Okay, the truth of the matter, my obsession with Hollywood started in my early youth. Even in my pre-teen days, I would inwardly swoon, over an on-screen Hollywood kiss. I was the little girl who cried when Rock Hudson got married, â€™cause he didnâ€™t wait for me to grow up so he could ask me to marry him. Of course, this was before I knew he was gay and even if he had waited for me, chances are I wouldnâ€™t have been the one whose hand heâ€™d be asking for in marriage.
Years latter, when I was grown up and working at CBS, I got the chance to see my idol, while he was rehearsing for the Carol Burnett Show. I even brought my mother to work with me, so she could see him, too. But she couldnâ€™t understand, why, when I finally had my opportunity to meet my â€œfirst crush,â€ I wouldnâ€™t look at him. I just keep looking straight ahead, even when he sat right across the aisle from me. It took me years to finally admit that I was hurt, not only over all those years of unrequited love–but deep down inside I felt deceived, cause I didnâ€™t know he was gay. Not to mention that if he did look at me with those magnificent laughing eyes of his, there was good possibility that my legs would have buckled beneath me.
So after recovering from my loss of Rock as my dream boyfriend, I moved on to more hunkier hunks in the movies and on TV. Which is probably the force behind me writing romance novels today. I usually went for the tall, dark, handsome ones, but than came along a tall blond, blue eyed fellow, who some of you might recall. His name was Troy Donahue. I first saw him on an old TV detective show called â€œSurfside Sixâ€. He later moved over to â€œHawaiian Eyeâ€. Under contract for Warner Brothers, who believed in utilizing their actors as much as possible, he was soon moved onto the big screen, starring in such flicks as Parrish, Susan Slade and A Summer Place. The latter he played opposite Sandra Dee. Yes, I was also a Gidget freak, too. So what could be more perfect than my two favorite people being matched together in a movie? Forget about the fact that the movie was dealing in such mature matters as adultery, deceit, and teen pregnancyâ€¦my only focus was the young stars. What could be more perfect than Troy with Sandy? One thing. Me with Troy. Well, the moment came, when I learned that he was appearing in a new movie, called â€œPalm Springs Weekendâ€. Not only was he appearing in the movie, but he was making personal appearances in the local movie theaters as well.
Oh, my poor mother, father and sister as I went around the house that whole week, holding up several different outfits in front of me, asking them which one did they think Troy was going to like me best in. I think it was at this point my family should have either had me sent off to a convent or put me in a mental institution.
The day finally came and I went out of the house, as giddy as a pre-teen going on her first date, as I headed to the movies in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. I took the best seat I could get which was ninth row, center stage. The movie went on with the promise it would be stopped as soon as the star arrived. An hour into the movie the lights came up and in an instant walked out this tall, almost too pretty to be true, blond hunk. He and the announcer did some small chit chat about the movie, none of the dialogue which I can recall now. Then the announcer, whose name was Freddie, said Troy would be taking questions from the audience.
My opportunity came. I flung my arm up in the air, competing with a movie house full of teenagers, hoping and praying that by some miracle heâ€™d pick me. After a flurry of such sophisticated questions from the audience like, â€œWhatâ€™s your favorite color? Do you have girl friend? How tall are you?â€ My prayer was answered and I was chosen to ask the million dollar question–the one that was going to lead me directly to Troy. I personally thought it was brilliant, and after all, it really was a question–well, sorta. â€œCan I have your autograph?â€ Unfortunately, I was the only one who thought it was â€œthe question of the year,â€ â€™cause the announcer told me to sit down, as he explained, Troy doesnâ€™t do autographs.
I slumped back into my chair, but a few moments later it was as if the clouds of heaven opened up to me, when I heard announcer ask, â€œWhereâ€™s the young lady who asked for the autograph?â€ He waved me to the stage. I donâ€™t remember how many pairs of feet I had to stepped on–but I made my bee line for the stage.
Announcer Freddie stood between me and Troy and shook my hand. He asked my name, which luckily I did remember. But when he asked me where I came from, I replied New York, which got snickers from the audience. He meant, which school did I go to. Then he said, â€œTroy canâ€™t give you an autographic but he has something else for you.â€ He then introduced me to Troy, who took my hand and said in his rich baritone voice. â€œWell, helloâ€. And than he put his arms around me, and bent me backward, as he brought his lips towards me and kissed me fully on the lips. My first real kiss in front of everybody and God (wait, thatâ€™s a line from a Troy Donahue movie). Okay, my first real adult kiss on stage in front of a full audience. The kiss was long enough for me to open my eyes in the middle of it, just to make sure I wasnâ€™t dreaming. Troy kept his closed. I also remember thinking, Oh, my gosh, Iâ€™m actually being kissed by Troy Donahue. I had to say his full name, like I was going to confuse him with another Troy.
I do remember hearing a roar of screams filling the theater, and two ushers helping me back to my seat. After the movie, I felt like Brittney Spears, being chased by paparazzi–only I was being bombarded by teenagers, wanting to know what it felt like to be kissed by Troy Donahue.
So thatâ€™s the story of my first kiss. But the story doesnâ€™t really end there. Many years later, now living in Hollywood, I was at cocktail party with a male friend of mine. Over a drink, I told him my amusing story of my first kiss with Troy Donahue. My friend excuses himself. A short time later he returns but not alone. Once again, standing next to me is Troy Donahue. The years had not been kind to him. A life filled with failed marriages, addictions and unemployment has taken its toll on him. It showed in his eyes and on his face, but his voice is still as rich and as deep as it was in his youth.
My friend John, knowing Troy was at the party, had purposely brought him over to introduce him to me. I shared the story of our kiss, that had happened so long ago. I laughed and I tried to be sophisticated as I sipped on my drinkâ€¦but deep down inside I felt a sadness, seeing what had happened to this one time, teen heartthrob, who now was hardly known at all. After I finished my story in that wonderful baritone voice, he whispered to me, â€œWell, I think itâ€™s only appropriate, I say good-bye like this–shall we?â€ And then, so gently, he lightly brushes a goodnight kiss against my face. And heâ€™s gone.
Update: Troy died 2001 of a heart attack in Santa Johns Hospital in Santa Monica. He had turned his life around and was known for helping others in their own time of need. Connie Stevens, who co-stared with him in many ventures, including â€œPalm Springs Weekendâ€, paid him a hospital visit, the day before he died.
Five years ago, author Hal Lifson who wrote a book on the history of pop culture hosted a â€œPalm Springs Weekendâ€ reunion party. When he heard of my story, he invited me to be his guest at â€œThe Palms Springs Weekendâ€ reunion party, in Palm Springs. It was there, I met my other favorite actress, Connie Stevens, who generously gifted me with a $100 gift certificate to her Day Spa, when I presented her with DVDâ€™s of her old â€œHawaiian Eyeâ€ TV show.
As for my first idol, Rock Hudson, as coincidence would have it, he died the same day as my father, on October 2, 1985. Rock Hudson was the first high-profile Hollywood celebrity to die from AIDS, and his greatest legacy may have come in death when he put a recognizable face on the disease and dramatically increased public awareness of AIDS, which has helped so many others, who were diagnosed after him.
Bobbie Cimo is the OCC/RWA Programs Director who has brought us such notable speakers as Dean Koontz, Tami Hoag, Jackie Collins and Robert Crais.