By Brad Dison
Concetta Franconero was young and in love. But, as often is the case, her father didn’t approve of her beau, Walden Cassotto. Concetta was a somebody. Walden was a nobody. In the 50s, 60s, and 70s, Concetta recorded hit songs in multiple languages and became an international music and movie star. Concetta’s father, George, though not her manager, advised her on which songs to record and which to turn down. Concetta and her father disagreed on many song choices but, as it turned out, most of her hits were songs she had turned down but her father convinced her to record anyway. This happened time and time again. It seemed that father knew best.
Concetta and Walden first met when her manager hired Walden, an aspiring singer and songwriter, to help write songs that would fit her voice. Concetta and Walden soon fell in love. As I said before, Concetta’s father DID NOT approve of Walden. To George, Walden was a hanger-on and would never amount to much. An aspiring singer and songwriter was no match for his star of a daughter.
One evening George overheard Concetta and Walden making plans to elope. George was infuriated. He wouldn’t, he couldn’t stand by and watch his daughter marry a nobody. He acted quickly, grabbed a gun, burst into the room, and led Walden out, all the while threatening him to never come near his daughter again. And so it was. The whirlwind romance came to an end at gunpoint.
Through the passing years, Walden and Concetta only saw each other a couple of times and on a professional basis only. Walden eventually married someone else. Concetta also married …four times, each ending in divorce. In her biography Concetta wrote that not marrying Walden was the biggest mistake of her life. You probably know some of Concetta’s hits such as “Who’s Sorry Now,” and “Where the Boys Are,” and may have even seen her starring in the movie of the same name. You probably don’t recognize the name Concetta Rosa Marie Franconero, but you will recognize her stage name, Connie Francis. …and Walden Cassotto, the nobody who wasn’t good enough for George’s daughter, recorded several hit songs of his own. Have you ever heard “Splish Splash,” “Dream Lover,” “Mack the Knife,” and “Beyond the Sea?” You know Walden Cassotto by his stage name…Bobby Darin.
Be sure to check back in next Tuesday for the next piece in this series.