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Bobby Darin was an American singer, songwriter and actor who became a ubiquitous presence in pop entertainment in the late 1950s and 1960s.
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Born in 1936, Bobby Darin moved from performing in New York City coffeehouses into recording in the late 1950s. In 1958, 'Splish Splash,' a novelty song he reputedly wrote in 12 minutes, became an international hit. He then recorded adult-oriented tracks, hitting it big with 'Mack the Knife' and earning two Grammys. He entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.
"My goal is to be remembered as a human being and as a great performer."
Born on May 14, 1936, in the Bronx, New York, entertainer Bobby Darin reached the heights of fame in his all-too-brief life. He grew up poor in New York City. Throughout his childhood, Darin was told that his parents were Sam and Polly Cassotto. Sam Cassotto had been an associate of crime boss Frank Costello and had died in Sing Sing Prison. Polly, a former vaudeville performer, encouraged young Bobby to become a star like Frank Sinatra.
In fact, Darin was actually the son of Polly and Sam's daughter Nina Cassotto, a woman he believed to be his sister. Nina had gotten pregnant as an unwed teenager, and she and Polly decided that it would be if Polly to assume the role of mother. While he later learned the truth about his mother, Darin never discovered who his father really was.
Darin was a thin, sickly child. Several bouts of rheumatic fever had permanently damaged his heart, and he was plagued by other health problems as well. Around the age of 6 or 7, Darin overheard a doctor's grim prognosis for him. The doctor said he didn't expect Darin to live past the age of 16. Rather than depress him, these words seemed to serve as an inspiration for Darin.
Well versed in several instruments, Darin started out as playing in a band in high school. One of his first gigs was a school dance. At 16, he and his band mates landed a job at a Catskills resort for the summer. Darin showed a knack not just for music but comedy as well. After high school, he briefly attended Hunter College. Darin launched his professional music career writing songs for the Aldon Music label and eventually landed his own record contract with Atco.
In 1958, Darin hit the pop charts with the light-hearted catchy rock tune "Splish Splash"—a song he wrote. He quickly became one of the teen idols of the era with such songs as "Queen of the Hop." Darin, however, proved himself to be more than another Dion or Frankie Avalon. In 1959, he scored big with two songs, "Dream Lover" and "Mack the Knife." "Mack the Knife" was his first number-one hit on the Billboard charts and won him the Grammy Award for record of the year. Darin also picked the Grammy for best new artist.
Darin continued to enjoy great popularity in the early 1960s. Moving from the concert stage to the big screen, he starred in the romantic comedy Come September (1961) with Rock Hudson, Gina Lollobrigida and Sandra Dee. Darin and Dee were a celebrity couple off-screen as well, having eloped together the previous year.
Trying his hand at a musical, he starred with Pat Boone and Ann Margaret in State Fair (1962). Darin went on to earn an Academy Award nomination the following year for his work in Captain Newman, M.D..
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