I first heard or saw
Bobby on American Bandstand. I was 9 years old, and his performance
was just electrical. He sang "Mack The Knife." Even at
that young age, he made an impression on me. Unfortunately it was
many years later that I "rediscovered" him. I do remember
hearing "Mack" constantly on the radio too at the time.
My favorite acting
role he did was Jerry Dundee in State Fair. I know it wasn't
a stretch for him as an actor, but I just loved the character. (I
actually think there was a lot of the real "Bobby" in
Jerry.) For example, when he wasn't afraid to do a live broadcast
of a car race with no preparation or experience. I think Bobby was
fearless when it came to anything related to show business, and
would have reacted the same way.
I remember hearing
on the radio that Bobby had passed away, and I was surprised he
died at such a young age. It was years before I learned more about
his health problems, and what a struggle he had all his life with
his heart condition. I think the excitement of the audience really
kept him going. I've never heard of a performer that was more dedicated.
His musical legacy
for me is "Mack The Knife." How many millions of people
know the song just by those first few bars? Acting I think he will
be remembered for his performances in Caption Newman, MD
and Pressure Point. He deserved the Oscar for both of those
performances. Songwriting there are so many gems. Dream Lover is
my very favorite, and "Rainin'" is a close second. "Simple
Song of Freedom" will stand the test of time as being a classic.
The message is timeless.
To me Bobby was the
consummate performer. (He had to be good for Sammy Davis, Jr. stating
he would never follow him.)
He could do it all,
and well. There hasn't been anyone since that compares to Bobby.
Bobby's most underrated
performance I think was in Wagon Train. He played John Gilman,
and he should have won an Emmy. He showed what a tremendous actor