Artists - Bobby Darin

Artist Biography

Born May 14th, 1936 in the Bronx, Bobby grew up quite poor and with a burden to carry. He had rheumatic fever five times before age 12, which permanently damaged his heart. He was told he would only live until about 16 years old. Knowing his time was limited not only gave him a more intense lust for life but also catapulted his desire to make it big in show business.

After attending college for a year, Bobby dabbled in demo writing and started singing at the famous Brill Building in New York joined by then-upcoming stars Don Kirshner and Connie Francis (he would later perform alongside her on the Ed Sullivan Show). He composed and recorded his first hit singles, “Splish Splash”  and “Dream Lover” in 1958, as well as his first studio LP “That’s All” featuring his signature song “Mack The Knife” which gained him two Grammys and a number one spot on the Billboard charts. This single also went on to be one of the best-selling singles in history. He made his debut performance on Sullivan on May 31st, 1959 with the same song, appearing on the show five times between 1959 and 1962. 

At age 23, Bobby had taken over the club scene performing at famous nightclubs all over the country, including the Copacabana, The Flamingo, and the Cloister. With his effortless charisma and boyish charm, Bobby captured the hearts of all ages, successfully bridging the gap between teenage and adult audiences. He was also quite the actor and made a name for himself in film as well as in the music world, starring in 13 films and receiving an Oscar nomination for his role in Captain Newman, M.D.  

Bobby’s love life was just as much in the public eye as his career. When he joined the cast of Come September as the junior lead opposite renowned actress Sandra Dee, he attempted to woo her unsuccessfully at first. However, once Sandra’s mother convinced her to go on a carriage ride with Bobby one night, the rest was history. The two eloped on December 1st, 1960, and were married for six years before their divorce in 1966. While they were thought to have been the perfect Hollywood couple at the time, their marriage was tumultuous behind the scenes as personal baggage caught up to the two young lovers. It was around this time Bobby’s mental and physical health was also starting to deteriorate.

In the late 1960s, Bobby became heavily involved with Senator Robert F. Kennedy and actively campaigned for him. When he was killed, it pushed Bobby to get more involved in politics. Because of this, his “older sister” Nina, and his “father” Charlie decided they better tell Bobby the truth of his upbringing. It turned out Nina was not his sister, but his biological mother, and his “mother” was his grandmother. This deeply upset Bobby and caused him to reevaluate his life. Unfortunately, it would only get worse from there.

Suffering from heart arrhythmias and extreme exhaustion, Bobby underwent open heart surgery on December 20th, 1973.  Sadly, he would not survive it. 

While Bobby’s life was plagued with tragedy, he certainly made the most of his short time and lived his life to the fullest. He had vowed he would become a legend by the age of 25, and he certainly delivered on that promise. He has made an undeniable impact on not only the music world but pop culture as a whole. As Bobby once said; “It isn’t true that you live only once. You only die once. You live lots of times if you know how.”

Check out our Bobby Darin playlist to see full performances from The Ed Sullivan Show!