In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Donna Wilkes was a rising starlet who appeared in several popular films, notably Jaws 2 and Angel.
With her blonde hair, innocent face, and girl-next-door charm, Wilkes embodied the wholesome innocence of the era’s teen idols. After finding fame at a young age, however, Wilkes’ career soon fizzled out and she faded from the public eye. Though she had the talent and looks of a leading lady, her promising career was cut short, leaving many to wonder—whatever happened to Donna Wilkes?
Donna Consuelos Wilkes, born on November 14, 1958, is an actress. She was born in Manhattan, New York. Her father was Irish, Wayman Otis Wilkes, and her mother was a French nightclub singer who is unknown to the public. Her parents were married until Donna was 3 months old.
Around 12 years old, after some time in an acting school for children, she moved to the Dominican Republic and liver with her aunt and uncle. She would graduate high school by age 14, and by 15 made her way to Los Angeles.
Donna Wilkes would find herself in some cult films over the course of her career. She is still working today as more people have grown to appreciate her movies from her youth.
Donna began acting as early as the age of four years old when she was enrolled in the Meglin Kiddies School in New York City, starring in plays and a commercial for tennis shoes by six. At the school, she trained in dance and gymnastics until she was eleven years old and left the school for the Dominican Republic for a time.
In Los Angeles, at 15 she had to lie about her age to find work. As she sought work in film she lied that she was 18 years old and worked as an ambulance computer operator and as a secretary. She managed to keep her age under wraps as she worked both jobs.
By 17, she was cast in a small role in the 1978 Universal film Almost Summer, which landed her a SAG card. That same year, she would land a role in the film Jaws 2. From there work would be consistent, with her taking on television roles as well.
In 1979 she would be a contract player for Norman Lear’s production company, landing her appearances on several late 1970s tv-series such as Hello Larry, T.J. Hooker, and The Incredible Hulk.
What is she known for?
Donna Wilkes is most known for two film roles. The first was 1978’s Jaws 2 where she played Jackie, and 1983’s Ange, where she played underage sex worker Molly. Donna was also in a major soap opera, Days of our Lives, as Pamela Prentiss for 14 episodes.
She was also featured in two major movies of the week. The first was Courage and the Passion in 1978 and Born To Be Sold in 1981.
Jaws 2 is the sequel to Steven Spielberg’s iconic shark thriller, “Jaws.” Set in the fictional Amity Island, the film follows Chief Brody as he discovers that another great white shark is terrorizing the waters.
As the summer season approaches, Brody faces challenges in convincing the town’s authorities of the looming threat, especially after the economic disaster caused by the previous shark attacks.
The climax of the film centers around a group of teenagers, including Brody’s two sons, who go sailing and are attacked by the shark.
Donna Wilkes played the role of Jackie Peters, one of the teenagers in the group that goes sailing. Her character is part of the ensemble cast of young actors and is involved in the intense and suspenseful sequences as the shark targets their group.
Jaws 2″ was a commercial success, though it did not reach the heights of its predecessor. While it grossed over $200 million worldwide, making it one of the highest-grossing films of 1978, it received mixed reviews from critics.
Angel” is a crime thriller that tells the story of Molly Stewart, a high school honor student by day and a Hollywood prostitute by night. Abandoned by her family, Molly, under the street name “Angel,” navigates the dangerous streets while forming bonds with various street characters.
However, things take a dark turn when a serial killer begins targeting prostitutes, putting Angel in grave danger.
Wilkes stars as the protagonist, Molly Stewart/Angel. Her portrayal of a young woman leading a double life, battling the challenges of her circumstances while trying to maintain her innocence, is central to the film.
Angel was a surprise hit at the box office, grossing over $17 million against a modest budget.
While it wasn’t universally praised by critics, many of whom found the plot exploitative, it garnered a cult following. The film’s success led to several sequels, solidifying its status in 1980s pop culture.
After her notable role in the movie “Angel” in 1983, Donna Wilkes continued her journey in the entertainment industry with a mix of film and television roles.
She had a recurring role in the NBC daytime series “Days of Our Lives” from 1982-1983, where she portrayed “Pamela,” a drug addict.
Donna also appeared in movies such as “Grotesque” in 1988, where she played Kathy. In the 2010s, she made a comeback with roles in independent films like “My Stepbrother Is a Vampire!?!” in 2013 and “90210 Shark Attack” in 2014.
What is Donna Wilkes doing now?
Discussing her recent projects, Donna mentioned a film titled “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” in which she worked alongside Tom Sizemore. She expressed her sympathy regarding Sizemore’s recent troubles.
Additionally, she produced a movie in New Zealand right before the pandemic hit. The film, titled “Buzz Cut,” faced delays due to the pandemic but is expected to release around Halloween this year.
On the topic of social media, Donna admitted to being “techno-challenged.” While she has a Facebook page, it’s monitored by a friend. Fans can also reach out to her through her official website, DonnaWilkes.com.
Donna Wilkes married actor Billy Gray in 1977, but at some point, they had divorced. A more specific date is not available.
Sources vary, with some suggesting she has one child, but Donna Wilkes has not made a public posting about this and no further details are available.