Bobby Darin, whose considerable career in entertainment spanned the 50s to the 70s, was inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in 1990, seventeen years after his death from heart disease in 1973. Although the condition was supposed to end Darin's life in his late teens, with unwavering determination, Darin outlasted the diagnosis by a good 15 years. He also fulfilled his prediction that he would become a legendary entertainer.
Robert Walden Cassotto was born in May 1936 in the Bronx and spent his early years there and in Harlem. It was an economically deprived childhood, with a young, widowed mother and younger sister. Bobby suffered a bout with rheumatic fever when he was eight, which left him with heart damage and an uncertain future life expectancy.
Always wanting to entertain and sing, by the time he was 15 and enrolled in the Bronx High School of Science, Bobby could play many instruments and was an accomplished musician. While on scholarship to Hunter college, Bobby spent more time trying to break into the music business and quit college after one year. He changed his name from Cassotto to Darin, picked at random from a phone book. He hustled a job as a demo singer at the famed Brill Building in New York, an invaluable source of contacts for the ambitious, brash Darin. It was here he met and fell in love with Connie Francis, a relationship rapidly terminated by Connie's controlling Italian father.
In 1956 Bobby signed to Decca, a label famous for turning the Beatles down eight years later. True to form, Decca had no idea what to do with Bobby, and his career floundered. Moving onto to Atlantic Records for a year, it was much the same story. After Darin's recording of his own song, "Early In The Morning," edged out Buddy Holly's cover, Darin began to get national attention. His next record, "Splish Splash," composed in under ten minutes, sold a million copies. Two more singles followed - "Plain Jane" and "Queen of the Hop." "Queen" sold a million copies. His next single "Dream Lover," released in 1959, made him an international star. Its follow up, "Mack The Knife," with its Sinatra-like vocal styling sold two million copies and Bobby was awarded two Grammys, one for Record of the Year and the other for Best New Artist.
That same year, 1960, Bobby began his acting career. Appearing in over ten movies, including State Fair, he was nominated for an Oscar for his work in Captain Newman, M.D. and married Sandra Dee, his leading lady in his first movie, Come September. The marriage ended in 1967, when Bobby divorced Sandra.
Darin continued his breakneck career pace with successful, television appearances and Vegas shows. Then, in 1968, he went to work for the Robert Kennedy campaign. After Kennedy's assasination and an epiphany at his funeral, Bobby gave up his pursuit of success, moved to a simple dwelling in Big Sur,but soon after reemerged, blue-jeaned and mustachioed, to pick up his career once more. However, despite signing to Motown Records, his career seemed stalled. In 1972 he married again. In December 1973, during surgery to repair a damaged heart valve, Bobby Darin died. He was 37.
Beyond The Sea, a movie about Darin's life, starring Kevin Spacey, is due for release in 2004.