Bobby Rydell, a 1950s teen idol who starred in the hit musical film “Bye Bye Birdie,” has died. He was 79.
According to a statement shared on Rydell’s verified Facebook page, the crooner died from pneumonia complications, not related to COVID-19, at Jefferson Abington Hospital in Abington, Pennsylvania on Tuesday.
Born Robert Ridarelli, Rydell rose to fame after getting discovered on the show “TV Teen Club” in 1950. Throughout his music career, he sold over 25 million albums and landed 34 top 100 hits. 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.”
Along with James Darren, Fabian and Frankie Avalon, Rydell was among a wave of wholesome teen idols who emerged after Elvis Presley and before the rise of the Beatles.
In 1985, he joined Fabian and Frankie Frankie to create The Golden Boys, a trio that performed together for decades.
Rydell was also an actor, making his film debut as Hugo Peabody in the 1963 musical-comedy “Bye Bye Birdie,” opposite Ann-Margret’s Kim McAfee. The film also featured legendary actors Dick Van Dyke and Janet Leigh. Rydell also appeared on the shows “The Facts of Life” in 1987, “Vacation Playhouse” in 1963 and “The Red Skelton Hour” from 1961 to 1965, among others.
Rydell became such a fixture of pop culture that the 1978 film “Grease,” a teen love story set in the 1950s, paid tribute to him by naming the high school in the film Rydell High.
Rydell was also open about his hardships. In his 2016 memoir “Bobby Rydell: Teen Idol On The Rocks: A Tale of Second Chances,” co-written with Allan Slutsky, Rydell opened up about his battles with alcoholism and depression after the death of his first wife Camille Ridarelli. He also wrote in the book about recovering from a double organ transplant in 2012.
He is survived by his wife Linda Hoffman, whom he married in 2009, along with son Robert Ridarelli, daughter Jennifer Dulin and five grandchildren.