The singer and actor Bobby Rydell, who was known as a heartthrob of early rock and roll, has died at the age of 79.
Rydell died of complications from pneumonia at a hospital in a suburb of his hometown of Philadelphia, according to a statement posted by his marketing and event coordinator Maria Novey.
Between 1959 and 1964, he had nearly three dozen Top 40 singles including Wild One, Volare, Wildwood Days, The Cha-Cha-Cha and Forget Him, a song of consolation for a bereft girl that helped inspire The Beatles’ classic She Loves You.
"I can't complain at all about my career. You know, it's had its ups and downs, it peaks and valleys, so on, so forth. I've survived through all that, and I'm continuing to do what I really enjoy doing."— Bobby Rydell (1942- 2022). 🎙️
One of my favorite teen idols of the 1960s! pic.twitter.com/iKACsbF2XX
— NightingalesTune (@lacey_korb) April 6, 2022
He had recurring roles on The Red Skelton Show and other television programs, and 1963’s Bye Bye Birdie was rewritten to give Rydell a major part as the boyfriend of Ann-Margret.
He did not want to move to Hollywood, however, and Birdie became his only significant movie role — though the high school in the hit 1970s musical Grease was named for him.
Rydell never strayed far from his Philadelphia roots, living in the area for most of his life. The block of 11th Street where he grew up was christened Bobby Rydell Boulevard by his hometown in 1995.
“I never thought of myself as a celebrity,” he told The Philadelphia Inquirer in 2003. “I was just a guy who went out there and worked.”
He is survived by his second wife, Linda Hoffman, whom he married in 2009, along with son Robert Ridarelli, daughter Jennifer Dulin and five grandchildren.
Tributes paid to Bobby Rydell
Tributes were paid to Rydell on social media, by many stars who knew him or admired him.
The singer Deana Martin was "heartbroken" by Rydell's passing, as she tweeted: "I am absolutely heartbroken at the loss of my dear Pallie Bobby Rydell. He was an incredible entertainer and absolutely one of the funniest people I’ve ever known. Rest well Bobby. We love you, Deana Martin."
I am absolutely heartbroken at the loss of my dear Pallie Bobby Rydell. He was an incredible entertainer and absolutely one of the funniest people I’ve ever known. Rest well Bobby. We love you, Deana Martin pic.twitter.com/SxsBZjuYDO
— Deana Martin (@DeanaMartin_) April 5, 2022
Burton Cummings praised Rydell for inspiring him to make it in the music industry, posting: "BOBBY RYDELL (1942 - 2022) Truly one of my heroes. Had it not been for Rydell, I may never have pursued a career making records. His recordings will never be forgotten. He made me always try to be a better singer. Rest in peace Ridarelli..."
The author Stephen King also commended Rydell's talent, tweeting: "Bobby Rydell passed on. What a shame! He was the most talented of the 50s and early 60s teen idols. Well…maybe a tie with Bobby Darin."