Frankie Avalon

Frankie AvalonFrankie Avalon (born Francis Thomas Avallone on September 18, 1940 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) is an American actor, singer, sex symbol, and former teen idol.
By the time he was 12, Avalon was on U.S. television for his trumpet, and as a teenager, played with Bobby Rydell in Rocco and the Saints. In 1959, “Venus” (5 weeks #1) and “Why” went to number one on the Billboard Hot 100. “Why” was the last #1 of the 1950s. Avalon had 31 charted Billboard U.S. singles from 1958 to late 1962, including “Just Ask Your Heart” (U.S. #7), “I’ll Wait For You” (U.S. #15), “Bobby Sox to Stockings” (U.S. #8), and “A Boy Without a Girl” (U.S. #10), most hits written and/or produced by Bob Marcucci, head of Chancellor Records.
Teamed frequently with Annette Funicello, Avalon starred in a number of popular “beach” comedy movies during the 1960s. The wholesome and romantic coupling of “Frankie and Annette” in summer movies such as Beach Party and Beach Blanket Bingo became iconic figures in American films during that era.
Avalon also had straight dramatic parts in the John Wayne historical Frankie Avalon nudewestern film The Alamo as well as the science-fiction story Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1961) with Barbara Eden.
Materializing as a character called Teen Angel, his performance of “Beauty School Dropout” in the smash-hit 1978 film of the musical Grease introduced Frankie to a new generation of viewers.
Avalon appeared in nearly two dozen TV episodes, including ABC’s The Bing Crosby Show and The Patty Duke Show, appearing often as himself. Later, he became a national television spokesperson for Sonic Drive-In.
The 1980 film The Idolmaker, written by Ed Di Lorenzo and directed by Taylor Hackford, was a thinly-disguised biography of Avalon (”Tommy Dee” in the film) as well as 1950s teenage star Fabian (called “Caesare” in the film), as well as songwriter/producer Marcucci (called “Vinnie Vacarri”). In the movie, Dee clashes with the producer and younger singer Caesare, whom he feels threatens his career. Eventually, Dee and Caesare quit the label, but their record careers collapse as the British Invasion begins. The real Fabian threatened a lawsuit, though the filmmakers insisted the film presented only fictional characters (though Marcucci was a paid consultant). Avalon denied most of the movie’s events.
Avalon married Kathryn Diebel on January 19, 1963. She was a former beauty pageant winner, and Avalon met her while playing cards at a friend’s house. He told his friend that Kay was the girl he was going to marry. His agent warned Avalon that marriage would spoil his teen idol mystique. Still together, they have eight children – Frankie Jr., Tony, Dina, Laura, Joseph, Nicolas, Kathryn and Carla. They have 10 grandchildren. Frankie Jr. is a drummer and Tony, the second oldest son, plays guitar and teaches at the Paul Green School of Rock; both tour Frankie Avalon nakedwith their father.
In 1987 Avalon and Annette Funicello returned to movies with Back to the Beach. Not long afterwards, Funicello was diagnosed with MS, and retired.
Afterwards, Avalon turned to marketing and created Frankie Avalon Products, a line of health and cosmetic aids. Avalon promotes his products on the Home Shopping Network with host Bob Circosta.
He made a cameo appearance as himself with Robert DeNiro in the 1995 film Casino.
In recent years, Avalon has starred in stage productions of Grease in the role of Teen Angel (a role he played in the 1978 film adaptation) and Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding as a characterized version of himself. Additionally, 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, he performed on American Idol.
Avalon is currently on a cross-country national concert tour that begins July 25, 2009 at The Great Auditorium in Ocean Grove, NJ and ends on April 11, 2010 at the Eisenhower Hall Theater in West Point, NY.