Home Movies by Decade Movies - 1980s Idolmaker, The (1980)

Idolmaker, The (1980)

Vincent Vacari (Ray Sharkey playing a role loosely based on Bob Marcucci, who discovered and managed Frankie Avalon and Fabian) is a waiter at his brother’s Italian restaurant in Brooklyn.

He is also a passionate songwriter and works in partnership with his best friend, pianist Gino Pilato (Joe Pantoliano).


But Vinnie doesn’t believe he has the looks to pursue a career as a singer so decides to groom Tomaso DeLorusso (Paul Land) as a star instead.

Using Vinnie’s songs and moves, the now renamed ‘Tommy Dee’ becomes a pop sensation. But he is uncontrollable and his fame goes to his head and he leaves to do a cowboy TV series.

Vinnie finds his next protege in a shy busboy named Guido (Peter Gallagher) who he renames Caesare and grooms into another big star.

Unfortunately, Caesare is busted for drunk driving and has an affair with a reporter (Maureen McCormick), bringing about Vinnie’s painful downward spiral back to the dismal obscurity he started from.

The anachronistic musical score was criticised upon the film’s release, with Jeff Barry’s compositions sounding far more like slick 1980s pop than the 50s and 60s music of the period in which the movie is set.

Ray Sharkey scored a Golden Globe nomination for his portrayal of Vincent Vacarri but within a couple of years, he was playing fifth-bill to Lorenzo Lamas in Body Rock and had no other films of any significance.

Sharkey was busted for possession of heroin and cocaine at a Canadian airport and ended up broke and living with his mother in New York City before dying of AIDS in 1993, aged just 41.

Vincent Vacarri
Ray Sharkey
Brenda Roberts
Tovah Feldshuh
Caesare (Guido)
Peter Gallagher
Tommy Dee (Tomaso DeLorusso)
Paul Land
Gino Pilato
Joe Pantoliano
Ellen Fields
Maureen McCormick
Paul Vacarri
John Aprea
Uncle Tony
Richard Bright
Mrs Vacarri
Olympia Dukakis
Frank Vacarri
Steve Peck
Leonard Gaines
Jerry Martin
Deney Terrio
Charles Guardino
Ed Sharp
Michael Mislove
Walt Bennett
Kenneth O’Brien
Michael Perrotta
Jeffrey Tanner
Mrs Sevaloope
Renata Vanni
Howard Gordon
Tammy Alverson
Frank Bongiorno
Jimmy Ryan
Jimmy Carter
Jojo D’amore
Malli Jackson
Anthony Marciona

Taylor Hackford