Thursday, November 21, 2013

Seven Things to Know About Frankie Avalon

1. Frankie Avalon learned to play the trumpet as a child--and was very good at it. He played trumpet for singer Al Martino (Johnny Fontane in The Godfather) when the crooner visited Philadelphia. That led to an audition for an agent and an appearance on The Jackie Gleason Show.

2. On his web site, Frankie states: "It seems like every young kid in Philadelphia wanted to be a singer. I started as a musician…a trumpet player in the beginning. But, when I picked up the paper one day and read about Jimmy Darren who was from my own neighborhood and school, making a successful career for himself, I decided that I could do it just as well."

3. Frankie dominated the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1958-60, scoring seven Top 20 hits. He reached #1 twice, first with "Venus" (his biggest hit) and then with "Why." The latter song was co-written by Avalon's manager Bob Marcucci, who also discovered Fabian. (The 1980 film The Idolmaker is supposedly based on Marcucci's career.) Frankie Avalon recorded a disco version of Venus in 1976; it reached #46 on the chart.

4. He made his feature film debut in 1960, appearing in Guns of the Timberland with Alan Ladd and in John Wayne's The Alamo. In the former film, producer Ladd even found a way to incorporate Avalon's singing talents; Frankie croons the memorably-titled "Gee Whiz Whillikins Golly Gee."

5. Yes, Frankie and Annette Funicello did date in real life--but they quickly realized they were destined to just be friends. (By the way, Annette also dated Paul Anka, who wrote the song "Puppy Love" for her.) Frankie and his wife Kathryn have been married since 1963 and have eight children.

6. In addition to the Beach Party movies, Frankie and Annette also starred in the stock car "B" picture Fireball 500 (though Fabian gets the girl!). In 1978, Frankie and Annette appeared in a TV series pilot called Frankie and Annette: The Second Time Around. Although a regular series never materialized, the duo reteamed in 1987 for the Beach Party spoof Back to the Beach.

7. These days, Frankie also sells health and food products. One can buy Zero Pain, a homeopathic cream to treat arthritis pain, on his web site and purchase Frankie Avalon Italian sausage on QVC. And at the age of 73, he is still performing concerts--with three dates on his tour schedule for November.

6 comments:

  1. And his also well knowed with some songs for the film " Grease".

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  2. This is such a fun post! I didn't know that Frankie played trumpet. Also, I really liked seeing the album cover with "Venus". It was not surprising to hear that Frankie and Annette dated but it was nice to hear they remained friends. Great article, Rick!

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  3. Go Frankie Go! So glad to hear he's going strong. I have such fond memories of his films with Annette and I never tun the channel when his music comes on the radio. Fun post (ah, youth!)

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  4. And Frankie's cousin was author Michael Avallone, who wrote many TV and movie novelizations (although none for any of Frankie's movies that I recall).

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  5. This past summer Frankie appeared at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iv9UGeXL5cY

    Earlier in the week the hubby was giving me the gears about my crush on Frankie. This post made my day.

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  6. I'm impressed that he and his wife have been married since 1963. That is mind-boggling for a lot of people, never mind a celebrity.

    Also – the trumpet? Who knew?

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