Connie Francis, born Concetta Rosa Maria Franconero in 1938, is an American pop singer, actress, philanthropist and mental health rights activist. The height of her career came in the 1950s through the 1970s when she saw wild success as a platinum-selling recording artist and live performer.
Francis's musical career began at a very early age. She took up the accordion at just four years old but soon realized her greatest talent was as a vocalist. The singer became a popular guest on television programs in the 1950s that featured child and teen entertainers, appearing frequently on NBC's "Startime Kids."
Her first recording deal, signed with MGM in 1955, produced a string of records that saw little commercial success until Francis caught the ears of Dick Clark, host of the program "American Bandstand." Her single "Who's Sorry Now" became a regular part of Clark's rotation, and Francis appeared frequently on the show. The next decades saw a whirlwind of million-selling singles and prestigious tour dates at many of the top clubs in the United States including the Copacabana in New York. Meanwhile, Francis became a household name in American pop culture, appearing on "The Ed Sullivan Show" and "The Johnny Carson Show" and in numerous Hollywood films.
Francis married and divorced four times, though she says the love of her life was always the famous singer Bobby Darin, who she dated in her younger years despite the protests of her father. Tragedy struck when she was robbed and sexually assaulted in a motel room in 1974, an experience that led her to stay out of the public eye for more than seven years. Plagued by mental illness in her later years, Francis has turned her repeated experiences with hospitalizations into an ongoing fight for better conditions for those who suffer from psychiatric conditions.