Bobby Darin died at thirty-seven years of age on 20th December 1973 in Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Los Angeles, California, U.S.A. after a five-man surgical team had worked for over six hours to repair his damaged heart. On 11th December he had checked himself into for another round of open-heart surgery to repair the two artificial heart valves he had received in 1971.
Bobby Darin's last wish in his will was that his body be donated to science for medical research. His remains were transferred to the UCLA Medical Center, later known as Ronald Reagan Medical Center, shortly after his death. Bobby Darin was born Walden Robert Cassotto on May 14th 1936 in the East Harlem neighborhood of New York City. Bobby Darin was reared by his maternal grandmother, who he believed was his mother. Bobby Darin's birth mother, Vanina Juliette "Nina" Cassotto became pregnant with him in the summer of 1935 when she was seventeen. Presumably because of the scandalous nature of out-of-wedlock pregnancies in that era, Nina and her mother hatched a plan to pass her baby off as Nina's younger brother. Years later, when Nina finally told Bobby Darin the truth about his upbringing, she refused to reveal the identity of his biological father, and she continued to keep that secret even up until her own death in 1981. Bobby Darin's maternal grandfather, Saverio Antonio was of Italian descent and a would-be mobster who died in prison from pneumonia a year before Bobby Darin's birth. His maternal grandmother, Vivian Fern Walden, who called herself Polly, was of English ancestry and a vaudeville singer. From his birth, Bobby Darin always believed Nina to be his older sister and Polly his mother, but in 1968, when he was thirty-two, Nina told Bobby the truth, reportedly devastating him.
By the time he was a teenager, Bobby Darin could play several instruments, including piano, drums, and guitar. He later added harmonica and xylophone.
Bobby Darin moved to the Bronx early in his life and graduated from the prestigious Bronx High School of Science. In later years he attributed his arrogance to his experiences at the high school, where he was surrounded by brighter students who teased him. He then enrolled at Hunter College and soon gravitated to the drama department. After only two semesters, he dropped out to pursue an acting career.
Bobby Darin's career took off with a songwriting partnership, formed in 1955 with Don Kirshner, whom he met at a candy store in Washington Heights. They wrote jingles and songs, beginning with "Bubblegum Pop". In 1956 his agent negotiated a contract with Decca Records. A member of the Brill Building gang of struggling songwriters, Bobby Darin was introduced to singer Connie Francis, for whom he helped write several songs. They developed a romantic interest of which her father, who was not fond of Bobby Darin, did not approve, and the couple split up. At one point, Bobby Darin wanted to elope immediately; Francis has said that not marrying Darin was the biggest mistake of her life.
Bobby Darin left Decca to sign with Atlantic Records' Atco subsidiary, where he wrote and arranged music for himself and others.
Guided by Atlantic's star-maker Ahmet Ertegun, Bobby Darin's career finally took off in 1958 when he recorded "Splish Splash". He co-wrote the song with radio D.J. Murray Kaufman after a phone call from Kaufman's mother, Jean, a frustrated songwriter. Her latest song idea was: "Splish, Splash, Take a Bath". Both Kaufman and Bobby Darin felt the title was lackluster, but Bobby Darin, with few options, said "I could write a song with that title." Within one hour, Bobby Darin had written "Splish Splash". The single sold more than a million copies. His partnership with Kirshner, who was not involved in the writing of that song, ended at that time. He made another recording in 1958 for Brunswick Records with a band called "The Ding Dongs". With the success of "Splish Splash" the single was re-released by Atco Records as "Early in the Morning" with the band renamed as "The Rinky Dinks". It charted, and made it to number 24 in the United States.
In 1959, Bobby Darin recorded the self-penned "Dream Lover", a ballad that became a multi-million seller. With it came financial success and the ability to demand more creative control of his career. So he meant for his 'That's All' album to show that he could sing more than rock and roll. His next single, "Mack the Knife", the standard from Kurt Weill's Threepenny Opera, was given a vamping jazz-pop interpretation. Although Bobby Darin was initially opposed to releasing it as a single, the song went to No. 1 on the charts for nine weeks, sold two million copies, and won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year in 1960. Bobby Darin was also voted the Grammy Award for Best New Artist that year, and "Mack The Knife" has since been honored with a Grammy Hall of Fame Award.
Bobby Darin followed "Mack" with "Beyond the Sea", a jazzy English-language version of Charles Trenet's French hit song "La Mer". Both tracks were produced by Atlantic founders Ahmet and Nesuhi Ertegün with staff producer Jerry Wexler and they featured arrangements by Richard Wess.
This late-1950s success included Bobby Darin setting the all-time attendance record at the Copacabana nightclub in Manhattan and headlining at the major casinos in Las Vegas.
Bobby Darin's 1960 recording of "Artificial Flowers" – a song by Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock from the Broadway musical Tenderloin, about the death of a child laborer featured a jazzy, Big Band arrangement, by Richard Behrke, that was in sharp contrast to its tragic lyrics.
In the 1960s, Bobby Darin owned and operated, with Terry Melcher; Doris Day's son, a music publishing and production company (TM Music/Trio). He signed Wayne Newton and gave him the song "Danke Schoen", which became Newton's breakout hit. Bobby Darin also was a mentor to Roger McGuinn, who worked for him at TM Music and played the 12-string guitar in Darin's nightclub band before forming the Byrds. Additionally, Bobby Darin produced Rosey Grier's 1964 LP 'Soul City', and 'Made in the Shade' for Jimmy Boyd.
In 1962, Bobby Darin began to write and sing country music, with hit songs including "Things" (US No. 3/UK #2) (1962), "You're the Reason I'm Living" (US No. 3), and "18 Yellow Roses" (US No. 10). The latter two were recorded by Capitol Records, which he joined in 1962, before returning to Atlantic four years later. Bobby Darin left Capitol in 1964. In 1966, he had his final UK hit single, with a version of Tim Hardin's "If I Were A Carpenter", which peaked at Number nine and number eight in the US. He performed the opening and closing songs on the soundtrack of the 1965 Walt Disney film 'That Darn Cat!'.
In the fall of 1959, Bobby Darin played "Honeyboy Jones" in an early episode of Jackie Cooper's CBS military sitcom/drama, Hennesey set in San Diego, California. In 1960, he appeared twice as himself in NBC's short-lived crime drama Dan Raven, starring Skip Homeier and set on the Sunset Strip of West Hollywood. He wrote music for several films in which he appeared.
His first major film, 'Come September' (1961), was a teenager-oriented romantic comedy with Rock Hudson and Gina Lollobrigida and featuring 18-year-old actress Sandra Dee. They first met during the production of the film, fell in love, and got married soon afterwards. Dee gave birth to a son, Dodd Mitchell Darin (also known as Morgan Mitchell) on December 16, 1961. Dee and Bobby Darin made a few films together with moderate success. They divorced in 1967.
In 1961 he starred in Too Late Blues, John Cassavetes' first film for a major Hollywood studio, as a struggling jazz musician. Writing in 2012, Los Angeles Times critic Dennis Lim observed that Darin was "a surprise in his first nonsinging role, willing to appear both arrogant and weak." In 1962, Bobby Darin won the Golden Globe Award for "New Star of the Year – Actor" for his role in 'Come September'. .
In 1963, he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as a shell-shocked soldier in Captain Newman, M.D.. At the Cannes Film Festival he won the French Film Critics Award for best actor.
In October 1964, he appeared as a wounded ex-convict who is befriended by an orphan girl in "The John Gillman Story" episode of NBC's Wagon Train western television series.
Bobby Darin became more politically active as the 1960s progressed, and his musical output became more "folksy."
Bobby Darin traveled with Robert F. Kennedy and worked on the politician's 1968 presidential campaign. He was with Kennedy the day he travelled to Los Angeles on June 4th 1968, for the California primary, and was at the Ambassador Hotel later that night when Kennedy was assassinated. This event, combined with learning about his true parentage, had a deep effect on Bobby Darin, who spent most of the next year living in seclusion in a trailer near Big Sur.
Returning to Los Angeles in 1969, Bobby Darin started Direction Records, putting out folk and protest music. He wrote "Simple Song of Freedom" in 1969, which was recorded by Tim Hardin, who sang only three of the song's four verses.
Of his first Direction album, Darin said, "The purpose of Direction Records is to seek out statement-makers. The album is solely [composed] of compositions designed to reflect my thoughts on the turbulent aspects of modern society."
Bobby Darin was an enthusiastic chess player. His television show included an occasional segment in which he would explain a chess move. He arranged with the United States Chess Federation to sponsor a grandmaster tournament, with the largest prize fund in history, but the event was cancelled after his death.
Bobby Darin married actress Sandra Dee on December 1st 1960. They met while filming 'Come September'.] On December 16th 1961, they had a son, Dodd Mitchell Darin, also known as Morgan Mitchell Darin. Dee and Bobby Darin officially divorced on March 7th 1967.
Bobby Darin's second wife was Andrea Yeager, a legal secretary whom he met in 1970 and married on June 25th 1973 after the couple had lived together for three years. Four months later, in October 1973, the couple divorced amid strain caused by Bobby Darin's worsening health problems.
Bobby Darin suffered from poor health his entire life. He was frail as an infant and, beginning at age eight, was stricken with recurring bouts of rheumatic fever that left him with a seriously weakened heart. During his first heart surgery, in January 1971, he had two artificial valves implanted in his heart. He spent most of that year recovering from the surgery.
During the last few years of his life, he was often administered oxygen during and after his performances on stage and screen.
In 1973, after failing to take antibiotics to protect his heart before a dental visit, Bobby Darin developed an overwhelming systemic infection (sepsis). This further weakened his body and affected one of his heart valves.
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music: a 'Bobby Darin medley'