Coming out of the Ironbound neighborhood of Newark, New Jersey, is 1937-born, Concetta Rosa Marie Franconero. She is better known as the actress, singer, and songwriter Connie Francis. Since the age of six years old, Francis has participated in a number of community-related festivities, pageants, and talent shows through the encouragement of her father. Francis’s cultural background is Italian-Jewish and can sing and speak just as fluently in the Hebrew-Yiddish language, as well as English. In addition to becoming a household name among her English-speaking fans, this is also the case among the Hebrew population that also respects her talent.
When Connie Francis was discovered by Arthur Godrey, this is where a number of changes began to take place in what was still a very young lady who had yet to become a household name in America. Such changes include her birth name as a means to simplify the pronunciation among Americans, as well as broadening her horizons from local talent to appearing on programs such as NBC’s Startime Kids show from 1953 until 1955. Despite her recognition on television as a multi-talented youth, the start of her singing career did not begin until 1957 when her duet single “The Majesty of Love” with Marvin Rainwater became the first real taste of commercial success for her. However, that taste was short-lived as the contract with the recording label Francis had with MGM Records came to an end. That, combined with a few other setbacks that included a sharp disagreement with her father, made it difficult for Francis to gain the steady momentum she needed in order to make that big breakthrough to restore her career to the star level she had as a youth.
Starting in the year of 1958, Connie Francis finally managed to make that important launch into the stardom she needed. However, in order to keep that momentum going, additional hit songs needed to come forth so that neither her name nor her music would become shelved again. This would be a feat she would achieve, first by taking advice from her own father to travel overseas into London, England to record and release an album in Italian. When the album “Connie Francis Sings Italian Favorites” was released in November 1959, it remained on the music charts for over a year and a half and peaked at one point in fourth place with the US Billboard 200 albums chart. From 1959 until 1973, Connie Francis earned her place as an international recording star who performed one successful hit after another. While the musical explosion of the British Invasion during the 1960s slowed her momentum down somewhat, it wasn’t enough to put her, nor her talent, into obscurity.
In the Face of Tragedies
The momentum of Connie Francis came to a screeching halt after she became victimized in a sexual assault that nearly ended her life when the culprit tried to suffocate her with a mattress. Although she survived and successfully sued the motel for failing to provide accurate security, Francis understandably became depressed. Along the way, she lost her voice after undergoing nasal surgery in 1977, which would take her four years to recover from. Before she had much opportunity to celebrate the return of her singing voice, tragedy again strikes the songstress when her brother was murdered. Despite the ups and downs that dictated Francis’ life, it wasn’t enough to keep her from doing what she loves doing best, which is singing. She is one of those all times loved singers like a Doris Day, a Paul Anka, a Frank Sinatra and even a Barbra Streisand.
Top 10 Connie Francis Songs
#10 – Don’t Break the Heart That Loves You
In 1962, “Don’t Break the Heart That Loves You” peaked at number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 and with US Billboard Adult Contemporary, which was known as an easy listening chart at the time. This was also a successful hit in 1978 for country artist Margo Smith. The appeal of this song, especially when performed by Francis, is the two-part harmonic plea from the songstress who is trying to understand why her lover is mistreating her so badly.
#9 – Barcarole in der Nacht (Barcarole in the Night)
Released in 1963 as a German single, “Barcarole in der Nacht” became a number one hit on their music chart and remains a top favorite even unto this day. Whether one understands the German language or not when hearing it, it’s still one of the best performances by Connie Francis. Translating this song’s title in English would be something like a Venetian boating song at night. Among gondoliers who do tours with music, it’s Barcarole in der Nacht is among the favorites played to appropriately set the mood.
#8 – Where the Boys Are
“Where the Boys Are” was written for the 1960 motion picture where Connie Francis co-starred in and it was the first time the songstress would appear in a movie. The song charted as high as fourth with the US Billboard Hot 100, as well as fifth with the UK Singles Chart. This song’s popularity has been covered by a number of artists throughout the years, including even Francis herself as she remade it, along with a number of previously recorded hits, in 1989.
#7 – Frankie (featuring the Ray Ellis Orchestra)
Released in 1959, “Frankie” cracked into the US Billboard Hot 100 chart top ten by placing ninth, and seventeenth on the US Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop chart. Among music streaming stations of today, this song performed by Connie Francis is among the most requested from her discography.
#6 – My Heart Has a Mind of Its Own
The first number one hit for Connie Francis came along in 1960 with “My Heart Has a Mind of Its Own.” Recorded as a Connie Francis original, the song peaked at the top spot on the US Billboard Hot 100 and US Cash Box charts, as well as third with the UK Singles Chart. On the US Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop chart, it peaked at eleventh place. Over time, a number of other artists have converted this song, including Connie Smith and Reba McEntire.
#5 – Lipstick On Your Collar
In 1959, the single “Lipstick On Your Collar” by Connie Francis peaked at the fifth spot on the US Billboard Hot 100 and in tenth place with the US Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop charts. It would be the third time in her career she would have a hit crack into the top ten mark, as well as the first song originally recorded by her to do so. On the UK Singles Chart, the song peaked all the way up to third place. It was also the first time Francis achieved a top ten hit in Australia where the song peaked in fourth place.
#4 – My Happiness
Near the start of Connie Francis’ ascent to stardom in her singing career, the 1958 hit “My Happiness” managed to become the best charting single she would have to date. On the US Billboard Hot 100, it peaked at the second spot and even made an appearance on the US Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop chart at eleventh place. My Happiness has been a pop music standard among many artists, regardless of musical genre, ever since it was first released in 1948 by Jon and Sondra Steele. Francis herself admits while growing up, My Happiness was among her personal favorites.
#3 – Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool
According to US Billboard, the single “Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool” is among the greatest summer hits of all time, currently charting at 138 overall. It was a number one hit for Francis in 1960 on the US Billboard Hot 100, the US Cash Box chart, in Australia, and in Canada. In Germany, the German version “Die Liebe ist in selfsame Spiel” also achieved a top spot on their music chart. This song is often confused with a song that shares an identical title that was written and released previously in 1949 by Little Jimmy Scott, but these two songs have nothing in common other than their names.
#2 – Stupid Cupid
On the various streaming music channels that cater to music during the eras of the 1950s and the 1960s, “Stupid Cupid” from Connie Francis is currently among the most played from her entire roster of hits. Recorded and released in 1958, this song charted at fourteenth place on the US Billboard Hot 100 and at sixteenth on the US Cash Box chart. Stupid Cupid is also credited for saving Francis’ career from experiencing another backslide that probably would have ended it.
#1 – Who’s Sorry Now
In 2001, “Who’s Sorry Now” was named among the Songs of the Century by the combined agreement of the National Endowment for the Arts, the Recording Industry Association of America, and Scholastic Inc. When it was released in 1957, it peaked at number one in the UK Singles chart and in fourth on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. On the US Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop chart, it also appeared fourth. Francis, among many other artists throughout the years, has covered this song ever since it was first written in 1923, then performed by Isham Jones. It was a hit for Jones and it was a hit for Francis.
Feature Photo: ABC Television, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons