The pop singer who rose to international acclaim in the 1950s and 60s has decided to unveil all of her life’s dirty secrets in a memoir titled “Among My Souvenirs: The Real Story.”
The songstress, who released an incredible number of hit numbers such as “Where the Boys Are”, “You, My Darling You”, and “Stupid Cupid” outlines the tragic path of her music career in a new tell-all.
Her initial recording career was troubled from the get-go, with several false starts before she was taken seriously as an artist. She put out many singles in the mid-50s that were actually quite popular, but unfortunately didn’t seem to be able to keep the spark alive.
Her father, who was her manager for most of her career, kept pressuring her to try and find the next show-stopper single, and it was at his insistence that the widely popular hit “Who’s Sorry Now?” brought her back into the spotlight.
However, despite his ability to keep her in the limelight, he was not the best father figure to her and led a life of shady dealings. Connie may have had the voice of an angel, but her connections to a vast criminal underworld would eventually lead to terrible tragedies throughout her life.
She details how she grew up in an Italian-American neighborhood in New Jersey, where her family and community were tied closely to the mafia that was active during this time period. Her father had connections to the mob enterprise (that included Joe Kennedy Sr.’s inner circle), but also knew his daughter had a gift and encouraged her to actively pursue talent competitions.
In her latest book, Connie wants to clear the air with everything she has gone through in her whirlwind life, and that meant stepping on a few toes.
When she was already 24, Connie got her first chart success for a duet with Marvin Rainwater, which peaked at number 93 on Billboard’s Hot 100. In the following years, she would quickly find herself launched into a lavish lifestyle, and all the scandal that came with it.
From here on out, her world would be home to celebrities, mobsters, heartbreak, but also, triumph.
Her ability to record some of the most well-known songs so beautifully meant that she hit stardom in a time where status was everything.
She writes that “There wasn’t a restaurant, lounge or showroom in any major hotel where I could pick up a tab. No matter how many people were in my party, it was always front row center seats at a show, and everything was on the house.”
Her success brought her to Las Vegas, the center of the universe in the celebrity world, where she received endless praise from everyone she met. But it was a minefield to navigate, even with all her connections.
Connie’s good friend, the comedian Don Rickles, once drew the ire of a mobster after insulting his girlfriend at a club. The wise guy ordered his cronies to find Rickles and break his legs, until Connie stepped in and had the problem sorted out.
After getting used to her widespread popularity, Connie became more suited to her diva persona. She describes how she once kept Frank Sinatra waiting for 30 minutes while she gambled. When he found out she had won “thirty-five” he announced to his whole gang how she had made off with “thirty-five large!” until she discreetly let him know it was actually just $35.
But her ties to the mafia would eventually catch up to Connie, and she would lose two of the most important people in her life because of their dealings.
In 1981, it became apparent that her brother, George, had been slipping information to the cops. Unfortunately for him, he wasn’t as secretive as he had thought. He was found shot to death outside the family home in New Jersey. Strangely enough, this didn’t ostracize Connie from the mob.
Another connection she would never get back is that of her soulmate, singer-songwriter Bobby Darin. She describes him as the love of her life, even after finding him in a hotel room with two hookers one night.
But her father used his connections to make sure nothing ever came of it.
“‘That is the one thing I will never let go of,’ she says. ‘If it hadn’t been for my over protective father who forbid me to be with Bobby, I would have married him.'”
Her father was always a point of contention in her life. She remembers how he called her “damaged goods” after she was raped at knife point following a show.
He was eventually killed by the mob like his son was after he passed information to law enforcement officers. Connie says she finds it hard to reconcile her love/hate relationship with the man who caused her so much happiness and grief.
“‘I can never forgive him for controlling my life and my loves, and for putting me in more than one mental institution after I was misdiagnosed as bi-polar,’ she says. ‘But I have to admit he was the architect of my brilliant career and for that I love him.'”
At 80-years-old, Connie still performs to this day, and believes in doing what she can to help others while she still can.
“‘I don’t plan to waste another day,’ she says. ‘I want to spend the rest of my life helping Veterans, the mentally ill and crime victims.'”