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Dream Lovers: The Magnificent Shattered Lives of Bobby Darin and Sandra Dee - by Their Son Dodd Darin Hardcover – September 29, 1994


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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Darin was an extraordinarily talented singer who became a pretty good actor; Dee was an extraordinarily beautiful child model who became a pretty good actress. Both were major stars when they married-she at age 16 and he at 24-and this is the fairly depressing story of their lives and of their brief marriage as told by their son. Dodd Darin relies on his own memory and on extensive recollections from the family's friends and associates. His father suffered from a heart condition that he knew would kill him at a relatively young age and that led him to concentrate on his career to a fanatical degree. His mother was a teenaged alcoholic, hobbled by an abusive childhood and an intrusive, overprotective mother who never permitted her to grow up. Their marriage was doomed from the start, and this book is their son's way of trying to deal with his conflicting feelings about their lives and his father's death. The book's tone varies from chatty to despairing but is always intensely personal, giving the reader the unsettling impression of eavesdropping on someone else's psychotherapy. Recommended only for large general collections.
--Rick Anderson, Contoocook, N.H.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

At first glance, a book about singer Bobby Darin and his onetime wife, actress Sandra Dee, would seem to be of interest only to their son, Dodd, who happens to be the book's author. But glance again. With the help of cowriter Maxine Paetro (oddly absent from the title page), Darin has fashioned a real page-turner--part insider's look, part expos{‚}e, part cri de coeur from the author, an injured bystander on the scene of a broken celebrity marriage. Those who remember Bobby and Sandra, stars of the late 1950s and early 1960s, will do so from his songs ("Mack the Knife," "Beyond the Sea") and her movies (A Summer Place, Gidget). Darin, a brash, sometimes unlikable scrambler, moved fast because a damaged heart ensured that he would die young. Dee, an American sweetheart, was a closet anorexic, sexually abused by her stepfather. Darin died in 1970 at age 35, but Dee survives, an alcoholic and a recluse. The book is peppered with quotes from celebrities, but its strength is the vivid chronicling of Dodd Darin's intense personal journey and his own observations of what life was like with two talented yet tormented people. Ilene Cooper
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 371 pages
  • Publisher: Warner Books; 1st edition (September 29, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446517682
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446517683
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #55,672 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

116 of 117 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Berger VINE VOICE on March 4, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Dream Lovers" is a daring book. Bobby Darin and Sandra Dee's son Dodd Darin sorts through his parents' shattered lives and marriage. His express purpose is to write definitively rather than risk seeing their story further distorted by others. He also seeks therapy: making sense of himself by exploring his parents' lives.

In a fine writing job by collaborator Maxine Paetro, Dodd tracks their trail of secrets by talking to those who knew them best. They had deeper secrets than most. Bobby never knew who his real father was, a secret his mother and grandmother took to their graves with them. And Sandra's childhood sexual abuse by her stepfather - combined with her overprotective mother and the cocooning studio system - left her an eternal child who couldn't cope with life after her movie contract ended.

I praise Dodd for so unflinchingly detailing their flaws while still loving them. One may argue it's precisely warts that sell such a book. And that's true to some extent. But reading this book may be most difficult for the Darin and Dee fans who are the most likely to read it in the first place. I'm in the first category, and this tarnished Bobby's shine for me - although perhaps I just have a more realistic view of him. I find it noble of Dodd that he is willing to write, say, that his father's brash arrogance was real, not just a press distortion. Or that his treatment of his birth family was shoddy and his financial provision for them, inexcusable. Or that said family really were such vulgarians as to make filial love difficult. Or that the Darin marriage may have sexually foundered because Sandra wasn't kinky enough to do threesomes or watch pornography with Bobby. This is not a hagiography.
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119 of 121 people found the following review helpful By Paige Turner VINE VOICE on July 11, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
A detailed, well-written account of the lives of Sandra Dee and Bobby Darin as authored by their son. What is also interesting is that Sandra Dee's own comments are included, written in her voice, as if she is speaking to the reader. Her commentary is honest, sad, and painfully revealing; at times she sounds very detached, which makes it even more touching. Her onscreen image of a sweet, blonde teen-age virgin (as spoofed in the song "Look At Me I'm Sandra Dee" from the movie soundtrack "Grease") was the antithesis of what her life was really like. Starting at age 5, she was molested by her stepfather; as she matured, she was forced to submit to sex with him. Dee's mother knew about this, but turned a blind eye and lived vicariously through her daughter's movie career. Thanks to her dyfunctional mother and stepfather, Sandra developed a severe eating disorder which plagues her to this day. Of the two, I found Sandra's story to be the most interesting and the most tragic, although Darin's life wasn't a piece of cake, either. He struggled with a heart condition, living his life as a race against time, knowing that eventually his heart would give out. Once you start reading this book, you won't want to put it down. This book shows how two gifted young entertainers lived quite tortured and difficult lives once the cameras stopped rolling.
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46 of 50 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 16, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I just finished reading "Dream Lovers" and would recommend the book to all lovers of the entertainment industry. It tells from beginning to end the life of two wonderful people who never really didn't have anything in common, struggle with their own demons. It's not a name dropping sort of book it's a story of struggle, misunderstandings, abuse in the extreme and the type of abuse we inflect on the people we really love. Dodd is quite a man and any parent would be proud of the way he turned out considering what he himself had to go through as a child of two famous people who had and still has a lot of warts. It has been out of print for awhile, but if you put a little effort into it you can still find it either through used books store or like I did on ebay. Good Luck it's worth the effort.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By babsylu on January 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover
After having recently sort of rediscovered Bobby Darin's music, i searched out this book at the public library (one copy available among seven or eight libraries in the area), and i am so glad i did. I have never reviewed a book for Amazon before, but i am hoping that the book will perhaps be reissued in paperback to gain a wider readership. It never drags as so many celebrity bios do, because of the way Dodd Darin lays out the events of his parent's lives: he breaks the book into sections which focus on one time frame and one parent at a time. It is fun to read about the quick ascent of Bobby and Sandra to stardom, but it is heartbreaking because, as the title says, both their lives contained more than the average amount of struggle and pain. The writing is excellent, and Dodd's intelligence and depth of understanding and compassion for his parents and other family members and friends shine through on the page. Read this book if you have any curiousity at all about these people. You won't be sorry you sought it out.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Scampo1@AOL.com on October 26, 1997
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I enjoyed this book very much. It seemed to be written with honesty and love on the part of author/ son Dodd Darin. The naked truth of Sandra Dee and Bobby Darin shattered my own image of these two stars, yet I got to see them both on a human level through their own problemed lives. This book brought tears to my eyes of the truth behind closed doors, behind fortune and fame. It showed them as total human beings.
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