On the Big Board
||A vanity project run amok
Somewhere beyond the sea
Somewhere waiting for me
My lover stands on golden sands
And watches the ships that go sailin'
The smooth notes from that now classic standard issued from the golden pipes of one Bobby Darin. Born Walden Robert Cassotto, the singer/actor had a pampered childhood due to a severe rheumatic fever that scarred his heart. Technically, the over-protection was probably warranted. The boy's family was told that he likely wouldn't live past his late teens.
With this sad knowledge in hand, Darin became determined that he would leave his mark in show business both as singer and as actor by the age of 25. Thanks to a family that encouraged his musical talent, the young performer began writing songs and delivering demos to producers in his late teens. At the age of 22, he sang one of his famous tunes, "Splish Splash," on Dick Clark's American Bandstand. Eventually, it would sell over a million records.
One year later, Darin was winning Grammy awards for what is probably his best-remembered song today -- Mack the Knife. That song sat at the number one spot on the charts for nine weeks, with an additional 42 weeks in the top ten.
Another year down the line, and Darin had decided he wanted to conquer the world of movies. His debut role was in the film Come September, which was filmed in Rome, where he met 16-year-old megastar named Sandra Dee. The pair was engaged within two months, and she gave birth to their son Dodd one year later.
In 1964, Darin was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the film Captain Newman, M.D. Though he didn't win, he was now at the top of his career and recognized both as a legitimate musical and theatrical star. Just as he'd promised, he'd turned show business on its head.
Eventually, in 1967, Darin and Dee were divorced mainly due to the struggles they faced in careers that often kept them separated. Four years later, Darin had heart surgery that would presage difficult battles with health that would last him the remainder of his short life. He died in late 1973 after complications from an additional open-heart surgery. He was only 37.
For several years now, Darin has been a character of interest for the talented Kevin Spacey, who does a fairly dead-on imitation of the classic performer. After a few years in development hell, Spacey will finally direct, produce and take the lead role in Beyond the Sea, which will chronicle the romance and turbulent marriage between Darin and Dee along with other biographical elements. While Spacey could be seen as too old to portray a man who died at 37, he actually does bear a physical resemblance to the performer, who looked older than his years as a result of the illnesses ravaging his body.
Expect Spacey to treat the subject matter with a great deal of reverence, as he has assured both Dee and her son Dodd that he has nothing but the best intentions. While the film will focus on the period from the '40s to the '70s, Spacey has said that he will not tell his story in a linear fashion, nor will the film be a purely dramatic biopic. Either way, it sounds like serious Oscar bait. (Kim Hollis/BOP)