The 1970s were an especially noteworthy decade, characterized by a distinct ambiance of rhythmic richness and an array of contrasting emotions.
Beyond the pulsating beats that filled the air and the nostalgic, slightly uneasy feelings they evoked, the era was marked by an underlying theme of love and indulgence.
It was the type of period that allowed passion to course through one’s veins, painting memories with a soft, dreamlike aura.
It was like the universe would gently cradle you in an endless expanse where unreachable desires stood guard.
This was how MaryAnn Hannagan experienced the world when Frankie Valli was present. The decade bore significant meaning to Frankie, as it was when his love life began to flourish. However, he found himself partnered with a familiar face only after enduring a bitter taste of lost love.
Throughout his married life, Frankie found himself bound by the sacred vows of matrimony to Mary Mandel. With scant knowledge of what lay ahead in a world fraught with profound uncertainties, Frankie ventured into the institution of marriage in his early twenties. He embarked on his early adult life with an unwavering commitment to Mary Mandel in the 1950s, an era distant from the 1970s.
His relationship eventually weathered a series of trials, culminating in a sudden end on the brink of 1971, bringing a 13-year commitment to a standstill. Frankie found solace in Mary Hannigan three years later, in 1974. This new chapter of his life lasted for eight years. With uninhibited faith and optimism, Frankie maneuvered through the turbulent path of a fresh relationship, only to be overwhelmed by the burden of their disparities. It became painfully clear that he would again tread the path of solitude as his second marriage was soon inundated with divorce proceedings.
In the later years of 1984, Frankie found love once more in the arms of Randy Clohessy. By this point, he had built a reputation as a charismatic individual. His status as the world’s sexiest musician alive wasn’t just for show; with numerous distinct traits, it was near impossible to resist him. However, Frankie had developed an unfortunate habit that tied him directly to a path of self-destruction, making it difficult for him to sustain a relationship. As is often the case with celebrities, relationships can crumble under a certain amount of strain. His marriage ended in the year 2004. Despite an impressive 24-year stint, it was undeniable that Frankie Valli struggled with commitment.
Frankie’ married life had spanned a significant amount of time, during which he experienced life, love, and lessons, and notably became a father to six children. Amidst happiness and hardships, including the bitter-sweet aspects of parenthood, Frankie learned about the complexity and intricacies of relationships. He experienced the resilience required, the joy of togetherness, and the pain of separation. His life stood as a testament to the unyielding human spirit, albeit in a unique way that saw him navigate through numerous ups and downs.
Who is Frankie Valli?
Francesco Stephen Castelluccio, later known as Frankie Valli, was born on May 3, 1934. His parents were Anthony Castelluccio, an Italian barber and display designer, and Mary Rinaldi, a homemaker and beer company employee. As the eldest of three children, he grew up in a family in Newark, New Jersey. Though Frankie was American by birth, his ethnicity was Hispanic.
His passion for music sparked at age 7 when he had a close encounter with Frank Sinatra, whose versatile and unique singing style pioneered traditional pop. His mother had given him the opportunity to experience Sinatra’s performance up close at the Paramount Theater in Manhattan, New York City. This meeting ignited a passion in Frankie, immersing him in the magic of musical performance.
In addition to Sinatra, Frankie also held admiration for “Texas” Jean Valli, from whom he adopted his unique stage name. Indeed, Texas played a significant role in inspiring Frankie’s artistic career. Without this muse and a genuine desire to succeed, Frankie might not have embarked on his music journey and might have remained a barber instead.
Frankie Valli Career
Frankie’s professional career launched in the early 1950s when he joined a band known as the Variety Trio, which included himself, Nickie DeVito, Tommy DeVito, and Nick Macioci. His aspiration to make music had taken root, and after the trio heard his music, they offered him a guest spot, thus making him an associated member. In late 1952, the band dissolved, but Frankie and Tommy DeVito maintained a strong connection that led them to become part of the house band at The Strand in New Brunswick, New Jersey. During this period, Frankie played the bass and took on the role of the lead singer.
In 1953, a year later, Frankie released his first single titled “My Mother’s Eyes,” a cover of George Jessel’s 1929 song from Lucky Boy. He did this under the stage name Frankie Valley. Later, he fully transitioned into the persona we recognize today by changing his name from “Valley” to “Valli,” thereby paying full tribute to the hillbilly singer Texas Jean Valli. It was Texas who introduced Frankie to music publishers Paul and Dave Kapp.
During this period, Frankie left the band at The Strand and formed his own band, The Variatones, with Hank Majewski, Frank Cottone, and Billy Thompson. Among their various accomplishments, the most notable was impressing New York record man Peter Paul, who contacted them a week later to headline an audition at RCA Victor.
Frankie’s band was soon rebranded under the Moniker Four Lovers, and with a newfound momentum, they proceeded to release several singles and an album with the most applauded being “You’re the Apple of My Eye” released in 1956. In 1958, Frankie’s band began losing core components as fellow founding members Hank Majewski and Nickie Devito were replaced by Nick Macioci (now Nick Massi) and Hugh Garrity. despite the loss of their founding members, the structure of the band was maintained by Massi and Charles Calello who occasionally joined the band. Frankie later chose the name “Four Seasons” in 1960 after a brief event in a bowling alley in Union, New Jersey, in which they auditioned at its cocktail lounge.
The Four Seasons truly showcased Frankie’s love for music. With remarkable performances driven by Frankie’s skill, they created a remarkable series of hits over two years, the most popular being “Sherry“. However, the band soon encountered imbalance as Massi left, and his role was handed over to Calello. This rearrangement didn’t last long as Calello also resigned as a performer in The Four Seasons. His vacant position was then filled by Joseph LaBracio, better known as Joe Long.
In the later part of the 1960s, Frankie embarked on a side project with his songwriting partner, Bob Crewe. This powerful collaboration soon reshaped the landscape of pop/rock music. Frankie broke down traditional constructs of pop music, creating a pathway for other artists to follow. His hit track “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine (Anymore)”—later covered by the Walker Brothers, an American group based in England—became a sensation. It rose above the average definition of rock music, attracting fans worldwide. Maintaining the momentum, Frankie followed up with another significant performance, releasing “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.” This song achieved remarkable success, charting at number 2 and earning wide acclaim from other artists.
Frankie didn’t stop there. In 1967, he released another A-side single titled “I Make a Fool of Myself,” which climbed to the No. 18 spot on the Billboard chart due to its impressive global performance. Following this, he released “Timeless,” his second solo album. Unlike his first album, “Timeless” was more unified and comprehensive. Frankie dedicated an enormous amount of time to arranging every song on this album.
As the vibrant 1970s unfolded, Frankie’s career reached new milestones with the release of more hits. Songs like “You’re Ready Now” and “The Night” significantly added to a vibrant revival of progress and nostalgia during that decade. His music gained popularity in the Northern Soul scene and made a significant impact on the UK charts. In fact, his music reached No. 11 on the UK Singles Chart in December 1970.
In 1975, Frankie achieved the No. 1 spot on the Billboard chart with his single “My Eyes Adore You,” which also reached No. 5 on the UK Chart. Another significant accomplishment during that decade was his cover of The Beatles’ song “A Day in the Life” for the music documentary “All This and World War II.”
In 2014, Frankie’s life and his association with The Four Seasons were depicted in a movie adaptation based on the 2005 musical. The musical was unique, with a narrative told from four distinct perspectives by different members of the band, each representing a season. The film adaptation starred John Lloyd Young as Frankie and was directed by Clint Eastwood. The film was a substantial success, sparking a worldwide tour, and was released for public viewing in the same year.
In 2007, Valli released an album called “Romancing the ’60s,” which included his favorite songs. Frankie, an evergreen performer undeterred by age, presented this album, marking his first solo album in more than two decades. Reflecting his timeless spirit, the album holds a significant place in his musical timeline.
Five years later, in 2012, Frankie made his Broadway debut with a week-long concert at the Broadway Theatre, starting on October 19 and ending on the 25th. His bond with The Four Seasons remained strong, continuing to tour with them until 2016. That year, he released a solo Christmas album titled “Tis the Season,” featuring a selection of his favorite songs.
Frankie continued touring through 2018 and 2019 after the release of his twelfth studio album, “Touch Down.” However, he had to cancel his plans due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although he started with a new tour lineup, as the original one from 2003 disbanded to pursue personal projects, he resumed touring in the summer of 2021 and planned to continue until November 2023.
A post on his Instagram gives a new update regarding his current tours. It says that his torus has been rescheduled following a flu diagnosis by his doctor. The Instagram post says;
“We are sad to say it has just been confirmed by Frankie’s doctors that he has the flu and has been ordered to rest. The shows for this weekend will be rescheduled for the end of November, and tickets for the shows will be honored then.”
Frankie’s incredible career is a testament to the enduring power of music. He’s reached millions of hearts and become a household name. His journey to greatness is ongoing; as long as Frankie is alive, his music lives on. In June 2023, the city of Newark, New Jersey, in conjunction with the New Jersey Hall of Fame, unveiled a newly named street – ‘Frankie Valli Way.’
Frankie Valli Relationship/Marriage Life
Aside from his career, Frankie’s personal life, particularly his marital status, has been significant. Despite his dedication to a singular career path, his personal life was less consistent. Leading a grand life, Frankie has been married three times, has fathered six children, and is a grandparent.
Frankie’s first marriage was to Mary Mandel in 1957. Their union, which started when she was 18, and he was 19, began as a whirlwind romance characterized by their youthful fascination with each other. However, over time, they faced significant challenges. Despite their best efforts to overcome these differences, the marriage ended in divorce in 1971. During their marriage, Frankie and Mary had three children, two of whom were biologically his and one from Mary’s previous marriage.
Cecelia Sabin Sellar, Mary Mandel’s daughter from a previous marriage, has been publicly recognized as part of Frankie’s family. Even though Cecelia wasn’t Frankie’s biological daughter, she was treated with the same love and care as his own children. Cecelia, who was only two years old when Frankie married her mother, grew up alongside her half-siblings, Antonia and Francine. However, Cecelia’s life took a tragic turn, leaving an indelible mark on Frankie’s paternal pride and transforming her into a cherished memory.
Cecelia met a tragic end when she fell to her death while attempting to climb through the fire escape after being locked out of her New York apartment. This heartbreaking event marked the start of a series of tragedies for Frankie, as six months later, his second biological daughter, Francine, passed away due to a mix of quaaludes and alcohol. Of his three daughters, only Antonia survived. She married Gerry Polci, the drummer and vocalist for The Four Seasons, and their daughter, Olivia Polci, portrayed her great-grandmother Mary in the 2014 film adaptation of “Jersey Boys.”
Four years after divorcing Mary Mandel, Frankie married Maryann Hannagan. Just like his previous relationship, Frankie courted her for only a year and five months before they got married.
At that time, she was a 21-year-old blonde model. Their marriage, however, only lasted for six years. In an interview with People magazine, Frankie revealed that he saw her more as a friend than a spouse. He stated, “She was a pal when I needed her…but because I’d been hurt before, I resisted the feelings I had for her.”
Frankie went on to marry Randy Clohessy in 1989. This union seemed to be beneficial for both parties. While Frankie wasn’t keen on commitment, he was comfortable indulging in personal desires and explorations. Meanwhile, Randy capitalized on Frankie’s affluence to elevate her public profile.
Despite the absence of a clear bond or purpose, Frankie and Randy’s marriage surprisingly endured for 15 years before they parted ways in 2004. Their wedding held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan, took place when Randy Clohessy was just 24 years old and Frankie Valli was 50. Like many celebrity weddings, theirs was lavish and accommodated a total of 100 guests.
Randy and her ex-husband Frankie Valli welcomed three children together. Their first child, Francesco Valli, was born in the 1990s. He has since grown into a successful actor, appearing in numerous films such as “Reach Me” and “Full House”. Roughly seven years after Francesco’s birth, the couple welcomed twin children, Emilio and Brando.
The primary cause of Frankie and Randy’s divorce was attributed to a lack of commitment. Initially, their relationship was sustained by a passionate connection, but as time went on, the absence of a deeper bond and the challenges that arose proved too great for their union to thrive. Frankie and Randy had three children during their marriage: Francesco, the eldest, who was born in the 90s, and the twins Emilio and Brando. Francesco has since built a successful acting career, starring in movies such as “Reach Me” and “Full House.”
Frankie also maintained a relationship outside marital bounds with April Kirkwood, an American radio personality. Their connection was primarily fueled by mutual attraction and physical desires. While she was one of many women Frankie was involved with during his marriages, April primarily catered to his physical needs. Their relationship didn’t revolve around the idea of long-term commitment; it was more about satisfying immediate desires.