Monday, December 20, 2010

Bobby Darin

During the late 1950s and early '60s, the ideal age was sweet 16 and it was the right time to be a teenager in love.  There were some popular singers named Bobby back then too.  There was Bobby Rydell, Bobby Vinton, and of course, Bobby Darin.  Bobby Darin was born Walden Robert Perciville Cassato in The Bronx, New York on May 14, 1936 to a poor family of Italian heritage during the Depression.  His career took off in 1958 with the song "Splish Splash".  "Splish Splash" sold over a million copies. He also hit it big with "Dream Lover" and "Mack the Knife".

In 1960, Bobby Darin married actress Sandra Dee whom he met while making the movie Come September. They had one son, Dodd Mitchell Darin, born in 1961.  The couple divorced in 1967.  Bobby married for the second time in June of 1973, to a legal secretary named Andrea Joy Yaeger.  The two were divorced in October of that same year, shortly before Bobby's death.

In 1968, at the age of 32, Bobby discovered that his "mother" Polly was actually his grandmother and that his "sister" Nina was really his biological mother.  He was stunned by this revelation and it affected him the rest of his days.

Bobby Darin was plagued with health problems all his life.  As a child, he had rheumatic fever which weakened his heart.  He died 37 years ago today, on December 20, 1973.  He was only 37 at the time of his death.  He passed away after undergoing open heart surgery at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
Although Bobby Darin is not known primarily as a television performer, he does have a history of numerous TV appearances.  In the summer of 1957, Bobby appeared on The Big Beat, a New York-based program hosted by Alan Freed, the disc jockey who coined the term rock and roll. (According to The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network TV Shows 1946- present, The Big Beat aired from July 12, 1957 until August 2, 1957).  Bobby filled in for Alan Freed, introducing dance numbers, doing a Coke commercial and interviewing contestants for "The Miss April Showers" beauty pageant.  The pageant was held to promote a shampoo for the teeny bopper set called April Showers.
To watch videos of Bobby Darin hosting The Big Beat, click on the link below.

Bobby shot to stardom after singing “Splish Splash” on Dick Clark’s Bandstand in 1958.   In 1961, he hosted a special entitled Bobby Darin and Friends. Bob Hope and Joanie Sommers were among the guests who appeared on that show.  It’s interesting to note that Bobby’s special was directed by Bud York and written by Norman Lear, the two men who were largely responsible for the success of All in the Family.  Bobby Darin and Friends was a pilot for a possible series but was not picked up.  To view a video of Bobby Darin and Friends, click below.

Click on the link below to watch Bobby Darin sing "Dream Lover" in 1963.

In 1964, Bobby Darin appeared on The Jack Benny Program.  To watch Bobby Darin on The Jack Benny Program (Parts 1, 2 and 3), click on the links below.

To view Bobby on the television game show What's My Line? in 1965, click on the link below.

In 1973, just months before his death, he hosted a short-lived musical variety show entitled The Bobby Darin Show.  It ran from January 19, 1973 until April 27, 1973.  Bobby appeared as both a singer and a sketch comedian on the show.  His musical numbers were backed by a full orchestra.  An ongoing theme of the show was to pay tribute to a different city each weak through song and comedy sketches.

- Joanne

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