How did Bobby Rydell die: Bobby Rydell, the epitome of early 1960s “teen idol” fame, parlayed that fame into a starring opposite Ann-Margret in the 1963 film “Bye Bye Birdie,” died Tuesday at the age of 79. Pneumonia was the cause of death.
Who was Bobby Rydell?
The singer had 34 singles chart on the Billboard Hot 100, the most well-known of which was “Wild One,” which peaked at No. 2, and “Volare,” which peaked at No. 4. “Swingin’ School” and “The Cha-Cha-Cha” were also among the top ten songs. His run of top ten hits began with “We Got Love,” which peaked at No. 6 in 1959, and ended in 1964 with “Forget Him.”
“Wildwood Days,” one of his first hits, only reached No. 17 in 1963 but has since become an anthem in the New Jersey community for which it was named. The Wildwood, New Jersey, the boardwalk features a mural of Rydell.
Rydell recalled in a 2020 interview how his role in “Bye Bye Birdie” grew once he was cast. “I go to see the play, and I’m looking at Hugo Peabody, and he doesn’t sing, he doesn’t have any lines, he doesn’t dance, he just stands there.” But, when I went out to begin filming, Mr. (George) Sidney saw some kind of miracle between Ann-Margret and myself, and every day I returned to Columbia Studios, my script grew bigger, bigger, bigger. More dialogue, singing, and dancing. And, while I’m not a movie star by any means, if I had to be in one film, it would be a classic like ‘Grease.’ And I’m thrilled to be a part of something so worthwhile.
Cause of death
Maria Novey, Mr. Rydell’s marketing, and event coordinator confirmed his death Tuesday afternoon at Jefferson Abington Hospital.
Mr. Rydell’s death, she said, was unexpected, even though he had many health issues dating back to 2012 when he underwent a double transplant to replace a liver and a kidney.
How did Bobby Rydell die: Mr. Rydell had been scheduled to perform at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia by DJ Jerry Blavat in January, but he was unable to do so due to ill health. According to Novey, the cause of death was pneumonia complications unrelated to COVID-19. Linda J. Hoffman, Mr. Rydell’s wife, was by his side at the hospital, according to Blavat.
Rydell began singing and playing drums at the age of six, and by the age of seven, he was performing professionally in nightclubs in the Philadelphia/South Jersey area at the urging of his father.
Rydell won a talent show on the television show “Paul Whiteman’s TV Teen Club” in 1950 and went on to become a regular. After three years on Whiteman’s singing on-air crew, the vocalist/drummer changed his name to “Rydell” and began playing for local bands like Rocco and the Saints (an ensemble that also featured another South Philly friend, Frankie Avalon, as its trumpeter).
After a string of unsuccessful singles for small, independent labels, Rydell signed with Philadelphia’s Cameo Records (later Cameo/Parkway) and charted with “Kissin’ Time” in 1959. Rydell became a teen idol with that single and its follow-ups, “We Got Love” (his first million-seller), “Wild One,” “Swingin’,” and his take on the classic, “Volare.”
By 1961, when Rydell headlined a show at New York City’s Copacabana, he had become the youngest performer to ever headline at the famed nightclub, cementing his status with Rat Pack fans as well as teen crowds.
In 1963, he starred as Hugo Peabody in the film adaptation of the satirical musical “Bye Bye Birdie,” alongside Ann-Margret and Dick Van Dyke. His character was not the titular rock star, but rather the envious boyfriend of the girl who wins a chance to meet Birdie before enlisting in the Army. In 2011, “Bye Bye Birdie” was digitally restored, and Rydell and Ann-Margret appeared together at a special Academy screening at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater.
He moved to Reprise in the late 1960s, where he had little success. “Mr. Sinatra wanted me on his Reprise label, so of course, I said yes,” Rydell explained to Goldmine.
Rydell, Avalon, and the rest of the clean-cut teen idol crew ceded their popularity to all things mop-top, becoming lounge singers in Las Vegas and on the global touring circuit.
Rydell never charted again on the Billboard Hot 100 after 1965, though he continued to release singles into the mid-’70s, and one of his final songs, a disco number called “Sway,” made a minor dent on the adult contemporary chart in 1977.
“Bobby Rydell: Teen Idol on the Rocks: A Tale of Second Chances,” Rydell’s memoir, was published in 2009. The subtitle “on the rocks” referred to his bout with alcoholism following the death of his wife of 36 years from breast cancer in 2003.
In 2012, after marrying his second wife, Linda, he underwent a liver and kidney transplant.
Rydell has toured as a solo act until the present day and has been a member of the Golden Boys stage production since 1985, along with Frankie Avalon and Fabian. The three “idols” had been planning a spring and summer 2022 tour.
How did Bobby Rydell die: Mr. Rydell’s death, was unexpected, even though he had many health issues dating back to 2012 when he underwent a double transplant to replace a liver and a kidney.
Mr. Rydell had been scheduled to perform at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia by DJ Jerry Blavat in January, but he was unable to do so due to ill health. According to Novey, the cause of death was pneumonia complications unrelated to COVID-19. Linda J. Hoffman, Mr. Rydell’s wife, was by his side at the hospital, according to Blavat.
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