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Frankie Valli is known as an American singer and actor. He is most famous for hits like "Walk Like a Man", "Rag Doll", and "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You.
Francesco Stephen Castellucio was born to an Italian family in the First Ward of Newark, New Jersey. As the oldest of three sons, Frankie took up singing at the young age of seven, after his mother took him to see the young Frank Sinatra at the Paramount Theater in New York City, "I saw Sinatra coming out on stage. The way he was lit up, it was like he had an aura around him. I decided then and there that's what I was going to do, be a successful singer."
Frankie had his first marriage with Mary Mandel in the 1960s. They raised two daughters but got a divorce in 1971. He then got married for the second time with Mary Ann Hannigan in 1974 before divorcing her in 1979. He then got married to Randy Clohessy in 1984. The couple ultimately ended up having three sons together.
He had an infamous affair with April Kirkwood in the 1960s. The relationship blossomed for 20 years until she moved on with her life. April Kirkwood has even written a book about her relationship with Frankie and how it all started when she was just a young fan of the music star. In the book, she accused him of using her continuously, destroying her innocence, and completely ignoring the emotional part of their relationship. He had first seen the little girl when she was seven, and when she came to see his concert years later as a teenager, he took her to a hotel where he slept with her for the first time. April's mother was aware of the relationship but chose to allow it because of Frankie's fame.
In 1980, Frankie's stepdaughter, Celia, suffered an accidental fall from a fire escape that resulted in her death. Only six months later, Frankie's youngest daughter, Francine, tragically died of a drug overdose.
Frankie's first mentor in the music industry was singer "Texas" Jean Vallie from whom Francesco later adopted his stage name. Frankie launched his musical career in 1951 with the Variety Trio. The group consisted of Nickie DeVito, Tommy DeVito, and Nick Macioci at the time. Tommy and Nick had spent time in jail together for small-time robberies. Frankie admitted that growing up in Newark wasn't the best of circumstances. "If you didn't watch out you could wind up in the trunk of a car." The group's music endeavor was their creative method of staying out of jail and of car trunks.
Two years later, in 1953, Frankie released his first single "My Mother's Eyes". Soon the group was renamed The Four Lovers and in 1956 Frankie draw a bit of national attention, with hits such as “You’re the Apple of My Eye” by Otis Blackwell, who also penned “Don’t Be Cruel” for Elvis Presley. The Four Lovers appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. The Four Lovers were renamed The Four Seasons after numerous lineup changes. The name derived from a cocktail lounge the group attended after an audition in 1960. Throughout the following decades, Frankie kept gaining massive recognition both from his group and solo careers.
From 1962 to 1978, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons sold more than 100 million records. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990. In 1992, a new Four Seasons album was released titled Hope and Glory. In 2007, Frankie released Romancing the '60s, an album containing covers of his favorite songs from the 1960s.
Frankie became most widely known for the songs "Big Girls Don't Cry", "Walk Like a Man", "Rag Doll", and "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You" which has been covered by over 200 artists. The Four Seasons group had 40 hits on the Top 40 charts, 19 in the Top 10, and eight No. 1 singles. Their work has been used in movies such as The Deer Hunter, Dirty Dancing, Mrs. Doubtfire, Conspiracy Theory, and the Wanderers. Many of the characters in The Sopranos mentioned Frankie by name and his music was often heard in the credits. Frankie also appeared as a guest star in two seasons of the show as mobster Rusty Milio.
Artists such as Billy Joel, Barry Gibb, and Brian Wilson all speak fondly of Frankie's music and consider him an inspiration. "In the early '60s, the Four Seasons were my favorite group. I thought they were fantastic. The voice blend was fantastic. The competition helped me to get cracking. It inspired me because they made good music. I went to the piano thinking I could top their music.", wrote Brian Wilson.
In 2016 and 2017, "Frankie and The Four Seasons" participated in a U.S. tour. Frankie is the only original member left that still goes on tours. In a recent interview he said: "I don’t know anything else, I’ve been on the road so long." During the same interview, he talked about his first steps in the industry and how he managed to stand out. "I always thought you had to be open to everything. I was a big Hank Williams country fan, a big gospel fan. I like all of it. I used to do impressions of other singers, so I had some idea of what you could do with a human voice, and I wasn’t afraid to try it."
Frankie received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor in May of 2012 for his dedication to humanitarianism. He's also a supporter of heritage-related causes such as the NIAF (National Italian American Foundation) from which he received a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006.
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