENTER B: Connie Stevens has just taken off with Robert Conrad, leaving Troy Donahue behind. RIGHT: With Stefanie Powers

A Distant Trumpet (1964)

Troy Donahue and Diane McBain

With fellow Warner Bros. contract player Diane McBain in the western A Distant Trumpet

My Blood Runs Cold (1965)

Troy Donahue and Joey Heatherton

With Joey Heatherton in the dramatic thriller My Blood Runs Cold, Donahue's last film for Warner Bros.

Those Fantastic Flying Fools, aka Rocket to the Moon (1967)

Troy Donahue and Daliah LaviTroy Donahue and Daliah Lavi

With Daliah Lavi in the Jules Verne inspired film Those Fantastic Flying Fools

Come Spy With Me (1967)

Troy Donahue

Promotional photo from the secret agent spy film Come Spy With Me

The Love Thrill Murders (1971)

Troy DonahueTroy DonahueTroy Donahue

Donahue provides a strong performance as the violence-loving svengali Moon in The Love Thrill Murders

later years

In 1974, Troy Donahue landed a small part in The Godfather Part II as the character Merle Johnson (Donahue's real name), but this role did not provide the comeback he'd hoped for, although he did act in four films that year. But between 1975 and 1983, roles for Troy Donahue were practically nonexistent---he acted in only one film and had a few guest spots on several TV shows. In addition, drug and alcohol problems proved to be an obstacle for his career. But by the early 1980s, Donahue put an end to his substance abuse and began rebuilding his career, appearing in numerous films. In the 1990s, he took a job with Holland-America Cruise Lines, teaching acting on cruise ships. Sadly, Donahue suffered a severe heart attack in late August 2001 and passed away on September 2, 2001, at the age of 65. He was survived by a son and daughter.

troy donahue dvds available from


The Boys Behind the Desk (2000)
A Dirty Little Business (1998) with Beverly D'Angelo
Legion (1998) with Corey Feldman, Parker Stevenson, and Rick Springfield
Bimbo Movie Bash (1997) with Adrienne Barbeau, Joe Estevez, Morgan Fairchild, Bill Maher, Linnea Quigley, and Shannon Tweed
Showdown (1993) with Richard Lynch
Double Trouble (1992) with David and Peter Paul
The Pamela Principle (1991)
Shock 'Em Dead (1991) with Traci Lords and Aldo Ray
Click: The Calendar Girl Killer (1990) with Ross Hagen
Cry-Baby (1990) with Johnny Depp, Traci Lords, and Mink Stole; directed by John Waters
Omega Cop (1990) with Stuart Whitman and Adam West
Terminal Force (1990) with Richard Harrison
American Rampage (1989)
Assault of the Party Nerds (1989)
Bad Blood (1989) with Georgina Spelvin and Linda Blair
Blood Nasty (1989) with Linnea Quigley
The Chilling (1989) with Linda Blair
Deadly Spygames (1989) with Tippi Hedren
Hot Times at Montclair High (1989)
The Platinum Triangle (1989)
Sounds of Silence (1989)
Dr. Alien (1988) with Judy Landers
Hard Rock Nightmare (1988)
Hawkeye (1988)
Hollywood Cop (1988) with Cameron Mitchell and Aldo Ray
Nudity Required (1988) with Julie Newmar and Edy Williams
Sexpot (1988)
Cyclone (1987) with Martine Beswick and Huntz Hall
Deadly Prey (1987) with Cameron Mitchell
Fight to Win (1987)
The Drifting Classroom (1987)
Low Blow (1986)
Grandview, U.S.A. (1984) with Jamie Lee Curtis
Tin Man (1983) with John Phillip Law and Timothy Bottoms
Malibu (1983) with William Atherton
The Legend of Frank Woods (1977)
Cockfighter (1974) with Warren Oates and Ed Begley Jr.
Seizure (1974) with Jonathan Frid, Martine Beswick, and Mary Woronov
South Seas (1974)
The Godfather: Part II (1974) with Al Pacino, Robert Duvall, Talia Shire, and Fay Spain
Ultimo violar (1972)
The Love Thrill Murders (1971)
The Phantom Gunslinger (1970) with Pedro Armendáriz Jr.
The Lonely Profession (1969) with Joseph Cotten
Split Second to an Epitaph (1968) with Raymond Burr and Joseph Cotten
Come Spy with Me (1967) with Louis Edmonds and Albert Dekker
Those Fantastic Flying Fools (1967) with Burl Ives, Terry-Thomas, Daliah Lavi, and Gert Frobe
My Blood Runs Cold (1965) with Joey Heatherton, Barry Sullivan, and Nicholas Coster
A Distant Trumpet (1964) with Suzanne Pleshette, Diane McBain, and Russell Johnson
Palm Springs Weekend (1963) with Robert Conrad, Ty Hardin, Connie Stevens, and Stefanie Powers
Rome Adventure (1962) with Suzanne Pleshette, Angie Dickinson, and Constance Ford
Susan Slade (1961) with Connie Stevens, Grant Williams, and Bert Convy
Parrish (1961) with Claudette Colbert, Diane McBain, and Connie Stevens
The Crowded Sky (1960) with Dana Andrews, Anne Francis, Rhonda Fleming, and Patsy Kelly
A Summer Place (1959) with Sandra Dee, Richard Egan, Dorothy McGuire, and Constance Ford
Imitation of Life (1959) with Lana Turner, John Gavin, Sandra Dee, and Juanita Moore
Live Fast, Die Young (1958) with Mike Connors
Monster on the Campus (1958) with Whit Bissell and Joanna Moore
The Perfect Furlough (1958) with Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh
This Happy Feeling (1958) with Debbie Reynolds and John Saxon
Wild Heritage (1958) with Maureen O'Sullivan and Rod McKuen
Summer Love (1958) With John Saxon, Fay Wray, Edward Platt, Rod McKuen, and Jill St. John
Voice in the Mirror (1958) with Richard Egan and Julie London
Flood Tide (1958) with George Nader and Joanna Moore
The Monolith Monsters (1957) with Grant Williams and Lola Albright
The Tarnished Angels (1957) with Rock Hudson and Robert Stack
Man of a Thousand Faces (1957) with James Cagney and Dorothy Malone
Man Afraid (1957) with George Nader and Phyllis Thaxter

The Secret Storm, 1954-1974 CBS daytime drama. Donahue portrayed 'R.B. Keefer' during the 1970 season
Hawaiian Eye, 1959-1963 ABC TV series. Donahue portrayed 'Philip Barton' during the 1962-63 season. Also starring on Hawaiian Eye were Robert Conrad, Anthony Eisley, Connie Stevens, and Grant Williams
Surfside 6, 1960-1962 ABC TV series. Donahue portrayed Sandy Winfield. Also starring on Surfside 6 were Van Williams, Diane McBain, and Lee Patterson

troy donahue film now showing

Watch Troy Donahue in the 1958 sci-fi flick Monster on the Campus
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This page premiered September 6, 2001.
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