Donna Loren – Shakin’ All Over – Shindig (1964)


Donna Zukor (born March 7, 1947), known professionally as Donna Loren, is an American singer and actress. A performer in the 1960s, she was the “Dr Pepper Girl” from 1963 to 1968, a featured female vocalist on Shindig!, and a cast member of the American International Pictures Beach Party movie franchise. She was signed to Capitol Records in 1964, releasing several singles and the Beach Blanket Bingo LP soundtrack, which included her signature song “It Only Hurts When I Cry”.

Loren guest-starred on television series including Dr. KildareBatman, and The Monkees, as well as appeared regularly on network and local variety and music shows.

In 1968, Loren retired from her career to marry and raise a family. She recorded again in the 1980s and ran her own fashion business, ADASA Hawaii, throughout the 1990-2000s.

In 2009, she returned to performing, and her most recent releases include the album Love It Away (2010) and the EP Donna Does Elvis in Hawaii (2010), as well as the compilation These Are the Good Times: The Complete Capitol Recordings (2014). In August 2020, Loren began hosting Love’s A Secret Weapon Podcast, an audio memoir of her life and career.

Early years

Donna Zukor was born March 7, 1947, in Boston, Massachusetts. Her family includes her mother Ruth and her adoptive father Morey Zukor (born Morris Zukovsky), and two younger brothers, Alan and Rick Zukovsky. Morey and his brother, Louis Zukor, were animators.

Loren performed in amateur talent shows from the age of six and, in 1955, sang on a radio commercial for Meadow Gold Ice Cream alongside Dick Beals. In the same year, she was a frequent performer on the music radio series Sqeakin’ Deacon with James Burton. By 1956, she was performing with The Moppets Group and she recorded the single “I Think It’s Almost Christmas Time” (Fable).

On her tenth birthday, Loren filmed an appearance on The Mickey Mouse Club for the Friday “Talent Round-Up Day”, performing the songs “I Didn’t Know the Gun was Loaded” and “Pennies from Heaven“. Loren continued to perform and record through the late 1950s and early 1960s, with her songs released on Skylark and Ramada, as well as the American Publishing Company’s new label Crest. Her first two efforts for that label–”Hands Off”, written by Billy Page and arranged by Gene Page, and Glen Campbell’s “I’m So Lonely”–were produced by Jimmy Bowen. At Crest, she began to use the professional name Donna Loren. She had previously recorded under the names Donna Zukor, Donna Dee, and Barbie Ames. In 1960, Loren appeared on the Playhouse 90 episode “In the Presence of Mine Enemies”.

From 1962 to 1963, Loren recorded with Challenge. She released six singles, including “I’m in Love with the Ticket Taker at the Bijou Movie” (B Side: “I’m Gonna Be All Right”, subsequently re-released as an A Side, with “Johnny’s Got Something”), “On the Good Ship Lollipop” (B Side: “If You Love Me (Really Love Me)“), and “Dream World” (B side: “(Remember Me) I’m the One Who Loves You“). Nancy Mantz and Dave Burgess co-wrote two of Loren’s Challenge songs (they also wrote one song each with other collaborators), and her arrangers included Sonny Bono. Loren’s recording of “Dream World” written by Joy Kennedy was awarded four stars by Billboard in their new singles reviews. While only in her mid-teens, Loren recorded songs such as “If You Love Me (Really Love Me)” and “(Remember Me) I’m the One Who Loves You”. Loren said of her early recording, “Somehow I had a knowledge in me that came through my voice and therefore more mature songs were chosen and adapted for recording”.


Dr Pepper and other advertisements

In 1963, while still a student at Venice High School in West Los Angeles, Loren signed a contract with Dr Pepper as the “Dr Pepper Girl” to promote the drink to a younger demographic. One of her first appearances for the company as its spokesperson was co-hosting, with Dick Clark, the ABC television one-hour special Celebrity Party. She performed “Bill Bailey” and her record “I Can’t Make My Heart Say Goodbye”.

Dr Pepper historian Harry E. Ellis described Loren as “an immediate success”, writing that she “would figure prominently in Dr Pepper’s plans for some five years, not only as an entertainer but doing commercials for radio and TV and appearing in many forms of advertising.” Loren made hundreds of personal appearances for the company, where she would perform and meet fans. Loren and Dick Clark appeared at the 1964 New York World’s Fair as “host and hostess” for winners of a Dr Pepper promotion. In the same year, she was part of Clark’s Caravan of Stars 22-city summer tour, headlined by Gene Pitney. Loren said in 2011, “I travelled all over the country, and I performed for them in every city that had a Dr Pepper bottling plant. I cut all the ribbons for all the new plant openings. I did all their TV and radio commercials, and all their print advertising and billboards.”

In 1965 Loren was chosen by Simplicity Pattern company to appear in a national advertisement campaign “If I Can Sew, You Can Sew”, appearing in print and commercials. Loren was contractually signed because she made much of the wardrobe she appeared in during television and live performances. Francesco Scavullo took her portrait for Simplicity.

In addition to her work for Dr Pepper, Loren was often featured in modelling and fashion spots geared towards teenagers, including hats, exercise workouts, makeup, and dental care.

Movie, television, and recording career

In 1964 Loren began appearing in the American International Pictures Beach Party series. In Loren’s first appearance in Muscle Beach Party, she sang “Muscle Bustle” with Dick Dale. The Galveston Daily News wrote “It didn’t take long for Donna, Dr Pepper’s new singing star to make her mark. She has a feature singing part”. The release of the single “Muscle Bustle”, written by Brian WilsonGary Usher, and Roger Christian would be Loren’s final recording for Challenge (B Side: “How Can I Face the World”).

Loren then appeared in Bikini Beach (singing “Love’s a Secret Weapon”), and Pajama Party (“Among the Young”). An article regarding the release of Pajama Party described “the amazingly-voiced Donna Loren, seventeen-year-old songstress who made her debut in Muscle Beach Party and who makes a bigger impression each time she sings. She will be seen and heard next in Beach Blanket Bingo“. She appeared in the series in the fifth film Beach Blanket Bingo in 1965, performing “It Only Hurts When I Cry”, which some regard as her “signature tune”. The film resulted in Loren’s first album, Beach Blanket Bingo. Loren said of the recording of the album: “I worked for 14 hours straight. The album was completed in that session”. The album was released on Capitol Records, which Loren had signed with in 1964, produced by David Axelrod, and arranged and conducted by H. B. Barnum.

Loren also appeared in another AIP Beach Party film, Sergeant Deadhead, where she sang “Two Timin’ Angel”. The film starred other regular Beach Party actors, including Frankie Avalon, Deborah Walley, Harvey Lembeck, John Ashley, Bobbi Shaw, and Buster Keaton.

At Capitol, Loren released many of her well-known songs including “Blowing Out the Candles” and (B Side) “Just a Little Girl” (1964), which were produced by Axelrod and arranged and conducted by Barnum, “So, Do The Zonk” (B Side: “New Love” from her LP) (1965), “Call Me” (B Side: “Smokey Joe’s”), (1965), and “I Believe” (1965; regularly performed in her Dr Pepper appearances).

In late 1964, the Hollywood Makeup Artists and Hair Stylists Guild named Loren one of its Deb Stars, an annual award given to up-coming performers, who were “the likeliest candidates for motion picture and television stardom in the coming years”. Other “most likely star candidates of 1965” were Janet Landgard, Margaret Mason, Tracy McHale, Mary Ann MobleyBarbara Parkins, Laurie Sibbald, Wendy Stuart, Beverly Washburn, and Raquel Welch. Loren was also nominated for a 1965 Photoplay Gold Medal Award for “Most Promising New Star (Female)”. She received a GeeGee Award for “Most Promising Singer” from 16 Magazine in 1965.

Loren performing “Wishin’ and Hopin'” on Shindig!

Loren was the featured female vocalist on Shindig! from its debut on September 16, 1964, until late 1965. Loren debuted on the program performing “Wishin’ and Hopin’“. On the series, Loren performed a wide range of material both in solos and work with other performers, most often Bobby Sherman. Loren has discussed her enjoyment of appearing on the series, saying in 2005: “The microphone that I used was the greatest. I loved the sounds that came out”. Loren sang on 26 shows, and also appeared in the live theatre show Shindig ’65. In 1991, Loren appeared with several other cast members in the VH1 retrospective special of the series, The Shindig Show.

In 1966, Loren became a co-star with Bobby Rydell on The Milton Berle Show, a series hosted by Berle and co-starring Irving Benson. The signing of Loren and Rydell was widely reported at the time. The series was subsequently aired for a short 13 weeks.

Loren guest-starred on a seven-part Dr. Kildare in 1965 as Anna Perrona, a young woman in need of dialysis treatment. In 1966, she played Susie in two episodes (15 and 16) of Batman (“The Joker Goes to School”, “He Meets His Match, the Grisly Ghoul”). In a guide to the week’s television, her character was described as “Aiding The Joker is Donna Loren, a frisky cheerleader”. Loren’s kiss with Batman co-star Burt Ward (Robin) was reportedly accompanied by “a flood of mail”. Loren also guest-starred on The Monkees (episode: “Everywhere a Sheik, Sheik”, 1967) as Princess Colette, who Davy is set to marry; and on Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. (episode: “Love and Goulash”, 1968) as Anna Kovach, who hides a romance from her family. She also appeared on The Mothers-In-Law in 1968.

Loren made hundreds of appearances on music and game shows, including The Red Skelton Show and Hollywood Squares. She appeared on the hour-long New Talent in Young America in January 1965. Loren was also regular performer at concerts and shows during much of the decade throughout the country. These included at the teenage nightclub The Million Cellars, with Glen Campbell also on the bill, the Pasadena Teen Dances, Rock ‘N Roll City with Shindig co-star Bobby Sherman, and appearing with Bob Hope and The Kingsmen at Indiana University’s ‘Little 500’ race weekend in May 1965. She also performed at the Greater Los Angeles Press Club’s 1967 “Headliner of the Year” awards, where then Governor of California Ronald Reagan was recognized as “the state’s outstanding newsmaker for 1966”, and crowned the 1967 “Teen Safety Queen” at the Municipal Auditorium in Dodge City.

On March 11, 1968, “Two for Penny” aired on The Danny Thomas Hour. Loren starred as Greek-American Penny Kanopolis, whose brothers (Michael Constantine and Lou Antonio) try to organize a courtship and marriage to Yani (Gregory Razaki), even though she is already dating another boy, the non-Greek David (Bill Bixby). Danny Thomas played the family priest. This was a pilot for Loren’s own series, produced by Thomas and Aaron Spelling and was aired on NBC as a one-hour special.

From 1967 to 1968, Loren recorded with Reprise, releasing “Let’s Pretend” (B Side: “Once Before I Die”) again produced by Jimmy Bowen, and arranged by Don Peake, and “As Long as I’m Holding You” (B Side: “It’s Such a Shame”), produced by Mike Post. The recordings have been called “exceptional” showcases for Loren.

By the end of 1968, Loren left show business to marry producer Lenny Waronker and raise a family.