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Teen Angel: The Frankie Avalon Story

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
December 7, 2022 3:00 am

Teen Angel: The Frankie Avalon Story

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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December 7, 2022 3:00 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, not many teen idols are able to carve a successful career for themselves as they mature, but Frankie Avalon is one of these exceptions. Avalon had 31 charting U.S. Billboard singles from 1958 to late 1962, including number one hits, "Venus" and "Why" in 1959. Avalon is also well known for his role in the 1970s musical film Grease as Teen Angel, in which he sings "Beauty School Dropout" to Frenchy. He’s recently appeared on American Idol to sing for Simon Cowell on his birthday. Here's Frankie Avalon to tell his story!

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Terms and restrictions may apply. This is Lee Habib and this is Our American Stories, the show where America is the star and the American people. And to search for the Our American Stories podcast, go to the iHeartRadio app to Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. Not many teen idols are able to carve a successful career for themselves as they mature, but Frankie Avalon is one of those exceptions. Avalon had 31 charting US Billboard singles from 1958 to late 1962, including number one hits Venus and Why in 1959.

Avalon is also well known for his role in the 1970s musical film, Grease, as Teen Angel in which he sings beauty school dropout to Frenchie. Without any further ado, here's Frankie Avalon with his story. As a young man, young boy, really growing up in South Philadelphia, I really started into this business of show business, unaware of trying to be in show business, but I became a part of show business at the age of probably, I don't know, I think about eight or nine. Because in the neighborhood where I lived was a great neighborhood, a melting pot for all kinds of nationalities and great friends and growing up in South Philadelphia. And on a Saturday afternoon, a lot of the moms used to pack a little lunch and put us in the theater there so we could watch the cartoons and everything for the part of the day. And of course, you know, we'd walk to the theater and of course walk back.

It was a very safe neighborhood. And that's what we did. We had a lot of fun. We had a lot of fun. We had a lot of fun. We had a lot of fun. We had a lot of fun. We had a lot of fun. We had a lot of fun. We had a lot of fun.

We had it was a very safe neighborhood. And that's what we did. And this one time when I went in there, and I was about eight years old, in between some of the cartoons, there was a man that came on stage and said, we're going to have a singing contest. And I never sang in my life. But I said, Jesus to myself, this is going to be okay. He said, so anybody wants to sing?

Well, we got the first prize is going to be a red scooter. So I raised my hand and they took me up there and I introduced when they introduced me and asked, what's your name? I said, Frank Abalone. How old are you? I'm about eight years old. Okay.

Are you ready for this contest? And I said, yeah. And they said, what are you going to do? I said, I'm going to sing. So they said, what are you going to sing? I said, I'm going to sing a song that I hear on the radio all the time of my mom and dad. Like it's called, give me five minutes more.

He said, okay, you're on no band, none of this stuff. And I said, give me five minutes more, only five minutes more. Let me stay.

Let me stay in your heart. Well, after that they had about four or five kids who auditioned. Well, I fortunately won that contest and I won my first prize, which was a red scooter. So that really was the introduction for me being into this show business world. And as time went by you know, I really wanted to be a boxer and I used to box for the police athletic league because they kind of kept the kids off the street and had them something to do something. And I liked boxing.

So that became obsolete after a while. And then I went back to the movie theater and I saw a film and I must've been about nine at that time, closer to 10. And there was a film there called young man with a horn.

And I stayed until it was getting dark. And I watched that film about six or seven times. And I just fell in love with the sound of the trumpet. And it was a story about a young boy who becomes a trumpet player, becomes very successful. And I kind of related to that, I guess, but I really liked the sound of the trumpet.

And I came back home to my dad and I said, dad, I want to play the trumpet. Well, my father was a really talented guy, not professionally, but he could play piano. He could play guitar. He could play accordion.

He was just a very talented guy and he loved music. And he said, okay. So the next day he came back and he told me that he went to this pawn shop and he bought a horn for about seven or eight dollars. And he gave me the horn. And I went into my room and I started practicing. And how?

I don't know. I just started blowing on this thing. And in about two hours I came out of the room and I played a song called music, music, music. And it went da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da.

All I want, I love and you and music. So I played that song and I started practicing. I loved it so much. I became so involved with this horn that I would play three, four or five hours a day. And I lived in a row house and a lot of the neighbors didn't like that, you know, because I was practicing morning, noon and night. But all of a sudden, after about a year's time, my dad got me a teacher from the neighborhood. His name was Danny D. As he went by and he started teaching me and I started reading music and he finally came to my dad and he said, you know, Nick was my father's name. He said, you know, this kid has really got some talent and I think I can take him so far.

I think you ought to look for somebody that can really work with this boy as a trumpet player. So finally, my dad talked to some of the people in the neighborhood and him and they found this teacher who was with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Seymour Rosenfeld. And I went to audition for him.

He was in North Philadelphia. And my uncle took me there and I auditioned. He said, I'll work with this boy. And I started studying with him.

And because because of that, I really learned how to play very well. When there was a singer by the name of Al Martino, who was number one in the world with a song called Here in My Heart, I heard in the neighborhood that one of the neighbors, Silvio, was giving him a party and our neighbor just loved and admired the fact that he was such a big star. So they threw this party and there was a big crowd outside of this little row house. And I took my horn and I kind of wiggled my way through everybody and knocked on the door. And this man, Silvio, I really didn't know him.

I knew he was in the neighborhood. But he said, Yeah, what do you want? I said, Well, I'm a trumpet player.

I'd like to play my trumpet for Al Martino. He said, Come on in, kid. So I went in, they were having a party.

Everybody was drinking and eating, having a good time. And I took out my horn from the case. I started to play the song called Tenderly.

And I kind of stopped the party. And all of a sudden, Al Martino went to Silvio and said, Who is this kid? He said, I don't know.

What's your name, kid? I said, Frank Avellone. He said, Call his mother and father and see if we could take him to New York.

I think this kid's got some talent. I want to take him to my agency. So he did.

My mother and father agreed. We knew him from the neighborhood, Silvio. And we drove into New York City and we went to the agency. And Jack Sobel was the agent.

And I took out my horn and I played Tenderly. And he said, I got a great idea. We handle Jackie Gleason and he loves trumpet. So he's right across the street at the Sheraton Hotel. He's got a penthouse. He said, Let's take him in there.

Maybe he'll play for Jackie. And you're listening to Frankie Avellone tell a heck of a story. When we come back, more of Frankie Avellone's story here on Our American Stories. Lee Habib here, the host of Our American Stories. Every day on this show, we're bringing inspiring stories from across this great country, stories from our big cities and small towns.

But we truly can't do the show without you. Our stories are free to listen to, but they're not free to make. If you love what you hear, go to OurAmericanStories.com and click the donate button. Give a little, give a lot.

Go to OurAmericanStories.com and give. When the world gets in the way of your music, try the new Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2. Next-gen earbuds uniquely tuned to the shape of your ears. They use exclusive Bose technology that personalizes the audio performance to fit you, delivering the world's best noise cancellation and powerfully immersive sound so you can hear and feel every detail of the music you love. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2, sound shape to you.

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There's a better way to fly private. Tis the season to pour yourself a glass of eggnog and dance around the room to the biggest holiday hits of all time. Get into the festive spirit with Alexa and iHeartRadio. Just ask, Alexa, play iHeartChristmas to listen to the soundtrack for the season. From Mariah Carey to Michael Buble, we've got all your favorites to help you deck the halls with the whole family. Alexa's here for the holidays. This season, let Alexa handle the little things so you can enjoy them.

Just say, Alexa, play iHeartChristmas. And we continue with our American stories and with Frankie Avalon's story. We last left off with him as a 12-year-old boy about to perform with his trumpet for the great one. And that would be Honeymooners' impresario and comedic genius, Jackie Gleason, at his Sheraton Hotel penthouse. So we walked in there. They were having a meeting and Jackie wasn't there, but it was a penthouse. He was there, but I didn't know because he wasn't in that particular part of the penthouse. I took out my horn and I played tenderly. And as I was playing, through the corner of my eye, I saw the great one, Jackie Gleason, come out from the second floor of the penthouse. And after I finished, they all applauded. And he said, Jackie said that there's writers and producer and director. Write a show.

I won them all in two weeks. Oh, come on in, kid. Come on in.

All set and ready to go. Where are you going? This is Frankie Avalon. I'm taking him down to Joe the bartender's. He's a terrific trumpet player. Pretty good, huh?

I said, terrific. Oh, Frankie, this is my good neighbor and friend, Mrs. Crampton. This is my wife, Trixie.

Where did you hear this kid? Hey, give us a number now, Frankie. Come on out.

That was my first major experience on national television with the great one, Jackie Gleason. Oh, you sure are wonderful. Oh, you sure are.

Kid, you're ready for the big time. You hear that, Frankie? Coming for my wife. Boy, that's a compliment.

She knows. Well, let's go. We're going down to Joe the bartender's.

We'll see you later, girls. Let's go. So as time went by, because of the success that I had, I also did an audition for a company that was run by a bender's name. And he had another trumpet player and he thought it would be a great combination of him kind of being my mentor was Ray Anthony, who had a lot of hit records, the bunny hop and all that stuff. So then they took me to RCA Victor, label X. I auditioned for them and they signed me under a contract to have a recording contract playing trumpet. And I did and I had a song called Trumpets Sorrento. And it became on the national charts as a trumpet player. And from then on, and I kept studying, I became number one trumpet player in the All-City Orchestra of Philadelphia.

And then in summer times, I would try to play with different bands to make some extra money as a kid growing up. And I heard about a band called Rocco and the Saints. And somebody said, they're looking for a trumpet player. And someone told somebody and Rocco came into my house. And he said, let me hear you play.

And I played for him. He said, I'll tell you, I'll give you a job. I said, where are we going to play? He said, Mary's Inn.

It's in New Jersey. And I said, okay, what's the pay? He said $5. I said, okay, I'll play. So as time went by, I was playing trumpet with Rocco and the Saints.

We played on weekends. And finally, I started singing a couple of songs because a lot of, there were seven guys in the band. And everybody had to sing a couple of songs to keep the band kind of fresh. And I did a couple of songs, Lover Man, whatever it was, and another song. And people started coming up to Rocco saying, let this kid sing a little more. So on one of our breaks, he came to me and he said, how about singing some more songs? I said, no, you hired me as a trumpet player. And he said, yeah, but I'll give you an extra $5.

I said, you got it. So that's how I started singing. Then in the summertime, we went out to a place down the shore in Summers Point, New Jersey. And it was called Bayshores was the name of this club.

We played seven days a week, five sets a night, two jam sessions. And we were living on top of the nightclub there. And a new company out of Philadelphia was looking for some new talent. And our band Rocco and the Saints became pretty popular.

And they came in, listened to us, and on one of our breaks, we went back to the dressing room. And Pete DeAngelis and Bob Marcucci were the owners of this record company. And they said, we'd like to sign the band. And of course, Rocco was our man to make the deal.

And he did. And he said, okay, and we want this boy, Frank, to sing on one side, and we'll do an instrumental. So we did an instrumental called Jivem with the Saints. And they wrote a song for me called Cupid Shot an Arrow. So that was my first record. And the record came out, they put it out. And it really didn't make any noise at all until in the Boston area for some reason. My song, my side of the record started to make the Boston charts. And Bob Marcucci drove me into Boston. And there was a man by the name of Joe Smith. And there was a big rock and roll show with Fats Domino and Little Richard and all these guys.

And they were all had hit records. And my manager went to Joe Smith and said, could you put this kid on? So we don't have any money for this kid. And I know he's got a record, but you know, we don't have any money.

And we're all filled up. He said, don't pay him, just just put them on. And he said, come on. And my manager bought me a $12 suit that I had on. I went on stage, I did a couple songs, the kids were waiting outside for my autograph and wanted to know what my fan club was above said, I think you got some of these kids like you. And that was the start of being that teen idol that lasted for a while. Now I'm a recording artist. Now I'm a singer, the horn is put away. And now I've got a contract with Chancellor Records. And I do a couple of other songs. I did a song called Shy Guy, which didn't do anything. And I did something else.

Blue Betty, which didn't do anything. And then all of a sudden, we had I had one more record to do, they took me into New York City. And those days, there was just two tracks.

So there wasn't all of this technology. And the band was in one part of the room, and I was in the other part of the room. And they started playing this song, which I was going to record called DD Dinah. And as they were rehearsing, that was a very staccato kind of a song to me that that that that that that that that that that that that that that DD Dinah that that that that so I was just doing kind of singing through my nose. So they, the producer of the record came up to me and he said, What are you doing is I'm just having some fun sounds very staccato to me.

So let's make a couple like that. Well, I went back to the to the microphone and started singing La ba da da dee dee da da da da da. And they made the take of it, they put it out, and in about a month it started to make some noise around the country. All of a sudden it became a top five or top 10 record, which really launched me as a singer, singing through my nose, dee dee da.

And a lot of people who were out there held their noses too when they heard it. Now, after dee dee da, I had to do another nose job, which I sang through my nose, called Gingerbread. And finally they said, no, come on, you know, you've got a quality that the kids really like, and it's more of a romantic. So they wrote another song for me called I'll Wait For You. And it was a very pretty ballad, and again, it became a chart record, and it was probably in the top 15, I think.

And then I had another recording date to do, and I was at home in my house, and there was a knock on the door. And again, it was a songwriter, and he said, my name is Ed Marshall. I'm a songwriter, I'd like to play this song for you. He came in, we had a little piano, and he sat down and he played this song called Venus.

And I just fell in love with it the first time I heard it. And I said, play it again, play it again, play it again. And finally I called, our record company was in Philadelphia, and I called Bob Marcucci and Pete DeAngelis. I said, I got a song here, can we drive over?

So we drove into town where their offices were. They had a piano there, and we walked in there, and he played the song, and Pete DeAngelis, who was my producer, fell in love with the song. And he said, as he played it again and again, he said, you know what?

I'd like to make two changes to the song if you'll permit me to do that. So the writer, Ed Marshall, said, okay. And you're listening to Frankie Avalon tell his life story in the business, so to speak. And it starts in that penthouse auditioning for Jackie Gleason. The next thing you know, he's on national television. But as the world will have it, he's still gotta get that next gig. And it's at the Jersey Shore, playing all summer long, living above the joint he was playing, that he would start to sing. And from singing, well, he gets to the hit song Venus. When we come back, more of the story, the life journey of this South Philadelphia kid named Frankie Avalone, known to the rest of us as Frankie Avalon.

His story continues here on Our American Stories. When the world gets in the way of your music, try the new Bose QuietComfort earbuds too. Next-gen earbuds uniquely tuned to the shape of your ears. They use exclusive Bose technology that personalizes the audio performance to fit you, delivering the world's best noise cancellation and powerfully immersive sound, so you can hear and feel every detail of the music you love. Bose QuietComfort earbuds too, sound shape to you.

To learn more, visit Bose.com. Hey, there's a better way to fly. Instead of being stuck in endless lines and packed onto planes, try simplifying your travel with Surf Air. Save an average of two hours on every trip and avoid crowded airports with a new way to fly private. With Surf Air, you'll fly from smaller airports closer to your home. There are no lines, no waiting, and no stress. SurfAir.com, the best alternative to commercial air travel that makes flying easy. Get a free quote on your next flight at SurfAir.com.

There's a better way to fly private. Tis the season to pour yourself a glass of eggnog and dance around the room to the biggest holiday hits of all time. Get into the festive spirit with Alexa and iHeartRadio. Just ask, Alexa, play iHeartChristmas to listen to the soundtrack for the season.

From Mariah Carey to Michael Buble, we've got all your favorites to help you deck the halls with the whole family. Alexa's here for the holidays. This season, let Alexa handle the little things so you can enjoy them.

Just say, Alexa, play iHeartChristmas. And we continue with our American stories. Let's pick up where we last left off. Frankie Avalon brought a new song to his producer called Penis. And the producer, well, he fell in love with it.

Here's Frankie with the rest of the story. So he said, you know, it goes da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da. He said, I'd like to change one note.

Da, da, da, da, da, da, ba da, da, da, da, da, da, da. So he agreed to that. So we had made one change. Then Pete Janssen said, I'd like to make another change lyrically at the very end.

Instead of saying as long as we will live, I'd like to say as long as we shall live. So we made those two changes, went into New York City, I made seven takes on the song, you had to do it straight, just like a performance, and I waited until four o'clock in the morning to take it home. I knew that I had a smash record, and I kept playing it.

I didn't sleep for 24 hours. And to me, I was right, Pete the analyst was right, and Ed Marshall, the producer, writer of the song was right. We were all right, and of course the audience around the world was really infatuated with the song. It became number one for a long, long time and gave me an opportunity to sing around the world. When I became very successful and was selling a lot of records, and a teen idol had a fan base of, I don't know, we'd get somewhere around 12,000, 15,000 letters a week, and a big fan base.

So now Hollywood recognized, hey, this kid's got some fans, let's put them in a picture with a major star. So Warner Brothers has made a deal with my manager and my agent, and they brought me out to Hollywood to do my first film for Warner Brothers with a big star, Alan Ladd, called Guns of the Timberland. And that started being in the motion picture industry, and from there on in, I made, I don't know, over 40 motion pictures in my career. Well, what had happened, I was playing the steel pier in Atlantic City, and the film was released, and it was very successful, and very successful for me. And I'll never forget, I was in the dressing room, I was doing 5, 7, 12 shows a day, depending upon the weather.

You would do a 15-minute show, and they would show a movie, and then another 15-minute show. And they had a phone booth in backstage there, and it was my agent, Jack Szilardi, who said, Frankie, it's Jack, I just got a call from John Wayne, he just saw your performance in Guns of the Timberland with Alan Ladd, he wants you to sign a contract to do a picture called The Alamo, where he's going to star, direct, and it's going to be done in Texas. And that was my first introduction to starring a picture with John Wayne, and a major, major motion picture. I'm out there now, I've got to ride this horse, and I play a character called Smitty. And I have to learn how to ride, so the Duke said, Frankie, here's what you do, when you sit on the saddle here, you make it feel like you've got a clothes hanger that's pulling you up, so keep your shoulders very straight, and just kind of go along with the float with this horse. And I learned how to ride, and I became a pretty good rider. And it was an experience of a South Philly kid, who nothing but the streets of South Philly, and under a fire plug, you know, when it was a real hot summer day. But I learned a lot, you know, being experienced with a lot of experience, Richard Widmark and Lawrence Harvey, and John Wayne, and John Ford, and oh my God, it was a great experience for me.

And I was on that picture for four months. All of a sudden becoming involved in motion pictures, and meeting a lot of the celebrities from, I don't know, from Natalie Wood to, I did a picture with RJ Wagner, and of course I got to know a lot of movie stars, and of course Frank Sinatra, and Dean Martin, and then of course working with John Wayne when I had to promote the film with him. I mean, I was with these major stars, but never the acceptance that John Wayne would get when I'd walk into a restaurant with him. I mean, everybody's jaw just dropped, there was such respect for him. And he was really such a shy guy, he was six foot five, and with his boots on, he must have been nine feet to me, and we'd walk in, and people would just look at him, and look at him, and just stare at him, and nobody would, they were kind of afraid to even ask for an autograph, you know, he was just a major, major big hunk of a star. So that was a great experience working with him, and of course traveling with him. So now I'm living in California, in Hollywood, and I'm living right off Sunset Boulevard there, and I had a lot of my friends there, and Steve McQueen used to come by, and Jack Nicholson, we all have, you know, we were young Hollywood at the time, and a lot of gals that were young ingenues that I was dating, and had great dates with them, and then one night, I was playing cards with my friends, and Rona Barrett, who was a big columnist, she wasn't at the time, but she was starting, had a friend, and she brought her over, and introduced me, I left a card game, and her name was Kay, and we started talking, and she was coming from her mother's birthday party with Rona Barrett, and we got into a good conversation for about an hour, and when she left, I went back to the card game, and I said to my friends there, well, see that gal there, I'm gonna marry her, and about six or seven months we dated, and got married.

We started having children right away, and our firstborn, we named him Frank after me, and my grandfather really, and after 13 months, we had another one, Tony, and then another one, to kind of sum it up, we had eight children in 10 years, so my wife was pregnant every single year, and she loved being pregnant, she loved having children, and of course, I was on the road and coming back, and here's another one, here's another one, here's another one, and we're very fortunate to have eight children, very healthy, and we have 10 grandchildren, and she's a great mom, they love her, they adore her, you know, she's like a general, to have eight children, and keeping everyone intact was quite a job that she had, and of course, I'd come home and have a lot of fun with the kids, and she was the disciplinary, so she was a great mom, still is, and they adore her. The first time I met Annette Funicello was at the Hollywood Bowl for Dick Clark, we were playing the Hollywood Bowl, he had a show of about four or five different acts on the show, and she was one, she was very popular as a Mouseketeer on the Mickey Mouse Club, and she must have been about 14, 15, and I must have been about 17, and we started talking, and I said, Jesus, I'd like to maybe take you out for a pizza and a cold drink or something, she said, you gotta talk to my mother, and I went to Virginia, and I said, can I take your daughter for a slice of pizza, whatever, she said, okay, call me, and I went over to the house, picked her up, and we went down the street, there was a little pizza parlor there, and we had some pizza and some soft drinks, and that was it, and we kept in touch, and of course, she was working, I was working, and that was our first date, and only date, really, and then time had gone by, and I had made a few films, I must have made about 10 or 15 films at the time, and I was signed to a company called American International Pictures, I made some films for them, and finally, they said, I got friendly with a writer by the name of Lou Russoff, and I said to him, Lou, write something that's fun for kids, you know, where we hang out together and laugh and sing, and he came back in about a month, and he says, here's a script, read this, it's called Beach Party, and I read it and I thought it was really fun, it looked like the old Dead End Kids gang and having fun, and I said, who's gonna play Dee Dee, was the girl's name, I guess he named her after Dee Dee Diner, he said, we got, we're talking to Walt Disney as a loan out for a net for the cello. And you're listening to Frankie Avalon share some remarkable stories, that call he got at the Steel Pier in Atlantic City, he was about to work with John Wayne, and this kid from South Philly soon finds himself in a western, he met his bride, and when he met her he told his poker buddies, I'm gonna marry that girl, and seven or eight months later he did, eight kids later, in ten years, his wife Kay, he calls the general, and then this movie idea, Beach Party, back when a movie could just be silly and fun.

The story of Frankie Avalon, as told by Frankie Avalon, continues here on Our American Stories. When the world gets in the way of your music, try the new Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2. Next gen earbuds uniquely tuned to the shape of your ears, they use exclusive Bose technology that personalizes the audio performance to fit you, delivering the world's best noise cancellation and powerfully immersive sound, so you can hear and feel every detail of the music you love.

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Tis the season to pour yourself a glass of eggnog and dance around the room to the biggest holiday hits of all time, get into the festive spirit with Alexa and iHeartRadio, just ask Alexa, play iHeartChristmas to listen to the soundtrack for the season, from Mariah Carey to Michael Buble, we've got all your favorites to help you deck the halls with the whole family, Alexa's here for the holidays, this season, let Alexa handle the little things so you can enjoy them, just say Alexa, play iHeartChristmas. And we continue with our American stories. We last left off with Frankie Avalon sharing the story of how he wrote a movie script about teens well just having fun on the beach, casting the female role opposite of Frankie, well that was up in the air, let's return to Frankie Avalon. I said that's great, I met her when she was young and geez that would be fun and that's how we got together, they put us together, we did our first motion picture beach party, it came out, we did it in January I think, it came out kind of towards the start of the summer and it was a tremendous success at the box office and because of that we had lots of fun doing those pictures, we made about seven and made tons and tons of money for AIP. I always wanted to keep a career going by not just being a teen idol, of course those days went by the wayside because you're married, you've got kids and your fan base got in dwindles and so I wanted to get into the nightclub business which I did, I worked with a lot of good people that helped me develop a show and act and of course I opened up at the Copa Cabana which is once you made the Copa Cabana you were really, you were in show business and I would play the show business under contract with them for about five years. In about 1971 or 2 whatever it was I'm playing at the Copa and they wanted to do a promotion for a Broadway show that was playing there called Grease and I said sure I'll go, it was in the afternoon and I met the cast and Travolta by the way was in that show as one of the side guys, one of the chorus boys and I saw the play and then time had gone by and it was about 1977 I got a call, I was playing golf and I got off the ninth hole, my manager was there with a script, he said this is a script, Paramount wants you for this picture, I said what's the picture called, he said Grease and I said what character, he said Teen Angel and I thought about what I saw on Broadway and I said pass and I went and played the second nine, I came back in, he was still there, he said they will not take no, they would like to at least have a meeting with you, I said okay so I go in with Alan Carr and Patty Birch who was the choreographer and Randall Kleiser who was the director and they said why don't you want to do this, I said because I saw the play and it's not my style, I said you know he was all in black, comes off of a rope and black leather jacket and long sideburns and just a little wiggles and this and sings this beauty school drop out, I said not my style, they said we will change it, I said what do you mean you will change it, they said we will do it all in white, we will get a piano over here and see how you want to do it, they did and in 1977 I went in for six days of rehearsals, two days of shooting the five minute song and beauty school drop out became a part of Grease and Frankie Avalon was Teen Angel. When we were finally putting Grease together and at rehearsals I said look I don't want to be a joke in this film, I think this is a good character and it really is something important to this gal, her character, I don't want to be a joke, so they said oh no no no we will make this absolutely perfect for you and the people are just going to love it, so when the picture comes out they opened it, premiered it in Honolulu and there was the big columnist Liz Smith was her name and in her column she was at the premiere and she said the film was fun but when Frankie Avalon entered his part as Teen Angel singing beauty school drop out the audience went wild and when he left the scene they applauded, so it made its mark. I had come home from a trip and I'm sitting in my den with my wife and the phone rings and she hands me the phone and she says it's for you it's a Bobby De Niro, so I looked at her and all of a sudden it clicked in my mind it's a Robert De Niro, well it didn't register with her because she thinks a kid that I grew up with in South Philly, a lot of Italian kids thought it was Bobby De Niro, didn't associate it at all, so he says Frankie it's a Bobby we're doing a picture with the Scorsese it's called Casino and we know that you were the first guest to Lefty whose character was Robert De Niro and Marty Scorsese likes to be so exacting with whatever he does and he did research he said he would like to use you to recreate that scene and I said sounds good to me he said when can you do it I said well I'm home I'm home for about a week he said can you do it Monday I said fine with me they sent a jet and I got on the jet went into the dressing room when I got to Las Vegas went into Marty he showed me the clip and I went on the set and I stayed there for about 14 hours shooting my one scene with De Niro our first guest this evening is Frankie Avalon I've got a large family how many kids do you have I'm very proud to say that we have eight children there's nothing to it it's my pleasure and Joe Pesci was waiting for me after my scene we went to this place called Joe Pig's you had a Vesuvio restaurant we went and had chicken meatballs and the picture came out and I was in the picture health has been very exciting for me for a long long time I got interested in not only just vitamins but herbs and I started back about 50 years ago in where I lived with my wife and eight children in North Hollywood there was a place called Herb Products it was in North Hollywood and I saw this sign and I went in there and I got very friendly with a man who was part of it and John was his name and he started introducing me to different kinds of herbs that were in big box forms they weren't even capsules yet he would make capsules and put together different herbs so I would start taking herbs and I really got involved with it and through the years I started to say Jesus I should people ask me Frankie what do you do well I mean you're still doing that I'm in my 80s now and I still go out there and still perform I do a lot of singing I do a lot of performing I travel a lot and I've been taking herbs and I created a product with John called zero pain it's a pain reliever that I brought on to a home shopping network and we sold tons and tons of it it still is available today and I'm going to tell everybody listening you talk about being healthy and being taken care of yourself I have a company called Frankie Avalon products if you look at Frankie Avalon dot-com you could look at what I've been doing for all these years not only with the zero pain which is a pain reliever topical which has helped so many people from Arnold Palmer to Ernie Banks a lot of my friends in the business and they still request it we still offer it to the public but your health is very important you never know when you're going to lose it so keep trying to keep it they had asked me to do a guest shot on American Idol I said okay what do I do they said well it's Simon Cowell's birthday and the year of Venus was 1959 that's the year he was born so we'd like to give him this little birthday gift and you singing Venus to him I said okay but you've got to be you know stay in your dressing room you've got to be a surprise so I go to my dressing room and I watched my weight I watched this I was watching this that whatever so I go to my dressing room and they sent a whole box of candies and things and I'm waiting I'm waiting and I'm eating these red hot so whatever they are but well I ate about two boxes these things I'm ready to go on now I've got 12 minutes to go on and do this this is live you know and I said I really don't feel good now they got the paramedics right there they take my blood pressure mind going through the roof and they said I don't think you should go on and my blood pressure was very very high I went on and I did that song not feeling a hundred percent but pulled it off I came off of there I come down with with drew a lot of water and all this other stuff and my blood pressure went down and that was quite an experience for me like the show goes on listen I want to thank for the opportunity of a great conversation going through parts of my life I could write a book but I won't but in the meantime I just want to thank everybody that's been with me and I've been with you for many many years for being a part of my life thank you so much and thanks to the good Lord for giving me the opportunity to my wife to my eight children to my 10 grandchildren and stay well and God bless and a terrific job on the storytelling and production by Greg Hengler and a special thanks to Frankie Avalon for sharing his life's journey with us that beach party series well it was a huge box office success and Avalon well he'd go on to make a career for himself in the nightclub business as a prime act to play at the Copa and then all over the world and then came grease that paramount picture and that character teen angel he passed he said that character is not my style so they changed the character and the rest is history I have watched this movie more times than I would care to admit because when you have a wife and a daughter this along with Mamma Mia is required required viewing at least a few times a year and then of course that call from Robert De Niro Bobby De Niro probably a bunch of him in his South Philly neighborhood little did he know it was the Robert De Niro and a scene in casino the story of Frankie Avalon the story of America in a way from nowhere to somewhere and appreciating with great gratitude every single step along the way Frankie Avalon story here on our American stories the holidays are headed to your place with a special collection that's packing the cheer all on Xfinity Flex host a movie marathon with winter favorites like Love Actually and Home Alone unwind with big laughs from hits like The Office and Elf or snuggle up with something new like holiday in Santa Fe or holiday harmony and keep festive tunes on repeat with North Pole radio hosted by Santa from I heart radio whether you want to watch something fresh or familiar you can feel the holiday spirit with Xfinity Flex say what to watch into your Xfinity voice remote when the world gets in the way of your music try the new Bose quiet comfort earbuds to next gen earbuds uniquely tuned to the shape of your ears they use exclusive Bose technology that personalizes the audio performance to fit you delivering the world's best noise cancellation and powerfully immersive sound so you can hear and feel every detail of the music you love Bose quiet comfort earbuds to sound shape to you to learn more visit Bose.com imagine air travel that simple hassle-free and fast that's 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Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-07 15:57:29 / 2022-12-07 16:17:54 / 20

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