Actress Conny Van Dyke Passes At 78

Actress Conny Van Dyke, 78, has died from problems related to vascular dementia; she was featured in films including “W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings” and had a brief singing career with Motown.

Although she was born in Virginia, Van Dyke spent much of her childhood in Detroit, where she began her lengthy career in music and acting at the age of 15 with a role in the film Among the Thorns and a recording contract with Motown. She was crowned Miss Teen USA after being found singing at a drive-in movie.

Van Dyke’s first two hits were covers of songs by Smokey Robinson (“Oh, Freddy”) and Marvin Gaye (“It Hurts Me Too”). They co-starred in “Hell’s Angels ’69,” and she had a successful acting career. In 1975, she co-starred with Burt Reynolds in “W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings,” continuing her cinematic career.

Van Dyke took a sabbatical from acting in the late 1970s but returned to television roles in 2008 with performances in “Cold Case” and “CSI.” Her son Bronson Page, who verified the tragic news, remarked, “She was great.”

Over the years, Van Dyke experienced several health problems, including a diagnosis of colon cancer in the early 1990s. She reportedly tackled chemotherapy with gusto and emerged victorious. She also suffered a stroke that she never fully recovered from. Page remarked, “She was never angry about any of it, despite the trials and frustrations.”

Page intends to finish the memoir that Van Dyke began but never finished. It is called “The Woman in Me,” and her son said when reading, he saw similarities between his mother and the life of Britney Spears (but on a much smaller scale), which saddened him.

His mother’s career, like Spears’, began when she was a young teen and was surrounded by sexism, chauvinism, and abuse.