"I Hope I Did Okay": Connie Francis Reflects On Her Relationship With Bobby Darin
In the late 1950s, music was changing. A new group of singers emerged from the early days of rock ‘n’ roll. Two singers that rose to fame were Connie Francis and Bobby Darin.
Not only were they the king and queen of the new recording artists, but they also had a short-lived affair. It was a love affair that Connie Francis never really recovered from.
A trip down memory lane.
Her breezy pop hits and beach party movies made Connie Francis one of the biggest stars of the ’50s and early ’60s, but her life has been far from sunny. She was the original prototype for the modern female pop singer. In 2000, her hit song, "Who's Sorry Now?" was named one of the songs of the century. She has also received a star on the Italian Walk of Fame in Toronto, Canada.
The love that got away.
Connie’s father was an intimidating man who wasn't about to let anything stand in the way of his daughter's career. But this didn't stop Bobby Darin, who fell head-over-heels in love with Connie.
According to Francis, Bobby proposed to her before either of them became a hit. Her father tried his hardest to keep the lovebirds apart, he once ran Darin out of a building at gunpoint, telling him never to see his daughter again.
Once successful, Bobby and Connie remained close "professional" friends forever, even co-hosting the Heart-To-Heart Telethon for the American Heart Association as the King and Queen of Hearts!
In 1959, they appeared together on The Ed Sullivan Show and sang a couple of duets. Ironically, Connie even recorded "My Teenage Love," the demo Bobby had written and recorded that first launched his career.
In her autobiography, Francis stated she and her father were driving into the Lincoln Tunnel when the radio DJ announced Dee and Darin's marriage. Her father made a negative comment about Bobby finally being out of their lives. Angered, Francis wrote, she hoped the Hudson River would fill the Lincoln Tunnel, killing both her and her father.
When Bobby Darin died tragically young at the age of 37 in 1973, Connie had to be sedated. She threatened to slice her wrists and was inconsolable for days. Francis later wrote that not marrying Darin was the biggest mistake of her life.
Bobby Darin wanted a wife that would sit at home while he had the fame. He found that woman in Sandra Dee. Connie, at the time of their romance, had as much drive and determination as Bobby Darin had.
Her personal life was sacrificed for success.
In an interview with Fox News, the singer revealed that it would take a whole lot for anyone to impress her.
First of all, I’ve been very unsuccessful in that arena, I chose the wrong men for the wrong reasons. If I had put as much thought into selecting husbands as I did with Vegas openings, I would have been fine. But, my personal life was always secondary to my career. I think it takes a lot to make a relationship successful; I think more than I’m willing to give right now.
She preferred to give her life more meaning by performing charity works.
I do want to concentrate on things that are vital for me, which are veterans, victims of violent crime and the mentally ill. And if I were in a relationship, I wouldn’t be able to do these other things. It takes a lot to make a relationship work. And I spent most of my life apologizing to men for my success.
In the late 1960s, Connie went to Vietnam to sing for the troops. Through the years, she performed charity work for organizations such as UNICEF, the USO, and CARE. The relationship might have never gone anywhere, but Bobby and Connie both shared a lasting love for each other.
As for her own legacy, Francis once said she would like to be remembered, "not so much for the heights I have reached, but for the depths from which I have come."
Today, the singer says simply that she would like her tombstone to read: "I hope I did okay."