Bye Bye Birdie star Bobby Rydell dies aged 79

Bobby Rydell, a pompous early rock ‘n’ roll heartthrob who was a star of radio, television and the movie musical Bye Bye Birdie, has died at the age of 79.

Ydell died of complications from pneumonia at a hospital in a suburb of his hometown of Philadelphia, according to a statement from his marketing and events coordinator, Maria Novey.

Rydell credited a kidney and liver transplant in 2012 with prolonging his life.

Along with James Darren, Fabian and Frankie Avalon, Rydell was part of a wave of sane teen idols that emerged after Elvis Presley and before the rise of the Beatles.


Rydell, who arrives in New York on an ocean liner from Europe, stayed in Philadelphia after his success as a young man (AP)

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 comfort for a grieving girl , which inspired the Beatles classic She Loves You.

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 starring role as Ann-Margret’s friend.

He didn’t want to move to Hollywood, however, and Birdie became his only significant film role — although the high school was named after him in the hit 1970s musical Grease.

Rydell never strayed far from his Philadelphia roots and has lived in the area for most of his life. The block of 11th Street where he grew up was christened Bobby Rydell Boulevard in 1995 by his hometown.


The US star’s only significant role was in Bye Bye Birdie alongside Ann-Margret, right (AP)

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“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 was born Robert Ridarelli in a South Philadelphia neighborhood that would also produce teen idols Darren, Fabian and Avalon. They knew each other as children – Rydell played drums with Avalon on trumpet in a group called Rocco and the Saints.

Rydell’s childhood sweetheart and first wife, Camille, died in 2003.

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. Bye Bye Birdie star Bobby Rydell dies aged 79

Fry Electronics Team

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