May 14, 1936 - December 20, 1973: Age 37
When Bobby Darin was just eight years old, he overheard a doctor tell his mother that he would be lucky to reach the age of 16. This was because he had several bouts of rheumatic fever as an infant, a disease that often leaves the heart in a damaged condition. From that time on, Darin (born Walden Robert Cassotto) knew that his life would be short. He was the illegitimate son of a very young woman (17 when he was born) and a father whose identity he never knew. His grandparents raised him as their own, and it was not until he was an adult that he discovered that his "sister" was in fact his mother.
He was an extremely popular musician during the 1950s and 1960s. Although he was a very popular teen idol, he was in fact an astute and very accomplished musician with a versatile style, with hits ranging from "Splish Splash" and "Dream Lover" to "Mack the Knife" and "Beyond the Sea". He was also a successful actor, winning a Golden Globe for Most Promising Newcomer as well as an Academy Award nomination. Toward the end of his life, he became more politically aware and active, starting a record label for folk and protest music.
In 1971 he had heart surgery, an attempt to correct the damage from his childhood illness. His health declined but his activity did not; performing in Las Vegs in the early 1970s he often had to take oxygen after performing. In 1973 his mechanical heart valve clotted, and on December 20 he died following an operation to repair it. It was the old medical joke: the operation was successful, but the patient died.
Here he is singing "Mack the Knife", a classic rendition of one of the best songs ever written (by Kurt Weill, for Threepenny Opera). Enjoy!
Sources: Wikipedia, The Bobby Darin Website