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.
Tommy Dee (Tomaso DeLorusso)