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 country-western 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 late 1963, the Dr Pepper Company did a national talent search for a young girl who could promote Dr Pepper effectively to the younger set. This resulted in Donna being chosen as the first and only “Dr Pepper Girl” ever. During her five years with the company, Donna was seen and heard on radio, billboards (Dr Pepper’s most successful billboard campaign of the 60’s), magazines and personal appearances across the country. She was frequently seen representing the company on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand and in the 1963 Caravan of Stars Tour which starred Diana Ross and the Supremes, Gene Pitney, The Shirelles, The Dixie Cups and Brenda Holloway.
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 LP soundtrack from the film Beach Blanket Bingo. In all, she has released more than 22 singles, an LP, 4 CD’s and performed on numerous CD compilations.
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 game shows including The Dating Game, Hollywood Squares, PDQ and You Don’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. Today, Donna has turned “Let’s Talk It Over” into a way to connect with her fans by using internet video technology to talk one-on-one about her career and other issues of importance to select fans.
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”. At the height of her career, she chose to retire from show business, get married and devote her energies to raising a family.
A CD released in 2000 by Collectable Records entitled “The Very Best of Donna Loren”, includes the ten songs from Beach Blanket Bingo plus nine other recordings from the Capitol Records vault. A CD of 11 previously unreleased tracks (MAGIC-The 80s Collection) Donna recorded in the 80’s with James Burton and the TCB (Elvis) Band was released in August, 2009. “Love It Away”, her first all-new album in decades, was released in 2010 and is a tasty collection of original compositions as well as rock classics. For Holiday 2010, Donna released an EP entitled “Donna Does Elvis in Hawaii” consisting of four songs previously recorded by Elvis including a Holiday single, “Merry Christmas Baby”, which has subsequently been released every holiday season since. In 2010 Donna released updated digital versions of the songs she sang in the “Beach Party” films. Other singles have been released each year since. A new “Complete Capitol Collection” will be released in late 2013 with 26+ tracks including eight that were previously unreleased.
Today, Donna is busily writing her memoir and can been seen at various celebrity events visiting with fans, signing autographs and performing.
YouTube Classic Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/Swinging60sGuy
YouTube Current Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/DonnaLorenNow
Two videos of Donna’s signature song from Beach Blanket Bingo: (1965 and 2013)