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Concetta Rosa Maria Franconero (born December 12, 1938), known professionally as Connie Francis, is an Americanmarker pop singer best known for several international hit songs including "Who's Sorry Now?," "Lipstick on Your Collar," "Where the Boys Are", and "Stupid Cupid." She topped the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart on three occasions with "Everybody's Somebody's Fool," "My Heart Has a Mind of Its Own" and "Don't Break the Heart That Loves You." She was the top-charting female artist of the 1950s and 1960s.

Biography

Early life

Francis was born in the Italian Down Neck, or Ironboundmarker, neighborhood of Newarkmarker, New Jerseymarker. She attended Newark Arts High Schoolmarker in 1951 and 1952 there. She and her family moved to Belleville, NJ where she graduated "Salutatorian" from the Belleville High School Class of 1955 After an appearance on Ford Startime, Francis was advised to change her name from Franconero to something more easily pronounceable — and to quit the accordion that was part of her act.

Francis' first single, "Freddy," (1955) met with little success. Her next nine singles were also failures. During this time she was introduced to Bobby Darin, who was then an up-and-coming singer/songwriter. Darin's manager arranged for him to help write several songs for Connie. Initially the two could not agree on the selection of material, but after several weeks Bobby and Connie developed a romantic interest. Unfortunately, Connie had a very strict Italian father who would separate the couple whenever possible. When Connie's father learned that Bobby had suggested the two lovers elope after one of Connie's shows, he ran Darin out of the building while waving a gun, telling Bobby to never see his daughter again. Bobby saw Connie only two more times after this, once when the two were scheduled to sing together for a television show and again later when Connie was spotlighted on the TV series This Is Your Life. By the time of the taping Bobby Darin had just married actress Sandra Dee, for which the show's host congratulated Darin. According to her autobiography Connie first heard of Darin's marriage to Dee while she and her father were listening to the radio announcement while driving through the Lincoln Tunnel. Connie's father made a negative comment about Bobby finally being out of their lives. Angered, Connie wrote that at that moment she hoped the Hudson River had filled the Lincoln Tunnel, killing both herself and her father. Francis would later write that not marrying Darin was the biggest mistake of her life. She also appeared on the NBC interview program Here's Hollywood.

Stardom

After the failure of her first few demos, she considered a career in medicine. MGM was about to drop her due to poor sales. At what was to have been her final recording session for MGM she recorded a cover version of the 1923 song "Who's Sorry Now?" which had been written by Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby. Francis has said that she recorded the song at the suggestion of her father who convinced her it stood a chance of becoming a hit because it was a song adults already knew and that teenagers would dance to with a contemporary arrangement.

The gamble paid off. On January 1, 1958, the song debuted on Dick Clark's American Bandstand television show, and by mid-year over a million copies were sold. She was suddenly launched into worldwide stardom. In April 1958, "Who's Sorry Now" reached number one on the UK Singles Chart and number four in the USA. This was followed by many other hits over the next decade, as Connie Francis became one of the most popular vocalists in the world.

As Francis explains at each of her concerts, she began searching for a new hit immediately after the success of "Who's Sorry Now?". She was introduced to Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield, who sang for her every ballad they had written. 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 for the young generation of the time. Greenfield suggested that Sedaka sing a song they had written that morning for another girl group. Sedaka protested, believing that Francis would be insulted, but Greenfield said that since she hated all the other songs they had performed, they had nothing to lose. Thus, Sedaka reluctantly agreed to play "Stupid Cupid." When he finished, a startled Francis announced that he had just played her new hit record. The song reached #14 on he Billboard charts. Incidentally, while Francis was writing in her diary, Sedaka asked her if he could read what she had written. She refused, but Sedaka was inspired to write The Diary, his first hit single. Through the rest of her early career Sedaka and Greenfield wrote many of Connie Francis', hits including "Fallin" (#30) and "Where the Boys Are" (#4).

In 1960, Connie Francis became the youngest headliner to sing in Las Vegasmarker, (where she would play 28 days a year for nine years). That same year she also became the first female singer to have two consecutive number 1 singles: "Everybody is Somebody's Fool" and "My Heart Has a Mind of Its Own". In 1961, she starred in her own television special on ABC television sponsored by Brylcreem titled Kicking Sound Around, singing and acting alongside Tab Hunter, Eddie Foy Jr. and Art Carney. She appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show on July 1, 1962 with the French singing star Johnny Hallyday in a show taped at the famous Moulin Rougemarker nightclub in Paris, France. Her autobiography, For Every Young Heart, was released the same year. On July 3, 1963 she played a Command performance before Queen Elizabeth II at the Alhambra Theatremarker in Glasgow, Scotland. By 1967, Francis had 35 U.S. Top 40 hits, three of which were number ones. During the height of the Vietnam War in 1967, Connie Francis performed for U.S. troops.

Later career

Francis recorded several albums of country music standards during her pop career. In 1969, she had a modest country hit with, "The Wedding Cake." She appeared on the country charts again in 1982 with "There's Still a Few Good Love Songs Left in Me." Several country singers found chart success remaking Francis' pop hits for the country market, including Marie Osmond ("Who's Sorry Now?" in 1975), Susan Raye ("My Heart Has a Mind of Its Own" in 1972), Margo Smith ("Don't Break The Heart That Loves You" in 1978), and Debby Boone.

Connie Francis returned to the spotlight in 1973 with "The Answer", a song written just for her, and soon began performing again. However, on November 8, 1974 Francis was raped in the Jericho Turnpike Howard Johnson's Lodge following a performance at the Westbury Music Fairmarker in New Yorkmarker. After returning to the room some time after the attack she discovered the broken lock and torn screen had not been repaired by facility management. She subsequently sued the motel chain for failing to provide adequate security. She reportedly won a $3 million judgment, at the time one of the largest such judgments in history. She did not perform again for seven years afterwards. Her rapist was never found.

In 1978, she attempted a comeback by appearing with her friend Dick Clark on his ABC-TV variety show Dick Clark's Live Wednesday. Unknown to the audience, the still-fragile Francis lip-synched to a pre-recorded disco medley of her hit Where the Boys Are.

She released her autobiography, Who's Sorry Now? in 1984.

She resumed her performing career in 1989. Her most recent CD The American Tour (2004) contains performances from recent shows. In late December 2004, Francis headlined in Las Vegas for the first time since 1989.

In March and October 2007, Francis performed to sold-out crowds at the Castro Theatermarker in San Francisco. She appeared in concert in Manila, the Philippines, on Valentine's Day 2008.

Vocal style

Connie Francis specialized in downbeat ballads (often remakes of old standards) delivered in her trademark "sobbing", emotive style, often embellished using variations in delivery from touching, soft, sweet, tones to soaring, powerful voice textures, with successful hits such as "Who's Sorry Now?" (#4), "My Happiness" (#2), "I'm Sorry I Made You Cry", "Second Hand Love" (#7), "Among My Souvenirs" (#7), "Together" (#6), "Breakin' In a Brand New Broken Heart" (#7), "Many Tears Ago" (#7), "Frankie" (#9), "When the Boy in Your Arms (Is the Boy in Your Heart)" (#10), and the Italian song "Mama" (#8).

However, she also had success with a handful of more upbeat, rock-and-roll-oriented compositions, such as "Stupid Cupid", "Lipstick on Your Collar" (#5), "Robot Man" and "Vacation" (#9). Among her other notable performances were "In the Summer of His Years" (a tribute to slain U.S. President John F. Kennedy) and Bert Kaempfert's "Strangers in the Night" (although the latter song is more often identified with Frank Sinatra). Both "Everybody's Somebody's Fool" and "My Heart Has a Mind of Its Own" went to number one on the Billboard music charts in 1960. In 1962, Francis had another number one hit with "Don't Break the Heart That Loves You".

Francis recorded many of her hit songs in foreign languages, including "Everybody's Somebody's Fool" and her signature song, "Where the Boys Are". She recorded in thirteen languages throughout her career: English, Greek, German, Swedish, Dutch, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian (and its dialect Neapolitan), Hebrew, Yiddish, Japanese, Latin and Hawaiian. During a concert at the Golden Stag Festival in Braşov, Romania, in March 1970, Francis performed live in Romanian. Francis' biggest hit album in the U.S. was 1959's Italian Favorites; she followed it with several more albums of Italian songs over the years, as well as collections of Spanish-language and Jewish songs, among others.

Personal life

Francis has been married four times. She married Dick Kanellis against her father's wishes on August 15, 1964. She divorced him three months later after he abused her. She married hairdresser Izadore "Izzy" Marion on January 16, 1971. They divorced the following year. In September 1973 she married Joseph Garzilli; together they adopted a son, Joseph Garzilli Jr. (Joey), born in 1974. She has stated that it was because of her rape in 1974 that she divorced him. After the marriage ended, she married television producer Bob Parkinson, on June 27, 1985. Like the others, this marriage ended in divorce.

Nasal surgery to correct previous surgery caused a sensitivity to air conditioning and deprived her of her ability to sing professionally for four years.

Her brother was murdered in 1981.

Francis was later diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She has long suffered from continuing mental impairments that developed as a result of her rape, including drug dependencies and suicide attempts. She uses lithium to treat the illness.

Francis supported Richard Nixon's 1968 bid for the Presidency when she recorded a TV ad for him. source

Lawsuits

Francis brought suit alleging that Universal Music Group took advantage of her condition and stopped paying royalties. It was dismissed. On November 27, 2002, she filed a second suit against UMG alleging the label had "synchronized" several of her songs into movies without her permission: the 1994 film Post Cards from America, the 1996 film The Craft, and the 1999 film Jawbreaker. This suit was also dismissed.

She also sued the producers of the 1999 film Jawbreaker, in which her song "Lollipop Lips" is heard during a sex scene.

Film and other media

Connie Francis appeared in the 1960 motion picture Where the Boys Are, Follow the Boys (1963) (the title song of which became a No. 17 Billboard single for Francis), Looking for Love (1964), and When the Boys Meet the Girls (1965). She overdubbed the vocals for Freda Holloway in the 1957 Warner Brothers rock and roll movie Jamboree , singing the songs "Siempre", "For Children of All Ages", "Who Are We to Say", and "Twenty-Four Hours a Day", which appeared on the promo soundtrack album for the film.

Later recognition

Billboard chart historian Joel Whitburn has ranked Connie Francis as the top female vocalist on the Adult Contemporary chart during the 1960s. In 1961, Francis was the first female artist to score a No. 1 Billboard Adult Contemporary single, with "Together," and she topped the AC chart again the following year with "Don't Break the Heart That Loves You."

In 2000, "Who's Sorry Now?" was named one of the "Songs of the Century". Connie Francis was inducted into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame in December 2007.

Connie Francis and singer Gloria Estefan completed a screenplay for a movie based on Francis' life titled Who's Sorry Now?. Estefan has announced that she would produce and play the lead. She said, "[Connie Francis] isn't in the Rock and Roll Hall of Famemarker, and yet she was the first 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."

Charted singles

Year Title Chart positions
US Billboard US Cashbox US AC US R&B US Country UK
1957 "The Majesty of Love" (w/ Marvin Rainwater) 93
1958 "Who's Sorry Now?" 4 3 4 1
"I'm Sorry I Made You Cry" 36 31 11
"Stupid Cupid" / "Carolina Moon" 15 16 1
"Fallin'" 30 39 20
"Happy Days and Lonely Nights" 88
"I'll Get By" 19
"Never Before" 99
1959 "My Happiness" 2 2 11 4
"You Always Hurt the One You Love" 13
"If I Didn't Care" 22 15 29
"Lipstick on Your Collar" 5 3 10 3
"Frankie" 9 9 17
"You're Gonna Miss Me" 22 33
"Plenty Good Lovin'" 69 63 18
"Among My Souvenirs" 7 5 10 11
"God Bless America" 36 36
1960 "Mama" / "Robot Man" 8 7 2
"Teddy" 17 31
"Everybody's Somebody's Fool" 1 1 2 24 5
"Jealous of You (Tango Della Gelosia)" 19 27
"My Heart Has a Mind of Its Own" 1 1 11 3
"Malagueña" 42 67
"Many Tears Ago" 7 9 12
"Senza Momma (With No One)" 87
1961 "Where the Boys Are" 4 4 5
"No One" 34 65
"Breakin' in a Brand New Broken Heart" / "Someone Else's Boy" 7 5 12
"Together" 6 7 1 6
"Too Many Rules" 72 64
"(He's My) Dreamboat" 14 22
"Hollyood" 42 26
"When the Boy in Your Arms " 10 8 2
"Baby's First Christmas" 26 52 7 30
1962 "Don't Break the Heart That Loves You" 1 2 1 39
"Second Hand Love" 7 7 3
"Vacation" 9 10 10
"The Biggest Sin of All" 116 89
"I Was Such a Fool (To Fall In Love With You)" 24 18 8
"He Thinks I Still Care" 57 51 18
"I'm Gonna Be Warm This Winter" 18 18 19 48
"Al di là" 90 87
1963 "Follow the Boys" 17 11 7
"Waiting for Billy" 127
"If My Pillow Could Talk" 23 16
"Drownin' My Sorrows" 36 34
"Mala Femmena" 114
"Your Other Love" 28 22 10
"In the Summer of His Years" 46 31
1964 "Blue Winter" 24 16 8
"Be Anything " 25 23 9
"Looking for Love" 45 34
"Don't Ever Leave Me" 42 37
"We Have Something More" 128
1965 "Whose Heart Are You Breaking Tonight" 43 42 7
"For Mamma " 48 35 12
"Wishing It Was You" 57 49 14
"My Child" 26
"Forget Domani" 79 55 16
"Roundabout" 80 83 10
"Jealous Heart" 47 29 10 44
1966 "Love Is Me, Love Is You" 66 68 28
"So Nice " 17
"Spanish Nights and You" 99 81 15
1967 "Time Alone Will Tell" 94 14
"Another Page" 99
"My Heart Cries for You" 118 96 12
"Lonely Again" 22
1968 "My World Is Slipping Away" 35
"Who Can Say Goodbye " 132 27
"I Don't Wanna Play House" 40
1969 "The Wedding Cake" 91 97 19 33
1973 "The Answer - Should I Tie A Yellow Ribbon Around the Oak Old Tree" 99 I'm Me Again" 40
1982 "There's Still a Few Good Love Songs Left In Me" 84


Other notable songs

  • "Freddy" (1955)
The A-Side of Francis' first ever published single (1955, MGM Records K 12015). "Freddy" was given the A-Side status rather than the single's B-Side "Didn't I love you enough" because MGM's president, Harry Meyerson, had a son named Freddy and Meyerson thought of this song as a suitable birthday gift. A version recorded by Eartha Kitt and Perez Prado was released at the same time as the Francis version. Although it also failed to chart, it still sold better than the Francis version because of its mambo arrangement, which was part of the current sound of the day.

  • "My First Real Love" (1956)
Bobby Darin wrote this song for Francis, which led to their first encounter. Darin was "The Jaybirds", who were credited as background vocals. The choir effect was reached by Darin recording his part several times in different keys. However, the single failed to chart.

Francis was invited to the 1961 Academy Awards ceremony to present one of the songs nominated for an Academy Award. She was offered "The Second Time Around" from the movie High Time starring Bing Crosby. She turned that song down in favor of "Never on Sunday", even singing a few bars of the original Greek lyrics during the ceremony. Francis never considered releasing a recording of the song as a single, because The Chordettes had already taken their version to #13 on the charts. But in August 1961, Francis recorded the song for an album featuring songs from motion pictures.

Contrary to popular belief, this song did not originate in the 1962 movie Rome Adventure where it was presented by Emilio Pericoli. The song was actually written as an entry for the Sanremo Festival. Originally recorded and performed by Betty Curtis, it became the winning song of the 1961 edition of the festival, which subsequently resulted in the nominations as Italy's entry for the 1961 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest (# 5). Connie Francis included the song on her album Connie Francis sings Modern Italian hits (MGM Records SE-4102), which was recorded in November 1962. Several versions of the Francis version exist: 1.) Bilingual Italian/English, running time 3'17", released in the US on both the album and MGM single K 13116, 2.) Pure Italian, running time 3'30", released in Mexico on MGM Records EP EXPL 1034, 3.) Pure Italian, alternate take, running time 3'46", released in Spain on MGM Records EP 63-025. To this day, "Al di là" remains as a part of Francis' live act.

  • "Mala Femmena" (1963)
Francis created a phenomenon by recording this song, because the lyrics were actually written for a male singer. The original lyrics tell about a man who finds out that his woman is cheating on him. Francis had the song rewritten, which told now the story of a woman telling "the other woman" to leave her man alone. This recording peaked only at # 114 in the US, but became her fourth # 1 hit in Italy

  • "Tommy" (1964)
Between late 1962 and late 1964, Francis recorded and released several songs which dabbled with the Girl group sound, which was created by successful acts such as The Shangri-Las, The Ronettes or Lesley Gore. Popular writers and producers of that sound were Phil Spector, Jeff Barry, and Ellie Greenwich. The latter two wrote and co-produced several songs for Francis. One of them was "Tommy". Recorded during an extensive session on April 8, 1964, this song, which would eventually be released as the flip side of "Blue Winter" on MGM Records Single K 13237, featured Ellie Greenwich and The Tokens as special guest backup vocals.

The lyrics for a vocal version of the best known theme from the Doctor Zhivago sound track were written by Academy Award winning lyricist Paul Francis Webster after a special request from Francis herself. But Francis rejected the lyrics at first because she thought of them as too corny. When she finally realized the song's potential, The Ray Conniff Singers had recorded it and taken to #9 of the charts. Francis' version became a hit nonetheless, becoming a # 1 in several Asian countries and Scandinavia. The Italian recording, "Dove non so", became her last # 1 hit in Italy.

US albums

Connie Francis recorded her first US album in 1958, the first of a prolific career at MGM that would last eleven years. In 1981, she made a comeback album for the label.



MGM E- = mono releaseMGM SE- = stereo release

(US = Billboard Hot 200 LPs Chart, C= Cashbox LPS chart, CM = Cashbox Mono LPS chart, CS = Cashbox Stereo LPS chart)

Selected foreign albums

  • MGM Records 60 001: Connie Francis en El Patio - Columbia 1965
  • MGM Records 60 709: Somewhere, my love - Germany 1967 (Distributed by Polydor)
  • MGM Records MG 50 006: Connie Francis canta i suoi best-seller e altri successi internazionali - Italy 1967


Soundtrack Album

  • Warner Brothers promo soundtrack album: Jamboree (released 1957)


Music Videos

References

  1. "OLD SCHOOL TIES", The Miami Herald, January 10, 1985. Accessed August 18, 2008. "Singer Connie Francis, fresh from her Miami appearance in the Orange Bowl Parade, returned to her old high school in Newark, N.J., this week for the first time in three decades to talk to students and old teachers, saying, Nostalgia always feels good. Francis, at forty-six, said that the bathrooms were the only things that had changed at Arts High School, which she attended in 1951 and 1952."
  2. A Brief History, Newark Arts High School. Accessed August 10, 2008.
  3. Who's Sorry Now autobiography by Connie Francis
  4. Connie Francis, Who's Sorry Now (autobiography)
  5. CNN.com - Transcripts
  6. Biography Channel's profile on Connie Francis "Connie Francis - Sweetheart of Song"
  7. Who's sorry now, indeed - the Buzz - Connie Francis suit agains tUniversal Music Corp - Brief Article | Advocate, The | Find Articles at BNET.com
  8. http://in.news.yahoo.com/040204/139/2bavl.html
  9. http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/archives/2003/oct/09/515719545.html?gloria+estefan
  10. Reference for all albums: "Souvenirs", 4-CD-boxed set, Polydor 314 533 382-2, 1996


External links

  • Official Site
  • 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.



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