Although Sandra Dee and Bobby Darin
were actually only married once, they did separate for a short
time in 1963. This article written by Jane Wilkie,appeared in the
March 1964 issue of Motion Picture Magazine.
Interviewing Sandra Dee is somewhat
like being closeted in a cement mixer filled
Afterward, a writer wends his way homeward chortling to himself in a manner that
could very well get him hauled off to the
loony bin. In a way, he is ready for an
asylum because his laughter is half amusement and half desperation. The amusement
stems from Sandra's unfailing humor, a
gaiety lighthearted as an April morning. As
for the desperation, this stems from the
confusion now rampant in the writer's mind.
Sandra Dee is a creamy smooth-looking girl
whose conversation does not match her
looks. Quite the contrary, her conversation
skips and darts and zips around like a waterbug on a summer millpond. And so the
writer's problem is how to pull this all together into a creamy-smooth story.
Being stuck with this problem, we refuse
to face it. The only thing to do is give you
the mad and wonderful bits and pieces culled
from a jumping hour with Sandra Dee. During that hour, by the way, we learned how
Sandy's "second marriage" to Bobby Darin
is really working! We might begin with a
bona tide quote from Sandy. We hadn't had
time to even say hello before she pitched
into the pre-occupation of the moment.
"I'm so happy," she said. "I've really got
it, and it's marvelous. Maybe we can go
fishing in it."
"What?" we asked, quite naturally.
"The boat. It's 12 feet long. I just know
Bobby's going to love it. I told the man to
wrap and deliver it, and he looked at me
kind of funny and said,' 'Lady, I've never
wrapped a boat before."'
You see what we mean, gentle reader?
Sandy bought the boat as a gift for Bobby.
It was intended as a surprise to go with
their new house, a Spanish affair located in
a part of the San Fernando Valley called
Toluca Lake because of its man-made lake
which is lovingly maintained by home owners
whose property touches its shores. The
Darin property touches a considerable part
of its shore, including as it does a lot and a
half. On the half, Sandra thinks it would be
nice to build a structure to house Bobby's
den and projection room, a place where he
can work with arrangers et al.
The house was purchased because of the
Darins' dissatisfaction with their old house
in Beverly Hills. This was because two-year-
old Dodd didn't have enough outside play
area and the house didn't have enough windows.
Or something. At any rate, the
Toluca Lake house is, according to Sandy,
"warm and spacious, and when you pull
the drapes open it's like you're suddenly in
Paradise—that lake and all those trees and
A carpenter at the studio came up to
Sandra the other day and asked for her
autograph on a slip of paper. "Sure," said
Sandy, "but why don't you go over to the
publicity department and get a picture of
me and I'll sign that for you." "Gee thanks,"
said the carpenter, and before long he was
back again with a picture and Sandy signed
it. "Say," said the carpenter, a man who
obviously doesn't keep abreast of the times,
"do you ever hear from Bobby Darin any
She sure does. Last weekend they were
giving an impromptu party and Sandy realized more hamburger buns were needed.
Would Bobby please go out and get about
a dozen? He came back later with eight
huge and bulging bags. There was some
caviar and some olives and some antipasto
and some pickles with onions and a few
dozen steaks and several loaves of sour dough
bread, several gallons of ice cream, and a
hundred or so hamburger buns, "Where am
I going to put all this stuff we don't need?"
Said Bobby, who has never forgotten the
feeling of hunger, "I guess I don't shop
Last fall when they stayed at the Drake
Hotel in New York and were getting ready
for a fishing trip, they got a trailer and
hooked it to the car and parked it in front
of the hotel. Sandy kept whirling through the
revolving doors with her arms full of cups
and saucers and blankets and things to be
stored in the trailer. New Yorkers don't
often see a camping trailer parked on Park
Avenue, let alone a movie star running
back and forth with a bunch of pots and
pans, so quite a merry crowd collected, including an amused cop on horseback.
Sandy is teething. At the age of 21 she has
a bicuspid coming in (finally) underneath
its corresponding baby tooth. Or was coming
in underneath the baby tooth, because when
it began peeking though the gum, the
baby tooth had to be removed to make way
for the one that should have appeared some
15 years ago. This required a bit of dental
surgery, and when Sandy woke up she had a
plate on the roof of her mouth, holding a
false tooth. Or a sort of half of a false
tooth, just under the spot where the retarded
tooth is appearing. To fill in, just for looks,
you understand, because Sandy was then
making a picture— I'd Rather Be Rich for
"Ssssay," said Sandy, "what'ssss in my
mouth?" Her eyes opened wide at the
whistles emanating from her lips. "For
heavensssssake! You'll have to fixsss
"It will be all right," said the dentist, a
man unaware of the problems of The Actor
and His Speaking Voice, "You won't even
notice it after a while."
"You don't undersssstand," said the sibilant Sandra. "I'm making a picture."
"You will be just fine," soothed the
So she went to another dentist, who hammered at the plate until it cracked in several
places and the whistles went away.
"A fine thing," humphs Sandy now. "Five
years without a cavity, and now I have to
start teething! My son and I are having a
Several years ago when Universal Studio
(Sandy's home lot) was in the throes of a
very complicated business deal with MCA
and its Revue television productions, and
things were being merged and purged and
wheeled and dealed, Sandy stopped one day
at a lunchtable in the commissary where
were gathered the Very Top Men in the
industry, whose brows were furrowed over
their soup. "Say," offered Sandy breezily,
"you guys sure have a lot to worry about,
don't you?" The Very Top Men froze in
astonishment as Sandy was quickly whisked
away by a horrified companion.
According to Sandy, husband Bobby had
better snap to, and find out about those
paintings. Seems last year he bought six
very expensive paintings from an artist in
New York, and the paintings have never
been delivered. The receipt seems to be
sort of missing, and they can't remember
the painter's name or address, and if Bobby
doesn't quick do something they're going
to be out a lot of money.
And according to Sandy, her husband is
"very funny about money." He economizes
on crazy things and then goes out and buys
an antique chair made out of 14-karat gold,
or "enough antipasto to start a restaurant.
I think he has a 'thing' about food on account of being hungry when he was a kid.
But he'll buy anything. You could sell him
a dead weed—just tell him it's good for
putting under microscopes and he'll buy
it. Take the furniture. I said have Sloane's
make it—they make it to fit the house and
it doesn't cost any more. But oh no, Bobby
said the name of a fancy furniture maker
from somewhere and they made it all for
us. Except they made it too big and so we
had to send it to Sloane's to cut it down,
and pay Sloane's, too."
Did we think there were any fish in
Toluca Lake? The boat ought to be real
fine for the lake. The Darins could row it
or paddle it or something, because Toluca
doesn't allow motors on the lake. Maybe
she'd get a gondolier's hat to give Bobby
- along with the boat.
At the Regency Hotel in New York, there
was a maid who took to Sandy like a duck
to water. She waited on Sandy hand and foot
and took care of her clothes, and when the
Darins were ready to leave, the maid began
to cry. It got so bad that Sandy felt guilty
(We can add that Sandy often affects
people like that. Along with the delicious
looks goes a heart made of the same stuff
as that antique chair.)
It seems that Bobby's hands periodically
become painfully chapped and Sandy is sure
it's because of nerves. Because it only happens in the period when Bobby has cut a
record and is waiting for it to be released.
The reaction to the record can be fine or bad,
but the day it's released, Bobby's hands get
better. It doesn't happen with club dates or
movies—just records. "I think," says Sandy,
"it goes back to the old days when he was
just starting to make records and went
through all that anxiety with each one. And
ye gods, I just had a thought! Now he has a
whole record company of his own! There will
be a record to worry about all the time, and
now maybe his hands will never heal!"
For Christmas, Sandy bought Dodd a toy
horse, maybe two feet high and stuffed with
batteries, that runs all around the place
if you wind it up or push a button or something. When Sandy was looking at it in the
toy store one week before Christmas, the
mob of shoppers was so great that the
salespeople were ready to fall on their
swords. "Please," said Sandy for the seventh
time, "could you show me how this horse
works?" The distracted saleswoman gazed
at her blankly for a moment, then snatched
up a small boy from the bottom of the
crowd, set him in the saddle, pushed a
button, and the kid went galloping all over
the store, his outraged mother flying behind
About this Spanish house in Toluca Lake.
The Darins did what they said they'd never
do again. To wit: they bought a house on
the spur of the moment, and without first
selling their old house. They could have
sold the old one—a man offered them a large
chunk in cash for it, but he wanted to move
in within a week. But it was just before
Christmas and so Sandra told him no, she
simply couldn't move out on such short
notice. That was on a Saturday. On Sunday,
at the bottom of a pile of old mail that had
accumulated while they had been in New
York, Bobby found a brochure featuring a
lovely Spanish home on Toluca Lake.
"Kinda good looking, hmmm?" he said to
"Ummmm," she said.
On Monday Bobby went to look at the
house. On Tuesday Sandy walked through
it on her lunch hour, and Wednesday they went together, prepared to buy. Before they rang the bell Sandy nudged her husband. "Now don't jump into anything, like we did last time. When you buy a house you're supposed to negotiate." So they went in and Bobby flapped his arms at his sides and proclaimed to the owner, "I love it! What's the price?"
Afterward, when Sandy suggested that maybe there might have been a little bit of negotiation, Bobby disagreed. "For that house? The man deserves the price he's asking "
Sandy said nothing further because, after all, she was the one who had said no to the prospective buyer of the old house and now here they were, before Christmas, owning two houses.
"We just sort of forget that," she says. "We're going along just fine now marriagewise. I'm sure he'd like to push my face into a wall every time he thinks of it, but we just don't talk about it."
Two-year-old Dodd is a great imitator. "He sees those hair commercials with the baby and the mother on TV, so now he's forever smoothing my hair and kissing me.
Once I saw him standing in the light of a window with a great big shiner, but it turned out that he'd tried to put on my mascara and didn't have a black eye after all, Dodd loves emery boards—he ate one once.
I'm not going to brag about him if I can help it but I tell you the truth—for the last five months he has been spotting Cadillacs and Lincolns, I drive a Lincoln and Bobby has a Cadillac, so whenever Dodd sees a Cadillac he points to it and says 'Dada,' and when he sees a Lincoln he points to it and says 'Mama.' I wouldn't recognize a Lincoln until I could see it from every angle under a magnifying glass.
But this boy—if he sees only the rear end of one sticking out of a garage as we flash by, he recognizes it. Once he saw four Cadillacs in a circular driveway and got hysterical saying Dada over and over."
Sandy is unable to tell a joke. She invariably gets the punch line in the wrong place, leaves out salient points. At parties, Bobby says to her, "Tell your new joke"— and everyone present settles back ready to laugh at Sandy, not with her. "It's such a struggle. And if there's a really awful word in a joke I won't say it. So I grab through my mind for sort of a middling word—not too bad and not too Puritan, if you know what I mean—and always come up with some word that doesn't have a remote connection with what I'm trying to say."
During the relentless hot Spell in California last October—according to Sandy—it was so hot that the Darin patio furniture "got pimples on it."
"I've decided I'm a nut. I get into moods way up here and then way down there. Is this a phase? I wish I'd lose this up-and-down business. And another thing—I can go forever without sleep. Every once in a while I start having such fun I don't want to go
to bed because I'm afraid I'll miss something.
Once I went four days and nights, and
when I finally went to bed I slept 36 hours.
I remember Bobby was asleep beside me
when I woke up, and I didn't even know
what day it was. All I could think of was
he was still asleep. It didn't occur to the
that the poor man had worked a whole
day while I slept, and had only crawled
into bed a couple of hours ago."
For one whole week Sandy was without
either a nurse or a maid. "There was nothing
in the house but me. I had to do everything,
and I thought I wouldn't live through the
week. The house, the baby, the washing and
ironing. I'd always bathed and fed the baby
—and I can cook—all that sort of thing I
love to do. And the baby was less of a
problem when I was keeping house because
I couldn't stop to pay attention to his whims.
It wasn't too bad after six in the evening,
but oh those mornings! I didn't even have
time to get dressed. Mother would come over
and I'd hand her an ashtray and tell her
not to use any of the others. And I'd wash
off my coffee spoon and use it to feed Dodd
his lunch . . . anything to save dishes. All
those bottles and all those clothes. And
changing sheets! What's a nurse's corner,
In I'd Rather Be Rich, Sandy wears the
wildest clothes yet dreamed up—even for
Hollywood. Included in the countless costume changes are (1) a lizard coat lined
with chinchilla, (2) a pair of diamond shoes,
made by Cartier, (3) a full length leopard
coat lined in seal, (4) a leather car coat
and matching slacks lined in fox, and (5) a
full length gown of light-weight white wool,
studded with diamonds. Below the knee,
the material is solid with diamonds. (That
is, "from the floor up to where the slit begins,"
explains Sandra. "The gown is slit because
in the picture I bowl in it.") In the days
of fittings before shooting began. Sandy
spent hour after hour in these clothes and
was never seen in proximity to a script.
Said her producer Ross Hunter, "I think
she's doing the picture just to wear the
clothes." And in the diamond dress. Sandy
was pleased with the effect. "It made me
realize I'm not Tammy any more. I'm really
sort of feminine after all!"
She proved that judgment rather conclusively at the end of our interview. When
asked again about that boat, a purchase
which it seemed to us had been made rather
lightly. We mean, when a person buys a
boat they usually know a little bit about af
and starboard and beam and all that. So when we
asked her, "Is the boat a sailboat or
"I don't know," said Sandy. "But it's a
real nice boat. It's fiberglass, and that seems
a nice material for a boat, and so I bought
We think that last remark seems nice
material for the end of a story.
—BY JANE WILKIE
Picture of Bobby and Sandra courtesy of Robert J. Groden