Joey Heatherton: TV's Young Dancing Vixen, Then And Now

By | September 13, 2022

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Left: Joey Heatherton in a publicity portrait, circa 1965. Right: In 'My Blood Runs Cold,' 1965. Sources: Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images; IMDB

Joey Heatherton, a '60s-style sex-kitten often compared to Ann-Margret, was all over the TV airwaves for a time. She was an in-demand singer, dancer, actress and personality for such programs as The Dean Martin Show and The Mike Douglas Show, a style of TV entertainment that is now extinct. Despite Heatherton's ubiquity back then -- entertaining troops in Vietnam with Bob Hope, the whole nine yards -- you just don't see her work at all anymore.

Anyone who was around to see Joey Heatherton in her prime, to see her slink her 5'5" frame around a stage while she sang “I’ve Got Your Number,” knows the magnetic power that she held. Born and raised in Rockville Centre, New York to a pair of performers, Joey Heatherton was imbued with the preternatural radiance that people in the biz call “star power.”

She spent the ‘60s and ‘70s dancing on TV shows, and performing for the USO, but as the decades went on she was marred with scandal and slowly drifted from the public eye. 

Her Appearances On TV In The ‘60s Drove Guys Wild

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Left: Nick Adams and Joey Heatherton in 'Twilight of Honor,' 1963. Right: Heatherton in an undated publicity photo. Source: IMDB

Heatherton has been performing from a young age, but her first noticeable role came on a 1960 episode of Route 66 when she guest-starred as a rich brat with a “sexy-kid look.” From there she started dancing on shows like Hullabaloo and The Tonight Show where she famously taught Johnny Carson how to do The Frug. Critics referred to her sensual demeanor as “sleazy eroticism,” and she was often haunted by the critique that she was an Ann-Margret knock-off, but that didn’t stop her from earning fans who couldn't get enough.