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Bobby Darin

About Bobby Darin Born into the world as Walden Robert Cassotto May 14, 1936, in New York City; son of Saverio (Savvi) Cassotto, a furniture builder and Vivian Ferne Cassotto (her maiden name was Walden). Bobby Darin married screen star Sandra Dee Dec. 1, 1960, they divorced c. 1967.

Bobby Darin began his career during the roots of of rock and roll era in the late 1950s, with his smash hit "Splish, Splash" for Atco Records (Bobby wrote it in about ten minutes at the recording studio). Against the advice of Atco's A&R people, the president of Aycp Records, Ahmet Ertegun, and his mentor, Dick Clark, he quickly branched out into other genres, including folk and country. Admiring Sinatra's big band style, Bobby Darin insisted on recording such style. As a result of Bobby's persistencem the 1959 recording of "Mack the Knife," which earned him two Grammy Awards, was Atco's biggest selling single, rising to #1 on the national charts and staying in the top ten for over a month.

Darin appeared in several films, best known was "Gunfight At Abilene." Darin hosted shows locally in New York for Metromedia (a beauty pageant disaster is also archived here at Oldies Television), then in 1959 a musical show short lived on NBC before moving to CBS/>br>
Shortly before he died during heart surgery in 1973, Darin hosted his own television variety series on the NBC, and sung "Mack The Knife" opening the first show, as you see here on the Oldiestelevision.com video stream.

'Bobby Darin' Cassotto had a troubling upbringing. His father, a cabinetmaker, died a few months before he was born. Darin and his mother lived with his sister and her husband. They were virtually indigent. As a child, Bobby suffered chronic rheumatic feve. He could not attend school regularly until high school. He did, however, manage to read quite a bit and also learned to play the drums, piano, and guitar.

Bobby Darin's strongest ambition was not to succeed in music but rather to become an actor. In pursuit of this goal, he attended drama classes at Hunter College, but he became impatient when instructors gave other students chances to practice in leading roles even though they admitted his talent exceeded theirs. Darin decided to go out on his own, getting jobs in Catskill resorts that ranged from bussing tables to filling in for absent singers. Said Darin in a magazine interview,"I would work for a month or two, then quit and make the rounds, trying to get something in the theater. But nothing happened."

Gradually Darin began to concentrate more on his singing than his acting. He was working writing and singing radio commercials when he was signed to a contract with Decca Records in 1956. Accounts vary as to how he selected his stage name; one says he picked it from a phone book, another that he got it from a malfunctioning restaurant sign advertising Mandarin Chinese food. The young crooner cut a few singles and secured an appearance on bandleader Tommy Dorsey's television show, but his vocal stylings did not capture the public imagination, and Decca dropped him after a year. Darin was then signed by Atlantic Records, and recorded on their subsidiary label, Atco. Again, his first few records caused no sensations, but in 1958 Darin released one of his own compositions, "Splish, Splash." A whimsical number about characters from other rock and roll songs showing up and starting a party at the singer's house while he was in the bathtub, it proved a hit, selling 100,000 copies in only three weeks.

Though Darin quickly followed "Splish, Splash" with another rock and roll ditty, "Queen of the Hop," he did not wish to rely on the burgeoning genre for his livelihood. He was unsure that rock and roll would last, and felt that teenagers--its primary consumers--were fickle in their affections for performers. So, hoping to attract more mature fans, Darin took the money he made from his first hit and financed an album of standards, titled That's All. Included on That's All was a revision of composer Kurt Weill's song from playwright Bertolt Brecht's Threepenny Opera --"Mack the Knife." Released in 1959, "Mack the Knife" did for Darin all that he could have wished, selling over two million copies, and catapulting him to the pinnacle of the nightclub circuit. He became a featured attraction at the most prestigious Las Vegas showcases, such as the Sahara and the Sands, and by 1960 had played the famed Copacabana in New York City.

Meanwhile, Darin was also getting his film career underway. Though he signed a film contract in 1959, he waited through many offers until he found the kind of parts he wanted to play. He made his screen debut playing an American in Italy in the 1961 film Come September. Darin also composed the title song, and met his wife, actress Sandra Dee, on the set. Faring better than most singers who venture into acting, Darin won praise for many of his film performances, including his portrayal of a young American flirting with Nazism during the 1940s in 1962's Pressure Point, and he received an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor for his work in 1963's Captain Newman, M.D.

Bobby Darin had other hit records throughout the early 1960s, including the follow up to 'Mack...,' "Beyond the Sea," "You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby," and the country-flavored "Things." And, unlike many other artists who began their careers with the advent of rock and roll, he managed to maintain his success into the late 1960s, scoring in 1967 with the folk song, "If I Were a Carpenter." Darin also had political concerns at this time, and according to Steve Hochman in the Los Angeles Times, "worked on Robert Kennedy's presidential campaign in 1968." Hochman further noted that the singer was "devastated by Kennedy's assassination" later that year, and after this event sold many of his possessions, moved to California, and recorded two albums of protest songs on his own label, Direction. Though Darin's long-time manager Steve Blowner told Hochman: "I was stunned at how good he was, singing [folk songwriters Laura] Nyro and Tim Hardin and [Bob] Dylan," Darin's career began to languish somewhat. In the early 1970s, he recorded for the Motown label.

Darin had again tasted success, returning to network television, doing a summer replacement variety show for NBC in 1972 which was picked up again in 1973, when the heart problems that resulted from his childhood rheumatic fever caught up with him. Entering the hospital to have previously implanted artificial heart valves repaired, he died on the operating table on December 20, 1973. On the occasion of his posthumous induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in January 1990, Blowner was quoted in the Los Angeles Times as saying: "He could sing it all."


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