Donna Loren CD was issued through Collectable Records and has been a steady seller for ten years now. The pivotal point was when I began writing songs and recording them. I’d decided to move to LA. In doing so, I went into the studio, here, in Hawaii, with two local musicians to accompany me— Hawaiian style—on “Loving You”, written by Leiber and Stoller in 1957. Elvis sang it originally and now [we have] ‘Donna does Elvis in Hawaii’ with my interpretation of this romantic ballad. I sing it for my love of Hawaii.
By Diane Walsh Photo by Melissa Bring
f you’ve heard of the soda pop Dr. Pepper then you’d likely have heard of Donna Loren—she’s the all-American calendar girl who lit up poster billboards throughout America in the rockin’ swingin’ 60’s. A starlight in her own right and in her own words, proud to be a flower child, she has conquered all-three M’s of Hollywood: ‘Modeling, Music and Movies’. And she ‘done it’ in style—literally designing— the vast majority of her performance dresses along the way. Coupled with that, a successful clothing retail business in Hawaii, and she, running 3 boutiques for more than 10 years, her signature could be said to be: Chill Bohemian-tropical— mixed with—a classy look. With the dozens of artistic credits to her name, it’s difficult choosing which ones to highlight. But the obvious favorites include her appearance in the early sitcom, Batman as the Joker’s girl: ‘Susie’ and her princess character with whom Davy Jones was smitten in the classic episode of The Monkees. Then there’s her singing performances in the much-loved movies Beach Blanket Bingo and Muscle Beach Party but—without a doubt—Loren, as babe-icon multiple times-over on TV’s Shindig!—rocked her into gaining her “It Girl” title.
How do you feel about the resurgence of retro fashion and musical sound? You’ve been a strategic part of that. A seed was planted in the 60’s that has rooted deeply into a universal awareness. The Beatles’ music [for instance] is exemplary. It’s a phenomenon when music, fashion, architecture—as well as philosophy—transcends several generations. Flower power is alive and well, in my humble opinion.
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After having taken an understandable break to raise a family in the 1990’s, what’s led you to get back into the swing of things, musically, once you felt ready? My decision to revive my career is a personal choice. 2000 turned a corner for me when nostalgia became more appreciated. I believe the children of my generation, my own included; have a great reverence for the 60’s and all things mid century modern. My songs started popping up in compilations in the US, Australia, Japan and England. My Best Of
The Beverly Hills Courier, in a recent article, described you as ‘The It Girl’. When you were young, did you think that you’d be written up in the books as a 60’s icon—which is, what you are being called, today? No one ever knows what impact or longevity their actions will bring. We just participate whole heartedly in the moment. In this case the moment has lasted decades. In the 60’s you iconized the “Dr. Pepper Girl”. What does all this mean to you? I feel so fortunate to have been chosen by a corporate entity to increase their value! I was 16 yrs old, female and ethnic; an irony at least. For five years I received red carpet treatment, truly an American dream. A little girl from Mar Vista, CA flying first class, living in hotel suites and greeted with bouquets of roses, sometimes in a parade! The southern based company said it was my natural qualities that appealed to them initially but it was a teen driven campaign that increased sales. In re-launching my career the Heritage program Dr Pepper is promoting is perfect to reintroduce my energy to their company (which is even more corporate now; Cadbury Schweppes owns them). I would love to promote a xylitol sweetened adaptation that refreshes at 10, 2 and 4. What are your aspirations? In the AMC TV series “Madmen”, it would be so cool to have Don Draper take his kids to my Beach Party flicks and feature one of my songs, i.e., “It only Hurts When I Cry” in Beach Blanket Bingo. Then get his kids a Dr Pepper and show a commercial. It’s 1964 on the show, exactly synchronized with my career. What are some of your fondest memories and what makes you most proud, from your achievements? Shindig! was the greatest rock ‘n roll on American television and is near and dear to my heart. When the Stones appeared, they pre-recorded their own music to sing live to as we all did. I am actively campaigning to honor Shindig in the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame. I also acted in a 7-part episode on Dr. Kildare starring Richard Chamberlain. The riotous Leslie Nielson and Cloris Leachman played dramatic leading roles alongside my character, Anna, a young mother waiting for dialysis kidney treatments. We filmed at MGM studios in Culver City for ten days. Ironically, the Watts riots happened during this time which were clearly visible from the studio lot when the nearby Baldwin Hills were ablaze. Tell about that second eclipse in your life: more music projects you’ve celebrated completion on? My life began taking on a new form August 14, 2008, a full moon. I felt a creative surge that motivated me to share some music with intimate friends. Melodies and lyrics quickly manifested into productions that by the end of summer of 2009 became a collection of 17 songs. What’s the history behind your CD compilations and name some of the players who’ve been involved with you? Leading the pack was a remake of “It Only Hurts