Bobby Darin - Misunderstood?




This article, written by Rona Barrett, appeared in
the June 1960 issue of Stardom Magazine.


They've called him the most egotistical, cock-sure, aggressive punk in the business! Bobby Darin has been "laid low" -- to use a show business expression. Reporters and writers from East to West, North to South, have more than once crucified him because they thought a kid of 23, only in show biz a year and a half, should have less arrogance and much more humility. When he stands on a theatre stage or a nightclub floor, poised, assured, knowing, he's been condemned for such actions. "It's just not right," so the knowers say, "that the kid should know how to handle himself so glibly....Who does he think he is? Frank Sinatra?"

And then came all the rumors! Bobby Darin doesn't like his fans! He doesn't think they mean anything....Bobby Darin has no respect for his elders...Bobby Darin threw a fan's camera into a garbage can because he didn't want to be photographed...Bobby Darin wants to be a legend before he's 25...Bobby Darin's not a nice guy!

When you've made it to the top, the rumors, the stories, fly thick and fast. And what everyone knows, but some people won't admit is that Bobby Darin has arrived -- in no less than a year and a half -- and his name will be around when we're all old and gray.

But the thing that gripes me most are the malicious untruths that are spread around by people who claim to be Bobby Darin's friends, but who really have only exchanged a handshake with him. The people who say, "I was there...." when Bobby supposedly threw a fan's camera away....or any one of a hundred and one things he's been accused of. But what nobody knows is the real truth...the real Bobby Darin. The boy whose three uppermost thoughts have been his fans, his family and his friends!

It was in New Haven, Connecticut, just a few months back. Bobby was appearing at the local theatre, doing something like eight shows a day and giving all he had to each show. And, after every performance, exhausted and ready to drop from fatigue, he'd stand outside his dressing room with hundreds and hundreds of fans screaming for his autograph and signing each one personally. When all of a sudden, a little girl, one of the last to ask for his autograph came up to him and said, "Will you please take a picture with me?"

Bobby, in his well known, assured manner said. "Sure, baby. Anything for a doll like you!"

The little girl stood back, adjusted her flash attachment, Bobby smiled prettily, but nothing happened. "Something must be wrong," she said, worried and very upset.

"Let me take a look," Bobby commented and proceeded to disentangle the camera. But somehow, after spending about ten minutes on it, he said it couldn't be fixed. He finally had to give up. The little girl, heartbroken because she wasn't able to take a picture of her wonderful hero, almost started crying. Bobby, realizing how disappointed she was, called in the theatre photographer and had him take a picture of both of them together!

The girl smiled. She was happy. She put her arms around Bobby and said, "You know, you're really great! You've got the grooviest personality of any of the new singers...And you want to know something else? I just love your smile. It's so cute!"

Darin just looked at the girl, a little too embarrassed and a little too choked up, but finally managed to say, "Whatta ya mean I've got a cute smile? I'm gorgeous!"

The girl laughed, "You're funny!"

"No! I'm gorgeous!"

He waved goodbye and a very contented fan walked out of the theatre.

The following day an item in a local column appeared to the effect that Bobby told his fans (actually it was only one fan) that he was the greatest looking guy in show business!

What the columnist didn't know was that, true, Bobby had said he was gorgeous, but it was done tongue in cheek -- a funny bit -- a cover up! And what most people don't know is that the funny lines, which often appear to be cocky remarks are nothing more than insecure feelings. Bobby Darin thinks he's ugly! He can't understand why girls flip over him and think he's attractive. More than anything else in the world, he would love to become a great movie idol, but more times than I can remember, he has said, "Can you see me kissing someone like Lana Turner? Me, ugly face!" Then he'd turn to the mirror and say, "Hey, I'm really not bad looking!"



But thoughts like this aren't published nor are they known by the millions of people who buy his records, see him in night clubs, watch him on television. For on such occasions, Bobby stands upright, has an answer for everything and moves with the grace and ease of a tiger treading through the forest!

But this was just one of many incidents. I could go on and on and tell you about the time he drove three of his fans to the airport so they could see him off from Hawaii to Hollywood and then had a chauffeured limousine drive them back to their homes...Or I could tell you about the little girl, aged 4, he met in Las Vegas who could sing "Mack The Knife" from beginning to end and wanted Bobby to hear her and get his approval. He invited the child and her parents to a ringside table at the Sands and called the little girl on stage and had her sing the song with him --bringing to that child one of the greatest experiences the kid will ever have.

Or I could possibly go on to tell you of the Bobby Darin, who would give his right hand, right arm or the shirt off his back to any of his friends -- some who really are -- and others who are the casual acquaintances in need of his help or anybody's help.



Just a few short months back, Steve Rowland, who had just met Bobby found himself in a terrible predicament. He was invited to a big premiere and a formal dinner party afterwards to which he had to wear formal attire. But somehow, the tailor and the cleaner got everything mixed up and Steve had no tux to wear. Feeling utterly depressed and panicky, he happened to bump into Bobby on Sunset Boulevard. Bobby, sensing something was wrong asked, "What's up, man?"

"Oh, I might as well go and shoot myself!" Steve said ready to bust a gut!

And he proceeded to tell Bobby what had happened. Before he could finish the story, Bobby and Steve were driving up the hill to Darin's hillside abode, where he immediately went to his closet, pulled out his only full dress suit and handed it to Steve! "Wear it, man. It's yours for the night. Return it when you can. I don't think I'll be needing it for a few days!"

And then I can tell you about this past Christmas. All his life, Bobby Darin always dreamed of giving the kind of gifts that he thought his true friends deserved, but somehow money was never too available to him. He fought hard, struggled long to achieve it and this year, for the first time in his life, he had it. "He went hog-wild!" said some of his friends. And unfortunately, I have to go along with the statement. He spent almost $15,000 in Christmas gifts giving things like solid gold watches studded completely with diamonds to his personal press agent, who's become one of his closest friends. And to everyone connected with his publicity office, which includes something like 20 people, he gave gifts almost equally as beautiful. There was nothing cheap about any gift -- in fact, everything smelled from money! And to his personal friends, he gave things like suits and coats and solid gold hearts studded with little rubies, and charms -- big, huge ones -- to be attached to charm bracelets to his close girl friends -- not necessarily his lady loves, but friends!



And to his family, there was no stopping him. This Christmas he made his brother-in-law a promise that as soon as he could he would retire him. Bobby had remembered and would never forget the great burden he undertook when he married his sister and had to pay all the bills and support Bobby and his mother! And it is to all the people that have stood beside him from the very beginning that the only way he knew how to repay them for their confidence and long friendships was by giving them such elaborate gifts. When we all said, "You're out of your mind!" Bobby retorted, "Don't tell me what to do! I never do anything I don't want to!" There was however, only one sad lump in his throat about this past Christmas. The one woman he wanted to achieve all this for was gone. The one woman, who stood by his side, cheered him on and gave him the confidence only a mother could give, had passed away. There were no bitter memories though, only happy thoughts for Bobby was close to achieving all the things his mother wanted for him just before the end came.

And then there was the time when Bobby was expected to show up for rehearsals for a television show at 12 in the afternoon. But when 12 o'clock rolled around, there was no Bobby.....One o'clock and still no Bobby. And then the whispers around the studio began. "Who does that kid think he is? He's not a star yet! What right does he have to keep everyone waiting!"

And some time around two, Bobby walked into the studio. He walked over to the director of the show and without any long explanations said, "I know I'm late. I'm sorry....But those are the breaks in the game!"

"Cocky rascal!" the director mumbled underneath his breath.

The story behind that incident: Early in the morning, without anyone knowing it, Bobby had driven over to the City Orphanage, where he spent the entire AM singing to the little children, telling them funny stories and trying to make them happy. And while he was there, he came across a little boy, who for some reason, out of the clear blue sky said, "You know, I never receive any presents!"

Bobby, touched to the point of having a tear swell in his eye, took the little kid upon his lap and said, "Well, now. Let's see what we can do about that! What would you want most in the whole world?"

"A puppy dog!" the little boy replied.

Soon after that, Bobby left the orphanage. The time was almost 12 and he knew he had to be out in Burbank to start rehearsal for the television show, but somehow he just couldn't make himself go without doing something for the little boy. So instead of heading toward the freeway, he went into the city and searched for a pet shop. Almost ready to give up, he finally found one on the outskirts of town. And there, sitting in the window, was the cutest little terrier pup he ever saw. He parked the car and went in. The proprietor was standing behind the counter and before he could say anything, Bobby said, "Put that dog in a box and include a leash!"

He didn't ask how much it was, just have the simple order to wrap it up.

Time was flying. Bobby knew it, but he headed right back to the orphanage, left the box for the little boy, too late now to even watch the expression on the child's face when he'd open it, and headed for the television studio.

"Sure," some people said. "Great gesture, but he had an obligation first!"....And to this Bobby would say only unto himself, "Yeah, I had an obligation. My heart or my head!"

And no matter which way you looked at it, it was evident that Bobby always followed his heart first!




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