Connie Francis was born Concetta Franconero, on December 12, 1938, in Newark, New Jersey. She was originally supposed to be born in Brooklyn, where her family lived at the time. However, her mother was visiting relatives in Newark, NJ, and attended an all-night dance when she went into labour.
Francis attended Newark Arts High School in 1951 and 1952. She and her family moved to Belleville, New Jersey, where she graduated as salutatorian from Belleville High School Class of 1955. After a series of flop singles, on October 2, 1957 she undertook what was to be her last session for MGM.
Francis had recently accepted a premed scholarship to New York University and was contemplating the end of her career as a singer. Having recorded two songs, she thanked the technicians and musicians, hoping not to have to record the third song her father had in mind, an old tune from 1923.
The daughter of George Franconero, a roofing contractor, Connie won first prize on Arthur Godfrey’s Star time Talent Scouts television show at age 12, and performed on the show for four years.
Francis is primarily known for her singing career, but she played the lead in a number of films created for teenagers in the early 1960s. She starred in four motion pictures, Where the Boys Are(1960),Follow the Boys(1963), Looking for Love(1964) andWhen the Boys Meet the Girls(1965).
By 1967, she had sold 35 million worldwide, with 35 U.S. Top 40 hits and several 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.
Released in 1963, “In the Summer of His Years,” written as a tribute to the assassinated John F. Kennedy, remains one of the earliest known charity records, with proceeds donated to dependents of the policemen shot during the incident.
She was married to first husband Dick Kanellis for just three months (1964-65) and to Joseph Garzilli from 1973 to 1978. She and Garzilli adopted one son. In 1974, subsequent to a performance, Connie was the victim of a brutal petrifying rape in her hotel room.
This incident prompted her to sue the hotel. She won the lawsuit. She was unable to perform for many years afterward, and a couple years after she finally resumed touring in 1981 she was diagnosed as being manic depressive.
In 1984 Francis was able to write and present her published autobiography, who’s Sorry Now? which became a New York Times bestseller. However, despite the fact that her 1982 recording “There are still a Few Good Love Songs Left in me” brought Francis her last notation on the country charts, several songs never made it beyond the status of being recorded.
Through the years, she has performed charity work for organizations such as UNICEF, the USO, and CARE. In late December 2004, Francis headlined in Las Vegas for the first time since 1989.
In March and October 2007, Francis performed to sold-out crowds at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco. She was nominated for the 2012 New Jersey Hall of Fame for her contributions to Arts and Entertainment.