Bobby Darin, the young singing sensation, insists on being an individual in a business where few dare to be unusual at all.
All of a sudden he was talking about his nephew, Gary, 2 1/2, and he wasn't an "angry young man" anymore.
There wasn't a trace of the hot-eyed, feverish restlessness that is such a part of him in and out of the spotlight. Bobby Darin's famous voice had become low and extra mellow. His rugged individualism had disappeared and he'd become as sentimental and as homey as the next fellow.
"I love Gary," said the teenage world's newest idol, warming to his subject, "for he fills a strange void in my life. I love my sister's other two children, too, but there's something special about little Gary. I've known it since he was a year old. I was watching him one day, and for heaven's sake, there he was, coming on strong, with a big beat."
"I mean that in terms of personality, of course. There's something so very, very wonderful about him. It isn't the intelligence and talent I suspect are there. It isn't hearing about his frantic pounding on the TV set trying to communicate with me when I'm on Clark and the others. It isn't the terrific welcome I receive when I come in off the road. He's the fulfillment of a need. Gary and I have some sort of, as yet unspoken, pact. He's for me. I'm for him. It's as simple as that."
Then, just as suddenly, this swift glimpse of Bobby Darin, sentimentalist, vanished. Every trace had mysteriously disappeared and he was once again his isolated, independent self.
New York-born Bobby reflects, somewhat, the mercurial moods of nearly all young men his age, but he has special qualities too; complete fearlessness and an unusually sharp mind. A dynamic showman, who knows how to use his hands, face and body to create strong visual effects, he's also complete master of himself in non-professional situations. Bobby Darin's a talker, and he's an interesting one. He has much to say about his early environment and how, possibly, it has helped to shape his current viewpoint.
"A dramatic change came into my life," he said, "at 14, when, slum-born and poverty-raised, I entered the Bronx High School of Science. It was the first time I had ever been thrown with people representing any other level of life than my own. These were future professional people -- lawyers, doctors, scientists, you know. Suddenly I was with people not pressured financially, people uninvolved with food, rent and clothing. I had gone, overnight, from the Non-Thinkers to the Thinkers. It was as shattering as it was abrupt. Then I got up off my knees, decided to park my dungarees, and DO something."
"At first I was greatly attracted to the sort of intellectual life my new schoolmates seemed to represent. The pendulum swung out. If the crowd was atheistic, I, a former altar boy, became an atheist. After four years there, and a year at Hunter College, where I had planned to be a major in Drama and Speech, and where there was much soul-searching, I found a balance between my old life and new. I rejected some of my recently acquired ideas. I now believe in God again, for instance. I have never gone back to the old environment, rather, what it represented, but I most definitely withdrew from subscribing completely to the new. I found a middle road. I found myself."
Suspecting his middle road was probably an unusual one, devoid, perhaps of such elements as the usual social life pertinent to teenagers, we dared to become personal and ask about girls, dates, romances and his susceptibility to marriage.
"I am not anti-social," he said fiercely, "but I am anti-social-social, if you follow me. Dating, double-dating, beach parties, cocktail parties, the cozy dinners for two and all that jazz. You can have it. I like people but I don't like the traditional forms of socializing. I love to sit and talk to my friends but going to a party and talking because it's part of the game frankly bores me. Another thing, I don't drink so that automatically eliminates me from a big part of the social scene. I don't have time to court a girl because my career keeps me too busy. Before life became so hectic two years ago, after my first appearance on the old Dorsey TV show, I had one strong attachment. She was older than I, the situation was hopeless for many reasons and it fell apart. Now I meet a lot of girls, but I don't climb the walls. Most of the contacts are superficial because of the time element. No romances spring from them. I suppose I'll marry someday but I don't give it much thought now."
"I sincerely believe that youthful marriages are all wrong anyhow," he said emphatically. "I think crushes and even fairly serious love affairs before 20 can become laugh items within a year. I believe the first third of a person's life is the only time when the individual is free. I believe he should take complete advantage of that freedom. When you marry, you give up a big part of your freedom, you are no longer a whole person, but you do this knowingly and enthusiastically if you are mature. Later, when the children come along -- and I certainly want at least three -- you are less of a whole person than ever. By the same token, you enter this period of your life knowing what you are about, aware of the demands, accepting the responsibilities therein joyously. I'm for letting what I believe to be the natural sequences in life come along in order and not hypoing them."
"When the time comes for marriage for me, I will demand womanliness of my wife. That is the quality I treasure most in a woman," he said tersely. "I probably will never marry a girl in this business, that is, in the performing end of it. One perhaps associated with the business, a non-performer who understands the demands, would be ideal. But then, life seems to take care of coming up with your mate for you. I've been told that, I believe it and I go along with the idea."
"You might wonder if a lone wolf such as I has friends. l'm lucky. I have five and I have had them for years. They are not in show business but each is progressive and successful in his own field. We have all grown, and I use this word in a very special sense, uniformly. We have much in common. No one has an axe to grind. I'm with them just as much as schedules permit."
"I am close to my mother with whom I live. She, widowed a month before I was born, has been, in turn, a schoolteacher, pianist and singer. During the confusing period of my life, when I started showing an interest in music and learned to play piano, vibes, guitar and drums, and wrote songs, as a catharsis for the blues, she neither encouraged nor discouraged me. She has sympathetically stood by and let me work out my own destiny."
"I was never physically punished as a child. I was rarely scolded. My mother would explain why I shouldn't do a thing, and that was that. I knew she was right. I knew that she knew what she was talking about. I was glad to take her advice. It has always saved me no end of trouble."
Bobby, who is dedicated to music and who constantly observes trends and other performers, figures the blues are the basis for any great artist. "I put Ray Charles on a pedestal," he said. "His blues are right out of church. And then there's Fats Domino. He's a great artist who brings the sounds of the Delta. Little Richard's a great church-type blues artist too. The top artists of our day are all influenced by the blues. This is true of Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and Peggy Lee."
"For my own Atco sessions," he continued, "I pick tunes suited to my voice. I don't ignore the beat, mind you. It's there in fairly generous helpings all the time in both voice and background. Pretty new and old tunes are being recorded all the time."
"And when my singing days are over," said Bobby, who admires Marlon Brando and Sidney Poitier, and who reveres the memory of the late James Dean, "I'd like to be a serious actor, a character actor performing both on Broadway and in Hollywood films."
Bobby, who inherited his flashing personality, golden brown skin, expressive eyebrows and dazzling teeth from his Italian father, says he's interested in material things but doesn't do much about them.
"I just haven't gotten around to spending money on myself," he said. "After so many years of not having it, what's coming in now is used to pay off indebtedness and reinvest it in my career. I can tell you this, though. I know where every cent goes."
"This is another 'so far.' I haven't gotten around to being a gourmet, something I promised myself a long time ago. Guess that can wait too for awhile."
"I got the family -- my mother and I live with my married sister, her husband and kids -- a small house in New Jersey. We're going to have a bigger and better one soon. Bigger and better houses may represent milestones in my life," he said, with one of his unique bittersweet smiles.
Strong-willed, energetic, uncompromising Bobby, who doesn't subscribe to herd-instinct drives, is the first to say a man rarely knows how he appears to the world.
We've got news for him.
In a world dulled by conformists, his 5' 9," 155 pounds of sturdy individualism sparkles like those new cufflinks he just bought.
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