Below is an excerpt from the book, "Dr.Burns' Prescription for Happiness" by George Burns.
When I was just starting to work alone I was looking for some talent to
put together a show. I heard a record called "Splish Splash" by some
kid named Bobby Darin, so I sent for him. Into my office came this
middle-aged looking man, about six feet two and weighing about 280
pounds. This was not what I expected. I said, "Splish Splash" - you
must have made a bigger splash than the record." He said, "I'm not
Bobby Darin, I'm his manager." Then he brought Bobby in, and I liked
him the minute I saw him. Two weeks later he was part of my show in
As soon as Bobby walked on the stage the audience fell in love with
him. After Tahoe I took him to Vegas with me, Bobby's recording of
"Mack the Knife" came out and was a big hit, and things began happening
for him. We got to be very close; he looked up to me like a father.
One night I heard that he won $1500 at the crap table, so I went
into his dressing room and said, "Bobby, what are you going to do with
all the money?" He said, "I'm on a roll, I'm going to win more." "Give
me thirteen hundred of it, and you gamble with the other two hundred," I
said. "That's enough for you to lose. At the end of the date I'll give
you back the thirteen hundred." He said, "No, Mr. Burns. I'm not a kid
- I'm twenty-two years old. I know what I'm doing."
Sure enough, he went back to the crap table and lost it all, plus
another two hundred. When I heard about it I got very angry. I walked
into his dressing room and said, "You ought to be ashamed of yourself,
losing seventeen hundred dollars! That's a lot of money for a kid like
you to lose!" Then I slapped him and walked out. I had to; if he had
hit me back he would have killed me.
Ordinarily, before Bobby came on I gave him a very glowing introduction,
but not that night. I just said, "Ladies and gentlemen, here he is,
Bobby Darin," and started to walk off. Bobby ran out and grabbed me.
He was very upset. "Mr. Burns," he said, "unless you give me that other
introduction I won't be able to do my act!"
I said, "We'll let the audience decide." I told them the whole story
and ended with, "Do you think a kid like this deserves a good
introduction?" They all shouted "Yeah!" So I gave him the good
introduction, Bobby and I hugged and he was a riot. He must have
learned his lesson, because that night he stayed away from the crap
table. I know; I was there. I lost $500.
Bobby Darin was a tremendous talent and he came out on the stage with
all the confidence in the world. Some people thought he was a brash,
cocky kid. And in some ways he was. When he was twenty-two he told the
press that at twenty-five he was going to be a living legend. The kid
gave himself three years. I'm eighty-eight and if I'm going to be a
living legend by ninety-one, I better get busy.
Underneath all that bravado Bobby Darin was a very caring, sensitive
person. I remember when Robert Kennedy was assassinated, Bobby was just
shattered. Kennedy was his idol. It changed his whole attitude toward
life. He gave up rock-n-roll to sing meaningful folk songs. Instead of
a big orchestra he started using a four-piece combo. He stopped wearing
his toupee, grew a beard and instead of that sharp tuxedo he came out
wearing faded old blue jeans and a sweatshirt. He was playing nothing
but small clubs and coffee houses.
One night I went to see him at the Troubadour, a little coffee house in
West Hollywood. I couldn't get over it. After the show I went
backstage to see him. I said, "Bobby what are you doing? This isn't
you. Get rid of that beard and those clothes. Get back into your
tuxedo. And put on your toupee. If you haven't got one, I'll loan you
one. You want to do something for Bobby Kennedy, do your old act, make
a lot of money again and give half of it to the Kennedy Foundation."
That's exactly what he did and he was as big a smash as ever.
Bobby was like a son to me, and I still miss him.