Fabian Forte

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Fabian Forte
Fabian Forte 1959.JPG
in 1959
Born Fabiano Anthony Forte
(1942-02-06) February 6, 1942 (age 72)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Nationality American
Other names Fabian
Occupation Singer, actor
Years active 1959–present
Spouse(s) Kathleen Regan (m.1966–1979)
Kate Forte (m.1980–1990)
Andrea Patrick (m.1998)
Children 3
Website
fabianforte.net

Fabiano Anthony Forte (born February 6, 1942), professionally known as Fabian, is an American singer and actor.

Forte rose to national prominence after performing several times on American Bandstand. He became a teen idol of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Eleven of his songs reached the Billboard Hot 100 listing.

Early life[edit]

Fabian Forte is the son of Josephine and Dominic Forte; his father was a Philadelphia police officer.[1] He is the oldest of three brothers.

Discovery[edit]

Forte was discovered in 1957 by Bob Marcucci and Peter DeAngelis, owners of Chancellor Records. At the time record producers were looking to the South Philadelphia neighborhoods in search of teenage talents with good looks.

Marcucci was a friend of Fabian's next door neighbour. One day Fabian's father had a heart attack, and while he was being taken away in an ambulance, Marcucci spotted Fabian. Fabian later recalled:

He kept staring at me and looking at me. I had a crew cut, but this was the day of Rick Nelson and Elvis. He comes up and says to me, 'So if you're ever interested in the rock and roll business...' and hands me his card. I looked at the guy like he was fucking out of his mind. I told him, 'leave me alone. I'm worried about my dad.'"[2]

However when Fabian's father returned from hospital he was unable to work, so when Marcucci persisted, Fabian and his family were amenable and he agreed to record a single.

Frankie Avalon, also of South Philadelphia, suggested Forte as a possibility.

"They gave me a pompadour and some clothes and those goddamned white bucks," recalled Fabian, "and out I went."[3] "He was the right look and right for what we were going for," wrote Marcucci later.[4]

Singing Stardom[edit]

Fabian was given an allowance from the record company of $30 a week. He also kept working part-time at a pharmacy as well as studying at South Philadelphia High School, while practising his singing. Fabian:

I didn't know what I was doing, but I knew my goal, to try to make extra money. That meant a lot to our family. I rehearsed and rehearsed, and I really felt like a fish out of water. And we made a record. And it was horrible. Yet it got on [the legendary Philadelphia rhythm and blues radio program] Georgie Woods. For some reason, Georgie Woods played it.[2]

The song was "Shivers" which was a local hit in Chicago. This helped Fabian secure an appearance on Bandstand. Fabian:

I got to meet Dick Clark. He talked to me for a long time, and then put me on the show. The daytime show, before it went national. The response – they told me – was overwhelming. I had no idea. All during that period, I was doing record hops. Not getting paid for it, but for the record company promotions. Just lip synching to my records. The response was really good.[2]

The song he sung on Bandstand was "I'm in Love" which Fabian later admitted "was not very good either."[5]

Marcucci then gave Fabian a song written by Mort Shuman and Doc Pomus, "I'm a Man" which Fabian later said he "liked a lot and was very comfortable with, was giving me more experience, but I still felt like a fish out of water.”[5] The song made the top 40.

Marcucci then heavily promoted Fabian's next single, "Turn Me Loose" using a series of advertisements saying "Fabian Is Coming", then "Who is Fabian"?" then finally "Fabian is Here".[6] It worked and "Turn Me Loose" went into the Top Ten, peaking at number 9.[7] This was later followed by "Hound Dog Man", (US #9; UK #46),[8] and his biggest hit, "Tiger",[9] which reached #3 on the US charts. Other singles that charted included "String Along", "About This Thing Called Love" and "This Friendly World", which reached #12 on the US charts. At 15, he won the Silver Award as "The Promising Male Vocalist of 1958."

In 1959 Forte told a judge he was earning $250,000 a year.[10] He kept up his studies and graduated high school in June 1960.[11]

During the payola scandal of the 1960s,[12] Forte testified before Congress that his recordings had been doctored electronically to "significantly improve his voice."[13]

His career in music basically ended when he was 18 after he bought out of his contract with Marcucci for a reported $65,000.[14][15] "I felt controlled. I felt like a puppet," he said in 1974. "It was frightening, like a three-year nightmare."[16]

Marcucci later admitted to punching Fabian on one occasion when the singer sat in the aisle of a movie theatre, not in the middle of the row liked Marcucci had asked; Fabian was spotted by a teenage fan who screamed. Marcucci was angry that he did not see the film and hit the singer.[17]

In 1963 he signed a contract with Dot Records.[18]

However he spent the next thirteen years concentrating on acting.

Acting[edit]

Forte was contracted to 20th Century-Fox beginning with Don Siegel's Hound-Dog Man, based on Fred Gipson's novel. The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film featured a photo of Forte's screen test where he appeared in the same outfit that Elvis Presley wore in Love Me Tender.[19]

"Acting came natural to me," Fabian said later, "I don't know why."[5]

Hound Dog Man was not a financial success but Fox found they could use Fabian in supporting roles such as High Time and North to Alaska. In November 1960 his contract with the studio was amended with an increase in salary – it was a seven year deal with an option for two films a year.[20][21]

When Fox temporarily shut down following cost over-runs on Cleopatra, Forte was one of the first actors whose options were exercised after the studio re-opened.[16] He was considered to play the lead in Beach Party (1963) but was unable to do it because of his contract.[22]

Most of Forte's early films were comedies and cast him as a restless teenager with a penchant for singing. However, he received critical acclaim for his performance as a psychotic killer in "A Lion Walks Among Us" for the TV show Bus Stop. This episode was highly controversial due to its violent content, with many affiliates refusing to run the program, and was mentioned in the US Senate.[23] However the show was good for Fabian's acting career, and saw him regarded with more respect.[24]

In October, Fox announced it had picked up Fabian's option to make three more films for the studio, starting with Custer's Last Stand.[25] However that film was not made and Fabian made no further films for Fox.

AIP[edit]

In November 1965, he signed a seven-picture deal with American International Pictures[26] and made several movies with them including a role as Pretty Boy Floyd in "A Bullet for Pretty Boy" (1970) and guest starred with Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello in the 1966 stock car racing film Fireball 500. He also played Josh Ashley in Little Laura and Big John (1973) for Crown International Pictures.

He performed in John Loves Mary in summer stock in 1962.[24][27]

Later years[edit]

Forte later admitted the pressures of his career and home life caused him to start drinking in the 1960s.[28] From June 1969 onwards he was billed as "Fabian Forte".[29]

In 1973 he began singing again.[16] In order to raise his profile he posed nude for Playgirl magazine. "I knew it was a mistake the minute I saw the thing sold in a paper bag," he said later. "I could barely live with myself."[28]

He retired once more in 1977, then resumed performing in 1981.[30] Forte never regained his teenage popularity, but has continued performing. Recently[when?] he has been appearing with Frankie Avalon and Bobby Rydell to perform concerts as The Golden Boys.

The Idolmaker[edit]

The 1980 film The Idolmaker, written by Edward Di Lorenzo and directed by Taylor Hackford, was a thinly-disguised biography of Fabian (called "Caesare" in the film), as well as songwriter/producer Marcucci (called "Vinnie Vacarri") and Frankie Avalon (called "Tommy Dee"). In the movie version, singer Caesare—a pretty boy with little singing talent—goes through a whirlwind of success in a short time, and in a fit of pique, he abruptly fires his songwriters and quits his record label.

The real-life Fabian Forte launched a $64 million lawsuit at the time of the picture's release, claiming the film made him look like "a totally manufactured singer, a mere pretty face without any singing ability of acting talent."[31] The filmmakers insisted that the movie presented only fictional characters (even though Marcucci was a paid consultant on the film).

Forte claimed they settled out of court, where he and his wife received apologies and Marcucci's 7.5% ownership of the film passed to Forte.[14]

He appeared in a 1982 television commercial for The Idols of Rock n' Roll and in the 2005 documentary film The Bituminous Coal Queens of Pennsylvania.

In the 1980s Fabian also developed some sitcoms for TV.[32]

In his latest endeavor, Forte hosts and headlines in the hit show The Original Stars of Bandstand at The Dick Clark Theater in Branson, Missouri.[33] The show stars Forte and Bobby Vee and features The Chiffons, Brian Hyland, Chris Montez and rare footage of the performers and Dick Clark.

Personal life[edit]

He was drafted, but rejected, for military service during the Vietnam War. According to USMC Lt. Col. Arthur Eppley, Forte was declared 4F (unfit for service) after presenting a doctor's note stating that induction into the Army could cause him to develop homosexual tendencies.[34]

Race car accident[edit]

In 1978 Fabian was participating in a charity racing event in Watkins Glen New York. He was practising at a Mojave Desert stock car racetrack under the instruction of professional drive Bill Simpson when he rolled his car and suffered minor cuts and bruises.[35]

In 1982 a jury found him 40% liable for the accident (Fabian testified that Simpson repeatedly urged him to drive faster while Simpson testified that Fabian suddenly accelerated wildly in spite of his orders to slow down).[36] He received $32,000 in an out of court settlement.[37]

Also in 1982 Forte was arrested for sticking his cigarette into a passenger who asked him to put out the cigarette in a non smoking section of an aircraft. The passenger turned out to be a District Attorney but no charges were laid in the end.[28]

Marriages and children[edit]

Forte has been married three times. His first marriage was to model Kathleen Regan in September 1966.[38] They had two children together, Christian and Julie, before separating in June 1975.[39] In October 1975, Forte was arrested after an argument with Regan in which he was accused of hitting her.[40] He was put on probation for two years.[28]

The couple divorced in 1979. "My fault," said Fabian.[41]

He married Kate Netter in 1980. They divorced in 1990. In 1998, he married Andrea Patrick, a former Bituminous Coal Queen and Miss Pennsylvania USA.[42] He and Andrea were later sued by the resort where they were married for unpaid bills.[43] Fabian relocated from Los Angeles to Fayette County in Pennsylvania to be closer to his wife's family; he and his wife were sued by the builder of their house, also for unpaid bills.[43]

In 2013 he said he played "25 shows a year. It gets me out of the house.... I've never been happier. [At home] I ride my ATV and tractor and cut the grass. Where I grew up, there wasn't any grass."[44]

He and his wife also work for Gladys Magazine.[45]

Philanthropy[edit]

Forte and his current wife are actively involved in the American Diabetes Association, the American Heart Association and Forte has helped raise money for veterans with his Celebrity Golf Tournament in North Carolina. They live on 20 acres (81,000 m2) in Southwestern Pennsylvania in a home which she designed.

Discography[edit]

All albums use Forte's mononymous name "Fabian". Before going to Chancellor records, Forte cut two albums on his own, one of which contained the original version of the song Old Time Rock And Roll, but both albums were a commercial failure.

Singles[edit]

(Peak position in US charts given in brackets)

  • "King Of Love"/"Tomorrow" (November 1960) (#60)[46]
  • "Kissin' And Twistin'"/"Long Before" (1960) (#91)
  • "You Know You Belong to Someone Else"/"Hold On" (1961)
  • "Grapevine"/"David and Goliath" (1961)
  • "The Love That I'm Giving to You"/"You're Only Young Once" (1961)
  • "A Girl Like You"/"Dream Factory" (1961)
  • "Tongue Tied"/"Kansas City" (1961)
  • "Wild Party"/"Made You" (1961)
  • "Break Down and Cry"/"She's Staying Inside With Me" (1963)
  • "The American East/Ease On Into My Life" (1977)
  • "Turn Me Loose/Hound Dog Man" (1989)[47]

Albums[edit]

  • "Hold That Tiger" (1959)
  • "The Fabulous Fabian" (1959)
  • "The Fabian Facade: Young and Wonderful" (1959)
  • "The Good Old Summertime" (1960)
  • "Rockin' Hot" (1961)
  • "Fabian's 16 Fabulous Hits" (1962)
  • "Fabulously Grateful" (1963)

Filmography[edit]

Television Drama[edit]

Television Variety[edit]

Unmade projects[edit]

  • The Beardless Warriors (1960) - for 20th Century Fox based on the novel by Richard Matheson[21]
  • A Summer World (1961) - for 20th Century Fox with Dolores Hart and Bradford Dillman about a high school student who falls for an older woman based on a script by Howard Koch from the novel by Richard Dougherty - directed by Franklin J. Shaeffner[51][52][53]
  • Take Her, She's Mine (1963) - Fabian was originally announced for the male lead[54]
  • Robin Hood Jones (1965) - for AIP[55]
  • Custer's Last Stand (1965) - an often-postponed film for Fox where Fabian was to play an Indian scout[26][56]
  • a migrant farm labourer in a biopic written by Alex Grasshoff, who had previously made a documentary about him for David L. Wolper - this was a passion project for Fabian who spent weeks researching the film (circa 1967)[57]
  • Bury an Angel (1970), film made by Burwalt Productions starring Robert Fuller and Sherry Bain[58]
  • Golden Boy (1972) - produced by David Roseman and William Lieberman under the direction of Herbert Hantman from a screenplay by Lory Patrick – also starring Paul Micale and Jacqueline Bosordi[59] - also known as Murder Can Be Fatal[60]

See also[edit]


References[edit]

  1. ^ Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 68. CN 5585. 
  2. ^ a b c Robert Sklar, "Fabian: About This Thing Called Luck", Pop Matters 2007 accessed 25 January 2014
  3. ^ "Where Are They Now?", People Magazine 27 July 1992 accessed 25 January 2014
  4. ^ Fabian interview at Classic Bands accessed 25 January 2014
  5. ^ a b c Jeff Markus, "A tale of two idols, Fabian and Neil Sedaka", Gold Mine 15 February 2012 accessed 25 January 2014
  6. ^ New York Times obituary of Bob Marcucci 18 March 2011 accessed 25 January 2014
  7. ^ Thomas Doherty, Teenagers And Teenpics: Juvenilization Of American Movies, Temple University Press, 2010 p 175
  8. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 192. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  9. ^ Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 12 - Big Rock Candy Mountain: Rock 'n' roll in the late fifties. [Part 2]" (audio). Pop Chronicles. Digital.library.unt.edu. 
  10. ^ ' OLD GRAD' CROSBY CUTS A NEW CAMPUS CAPER. Thomas Macdonald. New York Times (1923–Current file) [New York, N.Y] 24 Apr 1960: X9.
  11. ^ Music.com
  12. ^ Bogdanov, Vladimir, Woodstra, Chris & Erlewine, Stephen Thomas All music guide to rock: the definitive guide to rock, pop, and soul 2002 Backbeat Books. p. 1386
  13. ^ a b "The Music Index - Story Of The Stars - Fabian Interview". Story Of The Stars. Retrieved 2012-04-11. 
  14. ^ Fabian: Yesteryear's Idol: UNDER HEDDA'S HAT Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Tribune (1963–Current file) [Chicago, Ill] 02 Aug 1964: i14.
  15. ^ a b c Dennis Hunt, 'Fabian Back in Singing Biz', Los Angeles Times (1923–Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 05 July 1974: f11.
  16. ^ MOVIES: THE STORY OF FRANK AND FABE AND BOB Farley, Ellen. Los Angeles Times (1923–Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 23 Nov 1980: x30.
  17. ^ FABIAN'S FORTE MAY BE SINGING--ACTING IS NEXT Hopper, Hedda. Los Angeles Times (1923–Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 21 Apr 1963: N6.
  18. ^ Weldon, Michael, Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film 1987 Ballantine Books
  19. ^ Fabian Signs Contract for Seven Years The Washington Post, Times Herald (1959-1973) [Washington, D.C] 26 Nov 1960: A15.
  20. ^ a b Fabian Wins New Contract at 20th: Another Rooney Heard From; Lasky Daughter Sells Script Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 24 Nov 1960: C15.
  21. ^ Samuel Z Arkoff & Richard Turbo, Flying Through Hollywood By the Seat of My Pants, Birch Lane Press, 1992 p 129
  22. ^ Lawrence Laurent, 'New Chief at ABC Indicates a Change', The Washington Post, Times Herald (1959–1973) [Washington, D.C] 21 Mar 1962: C8.
  23. ^ a b Bus Stop Flop Flips Fabian Into High Gear. Humphrey, Hal. Los Angeles Times (1923–Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 17 June 1962: N19.
  24. ^ 'Waterloo' Set Next Year. Martin, Betty. Los Angeles Times (1923–Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 07 Oct 1965: D16.
  25. ^ a b 'Bloomer Girl' on 20th Slate. Martin, Betty. Los Angeles Times (1923–Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 29 Nov 1965: c23.
  26. ^ Age Can't Wither. Avalon, Fabian. Los Angeles Times (1923–Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 29 Oct 1965: C11.
  27. ^ a b c d Edward Kiersh, Where Are You Now, Bo Diddley?: The Stars Who Made Us Rock and Where They Are Now, Random House 2010
  28. ^ Fabian Makes It Legal – It's Fabian Forte. Los Angeles Times (1923–Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 07 June 1969: a9.
  29. ^ Bob Ross, 'Written Off 20 Years Ago, Fabian Is Back', Los Angeles Times (1923–Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 11 July 1983: sd_a5.
  30. ^ FILM CLIPS: PARAMOUNT'S EISNER CAN'T FIND A BOOTH. Pollock, Dale. Los Angeles Times (1923–Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 30 Jan 1981: g1.
  31. ^ FABIAN: Troubled Odyssey of a Teen-Age Heartthrob Fabian By Lynn Van Matre Chicago Tribune. The Washington Post (1974–Current file) [Washington, D.C] 31 July 1983: C1.
  32. ^ Dick Clark's AB Theater - Branson Missouri
  33. ^ Eppley, Arthur. A Marine Mustang. Trafford Publishing, 2007, p. 146
  34. ^ LATE NEWS: Stocks Slump From Times Wire Services. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 14 Sep 1978: a1.
  35. ^ Doug Smith, 'Jury Splits Blame in Fabian Crash' Los Angeles Times (1923–Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 11 Apr 1982: sb1.
  36. ^ Doug Smith, 'Fabian Settles Out of Court for $32,000', Los Angeles Times (1923–Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 22 Apr 1982: ws4.
  37. ^ "Milestones: Sep. 30, 1966". time.com. September 30, 1966. Retrieved December 24, 2012. 
  38. ^ "Fabian Forte, Wife Separate". Waycross Journal-Herald. June 27, 1975. pp. P–10. Retrieved December 42, 2012.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  39. ^ "Fabian Arrested After Row". The Lewiston Daily Sun. October 8, 1975. p. 14. Retrieved December 24, 2012. 
  40. ^ Fabian: A 'real perplexing 10 or 15 years': POP Lynn Van Matre. Chicago Tribune (1963–Current file) [Chicago, Ill] 26 June 1983: l24.
  41. ^ Bryant, Jean (1998-09-22). "Former Connellsville Beauty Queen weds Fabian". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. G1. 
  42. ^ a b Cindi Lash "How Fabian found peace (but not exactly quiet) in Fayette Count", Post Gazette December 03, 2000 accessed 25 January 2013
  43. ^ "Lunch at Waterboy, a chat with former teen idol Fabian Forte", Appetizers, March 27, 2013 accessed 24 January 2014
  44. ^ Gladys Magazine Staff accessed 25 January 2014
  45. ^ "Comeback by Fabian Forte.". The Australian Women's Weekly (1933 - 1982) (1933 - 1982: National Library of Australia). 16 November 1960. p. 55 Supplement: Teenagers' Weekly. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  46. ^ Fabian's Discography
  47. ^ Fabian Filmography
  48. ^ 3 Sign for 'Victim' Episode of The FBI Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 03 Nov 1970: f12.
  49. ^ Guest List for 'Fantasy Island' Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 07 Jan 1980: e18.
  50. ^ Looking at Hollywood: Brad Dillman to Co-Star with Fabian Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963) [Chicago, Ill] 03 July 1961: a3.
  51. ^ Fabian Will Team With Dolores Hart: Bridges 'Joins' Peace Corps; Donald Buka Living Anomaly Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times (1923–Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 30 Mar 1961: A11.
  52. ^ TV Ace With 20th; Vallee Goes Legit: Movies for Children Listed; Debbie May Play Ruth Roland Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times (1923–Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 12 May 1961: A11.
  53. ^ Sandra Dee to Co-Star with Stewart, Fabian Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Tribune (1963-Current file) [Chicago, Ill] 25 Feb 1963: a4.
  54. ^ 'Bloomer Girl' on 20th Slate Martin, Betty. Los Angeles Times (1923–Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 29 Nov 1965: c23.
  55. ^ Fabian Likes to Know What's Cookin' Zylstra, Freida. Chicago Tribune (1963–Current file) [Chicago, Ill] 29 Dec 1964: b7.
  56. ^ Fabian an Ex-Singing Idol Learning the Actor's Art: FABIAN Thomas, Kevin. Los Angeles Times (1923–Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 04 Dec 1967: c1.
  57. ^ O'Neal to Produce, Direct Martin, Betty. Los Angeles Times (1923–Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 29 May 1970: g13.
  58. ^ MOVIE CALL SHEET: 'Outside In' – First Project for Robbins Los Angeles Times (1923–Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 03 July 1972: f9.
  59. ^ MOVIE CALL SHEET: Kitty Winn Set for 'Exorcist' Murphy, Mary. Los Angeles Times (1923–Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 05 Aug 1972: b8.

External links[edit]