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Sandra Dee 'Never Recovered' from Bobby Darin's Death & Erased Herself from Life in Her Last Years

Titi Dokubo
Mar 02, 2022
08:00 A.M.
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Sandra Dee and Bobby Darin were once so madly in love that they married less than a year after they first met. However, their marriage took an unexpected turn six years later. 

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They were long since separated when Bobby Darin passed away, but their son said Sandra Dee found it hard to overcome her grief.

Years after his death, she 'erased herself from life' and wasted away from the public eye. Here's a look into Sandra Dee's relationship and life after Bobby Darin's death.

Bobby Darin and Sandra Dee at Idlewild Airport after their secret marriage [left], Sandra Dee in an interview circa 1991 [right] | Source: Getty Images

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Born Alexandra Zuck on April 23, 1942, Sandra Dee was a successful model at 12, and by the time she turned 14, she had signed to her first film, "Until They Sail."

At 17, she hit box-office success with "Gidget" and "A Summer Place." Dee starred in "If a Man Answers" and "That Funny Feeling."

Portrait of Sandra Dee in 1959 | Source: Getty Images

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She soon became one of Hollywood's top moneymakers, with her career peaking in 1961 when she starred in "Tammy and the Bachelor."

Unfortunately, Dee, popularly known as the "Queen of Teens" in the 1950s, saw a decline in her career in the late 1960s.

Portrait of Sandra Dee in 1960 | Source: Getty Images

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Bobby Darin, born Robert Cassotto, on May 14, 1936, was a singer, songwriter, and actor who became a star in the late 1950s and 1960s. The doctors didn't expect him to live past 16 because he was a thin, sickly child.

He started playing in a band in high school before launching his professional music career by writing songs and eventually landing his record contract.

Portrait of Bobby Darin circa 1965 | Source: Getty Images

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In 1958, he made it big with "Splish Splash," which he wrote. He quickly became a teen idol of the era and released songs like "Queen of the Hop."

The Grammy award-winning singer released more songs like "Dream Lover" and "Mack the Knife." He also starred in "If a Man Answers" and "That Funny Feeling" alongside Dee.

Photo of Bobby Darin circa 1960 | Source: Getty Images

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A WHIRLWIND ROMANCE

Dee met Darin in 1960 when they cast him as the junior lead opposite her in "Come September." He immediately began to pursue Dee and jokingly asked her to marry him while they were on set.

Dee was not interested in him as she thought he was cocky. Darin resorted to juvenile tactics by taunting her. He also tried to woo her mom, who later convinced Dee to go out with him.

When Dee finally agreed to go out with Darin, he said he acted out because he was scared, was out of his element, had fallen in love with her, wasn't the main attraction, and didn't know how to get her to pay attention to him.

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Sandra Dee and Bobby Darin taking a ride after announcing their engagement | Source: Getty Images

Despite their friends ' objections, they soon became an item and found themselves in a passionate romance. They eloped on December 1, 1960. Dee said,

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"I do remember my thoughts that first morning when I woke up in bed with my husband. I thought I had never felt so safe in my life as I felt with Bobby."

After their marriage, Darin introduced Dee to a whole new world centered in Vegas casinos. He expected her to be at every one of his late-night gigs where she would sit through shows.

Photo of Sandra Dee and Bobby Darin circa 1962 | Source: Getty Images

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Soon, she began drinking heavily and gambling excessively. Dee started causing scenes with Darin to stir things up because she was bored.

She had no life and felt lonely during their marriage. Things became complicated when she got pregnant. Dee suffered six miscarriages before finally giving birth to their son, Dodd, in 1961.

By 1963, Darin thought Dee was having an affair and then told her he wanted a divorce. Their separation was short-lived, but in 1966, after Dee had a conversation with Warren Beatty, Darin asked for a divorce, and this time, it stuck.

Sandra Dee and Bobby Darin at the 33rd Academy Awards on April 17, 1961 | Source: Getty Images

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BOBBY'S DETERIORATING HEALTH

After their separation, Darin's health started to worsen. The several bouts of rheumatic fever he had permanently damaged his heart as a child.

Even though he lived past 16 despite what doctors predicted, his heart problems caught up with him in the early 1970s. He developed sepsis and began to suffer from dementia.

Sandra Dee, Bobby Darin, and their son, Dodd circa 1966 | Source: Getty Images

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At the time, Dodd was 12. On Dodd's twelfth birthday, Darin called from the hospital. Dodd, who recalled the incident, said,

"He was part hysterical, part sobbing, almost unintelligible. I eventually understood that he was calling to wish me [a] happy birthday."

Dodd further recalled that Darin declared his love for him and was sorry he could not be with Dodd. Dodd was distressed by the conversation that he had to cut it short.

Sandra Dee and Dodd on Bobby Darin's opening night in March 1966 | Source: Getty Images

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BOBBY'S DEATH & SANDRA'S LIFE-LONG HEARTBREAK

Despite their separation, Dee could not stop loving Darin. He would come and see her with his vitamins, saying he had nowhere to go. She would let him in, and things would start again.

As Darin's health worsened, he needed open-heart surgery, and in 1971, surgeons implanted two artificial valves in his heart. In 1973, the valves malfunctioned.

Bobby Darin preparing for work | Source: Getty Images

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Darin had a six‐hour operation where a four‐surgeon team worked on him, but he passed away after, as he was too weak to recover. In his will, he wanted his body donated for scientific research. Dodd said,

"My mom never recovered from my dad's passing. They were divorced and hadn't been together for years, but a lot of her died the day he died."

Sandra Dee and Dodd Darin during her "Dreamlovers" book signing on November 26, 1994, in West Hollywood | Source: Getty Images

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After Darin died, Dee erased herself from life and spent the last 30 years of her life retired in her room with a bottle of alcohol and seldom made appearances except for some TV shows.

She had been battling alcoholism and anorexia and semi-starved herself. Dee sometimes got drunk in public that her friend had to offer her a hand so she could walk, albeit like an old lady.

Sandra Dee and Bobby Darin in a scene from "That Funny Feeling" | Source: Getty Images

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SANDRA DEE'S DEATH

On February 20, 2005, Dee died at 62 after suffering complications from kidney disease. Dodd and his two daughters survived dee and Darin.

Dodd said the turning point for his mother came between 1967 and 1968 when her contract with Universal ended. She then starred in films like "Easy Rider."

At the time, the show culture had changed along with the star system, and Dee had a good run. He further said the films she did would stand up, and she was a good mom.

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