Bobby Darin was born Walden Robert Cassotto on 14 May 1936, in the Bronx area of New York, and was raised by his mother – a former professional entertainer. His father had disappeared a few months before his birth.
As an adult, Darin learned that the woman he thought to be his sister Nina, 17 years his senior, was, in fact, his mother, and the woman he thought to be his mother was, in fact, his grandmother. He went to his death without knowing the identity of his father.
An excellent scholar and musician – he could play piano, drums, bass and guitar proficiently as a youngster – Darin won a scholarship to study science in college.
It was while completing his education that he started singing and playing the piano in New York supper clubs.
Two years later he wrote and recorded Splish Splash which brought him international stardom.
The record enjoyed outstanding chart success on both sides of the Atlantic, which he followed up with an avalanche of hit singles: Queen Of The Hop, Dream Lover, Mack The Knife (which topped the US and UK charts in 1959), Beyond The Sea, Clementine, Bill Bailey, Lazy River and Nature Boy.
Besides establishing himself as a major recording artist – he had 37 hits in the American Top 100 – Bobby also emerged as a star of television and movies, having signed a long contract with Paramount.
His film credits included Too Late Blues, Pepe, Come September, Hell Is For Heroes and many more.
He also became one of the highest-paid and most in-demand nightclub entertainers in America, setting attendance records at the famed Copacabana nightclub, where fans would line up around the block to get tickets when Darin was playing there.
During the filming of Come September, Darin fell in love with his 18-year-old co-star Sandra Dee (pictured at left). They married in 1960 but were divorced by 1967. Darin’s fortunes fluctuated during the early 1960s – He was diversifying his talents too far and refused to specialise.
He left Atco Records for Capitol and did return to the charts on a number of occasions, scoring with three major hit singles during the decade: Multiplication (1961), Things (1962) and If I Were A Carpenter (1966).
But he never quite consolidated his earlier success.
Darin sold his possessions and took off for Big Sur on the California coast, where he lived in a trailer home for a year, passing his time reading in the library at Carmel.
Returning to Los Angeles, Darin decided to form his own record company (called Direction) in 1969. He released an album entitled Born Walden Robert Cassotto.
Bobby Darin died following open-heart surgery to repair his heart valve in Cedars of Lebanon Hospital, Hollywood, on 20 December 1973.
He had suffered from heart disease since the age of eight when he was struck by a severe attack of rheumatic fever. He had survived open-heart surgery once already, in 1971.