Michael Starr, Author . Taylor $24.95 (248p) ISBN 978-1-58979-121-3

In this straightforward biography, New York Post entertainment columnist Starr (Mouse in the Rat Pack ) relates the abbreviated life of singer and mid-century youth icon Darin (1936–1973). Born Walden Robert Cassotto, Bobby was a sickly child eventually diagnosed with rheumatic heart disease. As Starr explains, Darin was propelled to stardom by the knowledge that his life would be short: by 22, he had worked his way out of the South Bronx and recorded his first hits, "Splish, Splash" and "Dream Lovers"; the following year he transformed his teeny-bopper image with the swinging, finger-snapping tune written by Kurt Weill and first popularized by Louis Armstrong, "Mack the Knife." He topped the song charts, appeared in movies (the first of which, Come September , starred his soon-to-be wife, Sandra Dee) and hosted his own variety show. He could be charming, arrogant and sometimes cruel: as a nightclub entertainer, he "shattered [the Copa's] old attendance record held by Frank Sinatra"; as an embittered son he died leaving nothing to his immediate family. Though it lags in spots, Starr's solid biography offers colorful quotes from Darin's friends, family and music business associates. Agent, Tony Seidl at TD Media. (Nov.)

Forecast: By November, a full-scale Darin revival will be underway, as Kevin Spacey releases his Darin biopic, Beyond the Sea, and Rodale publishes Roman Candle: The Life of Bobby Darin by David Evanier.

Reviewed on: 10/04/2004
Release date: 09/01/2004
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