Rydell, Bobby and Allan Slutsky. “Rydell: Teen Idol On The Rocks: A Tale of Second Chances”, Doctor Licks Publishing, 2016.
An Up-close and Personal Look at the Former Teen Idol
At seventeen, Bobby Rydell was the face of American Bandstand. He was the kid from Italian South Philly with a smooth voice, the full and high pompadour, and a sweet smile. He had big hits with “Wild One,” “Volare,” and “Forget Him,” among others. He was far more than just a teen idol. His voice and his charm opened doors for him and he had the chance tossing, act and dance with acting, and dancing with Ann-Margret in film of the musical comedy “ Bye Bye Birdie”. His sense of comedy got him guest gigs on nighttime television and he had headlining shows in the casino showrooms of Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Frank Sinatra anointed him as his favorite pop singer of the early ‘60s. But early success took a toll on his life and he did not become one of the people that we thought about often or even wonder whatever happened to him.
Collaborating with award winning writer Allan Slutsky, Rydell shares where he has been and what he’s been doing.
Rydell is totally honest about his life . He was a star long before the Internet made people stars overnight. His stardom came with hard work and it was not always fun. He and Slutsky have wonderfully shared what life was like for Rydell during the 60 years that for many of us he has not been around. In 1960 some five million kids would rush home to watch American Bandstand out of Philadelphia. Much of the footage of that show has disappeared but we know that Rydell was a regular and appeared many times, and that he was Dick Clark’s favorite young talent, as well as that of legendary crooner Frank Sinatra.
Already at 7 years old, Rydell was an impressionist, a drummer and a singer. H went on to study with some of the great comedians including George Burns, Jack Benny, Danny Thomas, Red Skelton, and Milton Berle, during the heyday of TV variety shows. Rydell was the youngest act ever to headline the Copacabana nightclub.
Rydell openly writes about the women in his life and losing them and about his child-hood sweetheart and wife, and her death from Cancer. He writes about depression, anxiety, isolation, and addiction. In 2012, he was told that he had two weeks to live and at about the same time, he saw his career as ruined yet he bounced back from double transplant surgery and a double bypass heart surgery.
In 1965, his masters were bought and taken out of print so for 45 years his music wasn’t available in stores. Now, his albums have been re-released, and at 74 years of age, he’s still performing to sold-out crowds at home and abroad.
Some of us remember so well that there was once a time before the paparazzi and the Internet, when the press and police allowed young stars to have a measure of privacy and when some indiscretions were ignored or overlooked.
I found this new autobiography to be a quick read about someone I had forgotten about and how his story is somewhat representative of a time that was and will never be again.