Walden Robert Cassotto was born May 14, 1936, in in the East Harlem
neighborhood of New York City. His maternal grandfather, Saverio Antonio
"Big Sam Curly" Cassotto (born January 26, 1882), was a would-be mobster
of Italian descent who died in prison from pneumonia a year before Darin's
birth. Bobby Darin was a singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist,
impressionist, and actor in film and television. In 1968 he discovered that
the woman who had raised him was his grandmother, not his mother as he thought,
and learned that the woman he thought was his sister was actually his mother.
That event deeply affected Darin and sent him into a long period of seclusion.
Darin suffered from poor health his entire life. He was frail as an infant and,
beginning at age eight, was stricken with recurring bouts of rheumatic fever that
left him with a seriously weakened heart. During his first heart surgery, in
January 1971, he had two artificial valves implanted in his heart. He spent most
of that year recovering from the surgery. During the last few years of his life,
he was often administered oxygen during and after his performances on stage and
screen. In 1973, after failing to take antibiotics to protect his heart before
a dental visit, Darin developed sepsis, an overwhelming systemic infection, which
further weakened his body and affected one of his heart valves. On December 11,
he checked himself into Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Los Angeles for another
round of open-heart surgery to repair the two artificial heart valves he had
received in January 1971. On the evening of December 19, a four-person surgical
team worked for over six hours to repair his damaged heart. Shortly after the
surgery ended in the early morning hours of December 20, 1973, Darin died in the
recovery room without regaining consciousness. He was 37 years old.
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