The name of Frankie Avalon may ring a bell to movie buffs just as much as music ones. That’s because his pairing with actress Annette Funicelo in 1960s movies such as Beach Party and Beach Blanket Bingo gave birth to a whole new movie subgenre by the name of ‘beach party film’. Critics of that time explained why Avalon became a teen idol with these roles: “In Frankie and Annette, teenagers now had their own version of Rock Hudson and Doris Day as the ‘bedroom farce’ was moved to the beach and made a little younger, a little dumber, and stuffed full of wild music.”
By the time those movies were released, however, Avalon already had a number of successful hits under his belt. 1959 seemed to be his peak year, with Venus and Why both managing to top the charts. An interesting fact about the former is that it was originally intended for Al Martino to perform, another singer-actor who would later become famous for his role as Johnny Fontane in The Godfather. In its final released form, Venus reads like a prayer from the protagonist to the Roman goddess of love and beauty to send him a soulmate.
Venus spent 5 consecutive weeks at number one in Billboard Top 100 before being dethroned by The Fleetwoods’ Come Softly to Me.