Fabian is one of the teen idol singers of the late 50's/early 60's. By the time his popularity on the charts began to fade in the early 1960's he had managed to place eight records in the top forty, and three of those in the top ten. He also has had a notable career as an actor in television and movies.
He was born in Philadelphia in 1943 as Fabiano Anthony Forte. Like many of the other teenage singers who came from Philadelphia, Forte attended South Philly High School. A friend there, Frankie Avalon, recommended him to Bob Marcucci and Peter DeAngelis, co-owners of Chancellor Records. They found him sitting on the front porch of his home, lamenting the recent departure of his policeman father via ambulance. Intrigued by his good looks and unconventional name, Marcucci and DeAngelis signed him to a record contract in 1957, before Fabian had reached his fifteenth birthday. The two label owners regarded him as a cross between two enormously popular singers of the day, Elvis Presley and Rick Nelson, and thought the kid would be able to sell some records. They were right. Although he had not aspired to a career in entertainment, Fabian was given an image that did not accurately reflect the person that he was, and he was successfully promoted as a teen idol.
Fabian initially recorded at Chancellor with another act on the label known as the Four Dates, producing only a few singles that went nowhere. Fabian appeared at a Dick Clark record hop pantomiming the words to I'm A Man, and received a rousing reaction, primarily from the young girls in the crowd. His recording of the song became his first top forty single, early in 1959. Presley had recently left for a stint in the service, leaving the door wide open for an act with the appeal of someone such as Fabian.
Fabian appeared on Clark's American Bandstand television program, toured with Clark's Caravan of Stars, and came up with a top ten hit in Turn Me Loose. Like a number of Fabian's hits, these first two were written by the legendary Brill Building songwriting team of Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman. Next came what proved to be his biggest hit at number three in the top forty, Tiger. Fabian recorded most of his songs under the guidance of producer DeAngelis, and it was not long before he grabbed the attention of Hollywood movie producers. He had a featured role in the movie Hound Dog Man from which came two more hits Hound Dog Man and This Friendly World toward the end of 1959. It had been a good year for the now 16-year-old kid from Philadelphia.
He appeared in the film North To Alaska with John Wayne. Fabian showed that he had screen appeal. He continued recording for Chancellor with two more top forty records in early 1960, About This Thing Called Love and String Along. A guest appearance as a killer on the 1961 television program Bus Stop tended to slow his career down somewhat and in hindsight, may have been a bad move for him. Other film appearances came the following year in Mr. Hobbs Takes A Vacation and The Longest Day. In all he appeared in more than thirty motion pictures.
The US House of Representatives began to investigate the promotion of "talentless" stars in its look at payola, with the promotion of the young singer as one of their targets, but there was no denying that Fabian had quite an appeal. His records were no longer selling as well as the music scene began to change in the 60's, but he continued with his acting career. Fabian appeared on a number of television programs over the years, among them Wagon Train, The F.B.I., and The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries . By the 70's he had become known as Fabian Forte, and appeared in a beefcake spread in a women's magazine, something that he later regretted. He worked to support California governor Jerry Brown with community projects on the West Coast. The 1980 film Idolmaker was based on the life of Bob Marcucci and featured thinly-disguised portraits of both Fabian and Frankie Avalon. Not pleased by the way he was portrayed in the film, Fabian filed suit and received an out-of-court settlement in 1986.
In 1998 Fabian married Andrea Patrick, a former Miss Pennsylvania USA and Miss West Virginia USA. They live on a 20-acre spread in southwestern Pennsylvania. He continues to perform, sometimes in Branson, Missouri and often with other pop music artists of his era such as Bobby Vee, Brian Hyland, and Chris Montez. And he tours at times with his old pals from Philadelphia, Frankie Avalon and Bobby Rydell. For his contributions to the entertainment industry, in 2002 he was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Fabian is most closely associated with his three top ten hits Turn Me Loose, Tiger and Hound Dog Man, all recorded before he reached the age of seventeen.
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