Frankie Avalon

Frankie Avalon is only important in Rock 'n' Roll history because he was the first of the manufactured teen idols. He came to the fore front before Fabian and Bobby Rydell and other pretenders to the throne who worked the turf with tight black pants and red sweaters while Elvis cooled his heels in Germany. In the late '50s and early '60s, there were many untalented pretty boys who were cardboard, no-threat remnants of a post-Elvis age. But Avalon had a real musical background to go with the pretty boy looks, and was no drugstore teenager waiting to be discovered.

Born in South Philadelphia in 1939 as Francis Thomas Avallone, he broke into show business as a child prodigy trumpet player, good enough to win talent contests, get on The Jackie Gleason Show, and make records for RCA Victor's subsidiary, X Records. But as childhood gave way to his teens, Avalon found himself playing trumpet in a local band called Rocco And The Saints. When queried by local impresario Bob Marcucci if there might be some local Rock 'n' Roll singers who would be good enough to record some of his songs, Frankie suggested he check out the group's lead singer, blond-haired and blue-eyed Andy Martin. Marcucci came to the gig, but was unimpressed with Martin, feeling that blond-haired singers didn't have the right look to connect with females. But once he heard Avalon belt out a couple of tunes, Marcucci knew he had found what he was looking for, and a management contract was inked immediately.

It was another six to eight months before Avalon's first single, "Cupid" came out on Marcucci's Chancellor label, and it wasn't until his third release, "De De Dinah" that he had his first Top Ten hit. Strangely, even though he had a pleasant voice, Avalon recorded "De De Dinah" while plugging his nose, giving the vocal a unique, high pitched sound. From there it was an unprecedented run of hits, starting with his first number one in 1959, "Venus", placing no less than six more records in the Top 40 in that year alone, including "Bobby Sox To Stockings (#8), "A Boy Without A Girl" (#10), "Just Ask Your Heart" (#7) and "Why" (#1). The following year brought more hits like "Swingin' On A Rainbow" (#39), "Don't Throw Away All Those Teardrops" (#22), "Where Are You" (#32) and "Togetherness" (#26).

By 1962, Avalon's four-year domination of the charts was coming to an end, scoring just one U.S. Top 40 hit, "You Are Mine" (#26). He was then teamed up with Annette Funicello and reinvented himself as a clean-cut, pretty-boy surfer in a wildly successful batch of Beach Party movies that got him through the '60s in far better shape than most of his colleagues. The series was big enough to bring himself and Funicello back for an update in 1989 called Back to the Beach. Ever the musician, Avalon insisted that surf legend (and original cast member) Dick Dale be in this revival. In later days Avalon divided his time between hawking pain medicine on home shopping networks and appearing on the Golden Boys of Rock 'n' Roll oldies show with Bobby Rydell and Fabian, looking handsome as ever. He made a cameo appearance as himself with Robert DeNiro in the 1995 film, Casino. More recently, Frankie has starred in stage productions of Grease in the role of Teen Angel and Tony n' Tina's Wedding as a caricature of himself. In 2007 he performed "Beauty School Dropout" with the four remaining female contenders (Kathleen Monteleone, Allie Schulz, Ashley Spencer, and winner Laura Osnes) for the role of Sandy on the NBC television reality show Grease: You're the One that I Want!. On April 8, 2009, Frankie performed on the U.S. TV talent show American Idol where he sang "Venus". In 2015 he published a cookbook with over 80 recipes called Frankie Avalon's Italian Family Cookbook. Over the years he has maintained an active schedule of live performances, mostly on the casino circuit.

Frankie Avalon's Movies Included

The Alamo - 1960
Alakazam the Great - 1961
Panic in Year Zero - 1962
Beach Party - 1963
The Castilian - 1963
Bikini Beach - 1964
Muscle Beach Party - 1964
Beach Blanket Bingo - 1965
I'll Take Sweden - 1965
Hullabaloo - 1965
Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine - 1966
Grease - 1978
Blood Song - 1982
Back to the Beach - 1987
Troop Beverly Hills - 1989
Casino - 1995