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Reports: Former teen idol Bobby Rydell dead at 79

Bobby Rydell's career started at age nine. He became such an influence, the fictional high school in "Grease" was named after him.

Former teen idol Bobby Rydell, known for songs including "Forget Him," "Wildwood Days," "Volare" and "Wild One," has died, according to multiple reports out of Philadelphia. He was 79.

CNN said it obtained a statement from Rydell's representatives, stating that the singer died Tuesday from pneumonia complications which were unrelated to COVID-19.

Rydell's career started in the 1950s, according to a biography on his website. He started at the age of nine as a drummer. By 19, he was the youngest person to headline at New York's Copacabana night club.

"Forget Him" was Rydell's biggest hit, reaching No. 3 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart in 1964.

Rydell was also a movie star, appearing with Ann-Margret in "Bye Bye Birdie." 

To pay homage to Rydell, the fictional Rydell High School in "Grease" was named after him, his website reads.

Rydell was still touring and had upcoming dates in June and September.

Credit: AP
In this Oct. 28, 2000 file photo, Bobby Rydell attends a dinner given by the National Italian American Federation at the Washington Hilton in Washington. (AP Photo/Linda Spillers)

According to his website, Rydell had almost died in 2012 before undergoing a double organ transplant, receiving one kidney and 75% of a liver. 

"His life was about to end when the generous family of a dying child saved 8 lives by organ donation," the biography reads. Rydell returned to the stage half a hear later, dedicated to spreading awareness about how organ donation can save lives. 

In a 2020 interview with a book blog, Rydell explained how his role on "Bye Bye Birdie" grew after he was cast: "I go see the play, and I’m looking at Hugo Peabody, and he doesn’t sing, there are no lines, there’s no dancing, he just stood there," he said. "But, when I go out to start filming, (George Sidney) saw some kind of magic between Ann Margaret and myself, and every day that I went back to Columbia Studios, my script got bigger, and bigger, and bigger."

"I’m not a movie star by any stretch of the imagination," Rydell continued, "But if I had to be in one picture, it’s a classic, such as Grease. And I’m really happy to be involved with something that was that wonderful." 

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