"Rumour has it that members of the Hollywood Women's Press Club carry wax images of you about with them in their handbags and stick pins in you all day." I began, and Robert Cassotto, slightly better known as Bobby Darin, began to giggle as he relaxed in the living room of his Hollywood home.
"And if all of them have the same difficulty that I had in getting hold of you for an interview, I can understand why." I went on. "'Cause if Neil Christian hadn't offered to introduce me to you I'd probably be joining that press club right now." Neil, a 19-year-old English boy from London's East End was on holiday in Hollywood, and hearing the difficulty I'd had getting hold of the elusive Mr. Darin after 65 phone calls, he kindly offered to introduce me. The two of us waited for Bobby to finish laughing.
"Did you hear about the award they made me recently?" he asked eventually. "They voted me runner-up to Brando as the year's most unco-operative actor, as I became eligible for one of the club's 'Sour Apple' awards. I sent a telegram thanking them for the apple despite the fact I thought they were rotten to the core."
Bobby laughed again and we waited for him to continue:
"The trouble is they want Sandra and I to pose for home layouts all the time and do stories on how Dee tamed Darin which just ain't so. First that, then they'd want to do stories about our having the perfect marriage - which I'll never agree to. To begin with, it's not perfect. She left me about a dozen times during the first six months. And I don't want anyone to get the idea we're perfect mates like Tony and Janet (Curtis and Leigh) were supposed to be for years. They never stopped posing for photographers at home and worked at it all day Sunday too.
"Sandy's mother took some shots of me bouncing our son, Dodd, on my knee anyway, and how much more can you do with a seven month old boy? For the first year all they wrote about was how I couldn't settle down to marriage and how I'd probably break her heart. The rest of the stories told how I was eaten up with conceit."
With her pride and joy wrapped snugly in her arms, America's top teenage star, Sandra Dee, appeared from nowhere and crossed the room saying:
"And he's not that conceited, are you darling? Only last week he was talking about having surgery on that nose until I assured him that I love it large and kind of twisted -- just as it is."
As she passed Bobby stretched out a hand to grab her, but she ducked away and asked what records she could put on for us. I asked to hear anyone he liked in British singers, and from a pile of 45's Sandy sorted out a couple of old Adam Faith discs as well as "Dear One" by Tony Victor, and Andy Cavell doing "Hey There Cruel Heart."
"While in New York I stopped off in New Jersey to meet your sister, Nina, and her family." I began again, and Bobby suddenly looked across the room interestedly. "She told me about the rheumatic fever you'd had as a child and how worried she was about the heart condition you have . . . "
"Nina never stops worrying." Cut in Bobby. "But the doctors said that when I was 10 I'd never live to be 14, and I'm still ticking over somehow. I know I'll die young, that's why I gotta pack in as much as I can now. I know some folks hate me 'cause they say I'm temperamental. But I want the best -- all the time -- whether it's in marriage, a movie, or making a record. Sandy and I have been making this picture for UI together, 'If a Man Answers,' and there were times when I doubted if they'd ever let me in the studio again. 'Cause when I don't agree with the director, or anyone I work with, I say so. Life's too short to be nice just as it's the easiest thing to do.
"I know the stories they tell about me being hell to work with. If I am, it's because I've seen too many singers or actors disappear in this business 'cause they didn't know what was good for them. But I know and I sure say so."
Bobby and Stella Stevens during filming of
TOO LATE BLUES.
With highly successful films like "Too Late Blues" and "Hell Is for Heroes" doing the rounds, and "Things" stunning the hit parade, I had to agree with him. And not only does Bobby know what's good for him, he knows what sells for others too. When I left he was running through a number called "Road to Love" with Neil that young Mr. Christian is recording soon. And after the Darin coaching I wouldn't be at all surprised what happened to it.
Thanks to Shying for this article.
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