A Teen Idol in The '50s and The '60s, Bobby Darin (born Walden Robert Cassotto, May 14, 1936 December 20, 1973) would be later be best remembered for his hit songs "Beyond the Sea," "Mack the Knife," and "Splish Splash" and his common appearances on lists of "Musicians Who Died Young".
During his lifetime, Darin was also known for several other tropetastic points. First it is worth noting that Teen Idols as we know them didn't exist much until the 1950s and 1960s. In this way, Darin was a bit of a pioneer making very good use of television and movies to extend his image. He's the guy who inspired Sammy Davis Jr.. His acting roles weren't pure marketing either. He managed to get contracts with at least five major studios and won a Golden Globe, Cannes French Film Critics Award and an Academy Award nomination over his career.
Like many stars of his time, he headlined casinos but also became well associated with the Copacabana in New York. This means that he played his part in making the trope for all similarly named clubs in movies and their association with the tropical fruit hat. For his opening acts and later his production studios he fostered a lot of new talent such as Richard Pryor and Wayne Newton.
Darin had always had heart troubles due to rheumatic fever as a child and the fear of a short life always motivated him. Eventually his predictions were shown right when he died from blood poisoning and weakened heart valves at the age of 37. Kevin Spacey later made a biopic of his life named after his hit Beyond The Sea, directing, acting and singing the part himself, with Kate Bosworth playing his young wife Sandra Dee. If Lex Luthor marrying Lois Lane doesn't freak you out, then you'll find a generally insightful piece that manages to avoid a bland Too Good for This Sinful Earth vibe while still praising the man's talent and drive. In fact it bombed, so really it was the film that was Too Good For This Sinful Audience Market.
His life and career provides examples of:
- Celebrities Hang Out in Heaven: "Rock and Roll Heaven" by the Righteous Brothers imagines Darrin with several deceased other musicians — including Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Otis Redding, Jim Morrison, and Jim Croce — in Heaven together forming a hell of a band, band, band!
- Cover Version: Was prolific as a songwriter, but most of his biggest hits were covers.
- Fake Band: Because of contractual issues between two different record labels, his early hit "Early in the Morning" was credited to The Rinky-Dinks.
- Family Relationship Switcheroo: A famous example, as he learned that his "sister" Nina was actually his mother when he was 32. Part of the reason she told him was that he was considering running for office and she was afraid his opponents might dig up the truth and cause a scandal.
- Genre Roulette: You name it, he tried it over the years—Rock & Roll, Jazz, Country Music, Folk Music, even a Cover Version of an Édith Piaf song in French ("Milord").
- Instrumentals: Had a minor hit with one in 1960, called "Beachcomber", where he played piano.
- In the Style of...: He had a tendency to not only record in different genres, but also imitate the style of specific singers in those genres, like Frank Sinatra ("Mack the Knife") and Marty Robbins ("18 Yellow Roses").
- Protest Song: Made an unexpected musical shift in 1968, specializing in musically punchy types of these, which totally confused his audience.
- Stage Names: Was born Walden Robert Cassotto. Legend has it he took the name Darin after seeing a neon sign at a Chinese restaurant where the first three letters of "Mandarin" were burned out. Later he released an album called Born Walden Robert Cassotto.
- Working on the Chain Gang: His most famous song from his brief protest phase was "Long Line Rider", a Ripped from the Headlines story about abuse of prisoners at an Arkansas penal labor prison.