Synopsis of Pop Music
“Venus, if you will,
Please send a little girl for me to thrill,
A girl who wants my kisses and my arms,
A girl with all the charms of you...”
It would be easy to dismiss Frankie Avalon as just another teen idol, but stopping at this label only scratches the surface. Child prodigy, movie star, all-around entertainer... these are among the many masks that Frankie Avalon has worn over the years.
Avalon was born Francis Michael Avallone in South Philadelphia in 1939. As a child, he picked up the trumpet after being inspired by Kirk Douglas’ performance in the film Young Man With A Horn. He was dubbed a prodigy, appearing on The Jackie Gleason Show and making records for RCA. Frankie’s fortunes changed dramatically when he had a chance meeting with Bob Marcucci, a local music impresario looking for rock and roll singing talent. He was impressed when he heard Avalon sing a few numbers in between trumpeting for local band Rocco and the Saints. Suddenly, it all clicked for Marcucci: Avalon had the dark hair and the right voice to realize his vision of a teen idol that could sell tons of records to a female audience.
Marcucci signed Avalon to a contract and began recording with the young trumpeter-turned-vocalist. The third Frankie Avalon single, “Dede Dinah,” was the first to hit the charts, reaching #7. Thus began a four-year chart run for Avalon that included two #1 singles in “Venus” (1959) and “Why” (1960). Avalon had six Top-40 singles in 1959 alone. This era of Avalon’s career was given an intriguing, fictionalized screen treatment in a 1981 film called The Idolmaker.
By 1962, Avalon had begun a parallel acting career with supporting performances in films like The Alamo and Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea. Avalon decided to shift his major focus to his acting career and hit big in the early 60’s with ongoing role in the Beach Party film series. In these films he played Frankie, a fun-loving, clean-cut surfer, alongside ex-Mouseketeer Annette Funicello. Starting with Beach Party in 1963, Avalon starred in no less than 8 “Beach” films. Other notable titles in this series included Muscle Beach Party and Beach Blanket Bingo.
As the 60’s gave way to the 70’s and 80’s, Avalon devoted his attention to a series of show-business pursuits. He continued to tour (both as a vocalist and a trumpeter), act, and make appearances on talk shows. In the process, he became a show-business institution. A memorable moment of his later career was his performance as the Teen Angel in the film version of Grease. Performing the song “Beauty School Dropout” in a fantasy sequence, Avalon resurrected the glory of his teen idol days while gently satirizing them: it was a sly, self-aware moment and one of the highlights of the film. In 1987, Avalon reunited with Annette Funicello for the film Back To The Beach. The film was a witty, affectionate send-up of their ‘beach party’ days and included everyone from Pee-Wee Herman to surf-guitar legend Dick Dale.
In the 90’s, Avalon received his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It was a fitting and well-deserved achievement for someone who was spent much of his life in show business. Avalon continues to act and perform today, showing no signs of slowing down. Whether he’s acting in a film like Casino or appearing in a modern stage production of Grease, Frankie Avalon still has style and charm to burn.
Artist Release History1959 - Swingin' on a Rainbow
1959 - The Young Frankie Avalon
1960 - Summer Scene
1960 - Young and in Love
1960 - Fabian and Avalon: The Hit Makers (compilation)
1961 - A Whole Lot of Frankie
1961 - And Now About Mr. Avalon
1962 - Frankie Avalon's Christmas Album
1962 - Italiano
1962 - You Are Mine
1963 - Sings Cleopatra Plus 13 Other Great Hits (compilation)
1964 - Songs from Muscle Beach Party
1964 - Frankie Avalon's 15 Greatest Hits
1970 - I Want You Near Me
1971 - Greatest Hits
1973 - 16 Greatest Hits
1975 - The Very Best of Frankie Avalon
1978 - You're My Life
1979 - Pick of Frankie Avalon (compilation)
1978 - Venus
1984 - Best of Frankie Avalon
1984 - Bobby Sox to Stockings (compilation)
1985 - Best Of Frankie Avalon
1991 - Frankie Avalon
1995 - The Best of Frankie Avalon
1995 - Greatest Hits
1997 - Venus: The Very Best Of Frankie Avalon