Even back in those mournful days when Flagg Flyers and ducktail haircuts were the rage and no one thought Dick Clark was particularly ridiculous, you knew there was something different about Bobby Darin.
Sure, there were the typical three-chord rock 'n' roll rumblings like "Splish-Splash" that blared from the hoagie shop jukeboxes after school. But then there came "Mack the Knife" and everyone at the hoagie shop stopped and said, "Hah?"
"Splish-splash I was takin' a bath,”we would understand in those days of Eisenhower and Clearasil. “Oh, the shark has pretty teeth, dear..." blew our preoccupied minds and sent us scurrying back to the button you pushed for Connie Francis' latest.
Bobby Darin: "I believed in being what the moment was.."
Darin, 23 then, had left rock 'n' roll behind in 1959.
After that, it was a crazy, cocky whirlwind for the headstrong kid with an I.Q. of 137 from the teeming Bronx tenements. When he was a baby, Darin had slept in a cradle that was a packing crate.
By the time he was 24, after "Mack the Knife" and the other million-selling hits, he was off to nightclubs and acting, to starlets and publishing and a show-business empire that quickly made Bobby Darin—the man whom A&P heir Huntington Hartford said ran off with his wife—a millionaire.
The critics who interviewed him had a favorite word by now: "obnoxious." But they always had to append the word "talented" to it.
"I thought of myself as a singer and actor in that order," Darin explained recently. "I believed in being what the moment was. Frankly, I wanted to establish myself as a legend by the time I was 25."
He succeeded, especially in the nightclubs, where the kid with the rock 'n'roll reputation proved to be a suave,versatile, intelligent and crowd-pleasing rhythm singer and impressionist.
In short, Bobby Darin was on top of the world, riding high on Las Vegas' glittering strip, running with starlets, slowly becoming disgusted.So, after a few years of it, he chucked the big house and the yacht, hooked up a trailer to his car and drove off to the rocky cliffs of Big Sur above Los Angeles. There, amidst the pounding Pacific and the sun-drenched mountains, he shut himself off, writing a movie.
> "I had to do it to survive spiritually," Darin said recently from Burbank, where he had just completed production for the Bobby Darin Amusement Co., a summer show which premiered last Thursday (July 27,1972) on NBC and will run for seven segments. "I totally changed, got rid of all my material possessions. I realized that there was more, really more. I stopped being something else and came back to me."
With the change in Darin's lifestyle, friends and colleagues noticed an amazing change in his attitude. Gone was the arrogance and the cockiness. Visitors to the new variety show's set noticed an atmosphere of fun and relaxation there. No, they said, this was not just some pampered performer changing lifestyles to suit his role. This was something different.
"Darin's Groucho Skit Would Even Fool Chico"
"I'm so happy with this show, I can't believe it," Darin says. "It's great when you can find talented people to work with and things feel so right." Darin is a first-rate dancer, pianist, guitarist, drummer and songwriter. He says the show will be accented with comedy, and will feature a lot of sketches and his impressions."He does a Groucho Marx impersonation that would fool Chico," swears an associate.
Getting back into television hasn't posed too many problems for Darin's newfound freedom. After he taped the first show, he recalls, "I just drove off and drove down past Laguna to a deserted beach, took out my sleeping bag and hot plate and unwound."
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