Connie Francis, 83, made her acting debut on Aug. 20, 1960, when filming began on “Where the Boys Are.” Since then, there have been many plot twists in her life — some good, some heart-breaking.
Francis was involuntarily committed to mental institutions 17 times from 1982 to 1991 after she says she was misdiagnosed with manic-depressive disorder. She was raped in 1974. Her brother was murdered seven years later — reportedly gunned down by the mob in front of his New Jersey home. She has been married and divorced four times.
Nasal surgeries that cost her to lose her voice for seven years. She once said “losing my voice was like a surgeon losing his hands.”
A romance with singer Bobby Darin – whom she said was the love of her life –was derailed by Francis’ father.
Except for her brother’s murder, she says she harbors no regrets.
“Although there were some terrible lows, there were exhilarating highs,” she once told Growing Bolder.
Francis chronicled her bittersweet journey not only in songs but through her memoir titled, “Among My Souvenirs: The Real Story, Vol. 1,” published in 2017.
Concetta Rosemarie Franconero, her birth name, was born on Dec. 12, 1937, in Newark, New Jersey. She was an A student who planned to be a doctor. But in an early plot twist, she became a top-charting female vocalist in the 1950s and 1960s and enhanced her popularity by her memorable role in “Where the Boys Are.” The film put Fort Lauderdale on the map as the hot spot for spring breaks.
Few legends have had the worldwide success that Francis experienced. She sang fluently in several languages and reportedly recorded more hits than Aretha Franklin and Dusty Springfield, both in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
In the years that followed her success, Francis encountered more than her share of tragedies and challenges. She credits the support of family, friends, and her sense of humor for seeing her through these battles.
Francis is a survivor who has used her story to inspire others and give them courage. She became a national spokesperson for Mental Health America in 2010 so that she could help others who have shared tragic experiences in their lives.
“This campaign will address itself to the millions of people in America who are currently suffering from the deleterious effects of depression and trauma of all kinds whether it be the trauma experienced by victims of violent crime, rape, domestic abuse, loss of a loved one, divorce, loss of finances or a job, and significantly in the largely-unattended area of the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) experienced by our returning veterans of our two wars,” Francis said at the time.
Now retired and living in Florida, Francis still has a strong fan base who remember her iconic hits, including “Who’s Sorry Now,” “Stupid Cupid,” and “Where the Boys Are.” She formed her own recording company, Concetta Records, and still makes appearances as well as dines with friends in Boca Raton.
When asked how she would like to be remembered, Francis said, “Not so much for the heights I have reached but for the depths from which I have come.”