Swinging 60’s It should come as no surprise if the name Donna Loren sounds more than a little familiar to you. If you came of age in the sixties - if records, television and movies were any part of your life in that dazzling decade - then Donna is both a face and a voice you’re bound to recognize. You couldn’t turn on the television, drive down a main boulevard, or open a magazine in the 60’s without seeing Donna’s bright, perky smile.
Donna’s career began when she was five years old and won first prize on an amateur show. From there she was featured on Playhouse 90 and on stage at the Moulon Rouge. When she was eight she performed regularly on the live radio countrywestern music show “Sqeakin’ Deacon” with James Burton (then 17), who was playing with Rick Nelson on Ozzie & Harriet. Her first big break came in 1955 (age 8) when she did her first commercial, singing a jingle for Meadowgold Ice Cream. For you history buffs, the dialogue on the commercial was done by the actor who played “Speedy Alka Seltzer”. That same year Donna was chosen to appear as a guest on the Mickey Mouse Club’s “Talent
Round-Up”, a weekly segment that showcased young talent. Her first commercial recording, at the age of nine, was “I Think It’s Almost Christmas Time”. Nine more records followed on various labels until 1964, when she accepted several offers that began to provide her with national exposure.
In 1963, the Dr Pepper Company
did a national talent search for a spokesperson to represent Dr Pepper effectively to the younger set. This resulted in Donna being chosen as the first and only “Dr Pepper Girl” ever. She was signed to a 7 year contract to do all TV, radio, magazine and billboard advertising as well as travel for Dr Pepper representing them in every capacity. Some significant Dr Pepper events Donna was a part of that same year included “Dick Clark’s Caravan of Stars Tour” headlined by Diana Ross and the Supremes, the Miss Teenage America pageant with Donna as co-host and Dick Clark as host and the first of the four “Beach Party” movies that Donna appeared in which was “Muscle Beach Party”. It was a busy first year for “The Dr Pepper Girl”.
In 1964 and 1965 Donna had co-starring roles in four of the popular Beach Series Movies for American International Pictures. She appeared, along with Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello, in Bikini Beach, Muscle Beach Party, Pajama Party and the classic Beach Blanket Bingo. She typically sang at least one solo in each movie. Donna also appeared in the film Sergeant Deadhead for AIP.
Donna was signed to Capitol
Records in 1964 by Voyle Gilmore, the same man who, along with Nick Venet, was responsible for bringing the Beach Boys to Capitol. During her tenure with the company, Donna released five singles as well as the collectible LP soundtrack from the film Beach Blanket Bingo. She has also performed on 15 other singles and various LP and CD compilations (see Discography).
In the summer of 1964,
Donna began appearing as a regular on the new ABC television variety show, Shindig. The show was unique for its time in that it was fast-paced and fun, and all performances were live. Performers included everyone from the Clara Ward Gospel Singers to the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Donna appeared as the featured female vocalist on the show during its entire run from September 16, 1964 to January 8, 1966.
Each year, only ten of Hollywood’s most promising young actresses were dubbed Deb Stars by the Hollywood Makeup Artists and Hair Stylists Guild and were presented with the coveted “Debbie” at the Guild’s annual ball. In 1965 Donna was among the ten young women chosen as “the likeliest candidates for motion picture and television stardom in the coming years.”
Donna also had leading roles in episodes of Dr. Kildare, The Monkees, The Danny Thomas Hour, Batman, The Red Skelton Show, The Mothers-In-Law, and Gomer Pyle as well as numerous guest spots on several game shows including Hollywood Squares, PDQ and You Donâ€™t Say. After the demise of Shindig, Donna was a regular, along with Bobby Rydell on the Milton Berle Show.
Readers of Movie Life Magazine... may remember two monthly columns by Donna that appeared during 1966 and 1967. Let’s Talk It Over was a personal advice column, while Donna Loren’s Young Hollywood spotlighted the younger showbiz set. And, Teen Magazine, among others, often featured her on their covers. In 1968, her last year as a professional entertainer, she was chosen by Danny Thomas and Aaron Spelling to star in her own network TV series which was broadcast as a one-hour special entitled “Two For Penny”. In 1968, Donna left a hugely successful career to get married and raise a family of three. She kept her voice in shape, she admits with a smile, “by singing a lot of lullabies”. Donna has written and published dozens of songs and singing is still a major part of her life. In the 1980’s she returned to the studio and released two singles, one for Warner Bros records. Some of that music will be available on this site
in the future. A CD released in 2000 by Collectable Records entitled “The Very Best of Donna Loren”, including the ten songs from Beach Blanket Bingo is available in our Donna Loren Store as well as record stores throughout the country.
Published on Feb 17, 2009
It should come as no surprise if the name Donna Loren sounds more than a little familiar to you. If you came of age in the sixties - if reco...