He was the epitome of the teen idols of yesteryear. Bobby Rydell parlayed that fame into a starring role opposite Ann-Margret in the 1963 film “Bye Bye Birdie,” and died today at age 79. The cause of death was pneumonia.
His death just days away from his 80th birthday was confirmed by radio legend Jerry Blavat, Rydell’s longtime friend from the singer’s South Philadelphia stomping grounds. “Out of all the kids” from that era, Blavat said, “he had the best pipes and was the greatest entertainer. He told the best stories, did the best impersonations and was the nicest guy.”
Rydell’s fame as the epitome of an American teen pop star in the days just prior to rock’s British Invasion was such that Rydell High School in the Broadway musical and subsequent film “Grease” was named after him.
The singer had 34 singles chart on the Billboard Hot 100, the most well-remembered of which include “Wild One,” which reached No. 2, and “Volare,” a No. 4 hit. Other top 10 songs included “Swingin’ School,” “The Cha-Cha-Cha.” His run of top 10 songs began with “We Got Love,” which reached No. 6 in 1959, and ended with “Forget Him” in 1964.
He was born Robert Louis Ridarelli on April 26, 1942. #RIP