*Multi-gold record winner and legendary singer Connie Francis who is known nationally and internationally, will grace the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel stage with Dionne Warwick during the weekend of May 21-May 23rd.
There was a time that Connie was dubbed Female Entertainer of the Century. Her foreign hits remained in the Top Ten for more than six months at a time, earning her titles such as “Japan’s Most Popular Singer,” “Italy’s Most Beloved Italian American Singer” and she won the European Golden Lion Award as “Most Popular Artist-Male or Female on the European Continent.”
Born Concetta Rosemarie Franconero in Newark, N.J., Ms. Francis entered the world during a dance contest. “My mother was dancing at one of those dance contests similar to the movie “They Shoot Horses…” It was during the song, “You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby,” I decided to be born. My mother was rushed to the hospital where she had me,” recalled Connie who began her career at age 4, singing “Anchors Away” at Olympic Amusement Park in Irvington, NJ.
At 11 years old, she appeared on the Ted Mack Amateur Hour, the Arthur Godfry Show and became a regular on Startime,” a show featuring child performers. She signed with MGM where she recorded a series of bombs until her father talked her into recording “Whose Sorry Now.” Dick Clark played the song on American Bandstand on January 1,1958, launching Connie into musical fame.
Ms. Francis was the top-charting female artist of the 1950s and 1960s. She was voted the World’s No. 1 Female Vocalist and voted No.1 in almost every country including the United States, the Far East, Europe, South America, Australia and nearly everywhere records were sold. Connie Francis topped the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart on three occasions with “Don’t Break the Heart That Loves You” and became the phenomenon of the 20th century charting hit after hit with songs like “Where the Boys Are,” “Lipstick on Your Collar,” “Stupid Cupid,” “Mama,” and “My Heart Has a Mind of its Own.” She made 4 movies, recorded records in 17 different languages, world traveled, and was inducted into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame in December 2007. She sang “Never on a Sunday,” during the Oscars where the song became the first foreign song to win an Oscar. Francis appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show 41 times.
“I don’t like to talk about my movies. The movie “Where the Boys Are” was my Gone with the Wind and my other movies went downhill after that. I recorded “Where the Boys Are” in 6 languages in advance of the movie and it was instrumental in helping the film. The song and the movie put Fort Lauderdale on the map. There was about 13,000 college kids who came to the city before the movie. After the movie, about 75-100,000 kids descended upon the unprepared city, taking Fort Lauderdale totally by surprise,” remarked the endearing entertainer.
One of her proudest moments was entertaining the troops during the Viet Nam war. “The highlight of my career was my trip to Viet Nam. It was rewarding. I never felt more useful or needed. Viet Nam was a nightmare. The way these kids were treated when they came home from the war made me sick. They were booed and denigrated. We have troops all over the world. If we brought them home, America would not have problems paying for health care or college education. We have enough weapons to wipe out the world 20 times over. I think what Obama is doing with nuclear arms reduction is wonderful. When we put Obama on the world stage we put our best foot forward. Those folks that say that Barack needs to keep his socialist hands off Medicare, don’t understand Medicare and Medicaid are already government run programs. Pres. Obama is my hero. In fact, I am such an Obama fan, I dreamed I married him. And guess what… it took me all night long to get rid of Michelle. That was no easy feat, I tell you!” chuckled Connie.
Connie talked about her rape at knife point at the Howard Johnson Motor Lodge after appearing at Westbury Music Hall which left her depressed for 20 years. “For 7 years, I was a total recluse. That night, my husband left a body guard with me. I told the bodyguard I would be safe so encouraged him to go next door. He checked the windows and I double locked the doors but as it turned out they were not safe. 6 months after the rape, Howard Johnson had not fixed the door so I sued them” said Connie. “It was a watershed in personal injury litigation. Hotel security started to use the cards instead of keys in doors after that. Afterwards, I received thousands of letters from victims of violent crime. When my brother was murdered in 1981 by the mafia, I could no longer wallow in self pity. I went to Washington and became head of Pres. Regan’s Violent Crime Task Force where we changed laws in NJ, NY and California. I would have done more had I not been misdiagnosed as a manic depressive and spent the next 9 years in 17 involuntary commitments to mental institutions in 5 states. On May 19th I am going to be named spokesperson for the Trauma Campaign for Mental Health America with an eye toward helping others become mentally healthy. I plan to devote a lot of time to that,” stated Ms. Francis about her mental health commitment.
Fans can catch Connie Francis and Dionne Warwick via promoter Eric Floyd’s Grand Divas of Stage show at the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel on May 21-23 or get tickets/information by calling 800-222-5361 or 702-732-5755 or go on line at www.lvhilton.com. To hear her radio show with me on “Topically Yours,” go to Blakeradio.com, Rainbow Soul and/or visit Music Pastures on Soulinterviews.com.