Connie Francis

"I'm Afraid to Love him!"



The phone went click-buzz-brrrr and then a man 3,000 miles away said, "Good evening. Sunset Towers West," and the operator said , "Miss Francis , please" and there were more clicks and a woman's voice said "If you can hold on a minute she'll be right with you." Then there was some static and I thought it was going to be a bad connection, but it disappeared and a sweet, fresh voice in California said, "Hello, it's me--Connie," and I at home in New York, said, "Well, is it true- about you and Bobby?"and then I heard her take a deep breath and this is what she replied...

"The show's great--I'm appearing at the Clositers, you know --and everybody came opening night and they were all wonderful. I do two shows a night, at 11:00 and 1:00, and I don't get up till 1:00 the next day,I haven't had anytime to date anyone yet and no, I haven't seen him...

"Anyway, when you write the story , please say I'm the cause of it. The rumors, I mean. There was a party after my opening and one of the top columnists here came over and said "Congratulations on your engagement!' I said, "Oh thank you, I know it's going to be a wonderful engagement.' And he said 'Yes, I know you'll both be very happy.' Then I woke up . 'Who both?' I asked. And he said 'Why you and Bobby of course. Now, now, don't try to cover it up . Everybody knows!!.

"I tried and tried to explain but he wouldn't listen.. Finally, I said, 'How can I convince you?' and he just smiled and walked away. .

"I've hardly seen Bobby...the first time in a very long while was when we both were on Dick Clark's show in New York. We hadn't seen each other for months. Neither of us had had any sleep the day before and I was on my way to the makeup room and he was on his way to his dressing room and we didn't expect to see each other but all of the sudden we did. We went to his dressing room and talked for two hours straight and we were both dead, but seeing him was wonderful. Then after the show we left New York in different directions and nobody said a word about 'When will I see you again?' .

"The last time I saw him was when we did the Ed Sullivan show and there were photographers all the time taking pictures like crazy. On the show Ed said 'These kids used to go together and now they're back together again', and that's what started it.

"Bobby and I never said anything. There was just this warm feeling between old friends . Sometimes there's more understanding when fewer words are spoken.

"And the kids --they write in and say, 'Please send me your picture and one of Bobby too' They just take it for granted. Half the mail I get has some questions about me and Bobby. Usually fans don't like it when a boy like Bobby has a girl ...do you think? Only this time they didn't seem to mind.

"And after these rumors started—Frankie Avalon came up to the office one day and you know Pigeon, my secretary, she has a terrific crush on him, and she thought, 'Gee, maybe he's come to see me' and just when she was practically ready to swoon, he said, 'Well, Pigeon, tell me the truth—what's the

"But you know the story—you know the whole thing—how we met—how he came up to my manager's office with Donny Kirshner and they wanted me to listen to songs, and then Bobby got mad because of some advice I gave him and walked out. He was just out of college one week—quit because, he got tired of wearing dungarees to school—and we didn't get along at first. He was fresh and I didn't like all that hip talk. 'Hip chick' and all that and I couldn't even understand half of it..

"Then he came to my house and dropped some of the hip front, it was just a pose, a defense, anyway, and I began to like him..

"I could even show you in my diary where I wrote that night, 'Now there are five boys I have a crush on—so-and-so and so-and-so and maybe— Bobby Darin.'

"We kept acting like we didn't like each other for awhile, aloof and fresh, but that was because we really liked each other so just so I could invite Bobby. The party was downstairs in the den, but Bobby stayed upstairs in the kitchen talking about jazz. Finally, I came up and said, 'Bobby, won't you please come downstairs?' and he said, 'Honey, when I'm ready.' When he finally did go downstairs all the kids were dancing except him and me and he stood on the side and I couldn't stand it. I went up to him and said, 'Bobby, excuse me, but don't you know how to dance?' and he said, 'Honey, when a gentleman wants to dance with a lady, he's the one who does the asking.' Then he put his arms around me and we started to dance. There was a lot of noise and the music was loud and he whispered something in my ear. I couldn't hear it and he said it again, louder—and then I did hear it. It was, 'Connie, you know, don't you—I love you?' After that we started going out and we saw each other constantly.

"But it's been so long . . . 1956 . . . two people going in the same direction together, but not together. Both so ambitious. We always knew it would have to be career if we had to make a decision. And one day we had to decide.

"Our careers were more important to us both. After we broke up we both had a couple of flops. I remember getting a letter from Bobby when we were still seeing each other that said, 'Please don't be discouraged, if Elvis Presley and Cathy Carr can make it— so can we."

"Now. . . I don't know how well I really know Bobby now. Maybe I don't know him at all any more. Two people who've been in love and shared so much can't see each other years later and find that same feeling again. . . . Of course, when Bobby wins a gold record it's different from seeing an Elvis whom I don't know win it. It's more than that.

"I imagine Bobby has the same feeling about me. There is no aloofness now. No jealousy. Our lives—his and mine—they read like a storybook. Then to be chosen best male and female vocalist, both of us in the same year...

"Still, his whole life has changed and so has mine. I don't know him any more, really know him, I mean. I do know he dates a lot. Bobby is a man and can go out with 30 women and nobody thinks any the less of him. I've always been a one-man girl. There's been no time in my life when I liked more than one boy—one boy that I flipped over, at a time.

"Bobby is a very fascinating individual. He has almost everything a man should have —intelligence . . . he's wonderfully charming. He'll be attractive to me when I'm 56 and he's 58. But whether anything will come of it or not...

"It's a funny relationship. Sometimes it seems as if it could be. Then it seems impossible again. Just because we're both who we are. We both insist on having our own way. Besides, I don't think a marriage to another performer would ever work out— not for me. It just wouldn't.

"So what would I do if he called and asked me out?—say, tonight? In the first place, he won't call. He just won't. And I wouldn't dream of calling him. I don't know why. It's like a block with us. We have never been able to get over it. "It's impossible. It's impossible because our personalities make it that way. It's such an old thing by now. It can't change. "Still . . . even if he did . . . even if he did call . . . what would I do? I . . . I just wouldn't go! I don't know what else to say about it. And yet . . . maybe I would.

"People ask me, 'Do you still love Bobby?' I say yes—and no. I'll always love Bobby, in a certain way. But trying to recapture what we once had—that's different. Harder, impossible, I guess. I can't read the future. Something might happen between us. But for now, I don't know. I'd be afraid to love him now. I'd have to get to know him all over again . . . and after all, if you can put off a romance for four years, you can put it off forever. ..."



—BY BARBARA PERLMAN



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