Darin, Bobby (originally, Cassotto, Walden Robert)

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Darin, Bobby (originally, Cassotto, Walden Robert)

Darin, Bobby (originally, Cassotto, Walden Robert) , one of the most popular rock ’n’ roll teen idols of the late 1950s; b. Bronx, N.Y., May 14, 1936; d. Los Angeles, Dec. 20, 1973. As he matured, he moved into the pop mainstream and nightclub circuit with the definitive version of “Mack the Knife” in 1959. Embarking on a film career in the 1960s, Darin later explored both country and folk music and formed his own record label, Direction, before ending his career at Motown Records. A childhood victim of rheumatic fever, Darin was not expected to live beyond 25, yet he persevered until 1973, when he died at the age of 37.

Robert Cassotto learned to play drums, piano, and guitar as a child and studied drama for a time at Hunter Coll. in N.Y. Rheumatic fever has struck him at the age of eight and he suffered health problems throughout his life. Changing his name to enter show business, Darin recorded unsuccessfully for Decca Records in 1956, switching to the Atco subsidiary of Atlantic Records in 1957. He eventually broke through in mid 1958 with his own novelty composition “Splish Splash,” a R&B/pop/country smash, followed by the pop/R&B hit “Queen of the Hop.” He also recorded his composition “Early in the Morning” for Brunswick as the Ding Dongs, and the song later became a major hit on Atco under the name the Rinky-Dinks. It was also successfully covered by Buddy Holly. In late 1958 Ruth Brown scored a R&B/pop hit with Darin’s “This Little Girl’s Gone Rockin’.” In 1959 he achieved a smash pop/R&B hit with his composition “Dream Lover.”

Darin moved decisively into the popular mainstream with his album That’s All, which produced a top pop hit with “Mack the Knife,” based on Kurt Weill’s 1928 “Moritat,” from The Threepenny Opera, and a smash pop hit with “Beyond the Sea.” His shift was completed with a live album recorded at the Copacabana and Two of a Kind, recorded with singer-lyricist Johnny Mercer. Subsequent pop hits included “Artificial Flowers,” “Irresistible You” (backed with “Multiplication”), and the smash “Things,” which he wrote. Darin also initiated an acting career in the 1960s, garnering an Academy Award nomination as best supporting actor for his role in 1963’s Captain Newman, M.D. He was married to actress Sandra Dee from 1960 to 1967.

In 1962 Darin signed with Capitol Records, scoring a smash pop/R&B hit with the country-styled “You’re the Reason I’m Living” and a smash pop hit with “18 Yellow Roses” in 1963. Subsequent Capitol releases proved relative failures, yet his concerts often featured guitarist Roger McGuinn, who later formed the Byrds. Darin returned to Atlantic and rebounded with a near-smash version of Tim Hardin’s folk song “If I Were a Carpenter” in 1966. He formed Direction Records in 1968, recording for the label, and worked extensively for Robert Kennedy during the 1968 presidential campaign. He moved to Motown Records in 1971, where he managed his last minor hit with “Happy,” the love theme from the movie Lady Sings the Blues. On Dec. 20, 1973, Darin died in L.A. of heart failure while undergoing an operation. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.


B.D. (1958); Darin at the Copa (1960); For Teenagers Only (1960); The 25th Day of December (1960); This Is Darin (1960); Darin Live at the Copa (1961); Love Swings (1961); The B.D. Story (1961); Two of a Kind (with Johnny Mercer; 1961); Oh! Look at Me Now (1962); Sings Ray Charles (1962); Things and Other Things (1962); Earthy (1963); Golden Folk Hits (1963); It’s You or No One (recorded 1960; 1963); 18 Yellow Roses (1963); You’re the Reason I’m Living (1963); Clementine (1964); From Hello Dolly to Goodbye Charlie (1964); Winners (1964); Venice Blue (1965); Best (1966); In a Broadway Bag (1966); Sings the Shadow of Your Smile (1966); If I Were a Carpenter (1967); Inside Out (1967); Sings Doctor Doolittle (1967); Born Walden Robert Cassotto (1968); Commitment (1969); B.D. (1972); The Legendary B. D. (1974); Darin 1936–1973 (1974); Live at the Desert Inn (1987); B. D. (1989); Best (1990); Splish Splash: The Best of B. D., Vol. One (1991); Mack the Knife: The Best ofB. D., Vol. Two (1992); Spotlight on Bobby Darin (1994); That’s All (1994); As Long As I’m Singing: The B. D. Collection (1995).


Al DiOrio, Borrowed Time: The 37 Years of B.D. (Philadelphia, 1981); Dodd Darin, Dream Lovers: The Magnificent Shattered Lives of B.D. and Sandra Dee (N.Y., 1994).

—Brock Helander