Monday, April 20, 2009

Frankie Avalon

Does anybody remember Frankie Avalon? If you are in my age group you should. He was a big heartthrob in the late 60's I believe. Time goes by faster and faster with each decade that I manage to live through, so my time line might be slightly off. Please forgive me if it is. Frankie played the leading role in all of the beach movies of the time. Funny now the only title of one that I can think off of hand is "Beach Blanket Bingo". He often co-starred with Annette Funicello (not sure on the spelling of her name).

I had a huge crush on Frankie. I remember watching all of his movies. I had my own camera at that time. It was called a "Baby Brownie". It took black and white pictures and I thought that it was the coolest thing that I owned! Anyway I loved Frankie so much. I would take pictures of him on my television screen! I would get close enough to the T.V. so that it would look like I was actually with him and you couldn't see any of the T.V. itself. Such a silly little girl. But I was in love.

My best friend way back then was named Andrea. We lived within walking distance of each other on the northwest side of the big city of Chicago. You must keep in mind, at that time (early 70's ) it was perfectly normal and fairly safe for two 13 year old girls to wander the city as long as we didn't head to far over to the south side of the city.

Many weekends of trying to find things to do, Andrea and I would find ourselves on the Lake St. El (Elevated Train) heading east to downtown Chicago where we would spend hours just walking around. What fun we had. One time we went to a theater to see "Shaft". Can you imagine one little Irish red headed girl and me, 95 lbs. of skin and bones walking into this theater filled with men and woman wearing huge afros. We really stood out among them, actually we almost glowed, but nobody seemed to care. We also always made a point to visit this one popcorn shop that sold all different flavors of popcorn and popcorn balls. And we would always wander around the beautiful department stores such as Marshall Fields.

On one particular weekend however, we decided to wander around the Hyatt Regency Hotel. Back in the day it was quite beautiful and very big. It was one of the hotels that famous stars and singers would stay at while they were in town. One time we ran into Jack Cassidy (David Cassidys father,David was another crush of mine!) walking down one of the halls with is entourage in tow. We did manage to get is autograph, but I will say that it seemed that we were a bother to him. On the particular weekend stated earlier, it was rumored that Frankie Avalon was staying at the hotel. This was too much for Andrea and I to pass up so off we went, very,very excitedly to the Hyatt with high hopes of seeing our beloved Frankie in person!

I think we walked , through, up and down each hall that we could find in search of Frankie. We were so tired. Finally one of us thought (remember we were only 13) lets ask the maids if they know where we could find him! It was not easy. Either those maids were paid very well or were very afraid of losing their jobs, whatever the case they weren't handing over any information. Then finally one of the maids took pity on us (we may have been crying,I don't remember) and she told us how to find this secret hallway that would lead to the door of a suite. Thats all she told us. She didn't say what or who we would find when we got there.

It took some searching but we found the hallway and the door at the end of it. Very, very nervously we approached the door. I don't remember who lifted their shaky little hand first but one of us managed to knock,ever so quietly on the secret door. There was a peep hole on the door. We tried looking in it (remember we were only 13). A voice from the other side of the door asked "Who is it?". We replied nervously "We're here to see Frankie!". The voice on the other side of the door replied "Go away!". As we stood there feeling foolish watching the color draining from each others faces a different voice from behind the door said "Let them in". The door opened and we were allowed by an unfamiliar man to walk into the room. Actually it was more like an apartment. Full kitchen, dining area, huge windows with a view of the downtown area and a large living area that had a very large sofa in it. The sofa was not empty. Nope. Laying on the sofa in his black stocking feet (a detail that always stuck in my head) was none other than The Frankie Avalon! I was in shock. I don't remember what he said. I don't remember what we said. I do remember that there was some small talk and we each got a personal autograph on two of the hotel directories. But the one thing that stuck in my mind was how very polite and nice he was.

We said our good byes. Then two star struck, giggly little 13 year olds walked back into the hallway and the door was closed behind us. We both looked at each other and dropped to the floor laughing and screaming hysterically. I know they must have heard us from behind the door, but there is just no controlling that kind of happiness when you are 13.


Eileen said...

How adorable is this story! What a sweet memory for you!
I loved this story, you had me rooting for you the whole way through!
Do you still have the autograph?

I remember those movies well too!
I also remember Annette as a Mousekateer (spelling?)! I think I'm a little older than you as I graduated high school in '72.
You brought back some nice memories for me. Thanks!

Ginny said...

I vaguely remember you telling me this story when I was a little girl ... but I would have forgotten about it forever if you hadn't blogged about it.

Also, didn't you make me watch a Frankie Avalon beach movie once? I can't remember what it was, but I can picture a black and white scene by the rocks on the beach...hmmm.

Diana said...

yes I probably did make you watch the movie when you were little! I used to make you watch alot of movies,which is why today you have such a fine appreciation for fine films! My favorite was The wizard of Oz. Remember when we'd turn all the lights off,make popcorn and sit on the floor in front of the T.V.? Awww mommy misses you!
Love Mommy!

Diana said...

I know I sent you an email but in case you didn't get it,I lost the autograph along with other things when my basement flooded before we had rubbermaid containers! And your right I graduated in 76 but I did watch the mousekateers too. M-I-C see ya real soon, K-E-Y why, because we like you, M-O-U-S-E !!!!

Wanda said...

I remember Annette and Frankie well...that's why my daughter's name is ANNETTE!...but I had a bigger crush on Ricky Nelson!...that's why my son is named RICK! Enjoyed reading your post!

Blessings each day said...

Gosh, that was a neat story and brought back the times that I would go downtown with a girlfriend and walk around in 3 inch heels all day! Today, I'd have those suckers off by the time I got from the house to the car! So sad that those days of safety are gone. Where did you live in Chicago itself? I grew up on the not too north, not too west side of Chi town.



Diana said...

At the time of Frankie I lived on Menard st. between Austin and Central Ave's. 2 blocks north of North ave. But we moved several times. Also lived on Newcastle st, Nora ave,Dakin st.and Kolze ave. in Schiller Park. There's more but would take up too much time to list!

Eileen said...

Diana, I didn't get the email, but my husband has a few different accounts set up and only one displays!!
I'll have to go searching.

That's too bad about the autograph, but at least the memory stayed in tact!
PS I'm having trouble posting today. Hope you get this and my comment for today's post (baking) too!

Linda Higgins said...

I loved Frankie! Now I see the new Frankie and Annette come forth in my 13 year old granddaughters life with High School Musical! What a wonderful story and experience! tag, your it!