Sixties City presents a wide-ranging series of articles on all aspects of the Sixties, penned by the creator of the iconic 60s music paper  Mersey Beat

Sixties City - Bobby Darin - Bill Harry's 60s



Bobby Darin and Sandra Dee When Bobby Darin rented a house in London’s Belgravia in 1967, he invited my wife Virginia and I to stay with him. I remember during the mornings, while still in bed, he would make long distance calls to Sandra Dee. Calls full of humour and affection, even though the couple had split up.
Kevin Spacey made a film about Bobby Darin, ‘Beyond The Sea', with himself as Darin and Kate Bosworth as Sandra Dee. It covered the years from 1940 until Darin’s death in the 1970s and included his romance with Connie Francis, his marriage to Sandra Dee, his acting career and early death. Spacey also sang the Darin hits ‘Dream Lover’, ‘Mack The Knife’ and ‘Beyond The Sea'. Spacey had been fascinated by Darin for many years and was heard singing ‘That Old Black Magic’ in the Darin style on the soundtrack of the film ‘Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil'. He repeated the exercise on the TV show ‘Saturday Night Live’ and sang two Darin songs at a Hollywood party.

Darin and Dee had a son Dodd, born on December 16th 1961. In 1994 Dodd had his book ‘Dream Lovers: The Magnificent Shattered Lives Of Bobby Darin and Sandra Dee’ published, and ever since had been trying to interest Hollywood in a film about his parents' love affair. He was delighted with Spacey’s project.
He says, “As a young boy I remember my father telling me that there were basically two defining ‘moments’ or ‘cosmic happenings’ in popular music. One was Elvis and the other was The Beatles. The effort to get a motion picture made about my father’s life has indeed been a long and winding road. My personal efforts began in earnest in 1986 and I must admit that there were times, over the years, when I felt that the film would simply not happen. Therefore it is with a profound sense of excitement and a bit of relief that I can confirm that the long awaited and much talked about film about my father’s life will finally see the light of day.”

Darin was born Walden Robert Cassotto on May 14th 1936 in New York's Bronx. He was subject to attacks of rheumatic fever and was so afflicted with a heart illness that it was predicted he wouldn’t reach the age of 16. Unknown to him, the girl who he regarded as his sister was actually his mother while he believed that his grandmother was his mother. This was due to the stigma attached to unmarried mothers in those times, and it wasn’t until he was 32 years old that he discovered that Vivian, the person he thought was his sister, was really his mother and that the person he had regarded as his mother, Vanina, was his grandmother.

The first real romance in Darin’s life was with Connie Francis. They met in January 1956 when Connie recorded ‘My First Real Love’, which had been written by Bobby and Don Kirchner. The two became sweethearts. She was to say that she always loved Bobby “until the day he died and beyond". Bobby, the young songwriter, was 19 years old and Connie was 18.
She recalled, “He came up to my manager’s office and we started dating". Her father put an end to the affair. She says, “My father took a shot at him at the Ed Sullivan Show. That ended our romance. He was so against us. That’s what he did. He took a gun and came to the Ed Sullivan Show, where Bobby and I were both appearing and he saw us in the audience and we were holding hands, that was the end of it. So Bobby ran out the men’s room window. It was on the first floor, thank God . My father wouldn’t accept it and I will forever regret that I didn’t have the stamina, the fortitude to buck my father and not to have given in the way I did".

Bobby first met Sandra Dee in 1960 when they appeared in the film ‘Come September’ together. Born Alexandra Zuck, as Sandra Dee she became a young American sweetheart in films such as ‘Gidget’ and ‘A Summer Place'. They were filming in Italy and she said, “I hated him. We spent four weeks in Portofino shooting and I never said anything".
"He proposed to me before we started the picture. He had just arrived in Portofino and was in a yellow canary suit. He looked ridiculous. I looked up and said ‘Who the hell is that!” He was waving, “Hi, I’m Bobby Darin. You’re gonna be my wife".

When Bobby finished his role, he flew to Washington to receive an entertainment award. When Sandra landed at Idlewild (JFK) Airport he was there to meet her with an emerald cut engagement ring.
Bobby Darin and Connie Francis - Ed Sullivan Show

Bobby Darin Betsy Hale Wagon Train 1964 Sandra’s mother disapproved because of Sandra’s age, so the couple eloped on December 1st 1960. They had a son in 1961, but despite their love for each other, they were divorced in 1966 and Bobby was to marry Andrea Joy Yeager in June 1973. As a singer, Darin first attempted a cover version of Lonnie Donegan’s ‘Rock Island Line', which was a flop.

After a couple of other commercial failures he finally hit the charts with ‘Queen Of The Hop', which sold a million copies. After some further pop hits he changed direction with ‘Mack The Knife', another million-seller, to be followed by ‘La Mer’ (’Beyond The Sea’).

From 1960 he also embarked on a film career with movies such as ‘Come September’, ‘State Fair’, ‘Too Late Blues’, ‘If A Man Answers’, ‘Pressure Point’, ‘Hell Is for Heroes’ and ‘Captain Newman MD'. He was able to alter the style of music on his records with numbers such as ‘If I Were A Carpenter’ and ‘The Lady Came From Baltimore'.

He died of heart failure at the Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Hollywood on December 20th 1973. Dodd recalls that his mother continued to love Bobby, saying, “Her love did not end at his death".

Also see Bill Harry's Bobby Darin and Sandra Dee and Sixties City page: Jay Tell's Bobby Darin 30th Anniversary Tribute




Mersey Beat Magazine Bill Harry attended the Liverpool College of Art with Stuart Sutcliffe and John Lennon and made the arrangements for Brian Epstein to visit The Cavern, where he saw The Beatles for the first time. Bill was a member of 'The Dissenters' and the founder and editor of 'Mersey Beat', the iconic weekly music newspaper that documented the early Sixties music scene in the Liverpool area and is possibly best known for being the first periodical to feature a local band called 'The Beatles'. He has worked as a high powered publicist, doing PR for acts such as Suzi Quatro, Free, The Arrows and Hot Chocolate and has managed press campaigns for record labels such as CBS, EMI, Polydor. Bill is the critically acclaimed author of a large number of books about The Beatles and the 60s era including 'The Beatles Who's Who', 'The Best Years of the Beatles' and the Fab Four's 'Encyclopedia' series. He has appeared on 'Good Morning America' and has received a Gold Award from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors.


Article Bill Harry 2017               Original Graphics SixtiesCity 2017

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