|Born||Fabiano Anthony Forte
February 6, 1943
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Kathleen Regan (m.1966–1979)
Kate Forte (m.1980–1990)
Andrea Patrick (m.1998)
Fabiano Anthony Forte (born February 6, 1943), 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.
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.'"
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." "He was the right look and right for what we were going for," wrote Marcucci later.
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.
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.
The song he sung on Bandstand was "I'm in Love" which Fabian later admitted "was not very good either."
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.” 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". It worked and "Turn Me Loose" went into the Top Ten, peaking at number 9. This was later followed by "Hound Dog Man", (US #9; UK #46), and his biggest hit, "Tiger", 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.
His career in music basically ended when he was 18 after he bought out of his contract with Marcucci after signing a seven-year deal with 20th Century Fox. "I felt controlled. I felt like a puppet," he said in 1974. "It was frightening, like a three-year nightmare." He spent the next thirteen years concentrating on acting.
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.
"“Acting came natural to me,” Fabian said later. “I don’t know why.”
Hound Dog Man was not a financial success but Fox found they could use Fabian in supporting roles such as North to Alaska. In November 1960 his contract with the studio was amended with an increase in salary.
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. He was considered to play the lead in Beach Party (1963) but was unable to do it because of his contract.
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.
In November 1965, he signed a multi-picture deal with American International Pictures 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.
Forte later admitted the pressures of his career and home life caused him to start drinking in the 1960s.
In 1973 he began singing again. 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."
He retired once more in 1977, then resumed performing in 1981. 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 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 threatened a lawsuit at the time of the picture's release, though 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.
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. The show stars Forte and Bobby Vee and features The Chiffons, Brian Hyland, Chris Montez and rare footage of the performers and Dick Clark.
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.
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.
Marriages and children
Forte has been married three times. His first marriage was to model Kathleen Regan in September 1966. They had two children together, Christian and Julie, before separating in June 1975. In October 1975, Forte was arrested after an argument with Regan in which he was accused of hitting her. He was put on probation for two years.
The couple divorced in 1979.
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. He and Andrea were later sued by the resort where they were married for unpaid bills. 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.
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."
He and his wife also work for Gladys Magazine.
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.
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 albums were a commercial failure.
(Peak position in US charts given in brackets)
- Hound-Dog Man (1959)
- High Time (1960)
- North to Alaska (1960)
- Love in a Goldfish Bowl (1961)
- Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation (1962)
- Five Weeks in a Balloon (1962)
- The Longest Day (1962)
- Ride the Wild Surf (1964)
- Dear Brigitte (1965)
- Ten Little Indians (1965)
- Fireball 500 (1966)
- Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs (1966)
- Thunder Alley (1967)
- Maryjane (1968)
- The Wild Racers (1968)
- The Devil's 8 (1969)
- A Bullet for Pretty Boy (1970)
- Little Laura and Big John (1973)
- Soul Hustler (1976)
- Katie: Portrait of a Centrefold (1978) - TV movie
- Disco Fever (1978)
- Getting Married (1978) - TV movie
- Crisis in Mid-Air (1979) - TV movie
- Kiss Daddy Goodbye (1981)
- Get Crazy (1983)
- Up Close & Personal (1996)
- The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom
- The Greatest Show on Earth (1 episode)
- Wagon Train "Molly Kincaid Story" (1963) w/Barbara Stanwyck, Carolyn Jones
- The Eleventh Hour (1964, 1 episode)
- Daniel Boone (1965, 1 episode)
- The Virginian (1965, 1 episode)
- The Rat Patrol (1967, 1 episode)
- The Beardless Warriors (1960) - for 20th Century Fox based on the novel by Richard Matheson
- 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 Shaffner
- Robin Hood Jones (1965) - for AIP
On his audition for Bob Marcucci.
|“||As I'm tone-deaf, I didn't think he'd like it much - but I sang for him. It sounded like a jackass! You could have bowled me over when he said I had possibilities.||”|
In popular culture
- In the 1986 Peggy Sue Got Married, Nicolas Cage's character keeps a picture of Fabian on his car's sun visor.
- On the TV show Laverne & Shirley, the title characters would often talk about how much they loved Fabian (he guest-starred in the Season 3, Episode 8 episode "Laverne & Shirley Meet Fabian").
- In the movie That Thing You Do, the president of Playtone Records scornfully refers to Jimmy Mattingly as "Fabian".
- Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 68. CN 5585.
- Robert Sklar, "Fabian: About This Thing Called Luck", Pop Matters 2007 accessed 25 January 2014
- "Where Are They Now?", People Magazine 27 July 1992 accessed 25 January 2014
- Fabian interview at Classic Bands accessed 25 January 2014
- Jeff Markus, "A tale of two idols, Fabian and Neil Sedaka", Gold Mine 15 February 2012 accessed 25 January 2014
- New York Times obituary of Bob Marcucci 18 March 2011 accessed 25 January 2014
- Thomas Doherty, Teenagers And Teenpics: Juvenilization Of American Movies, Temple University Press, 2010 p 175
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 192. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- 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.
- 'Fabian Given Legal Approval for New Movie', Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 19 Dec 1962: 27.
- 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
- "The Music Index - Story Of The Stars - Fabian Interview". Story Of The Stars. Retrieved 2012-04-11.
- Dennis Hunt, 'Fabian Back in Singing Biz', Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 05 July 1974: f11.
- Weldon, Michael, Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film 1987 Ballantine Books
- 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.
- Samuel Z Arkoff & Richard Turbo, Flying Through Hollywood By the Seat of My Pants, Birch Lane Press, 1992 p 129
- Lawrence Laurent, 'New Chief at ABC Indicates a Change', The Washington Post, Times Herald (1959-1973) [Washington, D.C] 21 Mar 1962: C8.
- 'Bloomer Girl' on 20th Slate Martin, Betty. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 29 Nov 1965: c23.
- Age Can't Wither Avalon, Fabian Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 29 Oct 1965: C11.
- Edward Kiersh, Where Are You Now, Bo Diddley?: The Stars Who Made Us Rock and Where They Are Now, Random House 2010
- Bob Ross, 'Written Off 20 Years Ago, Fabian Is Back', Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 11 July 1983: sd_a5.
- Dick Clark's AB Theater - Branson Missouri
- Eppley, Arthur. "A Marine Mustang". Trafford Publishing, 2007, p. 146
- Doug Smith, 'Jury Splits Blame in Fabian Crash' Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 11 Apr 1982: sb1.
- Doug Smith, 'Fabian Settles Out of Court for $32,000', Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 22 Apr 1982: ws4.
- "Milestones: Sep. 30, 1966". time.com. September 30, 1966. Retrieved December 24, 2012.
- "Fabian Forte, Wife Separate". Waycross Journal-Herald. June 27, 1975. pp. P–10. Retrieved December 42, 2012.
- "Fabian Arrested After Row". The Lewiston Daily Sun. October 8, 1975. p. 14. Retrieved December 24, 2012.
- Bryant, Jean (1998-09-22). "Former Connellsville Beauty Queen weds Fabian". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. G1.
- Cindi Lash "How Fabian found peace (but not exactly quiet) in Fayette Count", Post Gazette December 03, 2000 accessed 25 January 2013
- "Lunch at Waterboy, a chat with former teen idol Fabian Forte", Appetizers, March 27, 2013 accessed 24 January 2014
- Gladys Magazine Staff accessed 25 January 2014
- Fabian's Discography
- Fabian Filmography
- Looking at Hollywood: Brad Dillman to Co-Star with Fabian Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963) [Chicago, Ill] 03 July 1961: a3.
- 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.
- 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.
- 'Bloomer Girl' on 20th Slate Martin, Betty. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 29 Nov 1965: c23.
- Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 73. CN 5585.
- Official website
- Fabian at AllMusic
- Fabian at the Internet Movie Database
- Fabian at the TCM Movie Database
- Fabian at Brian's Drive In Theater
- Biography at Universal Attractions