8/26/10

Foxy Ladies #14: Joey Heatherton


Quote from Starlet Showcase:

When one is discussing actresses like Kate Hepburn, Bette Davis, or Joan Crawford, the name Joey Heatherton never seems to come up. When we're talking about serious blondes like Julie Christie, Catherine Deneuve, or Grace Kelly, Joey Heatherton's name is never uttered. When the subject is dancers, we leave Joey out and go on and on about Ginger Rogers, Eleanor Powell, Cyd Charisse, or Vera-Ellen. When the topic is monster cocaine users of the disco era, we discuss John Belushi, Carrie Fisher, and Robins Williams, but we never quite get around to Joey Heatherton. When we discuss 1960s babes, we're talking about Sharon Tate, Raquel Welch, Julie Christie, Ann-Margret, and basically all the Bond girls and Hammer horror women, but hardly ever Joey Heatherton. The only time that the name Joey Heatherton instantly springs to everyone's lips is when we are discussing mattress commercials.
Too true. For someone that was so well known, well loved, beautiful and talented, it surprising how basically forgotten she's become. I remember when she was on every variety show and TV special that came on - from Perry Como and Dean Martin to Ed Sullivan, Andy Williams and Tom Jones. She had sustained exposure for over a decade on every channel on the dial.

click to enlarge

She was a long-time member of Bob Hope's USO troupe between 1965 and 1977, delighting soldiers with her enticing singing, dancing and provocatively revealing outfits. Excerpts from the USO tours were televised as part of Hope's long-running series of NBC monthly  Additionally, throughout the 1960s, she interspersed her variety show appearances with strong dramatic turns in theatrical films and on numerous episodes of series such as Route 66.

Amazingly, with all that, plus a recording career to boot, Heatherton is remembered only for her Serta Mattress ads. Go figure.  I remember Catherine O'Hara's hilarious Lola Heatherton character on SC-TV, and I wonder if anyone nowadays would be in on the joke.

Although Heatherton could act, sing, and dance, her main asset was, without a doubt, her raw sexuality.  She could really heat it up.  She could turn a boring variety show into smoking hot entertainment in seconds.  But don't take my word for it, check out this little number on Dean Martin's show.  Download the file or simply choose to "open" the Rapidshare file.


Here's an example of Heatherton's recording career - "When You Call Me Baby".  This track comes from the blog In Dangerous Rhythm




Unfortunately, the 1970s were not kind to Joey.  In '71, her Dallas Cowboys husband was arrested for exposing himself to a 10 year old. The couple soon divorced.


Then the shit really started to hit the fan. Her look, style and attitude went completely out of vogue and she found herself unwanted and unemployed. Heatherton became wildly addicted to cocaine and was arrested multiple times for possession.  The heavy drug use started to affect her looks, which were even further tarnished by an eating disorder.  If that wasn't bad enough, she supposedly experienced some brain damage or mental problems from the drugs. 

 For someone who had the world on a string, she certainly is a prime example of how luck can change so quickly in Hollywood.

19 comments:

  1. Granted, I don't have ANY idea who she is but after some Google research I noticed she couldn't have had that much of a decline...she did a Playboy shoot in '97 & granted although they probably airbrushed some of it - she wasn't as busted up like I imagined.

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  2. Thanks so very much for mentioning Joey Heatherton. She was one of THE great screen beauties of the 20th century - equal to many of the others you mentioned.

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  3. The problem with Joey is that she was always Joey, no matter what she did. She had a bad reputation for her diva behavior. Yes, she was everywhere on tv, but she wasn't particularly liked by her peers or those younger. She was the type of gal you'd find on the arm of an older man. And she's barely remembered now except as a bit of kitsch. Sad what happened to her, but not unexpected.

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  4. Gilligan, thanks so much for this piece on Joey Heatherton--a surefire way to show your age, it seems that nobody younger than 35-40 remembers her & she deserves the accolades.

    I have to admit I remember her primarily for the "Get a perfect sleeper, Perfect Sleeper..by Serta" but only because whenever that commercial came on--"Now, instead of counting sheep..you can get a good nights sleep!" my mom always threatened to turn the tv off if we didn't switch the channel. Dang she was awesome!!

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  5. I always hear Joey's name and think, "Oh yeah, the chick who sang "Lovin You."" And then I am reminded that I am confusing her with Minnie Riperton. And then I realize that I am ashamed that I ever knew who either were...and then I remember that if I did, then I would have never confused the 2, and then I feel better.

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  6. She also had a memorable guest appearance as herself on the Batman TV series.

    Her brother was Dickie Heatherton, a popular DJ on an old Top 40 station here in Philadelphia, WFIL 560 AM. You can hear clips of him at www.famous56.com.

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  7. Her dad was Ray Heatherton "The Merry Mailman" of TV back in the 50's in my youth (now who's dated). I saw her perform at the Playboy club up in Great Gorge NJ and she WAS a diva....the bunnies hated her, but she had talent and definitely had charisma and stage presence.

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  8. I always enjoyed "SCTV's" Lola Heatherton.....

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  9. Strangely enough that record of hers goes for big bucks. I'm told that it's apparently big on the English Northern Soul scene. Isn't great that American schlock can command English pounds?

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  10. I seem to recall her brother Dick, was also an announcer on an oldies station back in the Seventies/Eighties in NYC called WCBS-FM.

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  11. I've read other stuff about Joey Heatherton. She was very well regarded for her tours on the USO during Vietnam. From all the people I have heard met her, remember her fondly (not a diva).She was highly independent and rebellious which probably didn't suit in Hollywood. Hollywood is run by men who expected pretty girls to be quite and do as their told. Joey had a mind of her own. Many have said in person she was very down to earth. Joe Namouth called her a very groovy chick.

    Joey Heatherton lived quite a life...from starting out on the Perry Cuomo show, and accordingly to Beatle insiders she was supposedly hot and heavy with a Beatle away from the prying eyes of the ands and press. Hint...There was something in the way Joey Heatherton moved.

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  12. I met Joey in a local bar in the Bronx during the 1980's. She was with her bodyguard & boyfriend, Mousey they were looking for cocaine. She was a mess and I didn't recognise her. She had to tell me who she was. I spent a night partying with her and her bodyguard, my friend Kathy Carr was there also. I kicked them out in the morning. I found out that they continued to party for several days and that Joey was a hard core coke addict. I had to hide out from her bodyguard who would just turn up at my apartment. Fortunately, I stopped getting high, my friend, Kathy died from a bullet to her head by her drug dealing boyfriend. Hopefully, Jody cleaned up her act. The weird thing about meeting her - well it was all weird - is that when I was in my early teens my mom thought I looked like her and loved Joey Heatherton. My mom would have went nuts knowing that I had met Joey Heatherton. I wouldn't have had the heart to tell my mom the whole story. Anyway that is my story.

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  13. AnonymousJune 04, 2013

    Joey Heather was a great performer. She was gorgeous and had the sexiest voice. She was a tiny dynamo. It is so sad that she had self destructed but I guess life disappointed her in too many ways.

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  14. Does no one else still listen to her recording of the Ferlin Husky song Gone ? The CD is worth the price just for the cover photo.

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  15. AnonymousJune 13, 2015

    I found this website and all I can say is that she's awesome! Check it out.

    http://www.missjoeyheatherton.com

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  16. The incomparable Joey Heatherton: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pOKIIzOpZak

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  17. Thanks for this post. I fondly remember Heatherton from the 60's & 70's. No one could turn me on like she could, with her sultry, pouty looks and her fabulous legs. Although It took me a while to appreciate her short hair.

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  18. AnonymousMay 28, 2016

    Joey was a contortionist, a natural beauty, who could do many impersonations, and sing and dance. She always had the same personality in all her movies and did the same style dancing in all her acts. I would think with better direction she could have done much more. She certainly was beautiful and from a good family. For some reason you always felt she was not sweet, and that perhaps she was abused as a child, as she always appeared angry. She deserves more fame than she has for her beauty, dancing, and singing.

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