Conny Van Dyke - Rotten Tomatoes

Conny Van Dyke

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Conny Van Dyke's career in movies lasted little more than a decade and only involved roles in four features, but at least two of them were fairly widely seen, either as cult exploitation titles of the late '60s or as pop culture touchstones of the 1970s. Born in Nassawadox, VA, she was raised mostly in Detroit, where her family moved in the early '50s. The family's connection to a local church led her to the beginnings of a modeling career before she was a teenager, which, in turn, led to her television breakthrough. Hired at 14 to appear on a local show called Our Lady of Charm on WXYZ in Detroit, she was seen by Soupy Sales, who had a midday children's program on the same station and who convinced Van Dyke to get an agent. At 15, in 1960, she entered and won the Miss Teen USA competition, sponsored by Teen Magazine, the prize for which was a trip to Hollywood, a visit to Disneyland, a date with the reigning teen pop heartthrob Fabian, and her first movie role, a small supporting part in the Tom Laughlin vehicle The Young Sinner, in which Laughlin not only starred (along with a young Stephanie Powers, James Stacy, and William Wellman Jr.) but also directed. At the time, the movie seemed a one-off career event, but Van Dyke was busier than ever in Detroit, modeling and doing local television commercials. Her recording career came about through a singing engagement at a local drive-in, which led to an introduction to Berry Gordy, who signed her to the fledgling Motown label as its first white female artist; she appeared locally with the Supremes (they even sang behind her when she was on stage) and also toured with Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, Mickey Stevenson, Martha & the Vandellas, the Temptations, and the Four Tops. Her time at Motown lasted only a year, after which she moved to Wheelsville Records, later to Epic Records, and also started appearing on local music shows such as Robin Seymour's Swingin' Time. Van Dyke was based in New York for several years, modeling and singing, and also appeared on The Tonight Show, but it wasn't until she returned to Los Angeles that she became a working actress, appearing on shows like Adam 12 and Ironside. Her second film came about as a result of her appearance in a commercial directed by Tom Madden, who was later making a feature film and picked her for the female lead. Hells Angels '69 was notable for its violence and sex, was Van Dyke's first starring screen role, and shooting it put her in contact with the real Hells Angels. She wasn't seen again on the big screen until the mid-'70s. Instead, partly with the encouragement of her third husband, DJ Larry Coates, music became the focus of her work for the next few years, which eventually led to another film. Coates brought her to a club in Huntsville, AL, where she was seen by country singer Steve Norman, who brought her to Nashville as a singer. A contract with Barnaby Records followed in 1972 and she made several appearances on the Grand Ole Opry television show; that, in turn, led to her being cast in the Burt Reynolds film W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings, which was followed closely by Framed, a violent Phil Karlson action-drama starring Joe Don Baker. She did more television, including Police Woman, Sunshine, and Barbary Coast, as well as appearing on innumerable celebrity game shows during the 1970s and 1980s. After taking time off to raise her son in Florida, Van Dyke returned to Los Angeles and resumed her acting and singing careers.



No Score Yet Shiner
  • Actor
No Score Yet Framed
  • Susan Barrett
No Score Yet W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings
  • Dixie
No Score Yet Hell's Angels '69
  • Betsy


No Score Yet CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
  • Patron #2
  • 2009
No Score Yet Cold Case
  • Sue
  • 2008
No Score Yet Ironside
  • Marge Welles
  • 1969

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