It was 1964, and still-shy Linda Ferrino (now Linda Hoffman) had just been appointed Bobby Rydell’s National Fan Club President.
(Linda Ferrino Hoffman and Bobby Rydell in 2014)
So when Bobby was invited to appear on the nationally syndicated Mike Douglas Show, she did what any responsible chief executive would do: She had her mom call school and say she’d be out sick that day.
FIND YOURSELF SOMEBODY….
“I’m in the audience, it’s live, and Mike and Bobby are singing,” Linda recalls.
Then Bobby pointed to her, and Mike led her to a stool next to Bobby while they sang, “You’re Nobody ’Til Somebody Loves You” to her.
(Shock tactics: The president of Bobby’s Detroit fan club – who probably also skipped school – took this photo from her TV screen – the only image Linda has from that day.)
“I still remember seeing my face on the TV monitor while I looked around in shock. The audience was in stitches.”
From there she moved to a seat onstage where Mike introduced and interviewed her.
And, yes, Bobby later confessed that he kept it a secret so she wouldn’t panic in advance, but it didn’t help when he mentioned on-screen that she’d cut school to be there….
As any Catholic school kid can tell you, the Discipline Office is the last place you want to be called, and Linda predictably received an invitation the next day, where she found three nuns waiting for her.
And, yes, they had questions.
“Is Bobby Rydell as nice as he seems?”
“I taught him at Epiphany parish. Does he remember me?”
“Can we get some autographed photos?”
(A more composed Linda with Bobby on the Mike Douglas set in 1966.)
SNAIL MAIL TO SOCIAL MEDIA
Linda eventually married Jake Hoffman, and Bobby married his South Philadelphia high school sweetheart, Camille Quattrone. The two families remained close, but the fan club fell away.
(All grown up at the Latin Casino in 1969.)
Then Camille called Linda in the 1990s: Bobby was performing as one of the Golden Boys with friends Frankie Avalon and Fabian. His career was flourishing. Would Linda write material for a new Bobby Rydell website?
The answer was yes.
TAKE ME TO BOBBY RYDELL BOULEVARD
In 1995, Linda had an inspired idea, one that required getting every homeowner in his old neighborhood to sign a petition and testifying before the city council: As South Philadelphia’s longest and most enthusiastic ambassador around the world, why not name a stretch of 11th Street near Moyamensing Avenue after him?
With Camille’s blessing, Linda mobilized his fan club membership and got the unanimous support of the neighbors – and the council.
When the TV and radio stations started calling his house, Bobby was on the golf course with Frankie Avalon, totally unaware of Linda’s secret campaign.
(Bobby addresses the crowd at the dedication of Bobby Rydell Boulevard, following a parade down 11th Street and speeches by Mayor Ed Rendell and others.)
WHICH BRINGS US TO…..
So, when Bobby’s marriage to Linda Hoffman was announced in January, 2009 (Camille had passed away in 2003), the Philadelphia Inquirer naturally reported that he had married his fan club president.
“Not so fast…!” they protested.
(Bobby Rydell on his wedding day with wife Linda Hoffman, right, and longtime friend Linda Hoffman, left.)
The two Linda Hoffmans lived in the same town, had the same doctors and dentists, and shopped in many of the same stores. Each knew of the other’s existence but they had never met, even though now-wife-Linda would mistakenly receive phone calls meant for Bobby’s fan club.
Then, in 2007, a mutual friend introduced Bobby and the second Linda Hoffman, and the rest – as they say – was major confusion…
(The two Linda Hoffmans in 2011 with husbands Bobby and Jake.)
Today, Linda Ferrino Hoffman is still Bobby’s assistant, managing his website and social media, and accompanying him at local signings of his new book, Bobby Rydell: Teen Idol on the Rocks: A Tale of Second Chances.
Sometimes, I guess, you really have to listen to mom.
(Linda with her mom Gloria Ferrino and daughter Jenna Hoffman)
KEEPING UP WITH UNEXPECTED PHILA.
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