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Sandra Dee & 8-Years-Older Bobby Darin, Who Fell for Her 1st, 'Had No Life Together' during Their Marriage

Oyin Balogun
Mar 27, 2022
10:20 A.M.
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Sandra Dee was one of the breakout stars of the mid-1950s, but her life was filled with sad tales of sexual abuse and a failed marriage to Bobby Darin, who went to great lengths to win her heart.

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Sandra Dee met Bobby Darin in 1960 on the set of "Come September." Movies such as "Gidget," "Imitation Of Life," and "A Summer Place" had made Dee a popular name, while Darin, already a famous singer, was hoping to make his mark in acting.

When he saw her, Darin fell head over heels in love with Dee, but the actress was not open to his feelings. Although she was already a famous star, she was 16 and had little experience with dating.

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

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Darin later said of their first meeting, "She hated me, and I loved her." The "Beyond the Sea" singer, who was 24, made up his mind to marry Dee, but she often rejected his requests.

While filming "Come September" in Italy, a lovestruck Darin found it hard to conceal his feelings. Their son Dodd once wrote about his father's proposal on set and Dee's instant rejection. Dodd wrote, "Will you marry me?' he called out to her.' Not today,' she replied."

Dee was not scared to voice her displeasure and distrust of the singer to his face. She once remarked about her feelings towards Darin thus: "I just thought, this is a conniving S.O.B. I didn't want anything to do with him." 

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Seeing that Dee was far from impressed, Darin successfully befriended her controlling mother, Mary, who insisted that she give the singer a chance. Following this, Dee agreed to go on a date with Darin.

BOBBY DESPERATELY BEGGED TO MARRY SANDRA 

Singer Bobby Darin, 24, and actress Sandra Dee, 19, pose at Idlewild Airport, after their secret marriage earlier in Elizabeth, New Jersey. on 01 Dec,1960 | Source: Getty Images

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Soon after her mom meddled, Dee reluctantly went on a carriage ride with the young singer, but Darin's feelings for her made him tense. He was at a loss as to getting her to give him attention. The budding actor confessed to Dee that his feelings made him a little scared.

Darin remained persistent and continued sending flowers to Dee. The duo soon became an item, and a few months after they met, Darin proposed with a 7-carat diamond ring, with Dee agreeing to marry him.

American singer and actor Bobby Darin (1936 - 1973), circa 1960 | Source: Getty images

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Dee's mother was furious when she learned of their engagement. She cut her daughter off and denied her support. Dee had never lived alone before then and felt helpless, and without help, she asked Darin to marry her.

The couple tied the knot in a simple ceremony that lasted less than ten minutes in 1960. The newlyweds wore elegant but not festive clothes for their big day.

Dee was reportedly dressed in a purple cocktail dress and had no shoes on, while her groom, Darin, wore a jacket and one of America's favorite snarls. 

American singer Bobby Darin (1936 - 1973) and his wife, actress Sandra Dee (1942 - 2005), circa 1964. | Source: Getty images

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The early days of their lives as husband and wife were soothing for Dee. She spoke of the night after their wedding, saying,

"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."

MARRIAGE TO BOBBY WASN'T PERFECT

American singer Bobby Darin (1936 - 1973) and his wife, actress Sandra Dee (1942 - 2005), at the 33rd Academy Awards, Santa Monica, California, on 17th April 1961 | Source: Getty Images

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Dee's marriage to Darin started sweetly, but things quickly grew out of hand. Their son, Dodd, wrote of their love, "Their story, it looked glamorous, it looked perfect from the outside — but it was far from it."

Their marriage threatened Dee's career as Darin expected her to follow him to his late-night Las Vegas shows and hang out with his friends. Dee always had to look perfect; that was what Darin expected of her.

The young actress did not have to worry or compete with other women for her husband's affection since he went out mostly with his male friends. But soon, Dee began to feel bored.

American singer Bobby Darin (1936 - 1973) celebrates the birthday of his wife, actress Sandra Dee (1942 - 2005), with their son Dodd, circa 1966. | Source: Getty images

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She noted of her feelings at the time, "I had no life, and we had no life together." As a result, the teenage actress soon began to rely on alcohol to cope with her boredom and lack of adventure with her husband.

Their union began to fall apart, and the couple found it hard to see eye to eye. They were often heard exchanging insults. Dee would tell Darin his toupee was crooked before he went on stage.

Photo of Bobby Darin, on August 1963 | Sources: Getty Images

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In return, Darin would make Dee cry before she went on a TV show. When an associate asked Dee why she made a scene before Darin's performances, she said, "To stir things up. I'm bored."

To complicate things, Dee got pregnant but suffered a miscarriage due to anorexia; it was the first of six miscarriages. She later gave birth to their only child, Dodd.

BOBBY DARIN WAS FURIOUSLY JEALOUS

Photo of Bobby Darin circa 1970 | Source: Getty Images

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Darin's jealousy was one of the contributors to the decline of their marriage. The music star could not stand seeing his wife with other Hollywood stars. Darin soon asked to divorce Dee; he was convinced she was having an affair with her co-star, Peter Fonda, but Dee strongly denied it.

The couple separated for a while and reunited, shortly after which Darin made a fresh commitment to his family. Things reached a final point when he saw Dee talking to Warren Beatty, a popular actor at the time.

Darin's jealousy got the best of him, and he asked their psychiatrist to inform Dee of his decision to divorce. Dee downplayed Darins's fears, stating, "It was all very nothing. But it was the first time Bobby observed me with a handsome man who had a reputation in Hollywood." The couple divorced in 1967.

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THEIR STORY DIDN'T END WITH A DIVORCE

US singer and actor, wearing a dark blue pin-striped jacket, a light blue shirt and dark blue bowtie in a studio portrait, against a blue background, circa 1965 | Source:Getty Images

The couple's love for each other remained intact despite calling things off. Their friend Cameron recalled that "Sandra was very much still in love with him, and he was still in love with her." 

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Darin married and divorced his second wife in 1973, but he and Dee remained soulmates. The actress remarked that they lived together even after divorce, and she was at his bedside as he battled the heart ailment that ended his life at 37 in 1973.

Sandra Dee interview on 1991 | Source: Gettty Images

Before Darin's death, the singer's close friends said he had his heart set on attempting a relationship with Dee again. But his death was a heartbreaking experience for Dee, and she remained single until she died in 2005, aged 62.

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