Frankie Avalon

  1. Russ Tamblyn, West Side Story, 1961.    Jerome Robbins,  the show’s Broadway director, wanted to create  new stars. Producer  Walter Mirisch did not – suggesting safe rockers like Elvis Presley!  Or his clones,.
  2. Warren Beatty, The Roman Spring  of  Mrs Stone, 1961.    The moppet rocker was the most surprising ideas for Vivien Leigh’s Rome gigolo, Paolo di Leo, in  Tennessee Williams’ favourite movie of his work (his sole novel, in fact). Also on the scratch list were the Roman looking John Cassavetes, James Darren, Fabian, Ben Gazzara, George Hamilton, Jeffrey Hunter, and John  Saxon. Oh and Anthony Newley – more talented than any of them but hardly Italiano.
  3. Tommy Kirk, The Ghost in the Invsible Bikini, 1965.    This is historic – the first (indeed, the last) AIP Beach Party movie that does not take place on a beach?  The usual beachies, Avalon and Annette Funicello, passed and were subbed by the listless Kirk and Deborah Walley. AIP boss James H Nicholson was quick to notice this fact and quickly added his missus, Susan Hart, as a ghost – still in her Beach Party Bingo bikini – being superimposed over previously shot footage of Boris Karloff as The Corpse and the original, 1923, Ben-Hur, Francis X Bushman, 82,min his 230th and final screen role.
  4. Fabian Forte, Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs (Le spie vengono dal semifreddo – ie The Spies Who Came in from the Cool), USA-Italy, 1966.  You are invited to a bad marriage…   Father of the bride, Italian producer Fulvio Luicisano, wanted a sequel   to the Franco & Ciccio farce, Two Mafiosi Against  Goldginger… and the groom’s father, producer James H Nicholson agreed to co-finance,  if it was also a sequel to AIP‘s Dr Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine. Avalon begged off reprising. Nicholson called another singer: Fabian. “Frankie’s having another baby and wants to stay at home… and we have this picture shooting in Italy… [he] was so sweet about it.” Mario Bava, of all Italian directors, helmed the Italian mess – all Franco Franchi and Cicciop Ingrassia. The US version was not; just Vincent Price having a ball in various roles including a moment in drag. Bava (best known for Black Sunday with Barbara Steele) had nothing to do with the US cut. Indeed, very little with the Italian one, either.
  5. Gary Burghoff, M*A*S*H, 1969.     The singer never believed his agent about director Robert Altman promising to build up Radar’s role from a few paltry lines. He should have talked to Sally Kellerman. Altman had promised her the same about Hot Lips. “That’s what Bob engenders  in you – the enjoyment.”
  6. Al Martino, The Godfather, 1971.


 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  6