Friday, May 3, 2013

Bobby Rydell Celebrates 50 Years of “Wildwood Days”


To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of “Wildwood Days,” the shore town’s signature song, Bobby Rydell is the celebrity sponsor of “Wildwood Daze” – the Giant Postcard Exhibition, to raise funds for the world’s only exhibit of its kind.

Bobby Rydell’s meteoric rise to stardom, as a 1960s singing sensation and as today’s consummate showman, is a story as fast and furious as a Wildwood Boardwalk thrill ride.

An essential element of Jersey Shore lore, as well as rock music history, Bobby Rydell is to Wildwood what Bruce Springsteen is to Asbury Park.

With his good looks and talent, Rydell was one of the original American teen idols. After a teenage gig as a drummer in a local South Philadelphia band (which also featured his boyhood friend, trumpet player Frankie Avalon), Rydell launched a successful solo career in 1959. The hits flowed as he rocketed up the charts with “Kissin’ Time,” “Volare,” and “Wild One,” along with many others. Rydell recorded 34 Top 40 hits and has sold more than 25 million records. He is recognized by Billboard as one of the Top Five Artists of the early 1960s.

Rydell was a regular on 1960s television, appearing frequently on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand, the Red Skelton Show, and the Milton Berle Show. In 1963, Rydell also starred in the classic film Bye Bye Birdie as Ann-Margret’s boyfriend, Hugo Peabody.

Considered by many to be the birthplace of rock n’ roll, Wildwood played host to virtually all the nation’s top performers in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
Bill Haley and the Comets initially performed “Rock around the Clock,” the first mainstream rock n’ roll record, at the Hof Brau Hotel Nightclub here in 1954. Dick Clark’s American Bandstand aired its first national broadcast (on Aug. 5, 1957) from the Boardwalk’s Starlight Ballroom. Chubby Checker introduced America to the “Twist” at the Rainbow Club in 1960.

Bobby Rydell is the star who shined brightest here, making him the celebrity most associated with the resort – both personally and professionally. During his childhood and throughout his teens, he was a regular summer resident. In 1963, Rydell released “Wildwood Days,” the song that became the shore town’s “national anthem” and catapulted the resort into the national spotlight. The record reached number 17 on the national Billboard charts. Fifty years later, the catchy tune continues to receive airplay as testament to the song’s longevity.

Rydell believes the Giant Postcard Exhibition is an exciting visual complement to the song. Composed of 36-by-24 inch enlargements, the images began life as “Designer Series Postcards”: scenic view cards distributed to gift shops, motel lobbies, stores, and other retail outlets from 1981 through 1988, redefining “Fantasy with a High Gloss Finish.” To give the product line a brand-defining characteristic and distinctive look, they featured brightly colored borders and were titled with the town of origin as part of the design element. The awe-inspiring scenes are unequivocally the best photographs ever taken of the Wildwoods. Production cost for the one-of-a-kind exhibit is $30,000.

While the concept of making enlargements from the postcards is hardly new, prior to this endeavor, they have been made from scans of the printed cards. When these images were enlarged or viewed up close, the dot pattern used in the printing process severely degraded the image.

Wildwood Giant Postcards are produced using the original photographic materials (medium format 120mm transparency film) that were actually used to print the cards. For many years, it was believed these were lost; however, in a surprising twist of fate, they were located and retrieved from the vault. Once the copyrights are secured, the film is drum scanned (as opposed to more common, inexpensive flatbed scanning), digitally remastered, and professionally retouched. The prints are made on acid-free substrates using archival pigment-based inks that will last hundreds of years.

Rydell has a limited-edition Wildwood Giant Postcard on display in his own home, titled “Hunt’s Pier with Tramcar.” The iconic amusement pier was also his favorite. “I loved the ‘Flyer,’” said Rydell; “it was my very first roller coaster ride.” Rydell was consulted to help select the 20 images for the exhibition from the more than 60 Designer Series Postcards produced for the card line.

The images on the postcards brought back a flood of memories. When Rydell selected the postcard of the Wildwood Beach Patrol for inclusion, he said, “My first ‘job,’ at age 10, was as a Wildwood lifeguard mascot!” He also remembered body surfing off the wakes of the sightseeing boats “PT 109,” “Big Flamingo” (both no longer here), and the “Big Blue Sightseer” – all documented on postcards.

Also depicted is the commercial fishing fleet at Ottens Harbor, sunsets, beaches, the boardwalk, and other area attractions. Pin-ups include local girls who posed in bikinis and America’s first “Beefcake Postcard,” of local bodybuilder Mike Wuko.

You can relive your very own “Wildwood Days” and help save these images for historic preservation. Giant Postcards are an unforgettable addition to décor packages for motel lobbies, restaurants, and retail establishments. They are also unique conversation pieces and attractive decorative additions for the home. Giant Postcard prints and Wildwood memorabilia are available as incentives for sponsorship at:

Bobby Rydell’s concerts and appearances:
Bobby Rydell’s facebook fanpage:

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