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Bobby Darin and George Burns

George Burns Remembers

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 Lake Tahoe.

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.

(Thanks to Lorraine LoBianco for this contribution.)

Gracie loved Bobby, too!!
(Thanks to Shiying for this photo of Bobby and Gracie.)

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