Born Robert Louis Ridarelli on 26 April 1942, Rydell hailed – like his fellow pop crooners Fabian and Frankie Avalon – from the prolific city of Philadelphia, and he linked up with trumpeter Avalon as the drummer with Rocco & His Saints.
Bobby delivered three dozen US hits between 1959 and 1965, including his biggest hit, Wild One (1960) which reached #2, Sway (1961) – originally a top ten hit in 1954 for Dean Martin, and Forget Him (1963).
Also in 1963, Rydell played the role of Hugo Peabody in the film Bye Bye Birdie alongside Ann-Margret and Dick Van Dyke.
Rydell left Cameo-Parkway Records in 1964 and signed with Capitol Records, but by that stage, the British Invasion was in full swing and “teen idol” acts such as Rydell suffered a dramatic decline in popularity.
He performed on many television shows, including The Red Skelton Show (where the recurring role of Zeke Kadiddlehopper was written for him), The Danny Thomas Show, The George Burns Show, The Milton Berle Show and To Tell the Truth. His first dramatic acting role was in an episode of the series Combat!
Rydell continued to perform as a solo act and touring as part of ‘The Golden Boys’ stage production with Frankie Avalon and Fabian.
His major claim to fame these days is that the high school featured in the movie Grease (1978) was named in his honour.