Connie Francis returns to Castro screen, stage

By today’s “Glee”-filled standards, a group of students having frank discussions about sex barely raises an eyebrow. Not so in 1960, when “Where the Boys Are” presented four girls — including singer Connie Francis in her screen debut — awakening to their sexual urges with very different opinions of how to behave.

This week, Francis returns to the Castro Theatre, scene of her sold-out 2007 concert, for a 50th-anniversary screening of “Boys” on Wednesday and a concert performance, backed by a 21-piece orchestra, on Saturday.

She has good memories of making the film: “Paula [Prentiss] was adorable. She had just graduated from Northwestern and was madly in love with one of her classmates, who turned out to be Richard Benjamin. Frank Gorshin was one of the funniest guys in the business, and Jim Hutton was so great.”

Francis was not surprised when co-star Dolores Hart gave up her film career and entered a Catholic convent. “She was a very sweet girl, but she was unhappy.”

Of the suave and eternally tanned George Hamilton she recalls, “He was Mr. Suave even at 21. He and his brother rented the Douglas Fairbanks estate even though at the time they didn’t have two nickels to rub together. George supported them by playing gin.”

Despite the fact that, by her recollection, she and Hamilton only spent a couple of hours directly together on the film set, the fan magazines of the day had them dating. “Back then you had no CNN or Entertainment Tonight, certainly no Internet; but the fans were just as eager then for any tidbit of information as they are now. Network news didn’t cover stars unless it was of Liz Taylor-Richard Burton proportions.”
<br>Feeding the fan machine was almost a full-time job in itself, because “the magazines could cost you your career.”

She also recalls the humor in it: “I look back at the dozens of men I was linked with and wonder when I had time to record! I think out of all the names only three were legitimate. The rest were pure fiction.”

What’s not fiction is her second autobiography, “Among My Souvenirs,” now in the final proofing phase.

“It’s much better than the first book. It’s more honest and more focused.,” she says. “I wrote the first book on the run, doing bits and pieces in airports and green rooms. This time I was really able to concentrate.”

The 11-month project also benefited from the singer’s secretary having kept highly detailed notes on appearances, meetings and other data from around 1958 to 1982. “It’s amazing! I could never have done this book without her,” she says.

IF YOU GO
Connie Francis
“Where the Boys Are” screening, Q&A

Where: Castro Theatre, 429 Castro St., San Francisco

When: 7 p.m. Wednesday

Tickets: $10

Contact: (415) 621-6120, www.castrotheatre.com
In concert

Where: Castro Theatre, 429 Castro St., San Francisco

When: 8 p.m. Saturday

Tickets: $49 to $99

Contact: (415) 392-4400, www.cityboxoffice.com

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