Dana Hill was a talented actress and voice actress who appeared in several movies and TV shows in the 1980s and 1990s. She was best known for playing Audrey Griswold in National Lampoon’s European Vacation and Max Goof in Goof Troop. However, her life and career were cut short by the complications of type 1 diabetes, a chronic condition that she had since childhood. How did Dana Hill die and what were the challenges she faced because of her diabetes? Here is a brief overview of her life story and her cause of death.
Early Life and Health Issues
Dana Hill was born as Dana Lynne Goetz on May 6, 1964, in Los Angeles, California, to a Hollywood family that had been involved in film and television business for five generations. Her father, Theodore Arthur “Ted” Goetz, was a well-known director and producer of television commercials. Her mother, Sandy Goetz nee Hill, was a homemaker.
Dana Hill was a gifted athlete who excelled in running. At age ten, she placed third nationwide in the 880-yard run and fourth in the mile run. However, a few weeks later, she collapsed on the track and was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, a condition that occurs when the pancreas produces little or no insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels. Type 1 diabetes requires lifelong management with insulin injections, blood sugar monitoring, diet, and exercise.
The diagnosis of diabetes ended Dana Hill’s athletic career and affected her physical growth. She remained short and childlike in appearance throughout her life, which limited her acting opportunities but also gave her an advantage in playing younger roles. According to Wikipedia, she often played children into adolescence and beyond.
Acting Career and Breakthrough Roles
Despite her father’s strong discouragement, Dana Hill pursued an acting career and started working in commercials when she was nine years old. To avoid the appearance of nepotism, she used her mother’s maiden name as her professional name. She appeared in guest roles on various TV shows such as Family, The Love Boat, Magnum P.I., and The Fall Guy.
Her breakthrough role came in 1981 when she starred in the TV movie Fallen Angel as Jennifer Phillips, a 12-year-old girl who was molested by her father. Her performance earned her critical acclaim and a Young Artist Award for Best Young Actress in a Television Special. The same year, she also appeared in the film Shoot the Moon as Sherry Dunlap, the daughter of Albert Finney and Diane Keaton’s characters.
In 1982, she played Frankie Addams, the lead character in the TV adaptation of The Member of the Wedding, co-starring with Pearl Bailey. She also starred with Rip Torn and Mary Steenburgen in the 1983 film Cross Creek, a biographical drama about Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, the author of The Yearling.
In 1985, she landed her most famous role as Audrey Griswold in National Lampoon’s European Vacation, the sequel to the hit comedy National Lampoon’s Vacation. She played the teenage daughter of Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo’s characters who traveled across Europe with their family. She replaced Dana Barron who played Audrey in the first film.
Voice Acting Career and Health Decline
In the mid-1980s, Dana Hill’s health began to deteriorate due to complications from her diabetes. She suffered from depression and had trouble finding acting roles that suited her age and appearance. She turned to voice acting as an alternative career option and found success in various animated projects.
She voiced Jerry Mouse in Tom & Jerry: The Movie (1992), Max Goof in Goof Troop (1992-1993) and A Goofy Movie (1995), Tank Muddlefoot in Darkwing Duck (1991-1992), Alix Kubdel/Timetagger in Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir (2015-2016), among many others. She also did voice work for video games such as Fallout (1997) and Quest for Glory IV: Shadows of Darkness (1993).
However, her voice acting career did not prevent her health from worsening. She reportedly strayed from her strict diet and medication regimen and did not take good care of herself. In May 1996, she slipped into a diabetic coma. On June 5th, she suffered a massive paralytic stroke that left her unable to speak or move. She never recovered from the stroke and died peacefully on July 15th at a hospital in Burbank, California. She was only 32 years old.
Legacy and Tributes
Dana Hill’s death was mourned by her family, friends, fans, and colleagues who remembered her as a talented and courageous actress who fought against diabetes with grace and humor. She was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Hollywood Hills, California.
Her final voice role was in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) as a gargoyle. The film was dedicated to her memory. She also received posthumous credits for Duckman: Private Dick/Family Man (1997) and Rugrats (1998).
Dana Hill’s life and career were featured in several documentaries and biographies, such as Dana Hill: A Tribute (1997), Dana Hill: A Life Cut Short (2003), and Dana Hill: The Voice of a Generation (2016). Her story also inspired many people who suffer from diabetes or other chronic illnesses to pursue their dreams and passions despite the challenges they face.
Dana Hill was a remarkable actress and voice actress who left behind a legacy of memorable performances and characters. She was a shining example of resilience, determination, and creativity in the face of adversity. She will always be remembered and admired by her fans and peers.