Concetta Rosa Maria Franconero was born in 1938 in Newark, New Jersey. She was a talented singer and learned to play the accordion. Aged ten she was accepted on Startime, a local TV talent show which was hosted by Arthur Godfrey. Concetta soon became a firm favourite and was the only accordion player on the show. Arthur Godrey had difficulty pronouncing her name and suggested she change it to something "easy and Irish." Franconero became Francis and Concetta, Connie. Connie Francis soon dropped the accordion and became a female singer. She remained with the program for four years during which time she was turned down by almost every record label she approached. When she was 16 she signed with MGM and released her first single ‘Freddy’ in 1955.
Try as she may nothing came and nine releases later Connie was attending her last recording session in 1958. Her record company had made up their mind to not extend her contract and as a last ditch attempt she recorded “Who's Sorry Now?" (written by Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby).
The song debuted on Dick Clark's American Bandstand television show on the 1st January 1958 and by June had sold a million copies. She followed this success with Neil Sedaka’s Stupid Cupid.
The song writing partnership of Sedaka and Greenfield continued to write many of Connie Francis' hits such as ‘Fallin’ and ‘Where the Boys Are.’
In 1960 she had two hits with "Everybody's Somebody's Fool" and "My Heart Has a Mind of Its Own," and was back again in 1962, with "Don't Break the Heart That Loves You".
Connie had two different but distinct styles and was as comfortable singing upbeat rock’n’ roll compositions such as "Stupid Cupid", "Lipstick On Your Collar", and "Vacation"; as well as her "sobbing" style ballads like , "My Happiness", "I'm Sorry I Made You Cry", "Among My Souvenirs", "Together", "Breakin' In a Brand New Broken Heart", and the Italian song "Mama".
In 1963, Connie recorded "In the Summer of His Years," as a tribute to the assassinated John F. Kennedy and the proceeds were donated to dependents of the policemen shot during the incident. This is thought to have been the first charity record.
By 1967, Connie had sold 35 million worldwide, with 35 U.S. Top 40 hits, and three number ones ("Everybody's Somebody's Fool," "My Heart Has a Mind of Its Own," "Don't Break the Heart That Loves You," and "Stupid Cupid" ) to her credit. The talented singer enjoyed singing in many different languages, including German, Swedish, Dutch, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian (and its dialect Neapolitan), Hebrew, Yiddish, Japanese, Latin and Hawaiian. This made her very poplar when she toured internationally. Connie appeared in several films including the 1960 movie, ‘Where the Boys Are,’ ‘Follow the Boys’ (1963) , ‘Looking for Love’ (1964), and ‘When the Boys Meet the Girls’ (1965).
As a performer she was equally at home in the television studio as she was live on stage in Las Vegas. In 1969, Connie had a modest country hit with, "The Wedding Cake," the same year Connie decided to stop performing.
In 1973 she was back with a new record, "The Answer".
Her husband encouraged her to return to the stage and she started to tour but sadly the singer was assaulted and raped following a performance. Connie withdrew from public life and did not perform again for another seven years. In 1975 complications from nasal surgery further prevented her from singing and when she was later diagnosed with bipolar disorder most critics thought her career was over. Further tragedy struck in 1981 when Connie’s brother was brutally murdered. Then, in 1982 she recorded "There's Still a Few Good Love Songs Left in Me" which became a country hit.
She eventually returned to the stage in 1989. Connie Francis and singer Gloria Estefan completed a screenplay for a movie based on Francis' life titled Who's Sorry Now?, but the film project was dropped in 2009 after a dispute over script writers.
Worth a listen
Who’s sorry now (1958)
Stupid Cupid (1958)
Lipstick on your collar (1959)
Among my souvernirs (1959)
Everybody’s somebody’s fool (1960)
MY heart has a mind of its own (1960)
Many tears ago (1960)
Where the boys are (1961)
Breakin’ in a brand new heart (1961)
Don't Break the Heart That Loves You (1962)