Conny Van Dyke, a singer-songwriter signed to Motown Records and known for her roles in films like Hell’s Angels 69 and Framed, has died. She was 78. Van Dyke passed away on November 11th at her Los Angeles home from complications of vascular dementia, her son Bronson Page told Variety.
Hailing from Detroit, she overcame colon cancer and stroke, demonstrating incredible resilience. Her journey in the entertainment industry began at just 15, as a high school student. She made her mark in the film Among the Thorns, alongside Tom Laughlin, Bill Wellman Jr., and Stephanie Powers. Notably, Van Dyke also showcased her talent as a songwriter for Wheelsville Records in Detroit during that period. Afterward, she participated and emerged victorious in the Miss Teen of the United States contest organized by Teen Magazine in 1960.
In 1961, Van Dyke joined Motown Records, becoming one of the first white recording artists on the label. Her debut singles, “Oh, Freddy,” written by Smokey Robinson, and “It Hurt Me Too,” a rendition of Marvin Gaye’s earlier work, were released in 1963.
Conny Van Dyke Stars in a ‘Terrifying’ Biker Flick
In 1969, Van Dyke played the role of Betsy, Jeremy Slate’s romantic partner, in the outlaw biker film Hell’s Angels ’69. The movie also featured Tom Stern, Steve Sandor, Sonny Barger, and the Oakland Hells Angels motorcycle club, who appeared as themselves. According to Variety, Van Dyke recalled the production as “a terrifying, and yet, exhilarating experience.”
In 1969, tragedy struck when her sole sibling, Benjamin Van Dyke III, lost his life in a car accident near Salinas, California. Not long after the release of the film Hell’s Angels ’69, she married Robert Page and subsequently welcomed their son, Bronson Page, into the world.
Van Dyke then ventured into the realm of country music with two albums: “Conny Van Dyke” and “Conny Van Dyke Sings for You.” In 1975, she starred alongside Burt Reynolds and Art Carney in W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings, as well as in Framed where she portrayed singer Susan Barrett alongside Joe Don Baker.
Van Dyke appeared on several classic TV shows such as Adam-12. She also was a prolific game show guest, with appearances on The Hollywood Squares, Match Game, and The Gong Show.
Van Dyke retired from acting in the late 1970s to care for her son. She made a comeback in 2008 with a guest role on Cold Case and later on CSI. Unfortunately, she suffered a stroke that left her partially paralyzed and she never fully recovered.
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