Bobby Darin is an unusual guy.
"He says he wants to get married," says a girl who dated the young singing star not too long ago. "I don't think he knows what marriage is. You know what he told me? 'I hope to have the same freedom, married, that I have now.' That sure isn't my idea of a happy marriage. He'll never get a girl."
Then the girl grinned and her voice softened a bit, "Still and all," she mused to herself. "I wouldn't mind being married to Bobby and neither would a great many other girls. It's not our fault he's still single. Every girl who dates him tries to make him her own. And yet time goes by and still -- no ties. He's free as a bird. Sometimes, I'm inclined to agree with what everybody says about Bobby: he's just plain born to be a bachelor!"
On May 14, 1959, Bobby celebrated his 23rd birthday. He reached an age when a lot of other young singers were already married -- Perry Como, Pat Boone, Jimmie Rodgers, Don Everly, Conway Twitty, Clyde McPhatter and Hal Kalin, among others.
"There are personalities who are married and who are accepted by teen fans, but that's usually because they were already married when they became successful. And that's the only way to combine marriage with stardom: by keeping the fans happy and having them accept you completely," he says.
Bobby, who soared to the top with the discs "Splish Splash" and "Plain Jane," ATCO Records, admits he's suffered a broken heart a couple of times, but that he's now convinced he should not marry until his career is secure.
The first time he was smitten with love was when he was about 18 and fell for a gorgeous and sophisticated dancer. She met him in a cafe, doodling with the drums during the musicians' break. She put him in her act, introduced him to the big time, then dumped him when she became bored and found another guy.
Bobby was a boy caught in a man's situation, and he retreated, terribly hurt.
Then he fell in love with a younger girl. A singer, struggling for a break like himself. They dreamed of stardom together, and groped through boy-girl talk over endless cups of coffee in the corner drug store near the Broadway rehearsal studios. Then one of her records went zooming and she was off on the road to promote it. Almost immediately, Bobby's record took off, and he too went off on long promotion tours.
Together while they were struggling; they found themselves separated by success. And when they realized that their careers were more important than their love, they knew that the flame was out.
Since then Bobby has stuck to his career, doing a lot of TV, making personal appearances with rock 'n roll shows and in night clubs, and going to Hollywood to work in a movie which Sammy Davis Jr. is producing.
"I don't want to marry until my career has settled down and I don't have to move so much. Perhaps when I get my own TV show, or become established in Hollywood ... then maybe I can marry and raise lots of children."
There's a big reason why Bobby wants some day to be an at-home father rather than one who travels and rarely sees his children.
"I want to give my kids something I never had: a father they know.
"My father died three months before I was born, and I was raised by my widowed mother and my older sister. I never knew a father. So when I marry, I want to be a real father who can spend a lot of time with my kids. They'll have what I couldn't."
Bobby is a good looking boy with a dynamic personality. Five feet nine, a lithe 155 pounds, with light brown hair and brown eyes, he is very attractive to girls.
He likes girls, but he repeats he doesn't yet want to marry.
"For me, marriage is sacred and beautiful, and when I marry I want it to be once and for all.
"I want to marry only when I'm secure financially, so that if, God forbid, there's a slowup in my career, I'll still be able to take care of my wife and children."
He grows pensive when he adds, "I must have a very understanding wife. She's got to realize I'm in showbusiness; she's got to realize I'm moody; she's got to realize I was brought up in a home where I had freedom. I'm used to it, and I don't want to give it up when I marry.
"She's got to know that if I feel like taking a three day holiday, I want to take it without arguments. I hope to have the same freedom, married, as I have now, unmarried. But I want this freedom by mutual consent."
Bobby says he's only had a dozen or so "conventional dates" in his life -- the kind where you agree in advance with the girl to pick her up, take her to a show, and bring her home. "But I've had plenty of the other kinds of dates -- the casual, informal, spontaneous type, where we go out for coffee, without formalities. And I like these dates because in this way I learn a lot about girls and what fine qualities they can have. I get an idea of what is best in girls."
"Maybe I'm dreaming, but I hope to find the perfect girl. And I'll delight in finding out what makes her happy, and try to do it. I'll try to get her interested in doing a lot of boating and fishing and golfing because they're my favorite sports.
"I'm not looking for a girl who will have my pipe and slippers ready when I come home; but I want to know that if I do want them, I can get them."
Bobby is so intense about marriage that he can't stand married people who joke about the subject. "I don't ever want to be the type of husband who kids about his marriage. I know lots of married men who joke about marriage and their wives, under the guise of humor. But beneath that pretense is a lot of viciousness. That's something I could never do."
Bobby is not enthusiastic about teenage marriages, and he's frankly glad he didn't marry in his teens.
"I know some kids who used to live in my old neighborhood in the Bronx. We used to hang around together. The parents of these kids had married young and didn't have a chance to get a good education or to see the world before they settled down, and as a result, they didn't have much to pass on to their kids.
"Now these kids should have tried to live their lives differently from their parents. But no. They did exactly the same thing. They, too, married young and started raising children right away.
"I hope they're happy but I doubt it, because they have more responsibilities than they can cope with." He adds, "These kids have lost a great chance to learn how to build a foundation for their future. As for me, I don't want to do what they did. I don't want to saddle myself with so much responsibility now. With my mother gone, all I have to support is myself ... and that gives me plenty of time and energy to concentrate on my career.
I don't mean everyone should postpone marriage and be an entertainer and aim for big money. But at least they should devote time to seeing what the world is made of and try to become skilled in whatever line they will follow. In working to perfect a skill, they will learn to strive for perfection, and become better in all kinds of living."
Bobby's spectacular career has already brought him to Australia, Hawaii, Canada, England and all over the United States.
"I've traveled far for a poor kid from the Bronx, and I've learned a lot. And everything I've learned is going to make me a better husband, a better father and a better citizen as well as a better entertainer."
Now don't think Bobby is so fearful of marriage that he doesn't date at all. He does, but it's a scattered, impulsive type of dating. When he's on tour and a gorgeous blonde singer like Jo-Anne Campbell is with the show, he and Jo-Anne date. When he's in New York, he often goes out with Adrienne Gilmore, 18, daughter of a famous former Ziegfeld beauty, Lynn Gilmore.
He doesn't have too many dates, however, because he's impulsive.
"I admit I'm the kind who calls the girl at the last minute ... that's because of my bookings and appointments, and I'm never sure when I'll have time for social life. "I'll call a girl and say 'Are you busy tonight? Want to meet me?' And if she's willing, then I'll take her anywhere she wants. When I take a girl out, it's her night. I let her decide.
"Of course, we might stand on a corner all night trying to figure where to go. And of course I might get a message in the middle of our date and have to rush off somewhere that's important to my career."
The truth, says Bobby, is that it's not easy for him to find a girl he can relax with. "I'm subject to periods of depression, and sometimes in the middle of a date I might give the girl cab fare and send her home. I know it isn't nice, but I can't help it. I have to take the chance that the girl will understand and not be offended.
"And of course my friends are used to this, and when I say 'Don't bother me,' they leave me alone, and don't feel insulted. They understand me and I'm grateful."
Another problem is that Bobby is so wrapped up in showbusiness that he talks about it all the time. "I try not to, but it's difficult for me to avoid it. And most girls are just not interested in showbusiness. And if I talk about my business -- showbusiness -- is the girl going to talk about her business -- school or office job? See, it just doesn't work out. And that's why most of my friends are show people."
There's another thing that's keeping Bobby away from marriage. That is the fear of being hurt -- terribly hurt. Hurt emotionally.
He's afraid of emotional involvement because he links it with grief rather than happiness. He admits that after the end of his mad involvement with an older dancer, he became: "cautious and wary. I kept girls at arm's length. It was a long time before I would socialize."
"It took a couple of years before I was a human being again, but I still haven't forgotten the hurt. I still haven't gotten over the shock of being thrown over by somebody I loved so very dearly."
"My heart's under wraps," says Bobby grimly, "and I'm not opening it up till I'm good and ready ... "
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