Bobby Darin Biography
(Robert Walden Cassotto)
- Born: 14-05-1936
- Died: 20-12-1973
Bobby Darin Biography
A singer, songwriter and Oscar nominated actor, he aimed at the American dream. He married a teen movie queen, but then found out that his sister was really his mother, and died young.
Walden Robert Cassotto was the son of an Italian-born cabinetmaker, and an accomplished musician who could play many instruments. He made his debut on 14 May 1936 in the Bronx, New York.
As a child, he suffered from severe rheumatic fever, which led to a scarred heart and an overprotective childhood. He was the focal point of a loving family who encouraged his love of music.
He briefly attended Hunter College, then supported himself as a singing waiter and musician at a Catskills resort.
After scratching out an existence as a commercial-jingle composer, he changed his name to Darin, and became a professional singer in 1956. He sent a demo record to up-and-coming record executive Don Kirschner, which resulted in a contract.
Three flop singles later, Darin half-jokingly recorded a nonsense number titled 'Splish Splash', which turned out to be his first bonafide hit. Not wishing to be a typecast rock-and-roller, Darin adapted the old Kurt Weill and Bertoldt Brecht ballad, 'Moritat' into the top-selling 'Mack the Knife' (1959); this enabled him to break away from the bracket of teenage idol and broaden his appeal to adults. 'Mack the Knife' won a Grammy Award as Record of the Year, and Darin was voted Best New Artist. This single stayed in the top ten for 52 weeks, with nine of these being spent at number one.
Darin was eventually picked up by Universal Pictures, to star in a series of lightweight but popular musical films, often co-starring his first wife, Sandra Dee. He starred in his first film in 1960 and wrote the soundtrack for 'Come September'. Darin met his future wife Dee while filming the movie. She was at the height of her career at the age of 16.
They got engaged two months after meeting and wed on 7 March 1960. Their son Dodd Darin was born a year later.
After turning in powerful dramatic performances in 'Pressure Point' (1962) and 'Captain Newman MD'(1963), Darin graduated from pop personality to serious actor; in fact, he was Oscar-nominated for his work in 'Newman'. He missed out on the award to Melvyn Douglas.
Darin continued to appear in Las Vegas and on TV through the mid-60s, and worked extensively for Robert Kennedy during his 1968 presidential campaign. During this period he appeared in episodes of 'Wagon Train' (1964), 'Burke's Law' (1965) and 'Run For Your Life' in 1966 to name but a few.
In 1967, he asked Dee for a divorce with the actress saying at the time that he woke up one morning and no longer wanted to be married. In reality, their careers had kept them apart as Darin toured night clubs across the US.
The following year, Darin discovered his "mother" Polly was actually his grandmother and his "sister" Nina was really his mother. This painful revelation altered him for the rest of his life.
After spending a year in seclusion, he decided to return to the public eye and started his own recording company called Direction Records. In 1969, he released the album 'Born Walden Robert Cassoto' before returning to TV.
He was struggling with ill-health over this period, suffering a minor heart attack in January 1971, but he went on to enjoy roles in 'Ironside' (1971) and 'Night Gallery' in 1972 before making what would be his final appearance in 'Happy Mother's Day, Love George' in 1973.
Darin even had time to remarry, wedding Andrea Joy Yeager on 26 June 1973 before returning to the Las Vegas stage. They divorced in October that year.
Bobby Darin was in the process of making a comeback when he died in 1973, at the age of 37, following open-heart surgery. One of his heart valves needed to be replaced and a five-man team worked for over six hours to save his life. He died a few minutes after returning to the recovery room without regaining consciousness.
It was ruled that he was just too weak to recover from the surgery. He had no formal funeral ceremony as he donated his body for medical research purposes.
Darin's legacy lives on as his voice was used in 'Sesame Street' between 1989 and 1993 singing 'Splish Splash'. His voice and songs have also been used on the soundtracks of 'Goodfellas' (1990), 'Apollo 13' (1995), 'You've Got Mail' (1998), 'American Beauty' (1999) and 'Nip/Tuck' in 2009.