Wed. Jul 17th, 2024

Though time and tragedy are seen on her face, former teen popstar Connie Francis is still as glamorous at 85 as she was in 1958 when her glossy lips belted out the hit song, “Who’s Sorry Now.”

Francis, born in Newark, New Jersey, was known to never appear in public without false eyelashes or stiletto heels, which added a couple of inches to her tiny frame of 1.56 m.

At her 85th birthday celebration, in what she calls “the largest gathering of lifelong friends and those closest to me,” Francis was dressed to impress…

Launched into superstardom after the release of her “Who’s Sorry Now,” Francis enjoyed more successes through the 1960s with “Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool,” “Lipstick on Your Collar” and “Heartaches by the Number.”

Despite the luxuries of fame, she was still saddled by heartbreak.

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Falling in love with teen idol Bobby Darin, who years later would become the top male performer of the 1960s, was serendipitous for Francis, the top-selling female artist of the same decade. He wrote some of her music, the two performed together, and grew a love so deep that many years later, she still said, “Bobby was my first and last love.”

In an interview with FOX News, Francis reflects on her sweeping love story with Darin and the instant spark that triggered his flight instinct.

“Bobby came to my office one day in 1956 to show me a song,” she said. “He was writing jingles for a furniture store in New Jersey. He played me this song and I made some changes to it. Let’s just say he wasn’t happy. He said, ‘Me and this lady don’t dance to the same tune. I’m outta here.’ So he took his song and started to leave! But he came back with the changes I made. But it was an instant dislike that turned into love.”

But the two were star-crossed lovers.

Francis’ Italian father–authoritative and hot-tempered–did not approve of the budding love and holding the young Darin at gunpoint, forced him out of her life.

ABC Television / Wikipedia Commons

“My father had such a dislike for him,” Francis explained. “He even tried to shoot him. He came with a gun in his pocket. And Bobby had a bad heart.”

After Darin’s death, Francis said, “He was an amazing human being. The most interesting human being I’ve ever met in my life. He had a drive that I hadn’t seen in anyone before.”

In 1973, Darin, only 37 years old, died a legend. He’s immortalized for his performances of hit songs like “Splish Splash,” “Mack the Knife,” “Dream Lover” and “Beyond the Sea.” Darin, also an actor, won a Golden Globe for his first film, Come September, where he starred alongside another teen superstar, Sandra Dee, whom he married in 1960.

Meanwhile, Francis, under the stern leadership of her father, was focussing on her career.

After lending her voice to actors, like Jayne Mansfield in The Sheriff of Fractured Jaw (1958), Hollywood put her face on the screen in Where the Boys Are (1960), with her in a starring role and performing the hit song of the same name.

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After that, she starred in a handful of other movies, the last in 1965, When the Boys Meet the Girls. But acting wasn’t her thing.

“I just didn’t feel comfortable, as though I didn’t belong there.” Referring to her final film, she said, “I was so pleased it was my last one.” 

After Darin, she continued to look for love and was tied to comedian Don Rickles, and made fast friends with the blue-eyed crooner Frank Sinatra.

Francis was married and divorced four times, and adopted a child with her third husband, Joseph Garzilli, the only relationship that lasted longer than one year. It was during that marriage, after her performance in 1974 when she was attacked by a man who broke into the New York motel room she was staying.

Falling into a deep depression after the horrifying experience, Francis became dependent on Darvon and spent the next seven years in total seclusion.

In 1977 she had nasal surgery to correct a medical condition that prevented her from singing in air-conditioned rooms. After showing no signs of improvement, she had three more surgeries and was left without a voice for four years.

Just as she started making a comeback, George A. Franconero, her younger brother, a former district attorney who was acting as a government witness, was gunned down in front of his home, in what police call a “mob killing.”

Francis speaks candidly, sharing every detail of her successes that were tempered by a string of tragedies in her tell-all book, Among My Souvenirs, which was published in 2017.

In 2022, she lost Tony Ferretti, her partner of 18 years, with whom she recorded a duet of “You Made Me Love You.”

Referring to her life today, she told People that she wants to be remembered: “Not so much for the heights I have reached, but for the depths from which I have come.”

The Jersey girl, who now lives in Florida, added that she wants her tombstone to read, “I hope I did okay.” She recently celebrated her 85th birthday and sported a short navy-blue kaftan printed with bright yellow flowers, her lips painted red, perfectly coiffed hair, and a pair of practical low-heeled sandals.

We think Connie Francis did better than okay! She’s had such a tragic life and wanting to help others who have been assaulted, she found some solace in becoming an advocate for mental health.

Let us know what you think of Connie Francis and her life!