Teen Idol Frankie Avalon Celebrates Another Year Around the Sun

Frankie Avalon now and then
Donald Kravitz/Getty Images; John Springer Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

Singer/actor Francis Thomas Avallone, known as teen idol Frankie Avalon, was born in Philadelphia on September 18, 1940. Avalon’s multitalented music career began at a young age, not with his voice, but with his trumpet. In 1952, Avalon made his TV debut playing the horn on The Jackie Gleason Show.

He made the jump to vocals and hit teen idol status in the ’50s-’60s.  His first appearance on American Bandstand was in 1957 and worked throughout his career with Dick Clark and charted 31 U.S. Billboard singles, including the two No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1959: his most famous track, “Venus,” and the syrupy ballad “Why.”

AMERICAN BANDSTAND, Dick Clark, Fabian, Bobby Rydell, Frankie Avalon, 1957-1989

Everett Collection

Pictured with good friends Fabian, Bobby Rydell and Dick Clark



In The Movies

GUNS OF THE TIMBERLAND, Frankie Avalon, 1960

Everett Collection

Avalon got his first role on the silver screen in the 1960 Western Guns of the Timberland. John Wayne took note of Avalon’s performance and had him cast in The Alamo (1960). He also starred in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1961) and Sail a Crooked Ship (1961) until he hit the beach and became big-screen draw in movies aimed at young audiences, particularly in the “beach party” genre. He appeared (usually with Annette Funicello) in most of the major beach films, from the first one, 1963’s Beach Party, to one of the last, 1965’s Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine.

BEACH PARTY, from left: Annette Funicello, Frankie Avalon, 1963

Courtesy Everett Collection

Mid-career, Avalon’s appearance as “Teen Angel” in the 1978 film adaptation of the musical Grease, in which he memorably crooned “Beauty School Dropout,” gained him new fans. In 1987, he and Funicello reteamed in Back to the Beach, a fun throwback to their earlier hits.


More Recent Times

More recently he made a guest performance on American Idol in 2009, in 2015 co-wrote Frankie Avalon’s Italian Family Cookbook, featuring more than 80 recipes, and continues to sing on tour in clubs and theaters. Frankie is also a National Ambassador for the National Arthritis Foundation and has a company that specializes in natural healthcare products.

He recently celebrated 60 years of marriage with his wife Kay Diebel who he met in 1963 and together they have had 8 kids and 10 grandchildren.

He also will be appearing at Chiller Theater coming up this October 27-28.

Happy Birthday Frankie!

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July 2022

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