Sandra Dee and Bobby Darin

The New Guy In Sandra Dee's Heart

This article appeared in the March, 1962 issue of
Motion Picture Magazine.

His name is Dodd Mitchell, and he's kicking up his heels, making all sorts of noise, and throwing his weight - all six pounds, eight ounces of it - all over the place!

On Friday morning, December 15, a rotund and smiling Sandra Dee and her petite mother, Mary Douvan, were devouring chocolate tortes at a late breakfast in Pupi's, a Viennese pastry shop on the Sunset Strip. "My doctor won't like this," chuckled Sandy, nodding at a few remaining crumbs on her plate, "even though it's my first gooey dessert of the week. But Mother and I figured this is our last splurge before I go into the hospital. It's really our third last splurge," she sighed mournfully like a disappointed child, "and that stork is nowhere in sight yet."

That night, exactly at midnight, Bobby drove Sandy and Mary to the Cedars of Lebanon Hospital (he had made three practice runs, carefully clocked, earlier in the week) and two hours and fifteen minutes later, their son was born. "A boy?" murmured Sandy weakly. "Is he healthy? Oh, thank God." Then, "I'm so lucky I bought all those blue clothes." Later, she was wheeled into her flower-laden room, still semi-conscious from the spinal block, but definitely the happiest 19-year-old mother in town. Sunday morning, wrapped in a cuddly white wool robe, she gingerly walked to the nearby nursery to visit her six pound, eight ounce son-Dodd Mitchell Darin--in person.

"The nurse told me she'd bring him to my room in an hour," Sandy told her mother, "but I just couldn't wait." Then, turning to another visitor, Sandy bubbled on: "Have you seen him yet? Bobby and I think ours is the most beautiful baby boy in the whole world." A moment later, as a wide grin lit up her pretty face, she observed: "Of course, we may be prejudiced... But to us a new-born baby is not just a bald-headed screaming, small,red edition of Winston Churchill. Our Dodd has loads of dark hair, he doesn't cry, he's not all wrinkled like an old man and his skin is pink, not red.

"He's the most perfect Christmas and first anniversary present in the whole wide world," she went on, dreamily. "And to think, Dodd's the first great-great grandchild of my 93-year-old great-grandfather." Then Sandy turned to her mother. There were tears of joy welling up in both mother and daughter's huge brown eyes--there was no trace of the estrangement brought on by Sandy's elopement last year. "Look at her," Sandy rattled on, in an emotion-filled voice. "She was so excited getting me here, I don't know how she was able to walk! Poor Mother just got rid of me and now she'll have a grandchild to worry about. And you know something," Sandy suddenly interjected, wide-eyed with astonishment, "the baby is 19-and-a-half inches long. That means he's just got to be at least six feet tall when he grows up, maybe taller!"

His own short height has always been a sore spot to Bobby Darin. In fact, his first words, when he heard the happy news from the nurse, were: "Man, I feel 13 feet tall!"--adding three feet to the customary expression. Then, shaking his head in wonderment, Bobby exclaimed, "You know, nobody can be this lucky!" And after he'd kissed his sleeping wife and admired his son that early Saturday morning, he waited impatiently until nine o'clock. Then he rushed over to Uncle Bernie's elegant Beverly Hills toy shop and in a surge of practicality, almost bought out the place. Next--to the florist to order dozens more of Sandy's favorite long-stemmed yellow roses to fill her cheerful yellow hospital suite with their fragrance. Finally, he stopped at a tobacco shop to order 200 tobacco-stuffed small pipes (instead of the customary cigars) to pass out to friends. Bobby had meant to order only 100. But his excitement made him expansive. Later Sandy told him to save the overflow because she wants another son and daughter to join Dodd Mitchell.

"I've never seen an expectant father that nervous," confided Mary Douvan. "Bobby paced the waiting room smoking first one long black cigar, then a pipe and then another cigar. It seemed like days to us, staring at that delivery room door. Bobby had spoken to me of the 'Twist' album he's preparing, and honesty, I thought he was practicing the dance right there, he was that nervous. And those last weeks before the baby came, Bobby was in such a state that somebody finally brought a chess board on the set to distract him.

"You'd think I'd take the birth of a baby in stride. After all I'm not exactly a novice. When Sandy was born my mother kept saying, 'My baby is 'having a baby.' And I caught myself saying the same thing. While Bobby and I were in a state of jitters getting to the hospital, Sandy was as calm as if she were going to the hairdressers. Actually, all through her pregnancy Sandy was as happy and placid as a little clam. You'd think she'd already had a dozen children the way she acted."

On Tuesday, four days after Dodd arrived, Bobby was still so blissful that he didn't even mind when the Hollywood Women's Press Club named him runnerup to Marlon Brando as "The Year's Most Un-Cooperative Actor" and eligible for one of the club's hardly coveted "Sour Apple" awards. In high spirits, however, he dispatched a telegram to the club's president: "Will attend your Christmas party to pick up the trophy; feel the Sour Apple awards are rotten to the core." And he did, setting a precedent, dressed in a Santa Claus outfit, and winning admiration for a witty speech.

Bobby stopped only long enough to take off his Santa Claus suit and whiskers before he ran back to the hospital to bring his wife, baby, nurse, flowers, telegrams and gifts to the gorgeous modern house the Darins recently moved into high above the Sunset Strip. Though Bobby has placed an Iron Curtain around his marriage, baby and home, it's known that he tenderly carried his new son into the living room to show him the towering white frosted Christmas tree which Bobby himself had arranged for the homecoming.

"Oh, Bobby, it's just gorgeous," Sandra whispered, with a deep intake of breath. And when he carried the sleeping baby to his own pale yellow bassinet with its white eyelet canopy over it, Bobby said simply, "Now we are a family."

No prince in a royal family has ever had a more beautiful nursery than Dodd Mitchell Darin's. The large sunny room overlooking a lovely garden is decorated in pale blue and white with gold trimmings. When the baby outgrows the tiny bassinet he will occupy a regal white crib with panels of gold and white and decorated with dainty golden cherubs.

"Dodd smiled when we put him in the bassinet," beamed Sandra who'd regained her color after the excitement of coming home. Noting a look of incredibility on her visitor's face, Sandy insisted, "Really, he did. I don't care if the nurse said, 'Oh, it's only gas.' I think I know a real smile when I see one. Well, as you say, maybe I am looking at him through the eyes of love," she conceded maturely, with a chuckle. "But I do know he is a good baby--just eats and sleeps and yawns. His eyes are blue but I do know they're only 'baby-color' now. Since Bobby and I have brown eyes, we expect that the baby's eyes will change to brown, also. "I think he looks like Bobby but Bobby thinks he looks like me."

Friends hope Dodd will resemble his beautiful mother, for his famous father may ooze talent, but he's no Rock Hudson. "I hope," remarked one friend of the Darins, "that Dodd will inherit Sandra's features and charm and Bobby's intellect." With such a combination, how could Dodd miss making his mark in the world? Whoever he looks like, the baby was the most eagerly awaited infant imaginable.

Bobby has always claimed that buying clothes is Sandra's sole hobby. As Sandra herself put it, a few months back, "Almost as soon as I knew I was pregnant I rushed over to the children's department of Saks and asked to see a blue Eton suit. 'How old is the child?' asked the saleslady. 'I don't know,' I stammered. 'He's not born yet.'

"Mama and I bought up everything blue we could find. We'd come home with enough baby clothes, shoes, pajamas to fill a store. And I sneaked in a couple of outfits in pink -- just in case. I was shocked to discover that I hadn't bought one single thing for myself."

Shopping kept Sandra busy as did accompanying Bobby to every location. But still she became very impatient for the baby's arrival. So did Bobby. At the end of October in Dallas shooting State Fair, Bobby quipped on the set: "Wouldn't it be something if we go home with a little Texan?" A month later Sandy told Betty Mitchell, her press agent, "I know the doctor said the baby will come December 15 or 16, but I'm going to have him tonight .... Tonight and not one day later! Confidentially, I don't think this baby is ever going to emerge--he's too happy where he is." Later, as the days came and went, Sandy moaned to her good friend Betty, "I bet I'll be in the hospital on Christmas and our baby will miss his first Christmas tree."

And speaking of Betty, it's from her that the Darins chose Dodd's middle name. They picked the name "Dodd" because they just liked it and it has the same initial as Darin. But the middle name is after Betty Mitchell. She is a truly loyal friend, who as a press agent, has taken Sandra over many rough spots when she first came to the studio an impetuous youngster.

In addition to her sense of loyalty Sandra believes in discipline. When her doctor told her he wanted her to gain only 13 pounds during the whole waiting time, Sandra obeyed him. (Even allowing for her occasional sprees.) She'd gained only ten pounds during the first six months and didn't begin to wear maternity clothes until September. Then she bought some smart loose flowing dresses and well-tailored maternity slacks and tops from Jax, also, had evening dresses custom-made. Said young Carol Lynley, who was herself expecting a baby, "When Mike and I attended a party and saw Sandra Dee in a beautiful evening gown, it proved to me that you can be pregnant and still wear dressy clothes. That's how I want to look."

But, at the party, Sandra eyed Mitzi Gaynor, whose beautiful figure was more streamlined than ever. "I can remember when I was that thin," sighed Sandra, "or--almost. Now, I'm just fat," she exclaimed, blowing out her cheeks.

"When I felt a little sensitive about going out one day, looking so pregnant," Sandy freely admits now, "Bobby said something that I'll never forget. 'The most beautiful sight any man can see is a pregnant woman. Don't ever be ashamed. Walk out proudly for you are a miracle .... You have created a new human being.'

"After that," Sandy continued, "I was never sensitive. Bobby has been so wonderful, so protective. One day I said, 'Bobby, darling, please, I'm not made of glass.' And just think, when he picked up the baby for the first time, I had to say, 'Don't worry, Bobby dear, he's not made of glass either.'"

However, boy or girl, miracle or man-made, a child has given the Darin household the touch, the purpose that it needed to be a home . . . and the first guy in Sandra Dee's heart--Bobby Darin--cannot hold or cherish these things too dearly ever.


Sandra and Bobby will soon co-star in U-I's If A Man Answers.

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