By Chris M. Junior
More than 50 years after his film debut, singer Bobby Rydell is about to grace the silver screen again.
Rydell, who starred in 1963’s “Bye Bye Birdie” (along with Janet Leigh, Dick Van Dyke and Ann-Margret) has a small role as himself in the “The Comedian.” Directed by Taylor Hackford and starring Robert De Niro, the movie is expected to hit theaters in 2017.
“I got four lines with De Niro,” Rydell said with a smile last month before his show at the Golden Nugget casino in Atlantic City, N.J. “It was really nice to do some acting again.”
The scene with Rydell was filmed earlier this year in New York. It centers on an autograph convention, which is an unfamiliar environment for De Niro’s character, an insult comic named Jackie.
“So I say to him, ‘Just be yourself,’ ” recalled Rydell, and that prompts Jackie to unleash some colorful comments.
Colorful is also a suitable description for Rydell’s candid new autobiography, “Teen Idol on the Rocks: A Tale of Second Chances.” Written with Allan “Dr. Licks” Slutsky, the book delves into Rydell’s formative years in Philadelphia, his experiences recording “Wild One” and other signature hits from 1959 to 1964, his recent health scares and much more.
Rydell, who celebrated his 74th birthday with a party at Patsy’s in New York on April 25 (one day before his actual birthday), currently has U.S. concert dates booked into early November. It’s possible his itinerary could fill up even more, depending on whether Slutsky — who often plays guitar and handles charts for Rydell’s shows — has his way.
“Allan wants to put together a two- to three-week tour of small clubs with just a quartet — piano, bass, drums and a horn,” Rydell said. “Other than my hits, we’d go around and just do tunes off the top of our heads, like the Great American Songbook.”
Rydell’s “Teen Idol on the Rocks: A Tale of Second Chances” will be available May 4 at Amazon.com and bookstores, including Barnes and Noble. Regular and autographed copies can be ordered now through www.bobbyrydellbook.com.