When the likes of Paris Hilton can land record deals — and get away with it — some may find it downright refreshing that Connie Francis is able rise like a phoenix from the fickle ashes of pop culture and show the world the real secret to longevity: class.
Francis, who turns 70 next year, hit it big in the ’50s and ’60s with chart-toppers such as “Who’s Sorry Now?” “Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool” and “Mama.” The singer returns to the Castro Theatre with a 21-piece band Saturday due to high demand following a sell-out performance last spring.
“I love connecting with people — that’s the part I like the best,” Francis says. “After the show, I always sign autographs, sometimes for the whole audience.”
Get ready to stand in line. The legend’s celebrity has entered its second orbit. A decision earlier this decade to tour again helped fuel Francis’ re-entry into the limelight, but news of a biopic adds fuel to her fire — Grammy-winner Gloria Estefan is said to play Francis.
“The Rhythm is Going To Get You” meets “Where the Boys Are?” Not exactly.
Estefan reportedly has wanted to chronicle the singer’s life story for some time. She’ll also produce the project, which, Francis confirms, moves into pre-production in a couple of months.
That’s enough to turn heads, but what about pages? Francis is also fast at work on her second book.
“I wrote an autobiography in ’84, but there was so much I didn’t put in it,” she says. “This one is much meatier.” Enter Frank Sinatra, Don Rickles and, she adds, “many personal stories about people; my friendships, my relationships.”
It’s another bold move for an entertainer whose life is already bookmarked by courageous personal feats — surviving rape, the murder of her brother and a several career re-launches.
“I work when I want to work now, and it’s not this frenetic pace,” she says of performing today. “I am surprised, though. I never thought, back in 1958, that I’d still have the kind of fan quality I currently have.”
She says she loves singing because “I’m able to reach people in places they’ve never been reached before.”
The music climate intrigues her and she tries to keep up with what’s happening. “I like Michael Bublé and those old standards on the albums Rod Stewart did. But I don’t think hip-hop will be remembered 50 years from now,” she adds.
And while her TV remote may be tuned in to shows such as “America’s Next Talent,” Francis says she wouldn’t nix the idea of being a celebrity judge on “American Idol.” (Simon, are you listening?)
What pulled her through the tough times — and what keeps her moving forward?
“The thousands of letters I got from fans,” she says. “And also my sense of humor. I never lost my sense of humor. No matter what happened, it was always there.
“Because I don’t think we should take ourselves too seriously,” she says. “I was watching television the other night and I learned that the Earth was more than 4.5 billion years old. We are not even a speck of dust in the bigger scheme of things, you know?”