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Concetta Rosa Maria Franconero (born December 12, 1937),Thomas, Nick.
Tinseltown Talks: The roller-coaster life of Connie Francis
, ''
Burlington County Times The ''Burlington County Times'' is a daily newspaper A newspaper is a periodical Periodical literature (also called a periodical publication or simply a periodical) is a category of serial Serial may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and ...
''. December 10, 2017. Retrieved July 8, 2020.
known professionally as Connie Francis, is an American
pop singer Singing is the act of producing music Music is the art of arranging sounds in time to produce a composition through the elements of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the universal cultural Culture () is an umbrel ...
, former actress, and top-charting female vocalist of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Although her chart success waned in the second half of the 1960s, Francis remained a top concert draw.


Biography


1937–1955: Early life and first appearances

Francis was born to an
Italian-American Italian Americans ( it, italoamericani or ''italo-americani'', ) are Americans Americans are the and of the .; ; ''Ricketts v. Attorney General''897 F.3d 491, 494 n.3 (3d Cir. 2018) (" and are not ous. While all citizens are nationals, ...
family in the
Ironbound The Ironbound is a neighborhood in the city of Newark, New Jersey, Newark in Essex County, New Jersey, Essex County, New Jersey, United States. It is a large working-class, close-knit multi-ethnic community, covering approximately of well mainta ...
neighborhood of
Newark, New Jersey Newark ( , ) is the most populous city A city is a large .Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: ...

Newark, New Jersey
, the first child of George and Ida (née Ferrari-di Vito) Franconero, spending her first years in the
Crown Heights, Brooklyn Crown Heights is a neighborhood in the central portion of the New York City borough (New York City), borough of Brooklyn. Crown Heights is bounded by Washington Avenue to the west, Atlantic Avenue (New York City), Atlantic Avenue to the north, R ...
area (Utica Avenue/St. Marks Avenue) before the family moved to New Jersey.Connie Francis: ''Who's Sorry Now?'' (Autobiography), St. Martin's Press, 1984, Growing up in an Italian-Jewish neighborhood, Francis became fluent in
Yiddish Yiddish (, or , ''yidish'' or ''idish'', , ; , ''Yidish-Taytsh'', ) is a West Germanic The West Germanic languages constitute the largest of the three branches of the Germanic languages, Germanic family of languages (the others being the ...

Yiddish
, which led her later to record songs in Yiddish and
Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as one of the spoken languages of the Israelites and their longest-survivi ...
. In her autobiography ''Who's Sorry Now?'' published in 1984, Francis recalls that she was encouraged by her father to appear regularly at talent contests, pageants, and other neighborhood festivities from the age of four as a singer and accordion player. Francis attended
Newark Arts High School Newark Arts High School is a five-year magnet A magnet is a material or object that produces a magnetic field A magnetic field is a vector field In vector calculus and physics, a vector field is an assignment of a vector to eac ...
in 1951 and 1952. She and her family moved to
Belleville, New Jersey Belleville (French: "Belle ville" meaning "Beautiful city / town") is a township A township is a kind of human settlement In geography, statistics and archaeology, a settlement, locality or populated place is a community in which peo ...
, where Francis graduated as
salutatorianSalutatorian is an academic title given in the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United States, primarily located in North America. It consi ...
from Belleville High School Class of 1955. During this time, Francis continued to perform at neighborhood festivities and talent shows (some of which were broadcast on television), appearing alternately as Concetta Franconero and Connie Franconero. Under the latter name, she also appeared on
NBC The National Broadcasting Company (NBC) is an American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of America (USA), c ...
's variety show ''Startime Kids'' between 1953 and 1955. During the rehearsals for her appearance on ''
Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts ''Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts'' (also known as ''Talent Scouts'') was an American radio and television variety show which ran on CBS CBS is an American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United ...
'', Francis was advised by Godfrey to change her stage name to Connie Francis for the sake of easier pronunciation. Godfrey also told her to drop the accordion—advice she gladly followed, as she had begun to hate the large and heavy instrument. Around the same time, Francis took a job as a singer on demonstration records, which brought unreleased songs to the attention of established singers and/or their management who might choose to record them for a professional commercial record.William Ruhlmann: ''Connie Francis 1955–1959'', companion book to 5 CD Boxed Set ''White Sox, Pink Lipstick… and Stupid Cupid'', Bear Family Records BCD 16 616 EI, Hambergen (Germany) 1993


1955–1957: Recording contract and commercial failures

In 1955, ''Startime Kids'' went off the air. In May that same year,Ron Roberts: ''Connie Francis Discography 1955–1973'' George Franconero Sr. and Francis's manager George Scheck raised money for a recording session of four songs which they hoped to sell to a major record company under Francis's own name. Finally, even when
MGM Records MGM Records was a record label founded by the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. (also known as Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures or MGM) is an American media company, founded in 1924, that produces and distributes feature f ...
decided to sign a contract with her, it was basically because one track she had recorded, "Freddy", happened to be the name of the son of a company co-executive, Harry A. Meyerson, who thought of this song as a nice birthday gift. Hence, "Freddy" was released as Francis's first single, which turned out to be a commercial failure, just as her following eight solo singles were. Despite these failures, Francis was hired to record the vocals for
Tuesday Weld Tuesday Weld (born Susan Ker Weld; August 27, 1943) is an American former actress. She began acting as a child and progressed to mature roles in the late 1950s. She won a Golden Globe Award for Most Promising Female Newcomer in 1960. Over the ...
's "singing" scenes in the 1956 movie '' Rock, Rock, Rock'', and for Freda Holloway in the 1957
Warner Brothers Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. (commonly known as Warner Bros. and abbreviated as WB) is an American diversified multinational mass media and entertainment conglomerate Conglomerate or conglomeration may refer to: * Conglomerate (company) * ...
rock and roll movie '' Jamboree''. In the fall of 1957, Francis enjoyed her first chart success with a duet single she had recorded with
Marvin Rainwater Marvin Karlton Rainwater (July 2, 1925 – September 17, 2013) was an American country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land of an individual's birth, residence or citize ...
: "The Majesty of Love", with "You, My Darlin' You" as the B-side, peaked at number 93 on the ''Billboard'' Hot 100. Eventually, the single sold over one million copies.


1957–1959: Last chance and breakthrough

However, her minor chart success came too late for her record label—Francis's recording contract consisted of ten solo singles and one duet single. Though success had finally seemed to come with "The Majesty of Love", Francis was informed by MGM Records that her contract would not be renewed after her last solo single. Francis considered a career in medicine and was about to accept a four-year scholarship offered at
New York University New York University (NYU) is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of ne ...
. At what was to have been her final recording session for MGM on October 2, 1957, with
Joe Lipman Joseph P. Lippman (April 23, 1915 - January 21, 2007) was an American composer, arranger, conductor, pianist, and songwriter working in jazz Jazz is a music genre that originated in the African-American communities of New Orleans, Louisiana, ...
and his orchestra, she recorded a
cover version In popular music Popular music is music Music is the of arranging s in time through the of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the aspects of all human societies. General include common elements such as (which gove ...
of the 1923 song " Who's Sorry Now?" written by
Bert Kalmar Bert Kalmar (February 10, 1884 – September 18, 1947) was an American lyricist, who was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970. Biography Kalmar, a native of New York City, left school at an early age and began working in vaudeville ...
and
Harry Ruby Harry Rubenstein (January 27, 1895 – February 23, 1974), known professionally as Harry Ruby, was an American composer and screenwriter, who was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame The Songwriters Hall of Fame (SHOF) is an American ...
. Francis has said that she recorded it at the insistence of her father, who was convinced it stood a chance of becoming a hit because it was a song adults already knew and that teenagers would dance to if it had a contemporary
arrangement In music Music is the of arranging s in time through the of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the aspects of all human societies. General include common elements such as (which governs and ), (and its associated c ...

arrangement
. Francis, who did not like the song and had been arguing about it with her father heatedly, delayed the recording of the two other songs during the session so much that, in her opinion, no time was left on the continuously running recording tape. Her father insisted, though, and when the recording "Who's Sorry Now?" was finished, only a few seconds were left on the tape. The single seemed to go unnoticed like all previous releases, just as Francis had predicted, but on January 1, 1958, it debuted on
Dick Clark Richard Wagstaff Clark (November 30, 1929 – April 18, 2012) was an American radio Radio is the technology of signaling and telecommunication, communicating using radio waves. Radio waves are electromagnetic waves of frequency betwe ...

Dick Clark
's ''
American Bandstand ''American Bandstand'' is an American music-performance and dance television program that aired in various versions from 1952 to 1989, and was hosted from 1956 until its final season by Dick Clark Richard Wagstaff Clark (November 30, 1929&nb ...
''. Francis watched the show and wrote in her diary: ''I heard Dick Clark mention something about a new girl singer. So, what else is new? Another girl singer. There are ninety-five millions females in the country, and I'll bet ninety-five percent of them sing. "There's no doubt about it", predicted Mr. Clark. "She's is headed straight for the number one spot". I began feeling sorry for myself and a bit envious, too. Good luck to her, I thought. And then Mr. Clark just happened to play a song called "Who's sorry now" - MY "Who's Sorry Now"! Well, the feeling was cosmic - just cosmic! Right there in my living-room, it became Mardi Gras-time, the kick-off at the Super Bowl, and New Year's Eve at the turn of the century!'' And on February 15 of that same year, Francis performed it on the first episode of '' The Saturday Night Beechnut Show'', also hosted by Clark. By mid-year, over a million copies had been sold, and Francis was suddenly launched into worldwide stardom. In April 1958, "Who's Sorry Now?" reached number 1 on the
UK Singles Chart The UK Singles Chart (currently titled Official Singles Chart, with the upper section more commonly known as the Official UK Top 40) is compiled by the Official Charts Company The Official Charts Company (previously known as the Chart Inf ...
and number 4 in the US. For the next four years, Francis was voted the "Best Female Vocalist" by ''American Bandstand'' viewers. As Connie Francis explains at each of her concerts, she began searching for a new hit immediately after the success of "Who's Sorry Now?" since MGM Records had renewed her contract. After the relative failure of the follow-up singles "I'm Sorry I Made You Cry" (which stalled at No. 36) and "Heartaches" (failing to chart at all), Francis met
Neil Sedaka Neil Sedaka ( born March 13, 1939) is an American pop singer, pianist, composer and record producer. Since his music career began in 1957 as a short-lived founding member of the Tokens The Tokens were an American male doo-wop-style vocal gr ...
and
Howard Greenfield Howard Greenfield (March 15, 1936 – March 4, 1986) was an American lyricist and songwriter, who for several years in the 1960s worked out of the famous Brill Building. He is best known for his successful songwriting collaborations, including one ...
, who sang a number of ballads they had written for her. After a few hours, Francis began writing in her diary while the songwriters played the last of their ballads. Afterwards, Francis told them that she considered their ballads too intellectual and sophisticated for the young generation and requested a more lively song. Greenfield urged Sedaka to sing a song they had written that morning with the Shepherd Sisters in mind. Sedaka protested that Francis would be insulted, but Greenfield said that since she hated all the other songs they had performed, they had nothing to lose. Sedaka then played "
Stupid Cupid "Stupid Cupid" is a song written by Howard Greenfield and Neil Sedaka which became a hit for Connie Francis in 1958. Recording history After almost three years of failure, Connie Francis finally had a hit in the spring of 1958 with a rock ballad ...
." When he finished, Francis announced that he had just played her new hit song. It went on to reach number 14 on the ''Billboard'' chart and was her second number 1 in the UK. The success of "Stupid Cupid" restored momentum to Francis' chart career, and she reached the U.S. top 40 an additional eight times during the remainder of the 1950s. She managed to churn out more hits by covering several older songs, such as "My Happiness" (number 2 on the Hot 100) and "
Among My Souvenirs "Among My Souvenirs" is a 1927 song with words by Edgar Leslie and music by Horatio Nicholls. Original version The earliest known version of "Among My Souvenirs" was recorded by The Kit-Cat Band on September 19, 1927. It was first a number one ch ...
" (number 7), as well as performing her own original songs. In 1959, she gained two gold records for a double-sided hit: on the A-side, " Lipstick on Your Collar" (number 5), and on the B-side, " Frankie" (number 9).


1959–1973: International recording star

Following another idea from her father, Francis traveled to
London London is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller lowerc ...

London
in August 1959 to record an Italian album at
EMI EMI Group Limited (originally an initialism for Electric and Musical Industries, also referred to as EMI Records Ltd. or simply EMI) was a British transnational conglomerate Conglomerate or conglomeration may refer to: * Conglomerate (compan ...
's famous
Abbey Road Studios Abbey Road Studios (formerly EMI Recording Studios) is a recording studio at 3 Abbey Road ''Abbey Road'' is the eleventh studio album by the English Rock music, rock band the Beatles, released on 26 September 1969 by Apple Records. Nam ...

Abbey Road Studios
. Titled ''
Connie Francis Sings Italian Favorites ''Connie Francis Sings Italian Favorites'' is a studio album recorded by American singer and entertainer Connie Francis. Background The album consists of traditional Italian and Naples, Neapolitan songs (e. g. ''Santa Lucia (song), Santa Lucia'') ...
'', the album was released in November 1959. It soon entered the album charts where it remained for 81 weeks, peaking at number 4. To this day, it is still Francis's most successful album. "Mama," the single taken from the album, reached number 8 in the United States and number 2 in the United Kingdom.''Souvenirs'', Companion Booklet to 4 CD Boxed Set "Souvenirs", Polydor (New York) 1995, Cat.-No. 314 533 382-2 Following this success, Francis recorded seven more albums of "favorites" between 1960 and 1964, including
Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , Israeli pronunciation ) or Jewish people are an ethnoreligious group and nation originating from the Israelites Israelite origins and kingdom: "The first act in the long drama of Jewish history is ...
,
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...
, and
Irish Irish most commonly refers to: * Someone or something of, from, or related to: ** Ireland, an island situated off the north-western coast of continental Europe ** Northern Ireland, a constituent unit of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and North ...
, among others. These albums marked Francis's transition from the youth-oriented to
adult contemporary music In North American music, adult contemporary music (AC) is a form of radio-played popular music Popular music is music Music is the of arranging s in time through the of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the aspect ...
, which George Franconero, Sr. had realized to be necessary if his daughter wanted to pursue a successful longterm career in music. Nevertheless, Francis continued to record singles aimed at the youth-oriented market. Among her top-ten hits on the Hot 100 were " Breakin' in a Brand New Broken Heart" (1961, number 7), "When the Boy in Your Arms (Is the Boy in Your Heart)" (1961, number 10), "Second Hand Love" (1962, number 7), and "Where the Boys Are" (1961, number 4). The last became her signature tune and was also the theme song of Francis's first motion picture of the same name. The movie also introduced the concept of
spring break Spring break is a vacation A vacation (American English), or holiday (British English), is a leave of absence from a regular job. People often take a vacation during specific holiday observances, or for specific festivals or celebrations ...

spring break
, as the once sleepy town of
Fort Lauderdale Fort Lauderdale () is a city in the U.S. state In the United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily lo ...
became the hotspot for college students on their spring vacation in the wake of the movie's success. The success of "Connie Francis Sings Italian Favorites" in late 1959/early 1960 led Francis to become one of the first American artists to record in other languages regularly. She was to be followed by other major British and American recording stars including
Wanda Jackson Wanda Lavonne Jackson (born October 20, 1937) is a retired American singer, songwriter, pianist and guitarist who had success in the mid-1950s and 1960s as one of the first popular female rockabilly singers, and a pioneering rock-and-roll artis ...

Wanda Jackson
,
Cliff Richard Sir Cliff Richard (born Harry Rodger Webb; 14 October 1940) is an English singer who holds both British British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * British people, nationals or natives of the United Kingdom, British Overseas Ter ...

Cliff Richard
,
Petula Clark Petula Clark, Order of the British Empire, CBE (born Sally Olwen Clark; 15 November 1932) is a British singer, actress, and composer. Clark's professional career began during World War II, as a child entertainer on BBC Radio. In 1954, she chart ...
,
Brenda Lee Brenda Mae Tarpley (born December 11, 1944), known professionally as Brenda Lee, is an American singer. Performing rockabilly Rockabilly is one of the earliest styles of rock and roll Rock and roll (often written as rock & roll, rock 'n' ...

Brenda Lee
,
the Supremes The Supremes were an American female singing group and a premier act of Motown Motown Records is an American record label owned by the Universal Music Group Universal Music Group B.V. (often abbreviated as UMG) is a global Music i ...
,
Peggy March Peggy March (born Margaret Annemarie Battavio, March 8, 1948, in Lansdale, Pennsylvania Lansdale is a borough in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, northwest of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. It is a dens ...

Peggy March
,
Pat Boone Patrick Charles Eugene Boone (born June 1, 1934) is an American singer, composer, actor, writer, television personality, motivational speaker, and spokesman. He was a successful pop singer in the United States during the 1950s and early 1960s. ...
,
Lesley Gore Lesley Sue Goldstein (May 2, 1946 – February 16, 2015), known professionally as Lesley Gore, was an American singer, songwriter, actress, and activist. At the age of 16, she recorded the pop Pop or POP may refer to: Places * Gregorio Luper ...
,
the Beatles The Beatles were an English rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its Chemical compou ...

the Beatles
and
Johnny Cash John R. Cash (born J. R. Cash; February 26, 1932 – September 12, 2003) was an American singer, songwriter, musician, and actor. Much of Cash's music contained themes of sorrow, moral tribulation, and redemption, especially in the later ...
, among many others. In her autobiography, Francis mentioned that in the early years of her career, the language barrier in certain European countries made it difficult for her songs to get airplay, especially in Germany. Francis used these reflections as the basis for her April 1960 recording, "
Everybody's Somebody's Fool "Everybody's Somebody's Fool" is a song written by Jack Keller and Howard Greenfield that was a No. 1 hit for Connie Francis in 1960. A polka-style version in German, "Die Liebe ist ein seltsames Spiel", was the first German single recorded and r ...
" which would go on to become the first single by a female artist to top the
Hot 100 The ''Billboard'' Hot 100 is the music industry The music industry consists of the individuals and organizations that earn money by Musical composition, writing songs and musical compositions, creating and selling Sound recording and repr ...
. Veteran lyricist Ralph Maria Siegel penned a set of German lyrics, named "'' Die Liebe ist ein seltsames Spiel''", which, after some friction between Francis and her MGM executives, was recorded and released. The song peaked at number 1 in
West Germany West Germany is the common English name for the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG; german: Bundesrepublik Deutschland , BRD) between its formation on 23 May 1949 and the German reunification German reunification (german: Deutsche Wieder ...
. She had two more number one hits there, "Paradiso" in September 1962 and "Barcarole in der Nacht" in July 1963. It was not until her number 7 on the US charts, " Many Tears Ago", later in 1960 when Francis began to record cover versions of her own songs in foreign languages besides German. Over the following years, she eventually expanded her recording portfolio up to 15 languages. She also sang in Romanian during a live performance at the 1970 edition of the Cerbul de Aur in
Brașov Brașov (, , ; la, Corona; german: Kronstadt; Transylvanian Saxon dialect, Transylvanian Saxon: ''Kruhnen''; hu, Brassó) is a city in Transylvania, Romania and the administrative centre of Brașov County. According to the latest Romanian censu ...
, Romania. Francis was not fluent in all of these languages and she had to learn her foreign language songs phonetically. Francis explained in a 1961 television interview that she was fluent in Spanish and Italian, but always had a translator nearby to make sure her translated lyrics and especially her pronunciation were as correct as possible. In the wake of "''Die Liebe ist ein seltsames Spiel''", Francis enjoyed her greatest successes outside the United States. During the 1960s, her songs not only topped the charts in numerous countries around the world, but she was also voted the number 1 singer in over 10 countries. In 1960, she was named the most popular artist in Europe, the first time a non-European received this honor. From mid-1961 to mid-1963,
Radio Luxembourg Radio Luxembourg was a multilingual commercial broadcaster in Luxembourg. It is known in most non-English languages as RTL (for Radio Television Luxembourg). The English-language service of Radio Luxembourg began in 1933 as one of the earlies ...
closed each day's broadcasts with "It's Time to Say Goodnight", a song Francis had recorded especially for this purpose and which was never officially released until 1996.Ron Roberts: ''Connie Francis 1960–1962'', companion book to 5 CD Boxed Set "Kissin', Twistin', Goin' Where the Boys Are", Bear Family Records BCD 16 826 EI, Hambergen (Germany) 1996 Francis's enduring popularity overseas led to her having television specials in numerous countries around the world, such as Britain, Germany, Spain and Italy. Even at the height of the
Cold War The Cold War was a period of geopolitical Geopolitics (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country loc ...
, Francis's music was well received in
Iron Curtain The Iron Curtain was a political boundary dividing Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geo ...
countries, and some of her recordings were made available on state-owned record labels such as
Melodiya Melodiya ( rus, links=no, Мелодия, t=Melody) is a Russian (formerly Soviet) record label. It was the state-owned major record company of the Soviet Union. History Melodiya was established in 1964 as the "All-Union Gramophone Record Firm of ...
in the former Soviet Union and on
Jugoton Jugoton was the largest record label and Chain store, chain record store in the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Yugoslavia based in Zagreb, Socialist Republic of Croatia, SR Croatia. History Jugoton was formed in 1947. It is not ...
in former Yugoslavia, although it was common knowledge that rock 'n' roll was highly looked down upon in
Eastern bloc The Eastern Bloc, also known as the Communist Bloc, the Socialist Bloc and the Soviet Bloc, was the group of socialist state A socialist state, socialist republic, or socialist country, sometimes referred to as a workers' state or workers' ...
countries. In the US, Connie Francis had a third number-one hit in 1962: " Don't Break the Heart That Loves You", and her success led MGM to give her complete freedom to choose whichever songs she wanted to record. Francis's first autobiographical book, ''For Every Young Heart'', was published in 1963. On July 3 that same year, she played a
Royal Command Performance A Royal Command Performance is any performance by actors or musicians that occurs at the direction or request of a reigning monarch of the United Kingdom The monarchy of the United Kingdom, commonly referred to as the British monarchy, i ...
for
Queen Elizabeth II Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary; born 21 April 1926) is Queen of the United Kingdom The monarchy of the United Kingdom, commonly referred to as the British monarchy, is the constitutional monarchy A constitutional mo ...
at the
Alhambra Theatre The Alhambra was a popular theatre and music hall located on the east side of Leicester Square, in the West End of London London is the capital city, capital and List of urban areas in the United Kingdom, largest city of England and the ...
in
Glasgow Glasgow ( ; sco, Glesga; gd, Glaschu) is the most populous city A city is a large .Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia'' ...

Glasgow
, Scotland. During the height of the
Vietnam War {{Infobox military conflict , conflict = Vietnam War , partof = the Indochina Wars The Indochina Wars ( vi, Chiến tranh Đông Dương) were a series of wars fought in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled ...
in 1967, Connie Francis performed for US troops. Francis recalls this story frequently during the introduction to "
God Bless America "God Bless America" is an American patriotic song written by Irving Berlin Irving Berlin (born Israel Beilin; yi, ישראל ביילין; May 11, 1888 – September 22, 1989) was an American composer and lyricist, widely considered one of ...
" at her live concerts. Due to changing trends in the early and mid-1960s, namely the
British Invasion The British Invasion was a cultural phenomenon A phenomenon (; plural phenomena) is an observable In physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of nature, from ''phýsis' ...
, Francis's chart success on ''Billboard's'' Hot 100 began to wane after 1963. She had her final top-ten hit, "Vacation", in 1962. A number of Francis's singles continued to reach the top 40 in the US Hot 100 through the mid-1960s, with her last top-40 entry in 1964 being her cover version of " Be Anything (but Be Mine)", a 1952 song made famous by singer/bandleader
Eddy Howard Edward Evan Duncan Howard (September 12, 1914 – May 23, 1963) was an American vocalist and bandleader A bandleader is the leader of a music group such as a rock or pop band or jazz quartet. The term is most commonly used with a group that plays ...

Eddy Howard
. Despite her declining success on the Hot 100, Francis remained a top concert draw, and her singles – now following a more mature style – were charting on the top quarter of'' Billboard's'' Adult Contemporary (AC) Charts and sometimes even reached ''Billboard's'' Country Charts. Therefore, Francis enjoyed lasting chart success in the US until her contract with MGM Records ran out in 1969. In 1965, Connie Francis participated in that year's edition of the annual San Remo Festival, where her team partner
Gigliola Cinquetti Gigliola Cinquetti (; born 20 December 1947) is an Italian singer and Television, TV presenter. Biography Cinquetti was born in Verona. At the age of 16 she won the Sanremo Music Festival in 1964 singing "Non ho l'età" ("I'm Not Old Enough"), wi ...

Gigliola Cinquetti
and she presented "'' Ho bisogno di vederti''", which finished on number 5 of the final ranking. Francis returned to San Remo in 1967 to present "''Canta Ragazzina''" with her team partner
Bobby Solo Roberto Satti better known as Bobby Solo (born 18 March 1945) is an Italian singer, musician and film actor. Singing career In 1964, Solo participated in the Sanremo Music Festival with the song "Una lacrima sul viso" ("A Tear on your Face", wri ...

Bobby Solo
. In the US, however, "Time Alone Will Tell", Francis's cover version of San Remo's 1967 winning entry "''Non pensare a me''" which had been presented by and
Claudio Villa Claudio Villa (born Claudio Pica; January 1, 1926 – February 7, 1987) was an Italian singer and actor. Biography Tenor Claudio Villa was born Claudio Pica in the Trastevere quarter of Rome in 1926. He recorded over 3000 songs, sold 45 milli ...
, peaked at number 94 on Billboard's Hot 100 and at number 14 on ''Billboard's'' AC charts. In 1973, Francis returned to the recording studio, cutting "(Should I) Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree?", b/w "Paint the Rain" on GSF Records. This
answer song An answer song, response song or answer record, is a song (usually a recorded track) made in answer to a previous song, normally by another artist. The concept became widespread in blues Blues is a music genre and musical form which was origin ...
to "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree" by Tony Orlando & Dawn bubbled under the charts. The project of recording a German version, though, remained unfinished.


1974–1981: Tragedy and return

After her modest success with "(Should I) Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree?" Francis began performing regularly again. While appearing at the Westbury Music Fair in
New York New York most commonly refers to: * New York City, the most populous city in the United States, located in the state of New York * New York (state), a state in the northeastern United States New York may also refer to: Film and television * New ...
, on November 8, 1974, Francis was
rape Rape is a type of sexual assault Sexual assault is an act in which one intentionally sexually touches another person without that person's consent Consent occurs when one person voluntarily agrees to the proposal or desires of another. ...

rape
d at the
Jericho Turnpike Jericho (; ar, أريحا ' ; he, יְרִיחוֹ ') is a Palestinian city in the West Bank The West Bank ( ar, الضفة الغربية '; he, הגדה המערבית ' or ') is a landlocked territory near the Mediterranean coast ...
Howard Johnson's Howard Johnson's, or Howard Johnson by Wyndham, is an American chain of hotels and motels located primarily throughout the United States. It was also a chain of restaurants for over 90 years and widely known for that alone. Founded by Howard Dee ...
Lodge in
Jericho, New York Jericho is a hamlet ''The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark'', often shortened to ''Hamlet'' (), is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare sometime between 1599 and 1601. It is Shakespeare's longest play, with 29,551 words. Set in Den ...
, and nearly suffocated under the weight of a heavy mattress the culprit had thrown upon her. She subsequently
sued A lawsuit is a proceeding by a party or parties against another in the civil Civil may refer to: *Civic virtue, or civility *Civil action, or lawsuit *Civil affairs *Civil and political rights *Civil disobedience *Civil engineering *Civil ...
the motel chain for failing to provide adequate security and reportedly won a $2.5 million judgment, at the time one of the largest such judgments in history, leading to a reform in hotel security. Her rapist was never found. During the years after the incident, Francis went into depression, taking as many as 50
Darvon Dextropropoxyphene is an analgesic An analgesic or painkiller is any member of the group of used to achieve analgesia, relief from . They are distinct from s, which temporarily affect, and in some instances completely eliminate, . Analgesi ...
pills a day and rarely leaving her home in
Essex Fells, New Jersey Essex Fells is a borough A borough is an administrative division in various English language, English-speaking countries. In principle, the term ''borough'' designates a self-governing walled town, although in practice, official use of the term ...
. In 1977, Francis underwent nasal surgery and completely lost her voice. She went through three more operations to regain her singing voice and was unable to sing for four years.Freeman, Paul.
Connie Francis: She will survive!
, ''
The Mercury News ''The Mercury News'' (formerly ''San Jose Mercury News'', often locally known as ''The Merc'') is a morning daily newspaper A newspaper is a periodical Periodical literature (also called a periodical publication or simply a periodical) ...
''. October 13, 2010. Retrieved July 9, 2020.
Not Sorry Now
, ''
Las Vegas Sun The ''Las Vegas Sun'' is one of the Las Vegas Valley The Las Vegas Valley is a major in the of the of , and the second largest in the . The state's largest urban agglomeration, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Statistical Area is coextensive sin ...
''. December 23, 2004. Retrieved July 9, 2020.
In 1978, Francis returned to the recording studio to cut an album titled ''Who's Happy Now?'' The leading recording on this album was a of "Where the Boys Are". She recorded the song also in Japanese, Italian, and Spanish, as she had done before with her original 1960 version. Several songs from the ''Who's Happy Now?'' sessions were subsequently recorded in Italian, Spanish, Japanese, and German. The Spanish and German recordings became albums of their own in as ''Connie Francis en Español'' in Spain and as ''Was ich bin'' (What I Am) in Germany. All three albums and the singles culled from them were released on
United Artists Records United Artists Records was an American record label founded by Max E. Youngstein of United Artists United Artists Corporation (UA), currently doing business as United Artists Digital Studios, is an American digital production company. Fou ...

United Artists Records
. Francis returned to the recording studio in 1981 to cut "''Comme ci, comme ça''", and "I'm Me Again", the latter of which became the title track of an album which featured the aforementioned new songs. "I'm Me Again" became Francis' last single to chart on the AC charts.Connie Francis Top Songs
''MusicVF.com''. Retrieved March 10, 2021.


1981–1988: More tragedy

In 1981, further tragedy struck Francis when her brother, George Franconero, Jr., with whom she was very close, was murdered by
Mafia A mafia is a type of criminal organization whose central activity is the arbitration of disputes between criminals and the organization and enforcement of illicit agreements through the use of violence. Mafias often engage in secondary activities ...
hitmen. Despite that, she took up live performing again, even gracing the ''American Bandstand'' 30th Anniversary Special Episode, and appearing in the town where she had been raped. Francis' new-found success was short-lived, though, as she was diagnosed with
manic depression Manic usually refers to being in a state of mania Mania, also known as manic syndrome, is a state of abnormally elevated arousal, affect, and energy level, or "a state of heightened overall activation with enhanced affective expression together ...

manic depression
, which again brought her career to a halt, and she was committed to multiple psychiatric hospitals.Singer Francis sues over rape scenes
,
BBC News BBC News is an operational business division of the British Broadcasting Corporation The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is a public service broadcaster Public broadcasting involves radio Radio is the technology of signali ...

BBC News
. March 12, 2002. Retrieved July 7, 2020.
Francis attempted suicide in 1984. Nevertheless, in 1984, Francis was able to write and publish her autobiography, ''Who's Sorry Now?'', which became a ''New York Times'' bestseller.


1989–2018: Later career

In 1989, Francis resumed her recording and performing career again. For
Malaco Records Malaco Records is an American independent record label based in Jackson, Mississippi, United States, that has been the home of various major blues Blues is a music genre and musical form which was originated in the Deep South of the United ...
, Francis recorded a double album entitled ''Where the Hits Are'', containing re-recordings of 18 of her biggest hits, as well as six classics of Francis had always wanted to record such as "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" and "
Torn Between Two Lovers "Torn Between Two Lovers" is a song written by Peter Yarrow (of the folk music trio Peter, Paul & Mary) and Phillip Jarrell. The song describes a love triangle and laments that "loving both of you is breaking all the rules". Mary MacGregor recorde ...
". In 1992, a medley of remixed versions of her biggest German hits charted in Germany. A single, entitled "Jive, Connie", ended up among the top-ten best-selling singles of the year, which brought Connie Francis the prestigious R.SH-Gold award for the "Best Comeback of the Year" from R.SH (short for "Radio Schleswig-Holstein"), back then one of Germany's most important private radio stations. A subsequent
compilation album A compilation album comprises track Track or Tracks may refer to: Routes or imprints * Ancient trackway, any track or trail whose origin is lost in antiquity * Animal track, imprints left on surfaces that an animal walks across * Desire path, ...
of her biggest German hits in their original versions was also released successfully. In the wake of this, Francis recorded two duets for the German Herzklang label (a subsidiary of
Sony Music Entertainment Sony Music Entertainment (SME), also known as just Sony Music, is an American multinational Music industry, music company. Owned by the parent conglomerate (company), conglomerate Sony, Sony Group Corporation, it is part of the Sony Music Group ...
) with
Peter Kraus Peter Kraus (born March 18, 1939) is a German-Austrian singer and actor. Born Peter Siegfried Krausenecker in Munich, Kraus was popular especially in the 1950s, notably in those musical comedy films where he played opposite Cornelia Froboess. ...
, with whom she had already worked several times in the late 1950s and early 1960s. A German-language solo album was supposed to follow on Herzklang, but despite all songs being recorded and mixed, the album remains unreleased. In 1996, Francis released the live album ''The Return Concert: Live at Trump's Castle''. That same year, she also released ''With Love To Buddy'', a
tribute album packaged in book form, like a photograph album An album is a collection of audio recordings issued as a collection on compact disc (CD), vinyl, audio tape An audio tape recorder, also known as a tape deck, tape player or tape machine ...
of songs made famous by the late
Buddy Holly Charles Hardin Holley (September 7, 1936 – February 3, 1959), known professionally as Buddy Holly, was an American singer-songwriter who was a central and pioneering figure of mid-1950s rock and roll Rock and roll (often written as ...
. In late December 2004, Francis headlined in
Las Vegas Las Vegas (; Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Canada * Spanish River (disambi ...
for the first time since 1989. In March and October 2007, Francis performed to sold-out crowds at the
Castro Theatre The Castro Theatre is a popular San Francisco movie palace which became List of San Francisco Designated Landmarks, San Francisco Historic Landmark #100 in September 1976. Located at 429 Castro Street, in the Castro district, it was built in 1922 ...
in San Francisco. She appeared in concert in
Manila Manila ( , ; fil, Maynila, ), officially the City of Manila ( fil, Lungsod ng Maynila, ), is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are ...

Manila
, the Philippines, on
Valentine's Day Valentine's Day, also called Saint Valentine's Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, is celebrated annually on February 14. It originated as a Christian feast day honoring one or two early Christian martyrs named Saint Valentine and, throu ...
2008. In 2010, she also appeared at the
Las Vegas Hilton The Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino is a hotel, casino, and timeshare resort in Winchester, Nevada. Located near the northern end of the Las Vegas Strip, it is owned by Westgate Resorts. It opened in 1969 as the International Hotel, and was ...

Las Vegas Hilton
with
Dionne Warwick Marie Dionne Warwick (born December 12, 1940) is an American singer, television host, and former Goodwill Ambassador Goodwill Ambassador is a post-nominal honorific title, a professional occupation and/or authoritative designation that is ...

Dionne Warwick
, a show billed as "Eric Floyd's Grand Divas of Stage". In December 2017, Francis released her most recent autobiography, ''Among My Souvenirs''.


Work


Musical genres

While her singles were mostly kept in the then-current sounds of the day such as rock 'n' roll,
novelty song A novelty song is a type of song built upon some form of novel concept, such as a gimmick A gimmick is a novel device or idea designed primarily to attract attention or increase appeal, often with little intrinsic value. When applied to re ...
s, the twist, torch ballads, or the girl group sound created by
Brill Building The Brill Building is an office building located at 1619 Broadway (Manhattan), Broadway on List of streets in Manhattan, 49th Street in the New York City borough of Manhattan, just north of Times Square and further uptown from the historic mu ...
alumni
Ellie Greenwich Eleanor Louise Greenwich (October 23, 1940 – August 26, 2009) was an American pop music Pop is a genre of popular music that originated in its modern form during the mid-1950s in the United States and the United Kingdom. The terms ''popular ...
and
Jeff Barry Jeff Barry (born Joel Adelberg; April 3, 1938) is an American pop music songwriter, singer, and record producer. Among the most successful songs that he has co-written in his career are " Do Wah Diddy Diddy", " Da Doo Ron Ron", " Then He Kisse ...
, Francis' albums represented her in a variety of styles, ranging from R&B,
vocal jazz Vocal jazz or jazz singing is an instrumental approach to jazz using the voice. Similar to a cappella A cappella (, also , ; ) music is group or solo performance without instrumental An instrumental is a recording normally without any vocals, ...
, and
country A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organized by some form of Institutionalisation, institutionalized social ...

country
to Broadway
standards Standard may refer to: Flags * Colours, standards and guidons * Standard (flag), a type of flag used for personal identification Norm, convention or requirement * Standard (metrology), an object that bears a defined relationship to a unit of ...
, children's music, waltzes, spiritual music,
schlager music Schlager music (, " hit(s)") is a style of European popular music that is generally a catchy instrumental accompaniment to vocal pieces of pop music with simple, happy-go-lucky, and often sentimental lyrics. It is prevalent in Central, Northern ...
, traditionals from various ethnic groups represented in the US, and select songs from popular songwriters of the day, such as
Burt Bacharach Burt Freeman Bacharach ( ; born May 12, 1928) is an American composer, songwriter, record producer, and pianist thumb The thumb is the first digit of the hand A hand is a prehensile, multi- fingered appendage located at the end of the fo ...

Burt Bacharach
and
Hal David Harold Lane David (May 25, 1921 – September 1, 2012) was an American lyricist. He grew up in New York City. He was best known for his collaborations with composer Burt Bacharach Burt Freeman Bacharach ( ; born May 12, 1928) is an Amer ...
, or Les Reed.


Discography


Filmography


Filmography (television)


Bibliography


Personal life


Marriages

Francis has been married four times. In 1964, she was briefly married to Dick Kanellis, a press agent and entertainment director for the Aladdin Hotel.Inside Track
, ''Billboard (magazine), Billboard''. June 23, 1973. p. 86. Retrieved July 8, 2020.
In January 1971, she married Izzy Marion, a hair-salon owner, divorcing 10 months later. In 1973, Francis married for the third timeher only marriage to last more than a few monthsto Joseph Garzilli, a restaurateur and travel-agency owner; they divorced in 1977.Diana Ross Preparing Nuptials
, ''New York Daily News''. October 25, 1985. Retrieved July 8, 2020.
It was during the third marriage that Francis adopted a baby boy, Joey. Francis married TV producer Bob Parkinson in 1985, divorcing later that year.


Relationship with Bobby Darin

Early in her career, Francis was introduced to Bobby Darin, then an up-and-coming singer and songwriter. Darin's manager arranged for him to help write several songs for her. Despite some disagreement about material, after several weeks Darin and Francis developed a romantic relationship. Francis' strict Italian father would separate the couple whenever possible. When her father learned that Darin had suggested the two elope after one of her shows, he ran Darin out of the building at gunpoint. Francis saw Darin only two more times: once when the two were scheduled to sing together for a television show, and again when she was spotlighted on the TV series ''This Is Your Life''. By the time of the latter's taping, Darin had married actress Sandra Dee. In her autobiography, Francis stated she and her father were driving into the Lincoln Tunnel when the radio DJ announced Dee and Darin's marriage. Her father made a negative comment about Darin finally being out of their lives. Angered, Francis wrote she hoped the Hudson River would fill the Lincoln Tunnel, killing both her and her father; she later wrote that not marrying Darin was the biggest mistake of her life.


Biopic

Francis and singer Gloria Estefan completed a screenplay for a movie based on Francis' life titled ''Who's Sorry Now?'' Estefan announced that she would produce and play the lead. She said, "[Connie Francis] isn't even in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and yet she was the first female pop star worldwide, and has recorded in nine languages. She has done a lot of things for victims' rights since her rape in the '70s.... There's a major story there." In December 2009 the film project was dropped. According to Francis: In the same article, Francis said that Dolly Parton had been contacting her for years trying to produce her life story, but due to her previous commitment to Estefan's organization, she was not able to accept Parton's offer. She noted in the article that both she and Parton had considered, independently of each other, actress Valerie Bertinelli to play Francis.


Politics and activism

Francis supported Richard Nixon's 1968 United States presidential election, 1968 bid for the President of the United States, Presidency when she recorded a campaign song for him. In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan appointed her as head of his task force on violent crime. She has also been the spokeswoman for Mental Health America's trauma campaign, as well as an involved worker for the USO and UNICEF. In a 2011 interview, Francis described herself as "a die-hard Liberal (politics), liberal".


Lawsuits

Francis brought a suit alleging that Universal Music Group (UMG) took advantage of her condition and stopped paying royalties. The lawsuit was dismissed. On November 27, 2002, she filed a second suit against UMG alleging the label had inflicted severe emotional distress on her and violated her Moral rights (copyright law), moral rights when, without her permission, it synchronized several of her songs into "sexually themed" movies: the 1994 film ''Post Cards from America'', the 1996 film ''The Craft (film), The Craft'', and the 1999 film ''Jawbreaker (film), Jawbreaker''. This suit was also dismissed. Francis also sued the producers of ''Jawbreaker (film), Jawbreaker'' for using her song "Lollipop Lips," which is heard during a sex scene.


Recognition

In 2001, "Who's Sorry Now?" was named one of the Songs of the Century. A "Connie Francis Way" street sign is displayed at the corner of Greylock Parkway and Forest Street in
Belleville, New Jersey Belleville (French: "Belle ville" meaning "Beautiful city / town") is a township A township is a kind of human settlement In geography, statistics and archaeology, a settlement, locality or populated place is a community in which peo ...
, near the house in which she grew up.


References


External links

* *
The Work of Claus Ogerman
a pictorial discography showing albums and singles, along with studio photos and complete liner notes which document Francis' work in the 1960s with this arranger/conductor
Baltimore Net Radio
Features a one-hour weekly internet radio program streaming world-wide, devoted to the music of Connie Francis: "A Visit with Connie Francis" Thursdays from 3:00–4:00 p.m. NYT, with rebroadcasts as per the program schedule {{DEFAULTSORT:Francis, Connie 1937 births Living people American accordionists Women accordionists American country singer-songwriters American women country singers American women pop singers American film actresses American pop rock singers American television actresses American women rock singers Traditional pop music singers Dutch-language singers French-language singers of the United States German-language singers Hebrew-language singers Italian-language singers Japanese-language singers Latin-language singers Portuguese-language singers Spanish-language singers of the United States Swedish-language singers UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors MGM Records artists Polydor Records artists United Artists Records artists Yiddish-language singers Yiddish-speaking people People of Calabrian descent People with bipolar disorder New Jersey Republicans American people of Italian descent Belleville High School (New Jersey) alumni Newark Arts High School alumni People from Belleville, New Jersey People from Essex Fells, New Jersey Actresses from Newark, New Jersey Country musicians from New Jersey Musicians from Newark, New Jersey Singer-songwriters from New Jersey Singer-songwriters from New York (state) 20th-century American actresses 20th-century American singers 21st-century American singers 20th-century American women singers 21st-century American women singers Vocal jazz musicians 21st-century accordionists Country musicians from New York (state)