Biography

Connie Francis: America's Sweetheart of Song (25 Oct. 1998)

TV Episode  |   |  Documentary, Biography, History
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Title: Connie Francis: America's Sweetheart of Song (25 Oct 1998)

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This program originally aired on the cable channel A&E for their signature program Biography. The cable company does sell copies of the airing, however 5 to 10 minutes have been shaved off of the program for the video release. The full version can only be seen on an actual re-airing of the A&E program on their cable channel. See more »

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Concetta Rosa Maria Franconero Confronts the Obstacles to Entertain and to Survive
1 May 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Well, the first reviewer presents an excellent summary of this episode, so I'll just touch upon some of its other highlights....

Shelley Fabares narrates this account of the life and career of Concetta Rosa Maria Franconero, who overcomes many obstacles to enter the books to become the female singer who has sold the most records world-wide, as the sensational Connie Francis.

This episode follows Connie from her formative years, in Newark, New Jersey, and into the forefront of popular music, as it studies some of the many high points and low points of Connie's life along the way and beyond, such as....

* When young Connie's loving father, George Franconero Sr., offers his daughter a choice of piano or accordion lessons, she picks the accordion and later regrets the selection although George's managing her talent introduces Connie into the musical arena.

* 1955, singers and songwriters gather at the Brill Building, in Manahattan, New York City, where Connie meets singer Bobby Darin, whom she often publicly regards as the great love of her life.

* George Sr. advises Connie on every aspect of her life and sets rigid guidelines for everyone to follow. Not taking kindly to Bobby Darin's proposal to elope with Connie, George aims the barrel of a pistol at Bobby to exit his daughter's life for once and for all.

* It is Television Presenter Arthur Godfrey whose idea it is to dub Concetta Franconero as "Connie Francis," to offer the novice singer an Irish-flavored stage name, upon introducing her to his television audience.

* When a crime syndicate approaches George Sr. to present a deal to get Connie's lackluster early records on jukeboxes around the country, George answers, "If Connie doesn't make it as a singer, we could all live with that. But if she does make it as a singer, then she's going to do that by herself."

* Connie signs a ten-single recording contract with MGM Studios, but her first nine records flop in terms of sales and radio play. When she is scheduled to debut on "American Bandstand," on New Year's Day, 1958, George Sr. hands her an arrangement for a 1923 composition, to which she shies from performing. But the song, "Who's Sorry Now?" quickly becomes Connie's first hit record, as adults and teens alike warm up to her rendition.

* After singing "Mama" on "The Perry Como Show" to rave reviews, Connie goes on to record in thirteen additional languages: English, Greek, German, Swedish, Dutch, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian (and Neapolitan), Hebrew, Yiddish, Japanese, Latin and Hawaiian.

* When the overly-protective George Sr. introduces Connie to the gentleman who becomes her third husband, she says that he's introduced her to only two gentlemen before; one is Gay, the other studying for the priesthood, so how promising would this chance turn out? (He becomes Connie's only husband to last more than a year.)

* When MGM casts Connie in her third film, "Looking for Love" (1964), the studio publicizes her as "the next Judy Garland," and then MGM prescribes narcotics, to which Connie becomes addicted for decades to follow.

* 1974, Connie becomes the unfortunate victim of a beating and brutal assault after a concert on Long Island, leaving her traumatized without the will to survive if not for protecting son Joey, whom she has adopted earlier in the year.

* 1981, a crime syndicate is involved in the brutal murder of George Jr.

* 1983, Connie makes a trip to Washington, DC, to request that the Reagan Administration establish a Task Force to address victims of violent crimes. As a result, the Reagan Adminstration issues the Task Force, but it is ineffective because they do not help anyone.

* 1985, Connie faces an altercation with law enforcement officers when she is evicted from an airplane for not extinguishing a cigarette when requested. Tabloids have a field day at Connie's expense once again.

* 1989, George Sr. handcuffs Connie to cart her off to a medical rehabilitation center for treatment from depression and pain killers. Ultimately, Connie says that George was right all along although she wouldn't speak to him for years, before reconciling before his 1996 passing.

* Dick Clark, who initially helps to launch Connie's stardom on "American Bandstand," helps her to forge comebacks along the way, after the string of unfortunate situations which jeopardizes Connie's career and very life. "She's a survivor," says Dick Clark. "And an inspiration to us all."

Connie has married on four occasions, to Dick Kannelis (1964-64), Izzy Marion (1971-1972), Joseph Garzilli (1973-1978), and Bob Parkinson (1985-86). After suffering two miscarriages during her marriage with Garzilli, she and Joseph adopt son, Joey.

Interview Guests for this episode consist of Connie Francis, Ida Franconero (Mother), Mary Ferrara (Aunt), Connie Rose (Cousin), Arlene Franconero-Monaco (Sister-in-Law), Paula Prentiss (Actress), Kaye Stevens (Singer), Joyce Becker (Former Assistant), Anita Barros (Friend), Beverly McDermott (Friend), Lois Prokocimer (Friend), Joey Garzilli (Son), Dick Clark (Television Presenter), Frankie Avalon (Singer), Neil Sedaka (Singer), Don Kirshner (Song Publisher), Pat Niglio (Assistant), Bobby Grauso (Drummer), Steve Karmen (Friend of Bobby Darin), Ed Schnitt (Friend), Lou Sukoff (Friend), Nick Navarro (Broward County Sheriff), and Michael Giambra (Fan Club President).

Archive footage includes Connie Francis, George Franconero Jr. (Brother), Arthur Godfrey (Television Presenter), Bobby Darin (Singer), plus American Servicemen in Vietnam.

Television and Film Clips include scenes from "Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts" (1958), "American Bandstand" (1958), "The Perry Como Show" (1960), "Where the Boys Are" (1960), "Star Time" and local programming, "Dick Clark's Live Wednesday" (1978), "Live at Diplomat Hotel" (1989), plus a Public Service Announcement for victims of violent crimes.

Songs performances include "Daddy's Little Girl," "This Is My Song," "Freedom," "Who's Sorry Now?," "Stupid Cupid," "You Make Me Feel So Young" (duet with Bobby Darin), "Mama," "Where the Boys Are" (Italian version), and "The Bells Are Ringing."


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