Billboard singles from 1958 to late 1962, including the number one hits Venus and Why in 1959. In December 1952, Avalon made his American network television debut playing the trumpet in the Honeymooners “Christmas Party” sketch on The Jackie Gleason Show.
Two singles showcasing Avalon's trumpet playing were issued on RCA Victor's “X” sublabel in 1954. As a teenager he played with Bobby Rydell in Rocco and the Saints.
Avalon's first film was a short appearance in Jamboree (1957), playing a trumpet and singing “Teacher's Pet”. In the late 1950s, teen idols were often given roles in films, supporting older male stars in order to attract a younger audience, such as Ricky Nelson in Rio Bravo (1959).
Alan Ladd's daughter was a Frankie Avalon fan, who recommended that he co-star with her father in the Western Guns of the Timberland (1960). Land announced he would reteam Avalon and his daughter in Six Steps to Freedom but the film was never made.
Rushes for Timberland were seen by John Wayne, who was looking for a young actor to play the (fictitious) role of “Smitty” in his passion project, The Alamo (1960). After making the film Wayne told the press “We're not cutting one bit of any scene in which Frankie appears.
Of more significance for Avalon's career was a project originally written by Runoff, Beach Party (1963). This cheerful musical comedy starred Annette Monticello and was directed by William Asher ; Ark off said AIP originally wanted Fabian Forte to co-star with Monticello, but when he proved unavailable they went with Avalon.
Avalon received an offer to appear in a swashbuckler set in 10th century Spain about Fernão González of Castile, The Castilian (1963), then was in the first Beach Party sequel, Muscle Beach Party (1963). In August 1964 Avalon announced he signed to make ten films in five years for AIP.
Pajama Party (1964) was unofficially the fourth in the series; it was a science fiction spoof in which Avalon ceded leading man duties to Tommy Kirk, but had a cameo. He was back as leading man in Beach Blanket Bingo (1965).
More popular was Dr. Gold foot and the Bikini Machine (1965), a comedy with Vincent Price and Hickman, for AIP. This was liked enough to justify a sequel, although Avalon did not appear, Fabian Forte taking over.
In January 1966, Avalon said he no longer wanted to make beach films. AIP tried to find a new formula for Avalon, and cast him as a stock car driver in Fireball 500 (1966), alongside Fabian and Monticello, for director William Asher.
It was a medium success, and led to other AIP stock car movies, though none with Avalon. In 1976, Avalon updated his song “Venus” with a new disco treatment.
Materializing as a character called Teen Angel, his performance of Beauty School Dropout in the hit 1978 film of the musical Grease introduced Avalon to a new generation of viewers. The 1980 film The Idol maker, written by Ed Di Lorenzo and directed by Taylor Hack ford, was a thinly-disguised biography of Avalon (“Tommy Dee” in the film) as well as 1950s teenage star Fabian Forte (called “Caesar” in the film), along with songwriter/producer Bob Marcus (called “Minnie Bacardi”).
In the film, Dee clashes with the record producer and younger singer Caesar, who he feels threatens his career. Eventually, Dee and Caesar quit the label, but their record careers collapse just as the British Invasion begins.
The real Fabian threatened a lawsuit, despite the filmmakers' insistence that the film presented only fictional characters (though Marcus was a paid consultant). In 1980 Avalon appeared in the film Blood Song as Paul Foley, a serial killer.
The movie was shot in October – November 1980 in North Bend / Coos Bay, Oregon. He also appeared in the Happy Days episode “Poo bah Dew Day” playing himself where he sings his hits “Venus” and “Why”.
Avalon had the idea of returning to beach party films with Monticello. He hired several screenwriters and shopped the screenplay around town, eventually managing to set up the project at Paramount Pictures.
In 1989, Avalon and Monticello appeared as themselves in cameo roles, out jogging the streets in Troop Beverly Hills. Not long afterward Monticello retired, having been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
Avalon then turned to marketing and created Frankie Avalon Products, a line of health and cosmetic aids. He promoted his products on the Home Shopping Network with host Bob Circuit.
As part of a long-running concert tour, Avalon has toured with fellow Philadelphia nearly 60s teen idols Fabian and Bobby Rydell under the banner “Dick Fox's Golden Boys”. She was a former beauty pageant winner, and Avalon met her while playing cards at a friend's house.
^ “Golden boy Frankie Avalon returns home | News”. “As Actor, Avalon Tops With Wayne: Frankie Signed for Repeats; 'West Side' Demands Unique”.
“Crosby, Hope Give Youngsters a Break: Bing Features Two Teeters; Avalon Signs for 10 Films”. The Wall Street Journal, Eastern edition; New York.
Richard Gere is an American actor known for his leading roles in films like 'American Gigolo,' 'An Officer and a Gentleman,' 'Pretty Woman' and 'Chicago.' Singer and actor Leif Garrett rose to fame in the 1970s as one of the era's most popular teen idols.
Annette Monticello is an American singer and actress known for her starring roles on Walt Disney's The Mickey Mouse Club and in the Beach Party film series. Overview (3)Mini Bio (1) One of a spate of teen idols to come out of Philadelphia in the 1950s and 1960s, Frankie Avalon --unlike many of the others--actually had a musical background, having been taught to play the trumpet at a very young age by his father.
He won a local TV talent contest playing a trumpet solo. In 1951, at age 12, he was in a band called Rocco and the Saints, which included another soon-to-be famous teen singer, Bobby Rydell.
In 1952, he was performing at a private party held for singer Al Martin. After an appearance on Dick Clark's teen dance show American Bandstand (1952), sales of the record zoomed and it eventually sold more than a million copies.
In 1959, after two more big hits (“Ginger Bread” and “I'll Wait for You”) he recorded the song he is probably best known for, the million-selling “Venus.” However, as 1960 rolled around his career began to wane and his record sales dropped precipitously.
He soon began taking small parts in movies, most notably in John Wayne's The Alamo (1960). His movie career really took off, however, when he was paired with former Musketeer Annette Monticello in Beach Party (1963) and its string of sequels.
These films, with their combination of surfing, low comedy, dancing and “beach bunnies” in bikinis, struck a nerve with teenage audiences, were produced for peanuts and made a fortune. In 1985, he began touring with fellow teen idols Rydell and Fabian in an oldie show called “The Golden Boys of Bandstand,” which was a rousing success.
He studied acting with Wynn Handyman in New York and Estelle Harmon in Los Angeles. Four years later he married beauty pageant winner Kathryn Diesel, Gretchen's sister.
In January 1960, “Why” was bumped from the #1 spot by singer Marty Robbins “El Paso”, the first #1 hit of the 1960s. I like that because the fans want to see onstage what they know so well from the big screen.
Rocco paid me 35 bucks a week at Murray's Inn in South Jersey. I'll be 65 in September and I work as much as I want to, take cruises with Kay, relax with my family, do everything in moderation, because I want to enjoy my life.