Classic Hits & Oldies

Teen idol, ‘Bye Bye Birdie’ star Bobby Rydell dead at 79

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Bobby Bank/WireImage

Bobby Rydell, the teen idol who scored a series of hits during the late 1950 and early ’60s, died Tuesday, April 5, at age 79.

The singer and actor, who was born Robert Ridarelli, passed away at a Philadelphia area hospital from complications of non-COVID-19-related pneumonia, according to a press release.

Rydell’s singing career was launched when he was discovered on the Philadelphia television talent show TV Teen Club. He scored his first hit single in 1959 with “Kissin’ Time,” which peaked at #11 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Over the next five years, Rydell reached the Hot 100’s top 20 over a dozen times, with hits including “We Got Love,” “Wild One,” “Swingin’ School,” “Volare,” “Good Time Baby,” “The Cha-Cha-Cha” and “Forget Him.”

In 1963, Bobby made his film debut in the hit movie musical Bye Bye Birdie, playing the love interest of Ann-Margret‘s character. He went on appear in many more films and TV shows over the course of his long career.

In 1978, Rydell’s name was immortalized when it was used as the moniker of the high school in the smash hit film Grease.

Beginning in 1985, Rydell teamed up with two other Philly-area singers from the teen idol era — Frankie Avalon and Fabian — as “The Golden Boys,” who frequently toured over the next decades.

Rydell survived a double organ transplant in 2012, and became an advocate for The Gift of Life, a charity that helps the families of people who have undergone organ transplants.

Bobby is survived by his wife, Linda J. Hoffman; his son, Robert Ridarelli; and his daughter, Jennifer Dulin; as well as five grandchildren. His family is encouraging people to become an organ donor in his memory and to donate to The Gift of Life.

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