Concetta Rosa Maria Franconero was born in 1938 in Newark, New Jersey to Italian parents and began her career in music as a child accordion player who could sing.
At the age of 11, she won a spot on Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts TV show, on which she appeared for four years.
She gradually became more recognised for her remarkable singing voice than her accordion skills, and despite her father’s insistence that she should one day open a school of music for accordionists, she signed a recording contract with MGM in 1955.
Connie recorded several unsuccessful singles for MGM until, on her last session (in 1958 when the label were threatening to drop her contract) she sang Who’s Sorry Now?
It went straight into the charts and was to be the turning point of her career.
In 1959, Connie was the most successful pop singles artist of the year in the United States, with Lipstick On Your Collar hitting the Top 5 in both the US and the UK.
The following year – on 21 June – she topped the US charts for the first time with Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool. It was the first time a solo female singer had hit #1 since Debbie Reynolds’ Tammie three years earlier.
Three months later, Francis was back in the top position with My Heart Has A Mind Of Its Own.
Other notable recordings include her 1963 JFK tribute In The Summer Of His Years, whose profits were donated to relatives of shot policemen, and Where The Boys Are.
The last Connie Francis hit in Britain was Vacation, a catchy song written like a football cheer. And with that, her four years as a pop star were over. Vacation was the only Connie Francis hit on which she was given a writer’s credit, her co-writers were Gary Weston and Hank Hunter.
She had a troubled life, being raped in her motel room in Westbury, Long Island in November 1974 and suffering long-term illness. Her brother George Franconero, Jr. was also killed by Mafia hitmen in 1981, but Francis resumed performing in the Eighties.
She obtained a new recording contract with Sony in 1993 as Lipstick On Your Collar rode the charts once more thanks to the Dennis Potter TV series of the same name using it as its theme.