Bobby Rydell, 1960s Pop Idol and Star of ‘Bye Bye Birdie,’ Dies at 79

Bobby Rydell, 1960s Pop Idol and Star of ‘Bye Bye Birdie,’ Dies at 79

By varun

Bobby Rydell, the epitome of the early ’60s “teen idol,” who parlayed that fame into a starring role opposite Ann-Margret in the 1963 film “Bye Bye Birdie,” died today at age 79. The cause of death was pneumonia.

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

Rydell wrote a memoir, “Bobby Rydell: Teen Idol on the Rocks: A Tale of Second Chances.” The “on the rocks” subtitle referred to a bout with alcoholism after his wife of 36 years died of breast cancer in 2003.

By the next year, Rydell would leave Cameo-Parkway Records for Capitol Records, the same label that his soon-to-be rivals in the Beatles appeared.

After 1965, Rydell never charted again on the Billboard Hot 100, although he continued to release singles through the mid-’70s and one of his final songs, a disco number called “Sway” in 1977

“There was a tremendous void in my life and nobody to lay down in bed with, nobody to talk to, nobody to smile with, laugh with, relate stories to,” he said in an interview with the Morning Call when the book came out in 2016

Ceding their popularity to all things mop-top, Rydell, Avalon and the rest of the clean-cut teen idol crew became lounge singers in Las Vegas and on the international touring circuit.


Rydell toured as a solo act until the present day, and was part of the Golden Boys stage production since 1985 with Frankie Avalon and Fabian. The three “idols” had been readying a spring and summer tour for 2022.