Joey Heatherton

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Joey Heatherton
Joey Heatherton 27 December 1965.jpg
Heatherton dancing on the USS Ticonderoga, December 27, 1965
Born Davenie Johanna Heatherton
(1944-09-14) September 14, 1944 (age 69)
Rockville Centre, New York, USA
Occupation Actress, singer
Years active 1959–present
Spouse(s) Lance Rentzel (m. 1969–72)

Davenie Johanna "Joey" Heatherton (born September 14, 1944) is an American actress, dancer, and singer.

Early life[edit]

Heatherton was raised in Rockville Centre, New York, a suburb of New York City. There she attended St. Agnes Cathedral School, a Catholic grade and high school. Her father Ray Heatherton was a Broadway star (Babes in Arms) and television pioneer.


Heatherton began her career as a child actress, appearing in 1959 as a member of the ensemble and an understudy in the original Broadway production of The Sound of Music, and received her first sustained national exposure that same year as a semi-regular on The Perry Como Show, playing an exuberant teenager with a perpetual crush on Perry Como. She also appeared extensively on The Dean Martin Show; Dean Martin invited her to perform numerous times on the show, starting with the premiere episode of September 16, 1965. From June to September 1968, along with Frank Sinatra, Jr., she co-hosted Martin's summer substitute musical comedy hour, Dean Martin Presents the Golddiggers. She also made multiple appearances on 1960s television shows such as The Andy Williams Show, The Hollywood Palace, The Ed Sullivan Show, and This Is Tom Jones. She first appeared on television on her father's show The Merry Mailman, a popular children's show in New York.

In 1964, she appeared on The Tonight Show, where she coached Johnny Carson on the finer points of dancing "The Frug." During that era, she also appeared in Bob Hope's USO troupe between 1965 and 1977, entertaining the GIs with her singing, dancing and provocative outfits. Excerpts from the USO tours were televised as part of Hope's long-running series of NBC monthly specials, culminating in the top-rated Christmas shows, where Heatherton's segments were regularly featured. She appeared as a mystery guest on What's My Line on November 7, 1965, which was the last show that Dorothy Killgallen appeared on.


Throughout the 1960s, Heatherton interspersed her variety show appearances with dramatic turns in three theatrical films and on numerous episodes of series such as Route 66 (playing a 15-year-old temptress in the November 18, 1960 teleplay), Mr. Novak, The Virginian, Channing, Arrest and Trial, The Nurses, and Breaking Point.

Heatherton also appeared in the movies Twilight of Honor (1963), Where Love Has Gone, (1964) and My Blood Runs Cold (1965), alongside Claude Rains, Bette Davis and Susan Hayward. In Twilight of Honor, her film debut, she played the young wife of an accused murderer (Oscar-nominee Nick Adams).

The only one of the three films to be made in color, 1964's Where Love Has Gone, was a big-budget melodrama based on Harold Robbins' roman à clef about the scandalous Lana TurnerCheryl CraneJohnny Stompanato manslaughter case, with Heatherton playing the daughter of the Turner character (Susan Hayward).

In 1965, she appeared in Blood, the second of three 1965 horror-suspense films directed by William Conrad, alongside Troy Donohue. The following year, she did a two-part episode of I Spy with Robert Culp and Bill Cosby, playing a girl who returns an original Leonardo da Vinci painting to a Roman museum.


In 1972, Heatherton had a #24 pop hit with the 1957 Ferlin Husky song "Gone". Her album, The Joey Heatherton Album, did not do as well on the charts as her single.

By the 1970s, Heatherton's career was slowing down, but she was still popular enough to do a series of television ads for RC Cola and Serta Mattresses. A brief high point came in July 1975 when she headlined Joey & Dad, a four-week Sunday night summer replacement series for Cher's 1975-76 variety show in which she performed alongside her own father. Each episode would involve Ray Heatherton waxing nostalgic over life with his daughter while rooting through his attic.

In subsequent years, Heatherton performed in Las Vegas and acted in a few scattered television shows and films, including the 1972 Bluebeard (with Richard Burton in the title role). Additionally, she played the starring role as Xaviera Hollander in 1977's Watergate-inspired The Happy Hooker Goes to Washington.

In April 1997, Heatherton appeared nude in an issue of Playboy. Her most recent acting role was in the 2002 Damon Packard film Reflections of Evil.

Personal life[edit]

In 1969, Heatherton married Lance Rentzel, a wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys.[1] In November 1970, Rentzel was arrested for exposing himself to a 10-year-old girl.[2] They separated shortly afterward and divorced in 1972.[1]

Heatherton experienced legal trouble in the mid-1980s, beginning in 1985 with a charge of disorderly conduct after she slapped a clerk at Manhattan's U.S. Passport Agency office. The next year, she was arrested for assault and drug possession in Rockland County, New York, after she stabbed Jerry Fisher, her former boyfriend and ex-manager.[1]


Year Title Role Notes
1960 Route 66 Karen Emerson Episode: "Three Sides"
1962 to 1963 The Doctors and the Nurses Janet Clark
Ellen Denby
2 episodes
1963 The Virginian Gloria Blaine 1 episode
1963 Twilight of Honor Laura Mae Brown Alternative title: The Charge is Murder
1963 Mr. Novak Holly Metcalfe Episode: "To Break a Camel's Back"
1963 Arrest and Trial Edith Episode: "Some Weeks Are All Mondays"
1964 Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre Cress Episode: "Runaway"
1964 Channing Episode: "The Trouble with Girls"
1964 Breaking Point Dory Costain Episode: "I, the Dancer"
1964 Where Love Has Gone Danielle Valerie Miller
1965 My Blood Runs Cold Julie Merriday
1966 I Spy Katie 2 episodes
1968 Of Mice and Men Curley's Wife Television movie
1969 It Takes a Thief Dodie DuBois 2 episodes "A Matter of Grey Matter"
1969 The Jackie Gleason Show Emily Gogolak Episode: "The Honeymooners: Happiness Is a Rich Uncle"
1969 The Ballad of Andy Crocker Lisa Television movie
1970 Love, American Style Tippy Segment: "Love and the Hitchhiker"
1971 The Powder Room Television movie
1972 Bluebeard Anne
1973 Old Faithful Herself Television movie
1977 The Happy Hooker Goes to Washington Xaviera Hollander
1981 Laverne & Shirley Herself Episode: "Night at the Awards"
1986 The Perils of P.K.
1990 Cry-Baby Milton's mother
2002 Reflections of Evil Serta Spokeswoman

Award nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Title of work
1964 Golden Laurel Award Top Female New Face
1966 Golden Laurel Award New Faces, Female
1964 Golden Globe Awards Most Promising Newcomer - Female Twilight of Honor


  1. ^ a b c "Arrested for Drugs and Assault, Perennial Starlet Joey Heatherton Finally Crashes to Earth". 1986-09-15. Retrieved 11 August 2011. 
  2. ^ Teitelbaum, Stanley H. (2008). Sports Heroes, Fallen Idols. U of Nebraska Press. p. 222. ISBN 0-8032-1644-0. 

External links[edit]