Online Chat with Harriet Wasser

Bobby and "Hesh"

"That's me ... that's the me that she knows ..."


On April 30, 1999, the Darin Fan email list was
blessed to have an online chat with Harriet Wasser.

Hesh was a very close friend to Bobby and very instrumental in his career.

Dodd Darin
said it best when he said:

"Hesh believed in my father and worked for him before anyone knew who he was, she has
been a loyal friend and has worked tirelessly to perpetuate his memory since his passing.
Hesh, I love you !!!"

Below is the edited log of the chat . . .

    Question: What was it about Bobby that you liked or admired the most?

    Harriet: His tenacity, his desire to be the best and his compassion for people.

    Question: Harriet, please tell us about the "Happy" recording session and how you felt about it.

    Harriet: It was one of the last times I saw Bobby. It was away from his performing. It was bittersweet, but I love the way the song came off.

    Question: Harriet, could you share your sweetest memory of Bobby?

    Harriet: There were so many happy memories. I don't think I can answer with one most exciting time. There were so many.

    Question: Is there any young singer recording today who you feel is doing what Bobby
    did when he sang swing with a Rock 'n Roll / R & B sensibility?

    Harriet: No, I don't think there is anyone. I don't think anyone worked both genres the way he did. Bobby also reached out to country fans. He started listening to pop, Sinatra, big
    bands and then through his travels and his love or all kinds of music he attempted to perform
    in all these styles. I haven't heard anyone perform in these styles lately.

    Question: Who were Bobby's favorite singers?

    Harriet: The ones that were the most obvious were Sinatra, Ray Charles, Crosby,
    Fats Domino, Peggy Lee, Ella Fitzgerald, and R & B people like Ruth Brown.

    Question: Do you think we will see more of Darin's catalog released soon on CD?

    Harriet: I would say there is only one person who could answer this: Steve Blauner. There is a plan to release some audio from the TV shows ... this looks promising.

    Question: Harriet, do you have any input on what recordings are released?

    Harriet: No I don't. It is up to a number of people to decide. I think it is best to release one thing at a time. I think we may have missed an opportunity after he died but that had to do with lawyers.

    Question: Harriet, do you believe there really was a fire where the ATCO masters were destroyed?

    Harriet: The ones that were lost in the fire are gone. There is nothing. There are no master tapes. Bobby's were not the only ones destroyed.

    Question: Can't close-to-masters be made from mint-condition vinyl?

    Harriet: There was no vinyl manufactured.

    Question: Harriet, who would you like to play Bobby in the movie?

    Harriet: For the movie, people say Johnny Depp would be best. I really don't know.

    Question: Harriet, as you knew him, do you think Bobby was more at peace with himself
    the last time you saw him?

    Harriet: I think he was resigned to the situation. I hadn't discussed it with him so I couldn't give an answer. I think he wanted to make some political statements before he died. He
    was really sick and in pain and I don't know if he was at peace.

    Question: Harriet, if you were there how did Bobby get through the last concert, did you talk with him afterwards?

    Harriet: I wasn't there. I was at the Copa in 1972.

    Question: Was he as sick in 1972?

    Harriet: He was sick on and off all the time. He felt good and bad all the time.

    Question: There's a great CD called Rare 'n Darin - Volume 1 -- is there a Volume 2 somewhere? I seem to recall it was produced in Canada.

    Harriet: It was a bootleg, so there was only one, but I LOVE IT!

    Question: Could you speculate on what Bobby would be doing today if he were 62, alive and healthy? Las Vegas? Films? Politics? All three?

    Harriet: I think he would be involved in all three. In politics, he would be someone who would make statements. He would probably want to have his hands in everything.

    Question: Harriet, are you still working in the business?

    Harriet: I still have a hand in the business. I am reliving my youth through you!

    Question: Fluff question: How tall was Bobby really?

    Harriet: 5 feet, 8 inches.

    Question: As far as you know, what was BD's relationship with Frank Sinatra?

    Harriet: As far as I know, there was no relationship. With Nancy Sinatra there was a friendship but Bobby and Frank didn't dislike each another. Bobby was friendly with
    Sammy Davis JR. and Steve & Eydie.

    Question: Is there any chance that some of the NBC shows will be released on video ...
    if yes when, if no, is it NBC who doesn't want to?

    Harriet: No, I think there is a possibility but it is in the preliminary stages.

    Question: Harriet, when Bobby would release a single or an album, and it wasn't a big
    seller, would he be disappointed or would it be ever onward?

    Harriet: He would be disappointed. I think he would react like anyone else he would go on.

    Question: Just a thought, did BD ever want to be a part of the ratpack?

    Harriet: I never discussed it with Bobby. He wanted to be the center. I don't think
    he would be part of that rat pack, maybe his own rat pack!

    Question: Whose music did Bobby listen to? Did he have a big record collection?
    What was his favorite song?

    Harriet: I don't think his family had a lot of money to buy records. I know he loved
    the music of West Side Story. He loved R & B, classical music, etc.

    Question: Were Bobby and Dion DiMucci friends? Dion sang a great "Dream Lover."

    Harriet: I know the families knew each other. Yes, they were good friends.

    Question: Which of the many instruments Bobby played was he most comfortable with or enjoy most?

    Harriet: He loved piano, drums, vibes and at the age of about six, the harmonica.

    Question: Which movie was Bobby's favorite?

    Harriet: Pressure Point, I believe.

    Question: I know Bobby felt sick a lot. Did he also feel great sometimes while and after performing? Like, at least in the early days?

    Harriet: He felt good after a great show physically.

    Question: We've been noticing that in his later performances, his voice became a bit
    "gravelly." Did you also notice this, and do you know why this was?

    Harriet: Maybe a little too much smoking and strain. He wasn't technical. He was not a vocalizer. He didn't use his voice properly at times. We heard both voices.

    Question: Harriet, were you there in the studio the day Bobby recorded "Mack the Knife"
    and "Beyond the Sea?"

    Harriet: Yes, I was there when he laid the songs down. I don't know if it was the final
    vocals I listened to.

    Question: I heard that he didn't want a big thing after his death, a lot of attention.
    Was that related to giving his body to UCLA?

    Harriet: Yes.

    Question: Will you be at the Bronx Science High School on May 14? If yes,
    can you report back on the events?

    Harriet: I will be there. We will update everyone.

    Question: Harriet, when Bobby went to Big Sur for all those months, did you lose
    contact with him for that introspective period of his life?

    Harriet: Yes I did. He was alone. He did not want to be contacted and knowing what I
    knew it wouldn't make sense to reach out to him.

    Question: How about some sort of book or series of articles by you (along with the pictures)
    about all of those Darin recording sessions you have attended --
    what a great read that would be!

    Harriet: I have been asked to write books and I'm still thinking about it.

    Question: Do you have scrapbooks that you could put in book form to sell for hungry fans like us?

    Harriet: I have a scrapbook, but not enough for a book.

    Question: Who was Bobby's father -- did he really not know?

    Harriet: Bobby did not know his father, it is a mystery. His secret identity died with Nina.

    Question: Let's talk about the relationship between BD and Connie Francis. Is it true
    he was a broken man when her father ended their romance?

    Harriet: I wasn't there during that period. I met him a little later after he signed with ATCO.
    I was told he was very upset.

    Question: How do you feel about the Songwriters' Hall of Fame nomination?

    Harriet: I'm very happy. It's important for his legacy. Bobby came out #1 on the vote
    this year for the award.

    Question: Bobby paid for the That's All sessions himself, right? Does that mean he owned
    the recordings and profited more than if Ahmet paid for the sessions?

    Harriet: Bobby made so much money with "Splish Splash" they let him do the That's All
    album but, Atlantic still has control of that album, so they can do what they want.
    Whatever it cost to make that album came off the royalties of the record of
    "Splish Splash." Artists pay for their own sessions.

    Question: Bobby was quite a smart cookie with a high IQ, did he have any hobbies
    besides chess? Did he like sports?

    Harriet: He liked baseball and he loved fishing and boating.

    Question: Did Bobby grow tired of singing "Mack the Knife? I never tire of hearing it.

    Harriet: "Mack the Knife" ... you have to do it when you have the hit.
    I don't know really one way or the other.

    Question: Was BD a heavy smoker?

    Harriet: He was a medium smoker.

    Question: Does you have a favorite BD song?

    Harriet: A favorite song? No, not really, they were all good. My personal preferences
    are the classic pop standards.

    Question: Harriet, what attracted you to BD at first?

    Harriet: I refer to it as the "X" factor, something you recognize as unique in another person. He was able to get people to love him. He had a special quality. I realized he was a special individual.

    Question: Bobby made a few self-deprecating remarks about his looks ... was he insecure? Personally think he was a cutesy-pie.

    Harriet: Yes, he was very insecure. He wished he looked like Fabian or Avalon. He said,
    "I have a big nose and the wrong hair." I told him it was the fact he wasn't that good looking
    that was part of the appeal. He made up for the "lack of looks" with personality.

    Question: Bobby was also quite the comedian ... do you have a funny anecdote to share?

    Harriet: He was a practical joker. He would decide on an Italian resturaunt and once we
    were there he would tell his friends he wanted to eat Chinese food. We would then
    all get up and proceed to the nearest Chinese resturant!

    Question: I also wonder how serious Bobby was about going into politics.
    He wanted to make the world better.

    Harriet: There was never any discussion about Bobby giving up singing for politics. He
    would have marched and made statements, but it is my feeling that he would not give
    up the business for politics. Not with his health. That is my opinion.

    Question: Was Bobby pressured to finish the last NBC show rather than seeking medical
    help or was that self-imposed because he was a workaholic?

    Harriet: I didn't discuss it with him. He didn't take his medicine like he should have. That's my feeling that, Bobby felt he was getting sick and wanted to finish the show no matter
    what happened

    Question: Hesh, do you know we love you????

    Harriet's closing statement: Yes and thank you, I enjoyed this very much. Thank you for
    the excellent questions. I hope my replies were good and helped to you understand
    Bobby better. I am looking forward to speaking to you all again very soon.

Bobby and "Hesh" circa 1959.

A GREAT BIG THANK YOU to all who participated in this special event, especially
to Jimmy and Dina Scalia who helped so much by asking Harriet the questions
by phone and typing out her answers in the chat room!

Also, thanks to Mitch, Cara, Judy, Ronnie, Tony, Andy, Susan and all the others who
were there and asked the thought provoking questions. ("Whatta band!")

AND, last but not least, special thanks to Hesh. We love you and are very grateful
to you for sharing your thoughts with us.

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