Bobby Darin


The Death Of A Legend

"Life to me is struggles, successes,and failures.
Living is what is going onin between those things.
I have life, but whether or not I am living is something else."---
Bobby Darin, 1972

This article, contributed by Harriet Wasser, appeared in the
May, 1974 isue of Rona Barrett's Hollywood Magazine.

These were Bobby Darin's words spoken only a year prior to December 20, 1973 - the day when all his struggles, successes and failures were automatically transformed into biographical statistics: the day when his heart stopped beating.

Bobby had a history of heart trouble, manifested after he was stricken with rheumatic fever at the age of eight. In 1971 he underwent open heart surgery for five hours for the insertion of two artificial valves. The day before he died, Bobby reportedly went through major surgery for a second time, to repair one of the valves which was malfunctioning.

At 37, Bobby Darin died at Cedars-Sinai Medical center in Los Angeles where he had been hospitalized since December 11. He is survived by a young son, Dodd, age 12, from his first marriage to actress Sandra Dee  (they divorced in 1967).His second wife, pretty Andrea Yeager and Darin were divorced in Las Vegas shortly before he was hospitalized for the last time.

Born in Harlem New York, Walden Robert Cassotto alias Bobby Darin was raised in a tough neighborhood but even as a child he strived for success and recognition, studying painstakingly to secure admission to the Bronx High school of Science. During his school days he was well known for his flashy flamboyant style and his tremendous enthusiasm for getting ahead.

Bobby & his first wife, Sandra Dee
starred in three movies together
& shared a young son, Dodd.
Sandra was grief stricken at the news.

In 1958 Bobby hit the big time with his self penned smash recording of "Splish Splash". He fast gained the reputation of being cocky, brash, and self-assured--a trademark that lingered throughout his early success years. Darin managed to become a superstar in the era of Elvis Presley, Fabian and Frankie Avalon. By the time he was 23, Bobby had four million selling records under his belt (Splish Splash, Queen Of the Hop, Dream Lover and Mack The Knife) and was heading for the big-time show rooms in Las Vegas.

In 1960 he made headlines by marrying Sandra Dee, the actress every teenage girl idolized and every teenage boy swooned over. He bought a Rolls Royce and became active in the movie field. In 1963 he was nominated for an Academy award for Best Supporting actor in "Captain Newman MD". In the early 60s Bobby Darin was on top of the world , but within five years , his career began sliding downhill and his marriage to Sandra began to crumble. The assassination of his friend, Bobby Kennedy, in 1968 seemed to be the last straw for Bobby and he retreated from his gaudy lifestyle and temporarily dropped out of show business to "find out what life was really all about."

After selling all of his possessions, he moved up the California coast to Big Sur where he lived in solitude for a year writing songs and re-shaping his philosophies on life. He returned to the stage changed his name to Bob Darin, discarded his tuxedos, took off his toupee, grew a beard and moustache, and sang songs of deep personal meaning. The pretense was gone, the youthful cockiness was replaced by a more mature, somber entertainer but many of Bobby's fans missed the finger snapping, slick performances they were accustomed to and 'Bob Darin' bombed.

"It wasn't that the people hated me, "he explained shortly after this period in his life, "the audience liked it --they were just too small. I thought I could present myself differently and that by this change of appearance. I would be close to making my own personal statement. But I turned off so many people they didn't hear me, and those I'd known for years, swore to me that I had tried to be a hippie."

"If I had gone to the Troubadour (Los Angeles' largest folk club) in a tuxedo and sung the songs I had sung in Las Vegas and New York they would of said 'Look at this establishment night club artist trying to tell us he knows where its at'. They wouldn't of heard the lyrics anymore than the people at the Copa hear. People hear what they want to hear."

So Bobby Darin made a comeback and the audiences responded better than ever before. It was the old Bobby Darin on stage but off stage he remained Bob Darin--the material possessions were no longer important, only the need to entertain.

Soon after his renewed acceptance Bobby became ill and on February 8, 1971 he checked into the hospital for open heart surgery. Some say that the severity of the operation changed his outlook on his life even more. He put a greater value on living that on life itself.

"I had expected to kick off by the time I was 30, so I bought a few extra years," he declared as he was released from the hospital.

Bobby returned to the stage, his performance better than ever before. He met Andrea Yeager while she was working in a law firm and after two years of seeing each other exclusively, they were married. Life for Bobby was good--he was living it well.

Bobby & his second wife, Andrea, were very close
and devoted. Andrea has told one reporter that
Bobby knew the end was in sight & wanted to
spare her the pain of his death.

Bobby Darin was one of the most talented persons in show business--and perhaps one of the most underrated. He could do just about anything and everything he did , he did well. He was an accomplished singer, dancer, actor, composer, musician and impersonator. He had hits in every field of music--rock & roll, middle-of-the road, jazz, folk, and country.

He was a complete showman. His death is a sad loss to everyone but perhaps the saddest realization is that Bobby had finally found happiness and an even balance in his life and then lost it at such an early age.

Our editor Ms. Rona, a close friend of Bobby's, summed up many fans' feelings when she said, "I've lost a lot of friends, but the loss of Bobby is the most profound. I'm ending the year in deep sadness."

From "The Bobby Darin Show" 1973

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