At 8:30 one morning, the phone rang. Bobby Darin was on the other end. He had just gotten into town from Rome where he had completed Come September for Universal-International. He sounded more excited than I'd ever heard him in the many years we'd been friends.
"Well, are you happy for me?" he cried.
"Happy about what?' I asked, and before he could answer I added, "I'm glad you called,
but why so early?"
"You mean you don't know?"
"I became engaged last night to Sandy."
The receiver almost dropped from my hand. I knew I didn't have to ask who Sandy was. She was the beautiful Sandra Dee, who for the first time in her life, had fallen in love with none other than Bobby Darin, one of the most talented, but misunderstood young men in the entertainment industry. The big romance everyone thought was just "publicity" was for real.
No one believed me during the nine weeks Come September was shooting in Italy that Darin and Dee were real a thing. I tried to convince everyone that while on the surface the two seemed to be an incongruous pair, they really had much in common and would fall for each other like a ton of bricks.
Sandra's shy, unassuming, lady-like quality was everything Bobby was looking for in a woman. They were also the qualities -- along with her champagne colored hair and big brown eyes -- that Bobby's mother possessed.
Mrs. Cassotto had been everything to her son Walden Robert Cassotto -- a young man who considered himself a kid from the wrong side of the tracks. His mother's death on February 12, 1959 left him with an emptiness no woman could fill. And then he met Sandy.
And, while everyone imagined the darling of the cinema world, Sandra Dee, would fall in love with a typical ivy-leaguer, it was obvious to those who knew her well that it would be an "earthy" man who would be the first to conquer her heart.
It was this very quality that started their relationship off on the wrong foot. His arrogance, a word often used by the press to describe Bobby, made Sandra dislike him at first. But in true fairy-tale tradition, she fell in love with him. For the more she was with him, the more she realized that these publicity tags were nothing more than a facade and that underneath his slick surface was an extremely intelligent, humane, sincere and loving young man.
From almost the very moment he met Sandy, Bobby fell hook, line and sinker. But in the back of his mind he wondered what chance a guy like himself had with a girl like Sandra Dee -- the brightest young star in Hollywood.
But if you know Bobby, you know determination and persistence are two traits he's never lost. The seemingly insurmountable odds against the romance, odds that would have discouraged many other young men, didn't stop him. He held fast. Eventually Mary Douvan, Sandra's mother, let go of her reins and their romance blossomed.
It wasn't, however, till the last week of their nine-week location in Rome that Sandra fell in love with Bobby.
"When I found out she loved me, it was one of the most beautiful things that ever happened to me. Yes, we discussed marriage in rather general terms, and we knew before I left for New York that we would become engaged. We didn't know exactly when, though. Time was the most important element. I had to go to California for business reasons and Sandy wanted to stay in New York a while before she went to the Coast to do Tammy Tell Me True. It was on the plane from Rome to New York that Bobby decided to take the big step.
"When I landed at Idlewild Airport," he went on, "I went immediately to some jeweler friends and got a ring for Sandra. I didn't know when I'd give it to her, or even if she'd really accept it or what. All I knew was that I loved her and that she just had to be the girl for me. Without her, life would be meaningless."
Sandy was due to arrive in New York on Sunday, November 20th, at 5:00 p.m. Bobby had to be in Los Angeles by 9:00 a.m. on Monday for a business appointment he couldn't postpone. That meant he had to take a midnight flight from New York several hours after Sandy got back.
He cabled Sandy in Rome before she boarded her plane and told her he'd meet her at the airport with a limousine. (And of course, the ring!) That way they'd have about five hours together before Bobby's plane departed.
When Sandy arrived at Idlewild, neither she nor Bobby wanted to go back to New York City -- not just yet! So Bobby asked the driver to take them for a long ride.
"In the car," said Bobby, "I was as nervous as an expectant father. I was so excited, I forgot which finger the engagement ring went on." He kept staring at Sandy's hand. Finally, he brought up the subject of rings. Unaware of what was in store for her, Sandy held out both hands and casually said the left one gets the engagement ring. Bobby looked down at her left hand. On the third finger was a diamond and pearl ring her mother had given her.
"I wondered how in the devil I'd get the other ring off her finger and get mine on. So, I asked her if I could look at her ring."
At that moment, a thought flashed through Sandy's mind -- perhaps he was going to keep the pearl ring so he could find out her ring size. But she figured she was wrong when he held her hand in his, and gently slipped the ring back on her finger. For almost two minutes Sandy said nothing. Finally, Bobby took his hand away from hers and it was only then that she saw the beautiful three-and a-half carat, emerald, cut diamond.
"Oh, my God, oh, my God," gasped Sandy.
Tears sprang from her eyes and Bobby kissed her tenderly. Back at the airport, when the initial shock was over, they giggled like two little children discovering life's secret-the secret of love.
Careers -- the same careers that brought Bobby and Sandy together -- brought an end to the happiest day of their lives. They kissed good-bye and the future Mrs. Darin drove off to New York City, and her mother -- while Bobby flew to Hollywood.
"I'm the happiest guy in the whole world," Bobby said as he excitedly tried to fill me in on every detail when I saw him.
"I feel like a different person. So many things have happened to me, I just can't begin to tell you, Rona."
"When are you getting married?" I asked.
"We haven't thought about it. Believe me, it was the biggest step I've ever taken just giving her the engagement ring. Now that that's done, we'll see when the other will happen."
"Well, don't you have any idea?" I persisted.
"No," he said very gently, when we decide to get married, we"ll just up and do it."
And that's exactly how it happened! In a surprise ceremony, Bobby and Sandra were married at 3 o'clock in the morning, on December 1, at the home of Donny and Sheila Kirshner, in Elizabeth, New Jersey. They didn't plan it that way -- but Bobby just looked at Sandy, and Sandy looked at Bobby and they decided it was silly to wait even one minute more! Don Krishner made a phone call to a close friend of his who is a judge, and who got out of bed in the middle of the night to marry them. Only a few friends were there: Don and Sheila, Dick Behrke and his wife Mickey, Ellen Lord (whose husband, comic Dick Lord, was away on tour) and Bobby's sister and brother-in-law. Right after the ceremony, the newlyweds were driven to the airport and boarded a jet -- and off they flew -- to Los Angeles, and to their future, together!
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