Legendary entertainer Bobby Darin had a wide range of talent.
Born Walden Robert Cassotto on May 14th, 1936, Darin rose from
poor beginnings in Harlem and the South Bronx. He also fought
rheumatic fever as a child, which damaged his heart and plagued
him throughout his life. As a result of these obstacles, he
worked extremely hard to overcome them. Knowing his life would
not be a long one, his ambition to succeed was fueled by an overwhelming
desire to make it big in show business.
After graduating from
The Bronx High School of Science and attending Hunter College
for one year, Darin started out, first as a demo writer then
as a demo singer at the legendary Brill Building in New York
City, along with future stars Connie Francis and Don
Kirshner. In 1957, he recorded for Decca,
but found fame at ATCO Records
in 1958, with his first hit records "Splish
Splash" and "Dream Lover," both
of which he composed.
Late in 1958, Bobby Darin recorded the album That's
All, an LP of standards, upon the suggestion of his publicist
and friend Harriet Wasser. This
LP contained his signature song "Mack
the Knife," which won the 1959 "Record of the Year" and
Darin the "Best New Artist" Grammy. "Mack the Knife" was number
one on the Billboard charts for nine weeks in 1959 and is one
of the biggest selling records in history. Bobby Darin was the
first young singer to bridge the single record and album gap between
the teenage and adult buying public.
Darin appeared in Las
Vegas with his close friend Mr.George
Burns in 1959, and began an exciting nightclub career. Managed
by Steve Blauner, Darin, at the young
age of 23, performed at many major night clubs in the country,
such as The Flamingo, The Sands and The Hilton in Las Vegas,
the Cloister in Los Angeles and the Copacabana
in New York. Bobby not only sang, but did impressions and played
several instruments in his concerts. He was popular with adults
and teenagers alike at the clubs, breaking attendance records
and performing to standing room only crowds. Darin had a personal
magnetism, which seemed to draw fans and adulation as a magnet
draws steel. He continued this part of his career up until August
of 1973, when he was unable to continue because of illness.
In another step of an amazing career that was very diversified,
Darin proved he was a talented actor and appeared in
thirteen motion pictures and was nominated for a Oscar
for his outstanding performance in the film Captain
Newman, M.D. (1963). For that role he won a French Film
Critics Award for Best Actor. In 1962, he had contracts with
Universal and Paramount studios and made a total of five motion
pictures. He was awarded the Golden Globe Award for Most Promising
Male Newcomer, for his role in Pressure
Bobby also appeared on many major television programs in the 1960s, showing his versatility
in this field of entertainment. He displayed his remarkable
drive and energy on many variety, comedy and drama programs.
He hosted his own variety special
in 1961 and at the time was the youngest person ever to do so.
Bobby Darin also had his own NBC variety television show in
1972 and 1973.
Not only was Darin a talented singer, actor and musician, he
also was a gifted composer, writing many of his own recordings.
Among these include "Splish Splash," "Early in the Morning,"
"Dream Lover," "That's the Way Love Is," "Multiplication," "Things,"
"As Long As I'm Singin'," "Eighteen Yellow
Roses," "You're the Reason I'm Living,"
"If a Man
Answers," "Simple Song of Freedom," "Somebody to Love,"
"Treat My Baby Good," "Two of a Kind" (with Johnny Mercer),
"I'll Be There," and "When I Get Home."
Bobby Darin also composed the score and theme to four of the
thirteen motion pictures
he acted in such as: If a Man Answers (1962), That
Funny Feeling (1965) and Gunfight
in Abilene (1967). He also wrote the score and music for
the film The
Lively Set (1964).
Bobby Darin's singing career also included folk/country music.
His recording of the Tim Hardin classic "If
I Were a Carpenter" in 1966 opened up a whole new phase
of his career. In 1968 and 1969, disturbed
by the assassination of Senator Robert Kennedy, whom he
campaigned for, Darin wrote and recorded two protest albums
of alternative rock music and found a new legion of fans in
this area. He was able to combine all of these types of music
in the early 1970s in his live performances
with great success.
An uncanny knack for perfection and love for life were also
evident as Darin worked behind the scenes in show business.
He owned a highly successful music publishing business and gave
of himself to help others. He was responsible for mentoring
Wayne Newton, and getting Newton his start in the recording
industry by giving him the song "Danke Schoen." Bobby's deep
loyalty to many others was never ending and his
countless friends included Dick Clark, Sammy Davis Jr., Andy
Williams, Elvis Presley, Flip Wilson, Peggy Lee, Johnny
Mercer and Roger McGuinn. Bobby also was the Ambassador
for the Heart Fund for the American Heart Association for many
years and constantly gave to many other charities. After his
death, his furniture and piano were donated to Regina Hall,
a home for unmanageable girls in Las Vegas.
Darin's personal life was as highly charged as his professional
one. On December 1st 1960, he married actress Sandra
Dee, who was his co-star in the film Come September and they had one son, Dodd
Mitchell Darin, born on December 16, 1961. (Darin and Dee
were divorced on March 7th, 1967. The marriage is
well documented in the book Dream Lovers,
written by their son.) Bobby was also married to legal secretary
Andrea Joy Yaeger in 1973. They divorced shortly before
his death. In 1968, when he was considering a career in politics,
Bobby discovered his "mother" Polly was actually his grandmother
and his "sister" Nina was really his mother. This painful revelation
altered him for the rest of his life.
Bobby Darin worked very hard to make it to the top and was
often quoted by the press as saying he wanted to be a "legend
by the time he was 25." His many devoted fans believe he achieved
this goal in record time. As he continued to give of his all
to them, Darin's life was cut short on December 20, 1973,
when he died following his second open heart surgery at the
young age of 37. As in his life, he gave to others following
his death, by leaving instructions for his body to be donated
to UCLA's Medical Center for research purposes.
But Bobby Darin's heart goes on in his far reaching music
and his undying spirit. In 1990 Bobby was inducted into the
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in 2010 he
was honored with the GRAMMY Lifetime
Achievement Award, both of which his son Dodd accepted
on his behalf. Today, many more of his recordings are resurfacing on
CD reissues, along with his
electrifying live performances on video. The story of his
life was the subject of a successful
PBS documentary and is in the works as a motion picture.
This in combination with the many tributes
awarded him on his birthday in 1999 and his induction into
the Songwriters Hall of Fame
also in 1999, prove that Bobby Darin's important contributions
to the world remain fresh and will stand the test of time. He
will never be forgotten ... his legacy lives on.
Sandra Dee & Bobby Darin, Oscar night 1964