Steve Blauner, a longtime family friend who represents Dee's former husband Bobby Darin's estate, said Dee had been hospitalized for nearly two weeks. She had been on dialysis for about four years, Blauner told AP.
"She didn't have a bad bone in her body," he told AP on Sunday. "When she was a big star in the pictures and a top five at the box office, she treated the grip the exact same way she treated the head of the studio. She meant it. She wasn't phony."
"She was Gidget, and she was Tammy, and for a time she was young America's ideal," film historian Leonard Maltin once said of her. With her innocent all-American, girl-next-door charm, Universal Studios cast Dee mostly in teen movies such as The Reluctant Debutante, The Restless Years, Tammy Tell Me True and Take Her, She's Mine. But she also got to show some acting chops in more serious films such as Imitation of Life and A Portrait In Black.
Blauner told AP her favorite films were the ones she made with Darin, adding that the singer remained the love of her life despite their divorce. Darin, who had rheumatic fever as a child, died following heart surgery in 1973. He was 37.
Dee and Darin's turbulent marriage was highlighted in last year's Bobby Darin biopic Beyond the Sea, starring Kevin Spacey as Darin. Actress Kate Bosworth, who played Dee in the film, said at the time: "She had this image but she was so tragic and lost and naive and she could have had such potential to tap into that, but nobody gave her the chance."