So for Connie's fourth birthday, her parents gifted her with an accordion.
Lugging around an instrument almost as big as she was, Connie soon became a familiar sight at neighborhood parties and weddings. Soon she learned to sing while she played the melody of the song on her accordion, and the cute little girl was a favorite of the whole neighborhood.
By the time Connie was eleven, her father felt that she was ready to turn professional. He took her to a TV station to audition for George Scheck's "Startime". When they got to the audition, the room was full of singers...all good, all thin. Chubby little Connie didn't think she had a chance. Then Mr. Franconero spoke up, telling Mr. Scheck that "My little girl plays the accordion, too! She's really good! And she sings while she's playing.....well, you'll just have to see it!"
Mr. Scheck saw. He also liked. Connie was signed for the show. But success was not to be hers...at least, not for a whole year. That was when Connie appeared on the Arthur Godfrey Talent Scout Show (aired January 12,1948-April 28,1958) and won. It was a shy, self-conscious Constance Franconero who appeared on the show. It was a self assured, confident Connie Francis who won it. Arthur Godfrey had suggested that she change her name to something shorter, and she's been Connie Francis ever since.
The small bit of publicity gained from the Godfrey show soon passed. Then...nothing. Months and years of bleak despair followed. 13...14...15...16. Connie's life was passing by, and nothing was happening. Sure, she was an honor student at Newark and Belleville High School, but what good was that when she wanted to be a singer? And the four year scholarship that she won to New York University, what good was that? Oh, sure, it was an honor! But who wanted honors when the door to show business seemed closed!
Then came a spark of hope. MGM Records, one of the biggest labels in the country, signed Connie to a contract. Now things would happen!
But the happenings were only a few unsold records by an unknown singer named Connie Francis. No one noticed. No one cared. Connie was signed to sing the background music in two movies, "Jamboree" and "Rock, Rock, Rock," but it didn't help her.
Disappointed, depressed, and ready to give up, Connie looked again at the four year scholarship. If she went to the University, it meant the end...no more secret hopes, no more dreams. She would be just another University student. She was at a crossroads now....and the decision she made would chart the course of her life.
The decision was - the University. Connie's father pleaded with her.
"Look, you're going to college anyhow. What's so wrong with just one more try? You can't lose anything!"
Connie remained silent.
"You're quitting? I never knew my daughter was a quitter!"
That did it. Connie agreed to cut one more record. This time, she didn't care if no one heard it, no one bought it, and no one cared about it. She was through with the record business!
Connie rehearsed a few songs she liked and then her father suggested
she try "Who's Sorry Now?" a song written in 1923.
Connie and her Dad argued back and forth. She was convinced that the kids would laugh her off the stage if she sang "that lousy song..".
But finally, not wanting to hear her father anymore, Connie agreed to record one more song.
On October 2, 1957 Connie recorded a few songs at MGM and tried to get out of doing "Who's Sorry Now" saying that there wasn't enough time. Well, Daddy kept track of the time very well and Connie still had 20 minutes to use the studio. So she walked that walk that teenagers walked when they didn't want to do something, up to the microphone. Connie wasn't into it at all, she didn't even try. She just opened her mouth and let the words come out and the song was done in one take.
It was over. Connie pleased her Dad and now she wanted to wash her hands of the whole mess. When asked, she wouldn't even try to promote the song.
On January 1, 1958 in the midst of celebration with family members and friends, Connie excused herself from the dinner table to dash over to the TV set at exactly four o'clock. Her and eight and a half million other kids knew it was time for "American Bandstand" with Dick Clark.
During the show Connie heard Dick Clark mention something about a new girl singer. Then heard "There's no doubt about it! This girl's headed straight for the number one spot!" Suddenly she heard the song "Who's Sorry Now?" It was CONNIE'S "Who's Sorry Now?"!
By March of 1958 the record "Who's Sorry Now" by Connie Francis was in the number one spot!
When she was first making demos, a New Jersey mobster approached her father and offered to place Connie's songs in every jukebox along the East Coast. Mr. Franconero protested, stating that if his daughter was going to make it he wanted to see her do it on her own.
The news of President John F. Kennedy's assassination reached her on the set of her third MGM film, Looking for Love (1964). She recorded the single "In The Summer of His Years" in honor of the fallen president and packaged it in a conservative gold sleeve with no photos. All proceeds from the song were donated to the family of Dallas police officer J.D. Tippitt, who had been shot and killed by alleged Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald.
In 1967, Connie was voted "Best Female Singer" in Las Vegas.
Connie is now a Living Legend. She continues to sing to sold out audiences and they love here now just as they did then in the year 1958 and will continue to love her in the years to come.
To me, Connie was and always will be the number one female vocalist of all time. She has touched me personally, spiritually and has broadened my appreciation for music of all styles and in all languages.
a part from her heartfelt words she expresses to all her fans: Connie....."Thanks
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