Bobby Darin was one of the best entertainers of his time. Plagued by health and personal issues some would argue it brought out the true artist in him, but it also contributed to his untimely death at a young age.
Born Walden Robert Cassotto on May 14, 1936, in the Bronx, New York, Bobby became a famous songwriter and actor while he also performed various genres of music. His 1958 single, “Splish Splash” became his first million-selling single while songs like “Dream Lover,” “Mack the Knife,” and “Beyond the Sea,” would bring him international fame.
Four years later Bobby received a Golden Globe Award for his feature film “Come September” wherein he co-starred with his first wife, Sandra Dee.
In the 1960s Bobby became involved in politics and actively worked on Robert F. Kennedy’s Democratic presidential campaign. It was during this time that Bobby made a shocking discovery.
His mother was actually his grandmother, while his sister turned out to be his birth mother. Darin’s biological mother, Nina Cassotto, had Bobby at the age of 16.
Unwed and with the social stigma at the time, it got decided that Nina’s mother Polly would raise Bobby as her own, while Nina masqueraded as his sister. Bobby would never find out who his father was, as Nina never told anyone.
The same year, Bobby was present at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles at the time of Kennedy’s assassination in June 1968.
The newfound knowledge about his mother, along with the death of Kennedy gave Bobby a hard knock and he went into seclusion.
He spent several months in California’s Big Sur area in his Airstream trailer, after he gave away all his possessions and began writing folk songs. A period in his life some may call his most prolific time as an artist.
Bobby suffered from poor health all his life. Those days didn’t have the medical advances of today, and a few bouts of rheumatic fever as a young child left him with a severely weakened heart.
In January 1971, Bobby underwent surgery to replace two of his heart valves with artificial ones, and a surgery he spent recovering from for most of the year. In the last few years of his life that followed, he often went backstage during performances to administer oxygen.
His personal life resembled that of his own while growing up, as he had a short affair with a waitress named Lillian Sweet in the summer of 1957. She secretly gave birth to Bobby’s son, Sam Tallerico, who Lillian gave up for adoption as an infant.
Bobby married the actress Sandra Dee on December 1, 1960, and the couple welcomed their son, Dodd Mitchell Darin a year later on December 16, 1961.
The marriage didn’t last, and the couple officially got divorced on March 7, 1967. During the split from Sandra in 1966, Bobby also had his last major hit with the folk song, “If I Were a Carpenter.”
A dental visit in 1973 had him land up in surgery again, as Bobby failed to take antibiotics before his appointment and consequently developed sepsis. It greatly affected one of his heart valves,
After the operation in Los Angeles on December 20, Bobby died in the recovery room. He was 37 years old.
His son, Dodd Darin is still alive and well, and at the age of 52, the spitting image of his father. Dodd recently spoke about his father and recalled what type of parent he was, and what it was like for him growing up.