Bobby Rydell Foundation fundraiser dinner

The event benefits several causes, including a scholarship for performing arts students.

Although New Jersey played a huge role in his upbringing and received a nod through his hit “Wildwood Days,” Bobby Rydell was, according to widow Linda Hoffman Rydell, “definitely a South Philly boy.” On Sunday, October 22, 2023, from 1 to 5 p.m., the late singer’s eponymous foundation will hold a fundraiser at Galdo’s Catering, 1933 W. Moyamensing Ave. The event will laud the legacy of the South Philly native who became a teen idol in the early 1960s. It’ll also help the next generation of stars. 

“No matter where his career took him, South Philly meant the world to him,” Linda said of her spouse, who died on April 5, 2022, three weeks before his 80th birthday. “With what the Foundation is doing to commend everything he meant to us and those who helped him, we thought having something in South Philly made perfect sense.” 

Rydell, born Robert Louis Ridarelli in 1942, hailed from South 11th Street in Lower Moyamensing. He tallied six top-10 Billboard 200 entries, starting in 1959. “He was the Justin Bieber of his day,” Linda noted. His passing has inspired his supporter to memorialize him with a statue destined for Wildwood’s Fox Park. Securing funds for the work will serve as the primary goal of Sunday’s event, but also dear to Linda are the other goals: assisting the Gift of Life Donor Program that secured a kidney and liver transplant for her husband in 2012; and growing scholarships for musical performing arts students. 

The 2400 block of South 11th Street where Rydell grew up received the honorific title “Bobby Rydell Boulevard” from the City of Philadelphia.  (Photo provided by Linda Hoffman Rydell)

“In Bobby’s day, there was authentic singing, so we want to help young performers who likewise care about the craft of music,” Linda said, adding that through the statue, she and Rydell’s other relatives and friends are also hopeful that the present generation of music aficionados can become aware of Rydell’s catalogue. 

For Sunday’s event, Tommy Coniglio, whose interactions with Rydell yielded a remix of his 1960 hit “Sway,” will lead the afternoon as the Voice of Tribute, with Joey Montello, a Frank Sinatra enthusiast, belting out works by the Chairman of the Board. Four other acts will fill the day. Tickets are $100 per person and $175 for a couple. The tag, with tickets available at the door, includes hors d’oeuvres, dinner, a dessert buffet, raffles, and a silent auction of Rydell memorabilia. 

Tommy Coniglio, who recorded a duet with Bobby Rydell at the end of 2021, will be the Voice of Tribute at Sunday’s event. (Photo provided by Linda Hoffman Rydell)

“We’re hopeful that the Galdo’s event really furthers the steps we’ve put in place to show not only how much we love Bobby, but also how grateful he was for the help he received,” Linda said in giving thanks to the Gift of Life team, adding that a Dec. 2 tribute at Wildwood High School would go solely toward helping with tallying endowments for budding superstars. 

“Until he became very sick, he’d head to South Philly every Wednesday to eat with friends,” she continued. “We’ll forever associate him with South Philly, so there’s no better place than there for us to hold this fundraiser and keep his name and influence respected and his gratitude made known.”

Bobby Rydell Foundation Fundraiser

1 to 5 p.m., Sunday, October 22, 2023
Galdo’s Catering, 1933 W. Moyamensing Ave.
For tickets, call Sharon Cullen at 610-496-9974, or visit their website.