Born in the Italian section of Newark, New Jersey, in 1938, Concetta Rosa Maria Franconero soon moved to Belleville, New Jersey and graduated Salutatorian of her high school in 1955.
One of Connie’s first national appearances was playing the accordion and singing “Daddy’s Little Girl” on the Arthur Godfrey Show.She was advised to lose the accordion and change her name from Franconero to Francis.
In 1955, Connie signed with the MGM label, but had nine consecutive flops and was ready to be dropped, when she recorded a cover version of the 1923 hit, “Who’s Sorry Now?”The song debuted on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand and this gave Connie her first Top 10 Billboard hit.
Connie was introduced to an up and comer by the name of Bobby Darin, with whom she had a professional, as well as a romantic relationship.Their relationship ended, in part, due to her father’s disapproval of the young singer/songwriter.Darin ended up marrying actress Sandra Dee.
Connie continued having hits well into the 1960’s and she appeared in the films “Where The Boys Are”, “Follow The Boys”, “Looking For Love” and “When The Boys Meet The Girls.”
On the charts, Connie made it to the weekly Billboard Top 40 charts 35 times and had three #1 hits.Here’s a look at Connie’s twenty biggest hits:
1. Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool – 1960 – Connie’s first number one hit was supposed to be the B side of “Jealous of You” but deejays made this the A side and “Jealous of You” became the B side, which still made it to #19 on the charts.
2. My Heart Has A Mind Of It’s Own – 1960 – in her career, Connie recorded in nine different languages and recorded a German version of this song.
3. Don’t Break The Heart That Loves You – 1962 – her last #1 hit was also recorded as a country hit by Margo Smith in 1978.
4. My Happiness – 1959 – there were five Top 30 versions of this song in 1948.Even Elvis Presley recorded this song during his first session at Sun Records.
5. Who’s Sorry Now – 1958 – Connie’s first big hit also had five different Top 20 versions in 1923 and was featured in the Marx Brothers film “A Night In Casablanca.”
6. Where The Boys Are – 1961 – From the film of the same title.The flip side “No One” also went Top 40 for her.
7. Lipstick On Your Collar – 1959 – a change from her sultry ballads, this upbeat tune made it to #5 on the weekly charts.
8. Together – 1961 – Paul Whiteman took this song to #1 in 1928 and was featured in the 1944 film “Since You Went Away.”
9. Among My Souvenirs – 1959 – Connie enjoyed recording classic ballads like this one, which had four Top 20 versions in 1928, including a #1 version by Paul Whiteman.
10. Many Tears Ago – 1960 – featured on her “Connie At The Copa” album.
11. Breaking In A Brand New Broken Heart – 1961 – Debby Boone did a country cover version of this tune in 1979.
12. Second Hand Love – 1962 – the title cut from her “Connie Francis Sings Second Hand Love” album.
13. Mama – 1960 – from her “Connie Francis Sings Italian Favorites” album.
14. Frankie – 1959 – the flip side of “Lipstick On Your Collar” was written by Howard Greenfield and Neil Sedaka and was inspired by Frankie Avalon.
15. Vacation – 1962 – the only song Connie helped write, this summertime hit went to #9.
16. When The Boy In Your Arms (Is The Boy In Your Heart) – 1962 – a cover version of a Cliff Richard hit, Connie’s flip side “Baby’s First Christmas” also made it to the Top 30.
17. Stupid Cupid – another Greenfield/Sedaka penned tune was originally written for The Shepherd Sisters.
18. (He’s My) Dreamboat – 1961 – “Hollywood” is the B side of this hit, but didn’t make it into the weekly Top 40.
19. Follow The Boys – 1963 – Connie’s last Top 20 hit came from her film of the same title.
20. Teddy – 1960 – The B side of “Mama” (see #13) was written by Paul Anka.
In 1974, after a long hiatus, Connie was performing at the Westbury Music Fair in New York, where she was raped at the motel she was staying at.With the exception of an appearance, in 1978, on Dick Clark’s Live Wednesday TV show, Connie wouldn’t perform again for seven years.Her attacker was never caught.
Connie and singer Gloria Estefan were collaborating on a screenplay based on Connie’s life called “Who’s Sorry Now?” but in 2009 the project was called off, because of differences in the choice of screen writers.
Although Connie Francis is not in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, she has been named Pop Music’s #1 Female Vocalist from the 1950’s to mid 1960’s.