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"I said, '[You should hire me] because I have short hair and there aren't many short-haired women working on TV.' I was cast the next day."

-- Donna Wandrey


Donna Wandrey
Dark Shadows Character:
Roxanne Drew

Appeared in: 32 episodes

First episode: # 1039, June 18, 1970

Last episode: # 1177, December 29, 1970

Born: New York City, May 11, 1948 (source:

With Kathryn Leigh Scott off the show in mid 1970, Barnabas needed a new obsession. A casting call went out, and Donna Wandrey was one of many actresses who responded.

At the audition, surrounded by blondes and brunettes, Donna realized her pixie-cut, red hair made her stand out. When the casting agent asked her why she should get the part, Donna knew her limited TV experience -- she'd done a few commercials -- wouldn't help.

"I thought, OK, you've blown it by now, you might as well go for it," she recalled later. "I said, 'Because I have short hair and there aren't many short-haired women working on TV.' I was cast the next day." As Roxanne Drew, Donna's beauty captivated Barnabas.

To promote the show, Donna made several personal appearances. One, with Jonathan Frid , was less-than-glamorous.

In January 1971, Jonathan and Donna were guests at the International Auto Show at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Other celebrities there included singer Tiny Tim and Arnold Ziffle, a pig featured on the sitcom Green Acres. "I was sitting on a car, and Arnold the pig was there," she told me in 2001 with a laugh. "It was not the high point of my career."

The actress went on to several other soaps, including The Edge of Night, Another World, and Ryan's Hope, and many commercials.

She appeared in a 1983 ABC Afterschool Special (Umbrella Jack, starring a very young Joey Lawrence), and has made numerous appearances on stage, including the 1975-76 Broadway production of The Norman Conquests starring Richard Benjamin and Paula Prentiss (she was Prentiss' standby). Other stage credits include Charley's Aunt, Barefoot in the Park, Don't Drink the Water, and Moon Over Buffalo.

Donna was born in Chicago, and she told a fan magazine that she had a happy childhood: "I'm an only child, and my father, a printing foreman, and my mother, who's a volunteer worker at a hospital, took me with them on all their vacation trips. We visited 48 states together."

Donna was watching another family member, her aunt, perform at Chicago's Goodman Theatre when inspiration struck; she knew she wanted to become a performer. Initially, she wanted to be a dancer, but a knee injury pushed her toward acting instead.

She attended Northern Illinois College, then in 1967 she moved to New York City to pursue acting. She still lives in Manhattan where she continues to act and do voice-over work.


Donna Wandrey played Collinwood housekeeper Mrs. Franklin in the 2003 play Return to Collinwood.
Click here to see more photos from the play.


Career Highlights
Edge of Night (Allison Perry), Another World (Angie Perini, 1976), As the World Turns (Barbara Ryan, 1971-72), Ryan's Hope (Dr. Myers), Love Is A Many Splendored Thing, ABC Aftershool Special:Umbrella Jack (mother, 1983).

TV COMMERCIALS: Woman's World, Vanity Fair Paper Towels, Nabisco Cheese Spread, AT&T, Gain Detergent, Oil of Olay, Thomas English Muffins, Spic 'n Span, One-a-Day Vitamins, Cremora, Chef Boy-Ar-Dee, Sears, Domino Sugar, Mystic Tape, Johnson's Baby Shampoo, Lux, Oscar Brown, Post Cereals, Fresh Horizons Bread, Polaroid, Tiparillo, Master Charge, Lipton Soup, Avon, American Bread Company, Dristan, Hour After Hour, Maxim, Fab, Liquid All.

THEATER: Move Over Mrs. Markham (Linda, 1990, Miami), A Thousand Clowns (Sandra), Barefoot in the Park (Corrie), Come Blow Your Horn (Connie), A Majority of One (Alice), (latter three in Miami Beach, FL, 1973), Lullaby (Eadie, 1973, Dallas), Everybody Loves Opal (Gloria, 1973, Dallas), Don't Drink the Water (Susan), The Brownstone Urge (Sally, 1969-70, NYC), The Lion in Winter (Alais), The Impossible Years (Linda), Arsenic and Old Lace (Elaine), Mary Mary (Mary), Cactus Flower (Toni), Tea and Sympathy, Viet-Rock, Sweet Charity, Funny Girl, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, Design for Living (Gilda), Little Mary Sunshine, Children's Theatre.

BROADWAY: The Norman Conquests (stand-by for Annie, played by Paula Prentiss, 1975-76).

MISC: Hosted consumer report shows on HBO. Writer for travel magazines.

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