South Philadelphia’s Bobby Rydell, who would have turned 80 on April 26, died April 5 of noncovid pneumonia at Jefferson Abington, his wife Linda Hoffman tells me.
Services were private and his ashes will be divided between his first wife’s grave — that would be his beloved Camille — and, yes, the city of Wildwood, where a memorial service will be held this summer.
“Wildwood Days,” of course.
“All he knew was performing, and if he could not do that he would have died emotionally, so I am glad he did what he loved until the end,” Linda told me.
She was distressed by false accounts of his death on social media. What I have reported here comes directly from his wife, who was with him when he died. Ignore everything else.
Linda was thankful he lived as long as he did, such as by surviving his liver and kidney transplants, necessary because of alcoholism after Camille was diagnosed with breast cancer. I wrote about this in 2016, following the publication of his tell-all biography.
Bobby was able to climb out of the bottle, and was able to find himself again, with help from Linda.
When I wrote about his bio, I visited with him at his home and saw how much he loved life, loved Linda, loved his dogs, loved an occasional glass of wine, and loved his Philadelphia sports memorabilia room.
He loved all Philly sports, as he loved his native city.
He also loved and respected his fans, who loved him back by giving him a career that lasted more than six decades. His friends from his youth were his friends at his death, because Bobby never changed.
Oh, and he loved Wildwood. It was far more than a song to him.
Wildwood will miss him, Philly will miss him, the world will miss him, and I will miss him.
Goodbye, Bobby. You were the best.