Bobby Rydell, the singer who became a teen idol in the late 1950s with hits such as “Wild One” and his cover of “Volare,” died on Tuesday in Abington, Pennsylvania. He was 79.
An obituary published on his website said that he died from non-Covid-19 related pneumonia complications.
Born Robert Ridarelli in Philadelphia in 1942, Rydell got his first big break when he won Paul Whiteman’s TV Teen Club televised talent show in 1950 and earned a spot on the show’s cast.
After changing his name to Bobby Rydell, he began performing with several local bands around Philadelphia and releasing several unsuccessful records before finally breaking into the charts with the 1959 Cameo Records release “Kissin’ Time.”
Rydell to record charting hits through 1965, including “We Got Love,” “Wild Ones,” “Good Time Baby,” Forget Him,” and “I’ll Never Dance Again. His recording career resulted in the sale of over 25 million albums, including 34 top 100 hits.
In 1963, he made his big screen debut, appearing in in the cinematic translation of the hit Broadway production, Bye Bye Birdie with Ann-Margret and Dick Van Dyke. He also appeared in film and television projects such as “That Lady from Peking,” and “Combat!”
In 1983 with talent manager Dick Fox, Rydell partnered with Frankie Avalon and Fabian, both from Philadelphia, to form the group The Golden Boys and continued to actively tour and perform.
After suffering serious health issues in 2012 that included a double organ transplant, Rydell returned to the stage and performed until 2014.
In 2012, Rydell released his biography, Teen Idol on the Rocks: A Tale of Second Chances, detailing his struggles with alcohol and depression following the death of his first wife Camille Quattrone, in 2003.
He remarried in 2009 to Linda Hoffman and remained a longtime resident of the Penn Valley.
Rydell is survived by his wife, Linda J. Hoffman, son Robert Ridarelli, daughter Jennifer Dulin, and his five grandchildren. The family asks that friends and fans support organ transplants by donating to https://www.donors1.org/.