Fabian in 1959
|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.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Singing stardom
- 3 Later years
- 4 Personal life
- 5 Marriages
- 6 Philanthropy
- 7 Discography
- 8 Filmography
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
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 neighbor. 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 out of his mind. I told him, "leave me alone. I'm worried about my dad'."
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 practicing his singing. Fabian later said "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 meet Dick Clark, who eventually put the young singer on American Bandstand where he sang "I'm in Love". Fabian later admitted this song "was not very good either" but "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.
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 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. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc by the RIAA. Other singles that charted included "String Along", "About This Thing Called Love" and "This Friendly World", which reached #12 on the US charts. At age 15, he won the Silver Award as "The Promising Male Vocalist of 1958." His first album, Hold That Tiger reached the top 15 within two weeks.
His career in music basically ended when he was 18 after he bought out of his contract with Marcucci for a reported $65,000. "I felt controlled. I felt like a puppet", he said in 1974. "It was frightening, like a three-year nightmare."
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 like 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. In 1963, he signed a contract with Dot Records. He spent the next thirteen years concentrating on acting.
Acting: 20th Century Fox
20th Century-Fox had enjoyed success casting teen idol pop stars in movies, such as Elvis Presley and Pat Boone. They decided to do the same thing with Fabian and signed him to a long term contract. His first leading role was Hound-Dog Man (1959), based on the novel by Fred Gipson (who had written Old Yeller) and directed by Don Siegel. He co-starred alongside the more experienced Stuart Whitman and sang several songs, including the title track. 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 Fox's, Love Me Tender. "Acting came natural to me," said Fabian. "I don't know why", Fabian said later.
Fabian's recording of the Hound Dog Man title song was a top ten hit but the film was not a financial success - in contrast to Presley and Boone's first films. However, the studio tried again in two smaller roles, supporting a bigger star - High Time, with Bing Crosby, and North to Alaska, with John Wayne. Both films were popular especially the latter and in November 1960 his contract with the studio was amended with an increase in salary – it was now a seven-year deal with an option for two films a year. He later said that "acting wasn't like the singing, because it was very private – quiet on the set. No screaming [teenage fans]. It was a wonderful experience. I got to meet and work with John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, and Peter Lorre. Elvis came over to meet me when I was on the lot. Marilyn Monroe was on the lot. Natalie Wood. Gary Cooper came over. I was on the plane with Marlon Brando for eight hours coming back from Tahiti."
The Fox contract included television series as well as films. Fabian was cast by director Robert Altman as a psychotic killer in "A Lion Walks Among Us", an episode of the television series 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. However, the series was good for Fabian's acting career, and saw him regarded with more respect. He later said he regarded this as his best performance.
Paramount borrowed him from Fox to co-star opposite another teen idol, Tommy Sands, in Love in a Goldfish Bowl (1961). In 1961 Bob Marcucci announced that Fabian and Avalon would star in Virginia Ridge by Clarence Fillmore about the Battle of New Market, where Virginia Military cadets took on union soldiers - filmed in The Horse Soldiers. The movie was never made.
Instead Fabian co-starred opposite Tuesday Weld in "Run Till It's Dark", an episode of The Dick Powell Show. In Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation (1962), he romanced (and sang with) the daughter of a family man played by James Stewart; this was a big hit. So too was The Longest Day (1962), Fox's all-star epic about the D-Day landings; Fabian appeared among a number of other teen idols as US Rangers. Less popular, though still widely seen, was Five Weeks in a Balloon (1962), Irwin Allen's take on Jules Verne; Fabian sang one song but again it was a support role.
When Fox temporarily shut down following cost overruns on Cleopatra, Fabian was one of the first actors whose options were exercised after the studio re-opened. He was to have supported Stewart again in Take Her, She's Mine (1963) but did not appear in the final film. Samuel Z. Arkoff of American International Pictures said he wanted Fabian to play the lead in Beach Party (1963) but was unable to do it because of his Fox contract.
He had a good role in a surf movie made for Columbia, Ride the Wild Surf (1964) (with Tab Hunter), and was reunited with James Stewart for Fox's Dear Brigitte (1965) - the film failed to repeat the success of Hobbs. Harry Alan Towers cast him as one of the victims in Ten Little Indians (1965).
In October 1965, Fox announced it had picked up Fabian's option to make three more films for the studio, starting with Custer's Last Stand. However, that film was not made and Fabian made no further films for Fox.
In November 1965, he signed a seven-picture deal with American International Pictures. His first film for the company was alongside Beach Party stars Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello in the 1966 stock car racing film Fireball 500. AIP then sent him to Italy to play a role originally intended for Avalon, Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs (1966), supporting Vincent Price and directed by Mario Bava. Back in the United States, he made another stock car racing film for AIP, Thunder Alley (1967), opposite Funicello and directed by Richard Rush. His fourth movie for AIP was Maryjane (1968), where Fabian played a school teacher fighting the evils of the marijuana trade.
He returned to racing car dramas with The Wild Racers (1968), partly financed by Roger Corman and shot in Europe. This was not a big hit on release but has developed a cult following; Quentin Tarantino described it as his favorite racing car movie.
In 1973, he began singing again. 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 often performed in Las Vegas in the mid 1970s until he fell into difficulties with the authorities after attacking a Las Vegas district attorney, and resultant bankruptcy.
He retired once more in 1977, then resumed performing in 1981. He never regained his teenage popularity, but has continued performing.
The film The Idolmaker (1980), 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 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 or acting talent." The filmmakers insisted that the movie presented only fictional characters (although 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.
He appeared in a 1982 television commercial for The Idols of Rock n' Roll and in the documentary film The Bituminous Coal Queens of Pennsylvania (2005). In the 1980s, he developed some sitcoms for television. Forte hosted and headlined in the hit show The Original Stars of Bandstand at The Dick Clark Theater in Branson, Missouri. The show starred Forte and Bobby Vee and featured The Chiffons, Brian Hyland, Chris Montez and rare footage of the performers and Dick Clark. As part of a long-running concert tour, Fabian has toured with fellow Philadelphian 1950s teen idols Bobby Rydell and Frankie Avalon as "Dick Fox's Golden Boys".
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.
Race car accident
In 1978, Fabian was participating in a charity racing event in Watkins Glen New York. He was practicing at a Mojave Desert stock car racetrack under the instruction of professional driver Bill Simpson when he rolled his car and suffered minor cuts and bruises.
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). He received $32,000 in an out-of-court settlement.
In 1982, he was arrested for reportedly sticking his cigarette into a passenger [clarification needed] 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 ultimately no charges were laid in the end.
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. "My fault", said Fabian.
He married Kate Netter in 1980; they divorced in 1990.
Fabian relocated from Los Angeles to Fayette County, 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. They live on 20 acres (8.1 ha) in southwestern Pennsylvania in a home which she designed. 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 Andrea also work for Gladys Magazine.
Fabian and Andrea Forte 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.
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.
|Release date||Titles (A-side, B-side)
Both sides from same album except where indicated
b/w "I'm In Love"
b/w "Be My Steady Date"
|1959||"I'm A Man"
b/w "Hypnotized" (from 16 Fabulous Hits)
|31||40||The Hit Makers|
|"Turn Me Loose"
b/w "Stop Thief" (from 16 Fabulous Hits)
|9||8||Hold That Tiger|
b/w "Mighty Cold" (from The Hit Makers)
|"Come On and Get Me" /||29||34||16 Fabulous Hits|
|"Got the Feeling"||54||46|
|"Hound Dog Man" /||9||11||The Hit Makers|
|"This Friendly World"||12||16|
|"About This Thing Called Love" /||31||32||16 Fabulous Hits|
|"I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter"
b/w "Strollin' In The Springtime"
|"King of Love"
|"Kissin' and Twistin'"
b/w "Long Before"
|91||86||16 Fabulous Hits|
|1961||"You Know You Belong to Someone Else"
b/w "Hold On"
b/w "David and Goliath"
|"The Love That I'm Giving to You"
b/w "You're Only Young Once"
|"A Girl Like You"
b/w "Dream Factory"
b/w "Kansas City"
b/w "Made You"
|1963||"Break Down and Cry"
b/w "She's Staying Inside With Me"
|1977||"Ease On In (Into My Life)"
b/w "The American East"
- 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)
- Hound-Dog Man (1959) - Clint McKinney
- High Time (1960) - Gil Sparrow
- North to Alaska (1960) - Billy Pratt
- Love in a Goldfish Bowl (1961) - Giuseppe La Barba
- Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation (1962) - Joe Carmody
- Five Weeks in a Balloon (1962) - Jacques
- The Longest Day (1962) - U.S. Army Ranger
- Ride the Wild Surf (1964) - Jody Wallis
- Dear Brigitte (1965) - Kenneth 'Kenny' Taylor
- Ten Little Indians (1965) - Mike Raven
- Fireball 500 (1966) - Sonny Leander
- Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs (1966) - Bill Dexter
- Thunder Alley (1967) - Tommy Callahan
- Maryjane (1968) - Phil Blake
- The Wild Racers (1968) - Joe Joe Quillico
- The Devil's 8 (1969) - Sonny
- A Bullet for Pretty Boy (1970) - Charles Arthur 'Pretty Boy' Floyd
- The Hard Ride (1971) - Police officer (uncredited)
- Soul Hustler (1976) - Matthew Crowe
- Little Laura and Big John (1973) - John
- Getting Married (aired 17 May 1978 TV movie) - Wayne Spanka
- Katie: Portrait of a Centrefold (aired 23 October 1978 TV movie) - Emcee
- Disco Fever (1978) - Richie Desmond
- Crisis in Mid-Air (aired 13 February 1979 TV movie) - Billy Coleman
- Kiss Daddy Goodbye (1981) - Deputy Blanchard
- American Pop (1981)
- Get Crazy (1983) - Marv
- Runaway Daughters (aired 12 August 1994 TV movie) - Mr. Rusoff
- Up Close & Personal (1996) - Himself
- Mr Rock 'n' Roll: The Alan Freed Story (aired 31 October 1999)
- Bus Stop – 2 December 1961 – episode "A Lion Walks Among Us"
- The Gertrude Berg Show – 8 February 1962 – episode "Peace Corps"
- The Dick Powell Show – 9 October 1962 – episode "Run Till It's Dark" with Tuesday Weld
- The Virginian – 23 January 1963 – episode "Say Goodbye to All That" – with Lee J. Cobb
- Wagon Train – 16 September 1963 – episode "Molly Kincaid Story" w/Barbara Stanwyck, Carolyn Jones
- The Greatest Show on Earth – 29 October 1963 – "Uncaged"
- The Eleventh Hour – 22 January 1964 – episode "You're So Smart, Why Can't You Be Good?" – with Fay Wray
- The Virginian – 6 January 1965 – episode "Two Men Named Laredo"
- Daniel Boone – 9 December 1965 – episode "The First Beau"
- The Virginian – 2 October 1966 – "The Outcast"
- The Rat Patrol – 30 January 1967 – "The B Negative Raid"
- Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre (1967) – episode "Wipeout"
- The F.B.I. – 3 January 1971 – episode "Unknown Victim" – with Tom Skerritt
- Love, American Style – 23 February 1973 – episode "Love and the Crisis Line/Love and the Happy Family/Love and the Vertical Romance" – with Ed Begley, Jr.
- Laverne & Shirley – 22 November 1977 – episode "Laverne and Shirley Meet Fabian"
- The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries – 26 February 1978 – episode "Mystery on the Avalanche Express" – with Deborah Walley
- Fantasy Island (1980) – episode "PlayGirl/Smith's Valhalla" – with Leslie Nielsen
- The Love Boat – 20 February 1982 – episode "New York, A.C./Live It Up/All's Fair in Love and War" – with Edd Byrnes, Jill St John, Bobby Sherman and Annette Funicello
- New Love, American Style – 3 January 1986 – "Love and the Girl of My Dreams"
- The Facts of Life – 21 February 1987 – "62 Pick Up"
- Rags to Riches – 5 April 1987 – episode "Business is Business"
- Amen – 30 March 1991 – episode "Deak Scam"
- The Wild West – 22 March 1993 – documentary (Fabian co-executive produced)
- Blossom – 14 & 21 February 1994 "Beach Blanket Blossom"
- Murphy Brown – 6 April 1998 – episode "Opus One" with Chubby Checker and Lesley Gore
- American Bandstand – 19 June 1958 – sang "I'm in Love"
- American Bandstand – 20 June 1958 – sang "I'm in Love" again
- The Dick Clark Saturday Night Beechnut Show – 28 June 1958 – sang "I'm in Love" – with Paul Anka
- American Bandstand – 30 June 1958 – did not sing
- The Dick Clark Saturday Night Beechnut Show – 13 September 1958 – sang "Lilly Lou"
- The Dick Clark Saturday Night Beechnut Show – 6 December 1958 – sang "I'm a Man"
- American Bandstand – 12 December 1958 – sang "I'm a Man"
- The Dick Clark Saturday Night Beechnut Show – 17 January 1959 – sang "I'm a Man" and "Hypnotised"
- The Dick Clark Saturday Night Beechnut Show – 7 March 1959 – sang "Turn Me Loose" and "Stop Thief!"
- American Bandstand – 12 March 1959 – sang "Turn Me Loose"
- The Perry Como Show – 4 April 1959 – sang "Turn Me Loose"
- The Dick Clark Saturday Night Beechnut Show – 18 April 1959 – sang "Turn Me Loose" and "Hold Me in Your Arms"
- Toast of the Town The Ed Sullivan Show – 24 May 1959
- Toast of the Town The Ed Sullivan Show – 21 June 1959
- This is Your Life – Dick Clark – 24 June 1959
- American Bandstand 2nd Anniversary Show – 5 August 1959 – makes congratulatory phone call
- The Dick Clark Saturday Night Beechnut Show – 22 August 1959 – sang "Got the Feeling" and "Come On and Get Me"
- The Red Skelton Show – "Freddie and Fabian" – 11 November 1959 – sang "This Friendly World"
- The Dick Clark Saturday Night Beechnut Show – 14 November 1959 – sang "Hound Dog Man"
- What's My Line? – 15 November 1959 – as the mystery guest
- "Startime" The Dean Martin Variety House – 12 January 1960 – sings "I Love the Love" (with Martin) and "All of Me"
- The Red Skelton Show – 2 February 1960 – appears in a sketch and sings "About This Thing Called Love"
- The Dick Clark Saturday Night Beechnut Show – 12 March 1960 – sings "String Along" and "About This Thing Called Love"
- The Dick Clark Saturday Night Beechnut Show – 27 August 1960 – sings "King of Love" and "Tomorrow"
- The Perry Como Show – 5 October 1960 – sings "Rambling Wreck from Georgia Tech", "Buckle Down Winsocki Buckle Down", "Saturday Afternoon Before The Game" (with Frankie Avalon and Como), "Long Before"
- American Bandstand – 16 December 1960 – sang "Kissin' and Twistin'" and "Long Before"
- Candid Camera – 1961 – goes to Hackensack High School in Hackensack, New Jersey where he is introduced to a female student to see their reaction
- Here's Hollywood – 3 August 1961 – guest on talk show
- The New March of Dimes: The Scene Stealers – 2 January 1962 – guest star on charity revue
- American Bandstand – 30 November 1962
- Pantomime Quiz – 26 August 1963 – Julie London v Fabian
- Fractured Flickers – 1963 – special guest
- American Bandstand – 8 August 1964 – sang "Cream Puff"
- American Bandstand – 22 August 1964
- Hollywood Squares – 1–5 May 1967
- Hollywood Squares – 25–29 September 1967
- Tattletales – 1974: one week/5 episodes with first wife Katie
- Good Old Days – 11 October 1977 – with Dick Clark and Frankie Avalon
- Laverne & Shirley – 22 Nov. 1977
- Rock and Rollers – 1978
- Sorority '62 – 1978
- Hollywood Squares – 1979
- Rock and Roll: The Early Days – 1984
- Good Time Rock 'n' Roll – 1985
- Hollywood Squares – 6–10 April 1987
- Hollywood Squares – 14–18 March 1989
- Let's Rock Tonight – 1989
- Lost in the '50s – 6 October 1989
- Remember – 29 June 1991 – PBS
- Hollywood Rocks the Movies: The Early Years (1955–70) – 2 July 2000 (documentary)
- At the Drive In – 28 November 2003 (host)
- John Loves Mary (1962)
- Love is a Time of Day (1971) - Windmill Dinner Theatre
- Grease (1998) - touring theatre productions
- 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 J. Shaeffner
- Take Her, She's Mine (1963) – Fabian was originally announced for the male lead
- Robin Hood Jones (1965) – for AIP
- Custer's Last Stand (1965) – an often-postponed film for Fox where Fabian was to play an Indian scout
- 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)
- The Oblong Box (1969) - Fabian was originally announced as Vincent Price's co star
- Bury an Angel (1970), film made by Burwalt Productions starring Robert Fuller and Sherry Bain
- 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 – also known as Murder Can Be Fatal
- Fabian was also reportedly considered for roles in West Side Story (1961) and The Roman Spring of Mrs Stone.
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