The Port Arthur News
PORT ARTHUR —
As former teen idol Frankie Avalon hits the stage Saturday at the Lamar State College-Port Arthur “Gulf Coast Gala,” he may remember the first time he visited Port Arthur nearly 50 years ago.
Avalon performed in Port Arthur during the 1963 cavOILcade festival, the same year he made his first “Beach Party” movie.
At just 23-years-old and the height of his career, Avalon was singing famous hits like “Just Ask Your Heart” and “Venus,” which remained at number one on the Billboard charts for five straight weeks.
“We’re looking forward to have him here, for the second time,” said Sam Monroe, president of Lamar State College-Port Arthur. “Those songs are still played on oldies stations on the radio and satellite radio.”
Avalon had 31 songs that made it into the Billboard Top 100 including “Bobby Sox to Stockings,” and “Why.”
The Philadelphia-native starred in more than 30 movies throughout his career, many of them opposite actress Annette Funicello, in the long series of beach party films, like “Beach Party,” and “Beach Blanket Bingo.”
Older generations may criticize their children and grandchildren for following modern day teen heart-throbs, like Justin Bieber, but the stars of the 1960s “Beach Party” movies were no less dopey.
Before that Avalon played a more serious role of Smitty in John Wayne’s historical Texas film, “The Alamo.”
Avalon made a memorable cameo appearance 1978 film version of Grease, starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, when he sang “Beauty School Dropout” as the character Teen Angel.
“It feels special to have him here,” said Monroe. “He is very well thought of in this area.”
Avalon continues to perform around the world and lives with his wife of 50 years in Los Angeles.
Proceeds from the Gala benefit go to The Museum of the Gulf Coast, as well as several other college funds including the “Discovery” youth program, the Alumni Fund, athletic scholarships, musical and theater productions and the Regional Citizen Bee.
The formal event includes dinner and entertainment, begins with a 6 p.m. reception.
Dinner will be served at 7 p.m., followed by the entertainment.
Four levels of sponsorships are available to help the efforts of the college.