Except for the fact that the car they were riding in was a posh, super model, the young couple driving, with their baby along U.S. Highway 91 to Las Vegas looked like many young California families whizzing along the highway for a weekend at the fun capital., even though we were show business parents.
Well, maybe they didn't exactly look like every couple, because the dark-haired young man whistling at the wheel was Bobby Darin, a very recognizable face, and the pretty blonde in turquoise sweater and slacks next to him was Sandra Dee. Only the baby sleeping in the car bed in the back seat had an unfamiliar face. But not to the young parents in front. They couldn't sneak enough looks at their baby son.
"Take another look at him, Sandy," urged Bobby, "Maybe he's awake. If he is, you can take him in the front seat with us."
Sandra turned and looked inside the portable crib. "Nope," she said. "There's something about the purr of the car that lulls him to sleep. Travel's good for him."
Later, Sandra told us, "And do you know, it is. He made that trip, which was our first experimental trip with the baby, like a doll. It was a big success and it meant a lot to us. The baby was only four weeks old when Bobby and I took him to Las Vegas with us. Bobby had an engagement to sing there. When we knew we were going to have a baby, Bobby and I'd made a vow that we'd all stay together. We weren't going to be parents en absentia
"When Bobby had an engagement in Vegas only a few weeks after Dodd was born, we went ahead and made plans to pack up the portable crib, disposable bottles and diapers and take off with our baby. Friends of ours were shocked. 'You're not going to take such a little baby on a trip like that, are you ?' they asked.
"We told them, 'Sure. Why not? Younger babies than that were taken in the covered wagon.' Our friends were more startled than ever. 'This is a new-born infant. You can leave him behind, safe and snug in his own crib at home in the care of his nurse, the way other sensible parents do. Why do you have to drag him with you? What's he going to see in Vegas ?'
"Bobby replied, 'Us. He'll see us--his parents. We're a family and we're going to live like a family. If it takes a lot of manipulating and fenagling and losing sleep for all to be together, we'll do it--and appreciate each other all the more for it.'"
Sandra's hazel eyes glowed. "I loved Bobby all the more after that, because that's exactly the way I feel about our being a family now. It would be easy for me to say that I'd give up my career in a minute to be with my husband and my baby, but that's not completely true. Actually, I love my career. While it's true I would give up my career if I had to make the choice between it and my baby and husband, I'm afraid I'd resent it after a while. Bobby feels the same way about his work--even more so, because he's the man in the family. His work takes him out on the road frequently, for night clubs and personal appearances. He doesn't want to live like a bachelor while he's away, and it gets pretty involved if I have to leave the baby in order to travel with my husband. So we all stick together.
"Baby and I go with Bobby--and if I ever have to go anywhere on my work, Bobby and baby come with me. We've taken the baby to New York, Buffalo, Syracuse, Chicago, Las Vegas, Palm Springs--wherever we've had to be. The baby takes traveling better than anyone. He kicks up his legs, drinks his bottle, sleeps and laughs and plays with us when he's awake. If we go to Europe for picture-making, Doddie will go through customs with us.
"This is a wonderful thing for Bobby when he works away from home. He actually sings better out on that stage, because he's a lot happier having his family with him. Before he goes out to perform, he's had a whirl at playing with the baby. Night club hours being what they are, when Bobby and I would come back to our hotel suite to go to bed it was usually about five or six in the morning, just when the baby was beginning to awaken. So Bobby and I had a chance to be with our child again before we went to bed.
"Dodd fits into our schedule like the dream baby that he is. When Bobby and I worked together in If A Man Answers at U-I, we were able to settle down for a while in our new home in Hollywood. I had to leave for the studio earlier than Bobby, because I need more time for hairdress and makeup. I'd get up at five-thirty and feed the baby. Bobby didn't leave the house until eight and by that time Doddie was fed, bathed and ready for a romp with bis daddy.
"The baby was so obliging that the day before Bobby had to leave on a series of one-night stands--the only time he left without us--he sprang his first tooth. Bobby was ecstatic. 'Just imagine, the kid pops his first tooth before I take off so that his old man can see it. Now that's what I call a real good son.' Bobby left for his tour reeling with happiness.
"However, Bobby wasn't that happy when he was out on the road. We decided that the baby and I wouldn't travel with Bobby this time because travel conditions were so harsh. Bobby lived on a bus with the boys in the band during this tour of one-night stands. Bobby was on the phone calling us at all hours whenever the bus stopped at a diner along the way. I'd put the baby on the phone and he and Bobby would carry on the most fantastic conversations. Even though the baby would just coo and say 'Da,' Bobby would insist that he and Dodd had had a very revealing talk. Bobby was afraid that the baby would take his first step while he was out on the road. 'I sure want to be home to see my son do that,' Bobby told me seriously.
"The baby was very obliging about that, too. When Bobby burst into the house after his tour, the baby pushed himself up and took a little, wobbly step. But that was enough to break up Bobby.
"Bobby had his son all to himself when he came home, because I was busy working in "Tammy and the Doctor" at Universal.
"When that picture was over, we packed up the disposable bottles again, put Dodd in his car crib and we were off again--the three of us--for Vegas, where Bobby had another engagement.
"It takes a lot of juggling around for the three of us to be together as we are. There's Bobby's career and my career and the baby's needs, all of which have to be synchronized. But we manage it.
"We do it," said Sandra with a slow smile, "with love and laughter. And loving and laughing together is the only way to live together."
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