Bobby Darin (1936 – 1973), born Walden Robert Perciville Cassotto, was a two-time Grammy Award-winning American singer, Oscar-nominated actor and accomplished musician.

Troubled childhood

Bobby Darin was born to a poor, working-class family of mostly Italian descent in The Bronx. The person thought to be his father (who was actually his grandfather) died in jail a few months before he was born. It was the height of the Great Depression, and he once remarked that his crib was a cardboard box, then later a dresser drawer. He was initially raised by his mother Polly, who was Anglo-American, and his sister Nina. It was not until Darin was an adult that he learned Nina, who was 17 years older than him, was in fact his birth mother, and that Polly, the woman he thought was his mother, was really his grandmother.

Darin was frail and sickly as an infant and had, from the age of 8, rheumatic fever. The illness left him with a seriously weakened heart. Overhearing a doctor tell his mother he would be lucky to reach the age of 16, Darin lived with the constant knowledge that his life would be short, which further motivated him to use his talents. He was driven by his poverty and illness to make something of his life and, with his innate talent for music, by the time he was a teenager he could play several instruments, including piano, drums and guitar. He later added harmonica and xylophone.

Why Bobby Darrin?

As was common with first-generation Americans at the time, he changed his Italian surname to one that sounded less ethnic. He chose the name “Bobby” because he had been called that as a child. He allegedly chose Darin because he had seen a malfunctioning electrical sign at a Chinese restaurant reading “DARIN DUCK” rather than “MANDARIN DUCK”, and he thought “Darin” looked good. 🙂

Connie Francis

A member of the now famous Brill Building gang of once-struggling songwriters who later found success, Darin was introduced to then up-and-coming singer Connie Francis. Bobby’s manager arranged for Darin to help write several songs for Connie in order to help jump-start her singing career. Initially the two artists couldn’t see eye to eye on potential material, but after several weeks Bobby and Connie developed a romantic interest in one another. Purportedly, Connie had a very strict Italian father who would separate the couple whenever possible. When Connie’s father learned that Bobby had suggested the two lovers elope after one of Connie’s shows, he ran Darin out of the building while waving a gun telling Bobby to never see his daughter again.

Bobby saw Connie only twice more after this happened, once when the two were scheduled to sing together for a television show and again later when Connie was spotlighted on the TV series This Is Your Life. Connie has said that not marrying Bobby was the biggest mistake of her life. She said: “Well, he was my first real love and I never stopped loving him all my life.”

Sandra Dee

Sandra Dee was born Alexandra Zuck in Bayonne, New Jersey. Her parents divorced before she was five. Her mother was of Carpatho-Rusyn ancestry and raised her in the Russian Orthodox Church. Changing her name to Sandra Dee, she became a professional model by the age of four and subsequently progressed to television commercials.
There has been some confusion as to Dee’s actual birth year, with evidence pointing to both 1942 and 1944. According to her son Dodd Darin in his book Dream Lovers, she was born in 1944, but since Dee started modeling and acting at a very young age, she and her mother falsely inflated her age by two years so she could find more work. If Dee was indeed born in 1944, she was 16 when she married the 24 year-old Bobby Darin in 1960.

Sandra Dee made her first film, Until They Sail, in 1957, and the following year, she won a Golden Globe Award for New Star Of The Year – Actress.
Her marriage to Bobby Darin in 1960 kept her in the public eye for much of the decade. They met while making the 1961 film Come September together. She was under contract to Universal Studios, which tried to develop Dee into a mature actress, and the films she made as an adult – including a few with Darin – were moderately successful. They had one son, Dodd Mitchell Darin. She and Darin divorced in 1967 and Darin died in 1973.

In 1994, Dee’s son Dodd Darin published a book about his parents, Dream Lovers: The Magnificent Shattered Lives of Bobby Darin and Sandra Dee, in which he chronicled his mother’s anorexia, drug and alcohol problems and her disclosure that she had been sexually abused as a child by her stepfather, Eugene Douvan.


In 1973, Darin’s ill health took a turn for the worse. After failing to take medication to protect his heart before a dental visit, he developed blood poisoning. On December 19, a five-man surgical team worked for over six hours to repair Darin’s damaged heart. Although the surgery seemed initially successful, Darin died minutes afterward in the recovery room without regaining consciousness on December 20, 1973, at age 37.

His life is presented in the biographical movie – Beyond the Sea (2004). Kevin Spacey, who stars in the lead role and used his own singing voice for the musical numbers, co-wrote, directed, and co-produced the film, which takes its title from the Darin song of the same name. Beyond the Sea depicts Darin’s rise to teen idol success in both the music and film industry during the 1950s and 60s, as well as his marriage to Sandra Dee, portrayed by Kate Bosworth.

Source: Wikipedia

4 Responses so far.

  1. dear friend,
    Bobby Darin learned to pley fibraphone very early. He was only 17 when he was playing that in schools band. he continue to be better in that all the years. I have clip vhs where he is 18 and pleying that instrument.
    Much later 1972 I saw Darin in Hilton 4 times and he was playing in that concert gitar, harmonica and piano. In the midnight whos he was adding also drums. talented very talented man in many ways.
    re. Hannu Juurinen, Harjutie 4-6 Järvenpää, Finland

  2. diana says:

    Dear Hannu,

    Thanks so much for contributing with such interesting details! Indeed, Bobby Darin was a very gifted artist.


    • dear friend,
      Do you have any material by bobby darin?

      I have allmost all but still looking songs in Flip Wilson show.
      I used to travel a lot to Bobby on stage and still collecting items by Bobby.
      I am from Finland but now it is easy to get items of all kind from all over the world.

  3. Carmen says:

    I am so glad that Bobby Darin was not married at the time of his death, and that Sandra Dee never re-married. I really do believe that they are true DREAM LOVERS wherever they are.

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