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The Many Faces of Gidget

Entertainment | September 9, 2018

Headshots of the six actors who have portrayed the character on 'Gidget' on film and television from 1959 to 1972. Top, L-R: Sandra Dee, Deborah Walley, Cindy Carol. Bottom, L-R: Sally Field, Karen Valentine and Monie Ellis (Photo by Columbia Pictures/Cou

There were actually six Gidgets – wow! Sandra Dee, Deborah Walley, Cindy Carol, Sally Field, Karen Valentine and Monie Ellis. There were three movies that came out besides the series. Sandra Dee played Gidget in the first movie named simply “Gidget” in 1959. Deborah Walley played Gidget in 1961 in “Gidget Goes Hawaiian,” and Cindy Carol played Gidget in 1963 in “Gidget Goes to Rome.”

The famous boyfriend, “Moondoggie,” was played by James Darren in all three movies and then played by some other actors in the series. Then, of course, don’t forget the television show which started in 1965 with Sally Field playing Gidget.  

The First Gidget

It all started with this novel by Frederick Kohner. He planted the seed that started the growth of Gidget. Frederick Kohner wrote the novel based on his own daughter, Kathy. It turns out that he was a Jewish screenwriter who worked in the German film business. After the Nazis started removing the Jewish credits from movies, he decided to take his family and move to Hollywood. He and his wife had two daughters and they lived by the beach. As he watched his two daughters grow up around the beach, he took notice of the way they were becoming more Americanized by the “surf culture.” 

Because his daughter, Kathy, was trying so hard to be like one of the boys when it came to surfing, he was empathetic towards her and tried to support her in it. He saw her struggles and wanted to help her so he became more knowledgeable in those areas in order to help her. This became his inspiration for writing the different storylines that you see in the show and the movies. Gidget was her nickname.

The beautiful and delightful Sandra Dee was the beginning of the many Gidgets.

Her personality, along with her youthfulness, made Sandra Dee the perfect choice to play the part. She was one of the most popular Gidgets and starred in that role in 1959 in the very first movie that was made from the novel.  James Darren portrayed her boyfriend, “Moondoggie.”

Of the two most popular Gidgets, the beautiful blonde with the charming personality, Sandra Dee is definitely a good choice.

Gidget, the television series, came out with Sally Field as Gidget in 1965. Sally Field plays a very delightful version of Gidget and who always seemed to find herself in a “pickle” and had to run to her father for advice. Of course, he always gave his daughter wise counsel, trying to lead her in the right direction.  The show was funny, innocent and heartwarming.

The New Gidget

Later, in 1969, the movie “Gidget Grows Up” came out which was played by the lovely Karen Valentine and came from the novel “Gidget Goes New York.” It was like a sequel to the show. Then, again, in 1972, another movie came out called “Gidget Gets Married” where she marries her long-time boyfriend, “Moondoggie.” In this movie, actress Monie Ellis played Gidget. 

Sally Field came back as Gidget in the movie “Gidget’s Summer Reunion” where she is the “grown-up” version of Gidget and also inspires the new series “The New Gidget.” This new series ran from 1986-1988. Are you keeping up? So many Gidgets -- will the real Gidget please stand up? And poor Moondoggie – with so many versions of Gidget, does he even know which one he married? Or maybe he enjoyed all the different personalities of Gidget.  

Looking back at the many faces of Gidget, the best, by far and the most popular would be the Gidget in the television series that was portrayed by Sally Field. It was quite entertaining as she had only her father to help her with all her emotional ups and downs. Her father had his work cut out for him as he constantly had to rescue her from herself despite him trying to give her wise counsel throughout her many escapades. 

Sally Field, who is not only beautiful but sexy and witty as well, ties as the other of the two most popular Gidgets.

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Terry Claypoole

Writer

Terry is a lover of the beach, history, politics and has a passion for social media and technology. In her spare time, you can find her at the beach (of course) enjoying the sand and sun and listening to music from the groovy era.