Joey Heatherton

Joey Heatherton

Heatherton and her father Ray performing in 1975
Born Davenie Johanna Heatherton
(1944-09-14) September 14, 1944
Rockville Centre, New York, U.S.
Education Saint Agnes Academy
Occupation Actress, singer
Years active 1959present
Spouse(s) Lance Rentzel (m. 1969; div. 1972)
Parent(s) Ray Heatherton
Davenie Ross Watson

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

Early life

Davenie Johanna Heatherton was born and raised in Rockville Centre, New York, a suburb of New York City.[1] She was nicknamed "Joey" as a child, a combination of her first name Davenie and her middle name Johanna.[2] Her father, Ray Heatherton, was a Broadway star (Babes in Arms) and television pioneer.[1] Her mother, also named Davenie, was a dancer. Heatherton has a brother, Dick (born October 19, 1943), who later became a disc jockey.[3]

She attended Saint Agnes Academy, a Catholic grade and high school.[4]


Heatherton began her career as a child actress. She first appeared on television on her father's show The Merry Mailman, a popular children's show in New York. At the age of 13, she was a member of the ensemble and an understudy in the original Broadway production of The Sound of Music,[1] 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.[3] 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.

Heatherton dancing on the USS Ticonderoga, December 27, 1965

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.[4] She appeared as a mystery guest on What's My Line on November 7, 1965, the last show on which Dorothy Killgallen appeared.


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, and The Nurses.[3]

Heatherton also appeared in the movies Twilight of Honor (1963), Where Love Has Gone (1964) and My Blood Runs Cold.[5] 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).[6] In 1964, Heatherton co-starred in My Blood Runs Cold, the second of three 1965 horror-suspense films directed by William Conrad, alongside Troy Donahue.

The following year, she appeared in 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 released her first album The Joey Heatherton Album. The first single, a cover of the 1957 Ferlin Husky song "Gone", spent 15 weeks on the Billboard's Hot 100, peaking at #24. The second single, "I'm Sorry", peaked at #87.[7]

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.[8] 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 television shows and films, including the 1972 thriller 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 1990, Heatherton returned to the screen with a small role as a religious fanatic in John Waters' teen musical comedy film Cry-Baby.[9] In 1997, Heatherton appeared nude in an issue of Playboy.[10] Her most recent acting role was in the 2002 Damon Packard film Reflections of Evil.

Personal life

In April 1969, Heatherton married Lance Rentzel, a wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys, in New York City.[11] In November 1970, Rentzel was arrested for exposing himself to a 10-year-old girl.[12] He pleaded guilty to the charge and promised to undergo psychiatric treatment. Rentzel was given a suspended sentence. Heatherton filed for divorce in September 1971.[13] It became final the following year.[11]

In July 1985, she was arrested and charged with theft of services for refusing to pay a $4,906 bill from a hotel and spa in Long Island where she stayed in 1984. She pleaded not guilty to the charge.[14]

On July 8, 1985, she was arrested and charged with interfering with a government agent's duties and disturbing the peace after she allegedly slapped and pulled the hair of a clerk at Manhattan's U.S. Passport Agency office.[15][16] She was acquitted of both charges in September 1986.[15]

On August 30, 1986, Heatherton was arrested for assault in Hillcrest, Rockland County, New York, after she stabbed Jerry Fisher, her former boyfriend and ex-manager, in the hand with a steak knife during an argument. Fisher was later treated at a local hospital and released.[17] After her arrest, Heatherton told police who she was, but they did not believe her. She then handed one of the officers her purse to verify her identity. While looking through Heatherton's purse, the officer found a foil packet with less than a gram of cocaine. Heatherton was charged with assault and misdemeanor drug possession. Jerry Fisher later dropped the charge of assault against Heatherton. In October 1987, a court ruled that the search was unconstitutional as Heatherton was not advised that she could refuse a purse search. As a result, the misdemeanor drug possession was also dropped.[18]

TV and filmography

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
1976 Doug Henning's World of Magic 2 Herself Television special
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

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. 1 2 3 Oppenheimer, Peer J. (April 16, 1967). "The Switched-On Kid". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. p. 7. Retrieved May 29, 2014.
  2. Wilson, Earl (December 6, 1963). "Starlet Joey Heatherton Revolutionizes Her Home". Toledo Blade. p. 9. Retrieved May 29, 2014.
  3. 1 2 3 Wilson, Earl (January 28, 1968). "Joey's Image A-Go-Go After Serious TV Role". Reading Eagle. p. 30. Retrieved May 29, 2014.
  4. 1 2 Bowden, Robert (February 9, 1980). "A trouper remembers the joy, fear, sorrow of Vietnam". St. Petersburg Times. p. 5B. Retrieved May 29, 2014.
  5. Wilson, Earl (January 17, 1968). "Joey Heatherton To Be Strangled". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. p. 19. Retrieved May 29, 2014.
  6. Wilson, Andrew (2011). Harold Robbins: The Man Who Invented Sex. Bloomsbury Publishing USA. p. 140. ISBN 1-608--196585.
  7. "Joey Heatherton: Chart History". Retrieved May 29, 2014.
  8. Terrace, Vincent (2008). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010, 2d ed. (2 ed.). McFarland. p. 538. ISBN 0-786-48641-4.
  9. {{cite web|url=,,20117336,00.html|title=Picks and Pans Review: Cry-Baby|last=Novak|first=Ralph|date=April 16, 1990||accessdate=May 29, 2014}}
  10. "Joey Heatherton recaptures status". Rome News-Tribune. March 12, 1997. pp. 12–A. Retrieved May 29, 2014.
  11. 1 2 "Arrested for Drugs and Assault, Perennial Starlet Joey Heatherton Finally Crashes to Earth". September 15, 1986. Retrieved August 11, 2011.
  12. Teitelbaum, Stanley H. (2008). Sports Heroes, Fallen Idols. U of Nebraska Press. p. 222. ISBN 0-8032-1644-0.
  13. "Joey Heatherton Sues Rentzel For Divorce". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. September 18, 1971. p. 1. Retrieved May 29, 2014.
  14. "Joey Heatherton Charged With Theft". Ocala Star-Banner. July 18, 1985. p. 6B. Retrieved May 29, 2014.
  15. 1 2 "Joey Heatherton acquitted". The Day. September 18, 1986. p. F3. Retrieved May 29, 2014.
  16. "Woman says Joey Heatherton slapped her, pulled hair". Lakeland Ledger. September 17, 1986. p. 2A. Retrieved May 29, 2014.
  17. "Joey Heatherton charged in stabbing". The Milwaukee Sentinel. September 1, 1986. p. 3. Retrieved May 29, 2014.
  18. "Joey Heatherton Drug Charges To Be Dropped". Schenectady Gazette. October 3, 1987. p. 2. Retrieved May 29, 2014.

External links

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