Jul 31, 2009
As much as teen idols are adored and, well, idolized, not very many of them are able to sustain that kind of worship. Exceptions include Frank Sinatra and the Beatles, but the number of teen idols who faded into obscurity far outnumber the ones who have been wildly successful even after they outgrew the adolescent set. I’m looking at you, Jonas Brothers. Ahem. Here are six past teen idols and what they’re up to now.
First on our Teen Idols list has to be Bobby Sherman, mostly to not disappoint my mother. After graduating high school, Bobby was hired to be the house singer on Shindig!, a Hullaballoo-esque variety show. This T.V. exposure led to a role on Here Come the Brides. By 1969 he had his first gold record and by 1971 he had his very own T.V. show – Getting Together. Never mind that it only lasted one season. He continued various singing and and acting projects until 1988, when he turned his sights to the LAPD, where he became a specialist officer who trained recruits in first aid and CPR. In 1999, he started doing the same thing for the San Bernardino County, and now he’s a deputy sheriff there. He did the Teen Idol circuit with Davy Jones and Peter Noone for a while, but seems to be pretty involved with his police and CPR training work now. And if you think he has lost his squeaky-clean teen idol image, think again: he’s the proud creator of a 1:5 scale model of Disneyland’s main street, which resides in his backyard. Here he is singing his first big hit “Little Woman.” Check out that tie. Wow.
Photo from PajamasMedia.
Frankie Avalon owes his Teen Idol success to the trumpet. He was so skilled at the horn that he won a T.V. talent contest and started performing at private parties. At one such party, he happened to catch the eye of a talent scout who immediately got Frankie booked on Jackie Gleason’s variety show. Things snowballed after that, and after an appearance on Bandstand his idol status was cemented. He started doing movies – you probably know his Beach Blanket Bingo series with Annette Funicello – but he was also in a 1960 John Wayne flick called The Alamo. In fact, that’s where he met his wife. While filming the movie, he met Michael and Gretchen Wayne – John’s son and daughter-in-law. He ended up marrying Kathryn Diebel, Gretchen’s sister, which makes him a brother-in-law to John Wayne’s son. Nowadays, Frankie is still doing the Teen Idol circuit, performing with the likes of Bobby Rydell and Fabian at casinos and state fairs. He was also just on American Idol and pops up in movies from time to time (he played himself in Casino).
I think Christina Aguilera studied at the David Cassidy School of Teen Idol Denial. After starring on the wildly successful The Partridge Family from 1970-1974, David decided that he didn’t want to be known for the sugary pop music hits like “I Think I Love You.” He wanted to prove that he was a hard-core rocker, and to do so he gave a startling interview to Rolling Stone where he gave sordid details about his sex life and talked about how his illicit drug use. Despite his 19 albums – including 1998’s “David Cassidy’s Partridge Family Favorites” in which he apparently decided it was OK to go back to the old cash cow he had previously denounced – he is still largely known for his role as Keith Partridge. Since the early ’80s, David has been performing in various pre-Broadway, Broadway and Vegas shows. If you’ve been missing him, fear not: he will be starring with brothers Shaun (another Teen Idol) and Patrick in a sitcom for ABC Family called Ruby and the Rockits.
After the success of Philly and Jersey boys Frankie Avalon and Frank Sinatra, record execs started trolling the area for more kids to exploit, errr, make famous. The story goes that Fabian was sitting on the steps of his house crying because his dad had just been taken off in an ambulance when a record exec just driving by saw him sitting there and thought that his boyish good looks could be paydirt. He offered Fabian a chance on the spot and Fabian accepted because he knew his family would need the money with his dad being down and out. He was only 14 and didn’t have any singing experience to speak of, but execs back then were just as savvy as Disney is today about creating a complete mania over some kids with nominal talent. Fabian had a slew of hits until the payola scandal of the ’60s when he admitted that his records were doctored quite a bit to make his voice presentable. He tried to keep his fame with small parts in movies during the ’60s, and in 1973 he even posed for Playgirl (he was even Man of the Month). This was all to no avail, and he basically faded out of the scene for quite some time. He’s making the rounds again now and is also quite involved with the American Diabetes Association and holds a celebrity golf tournament for them every year. He also hosts “The Original Stars of Bandstand” in Branson, Missouri. Photo from FabianForte.net.
Peter Noone, AKA “Herman” from Herman’s Hermits actually grew up entertaining the masses: his first big break was on the British soap Coronation Street. He was only 15 when he became known as Herman and he’s been touring as his alter ego ever since. He left the group to pursue a solo career in 1971 but has never reached the same success he had with the band. Peter did guest appearances on a bunch of shows in the ’80s and early ’90s – Married With Children, Quantum Leap and My Two Dads among them. He also formed The Tremblers, a New Wave band that seems best forgotten. He still tours with “Herman’s Hermits Starring Peter Noone” (he’s the only original member in that particular group) and looks to have a pretty dedicated fan base called the Noonatics. And I can’t say I blame them – he’s still a handsome dude and appears to have a pretty good sense of humor about himself, at least according to his blog posts on his website (questionable Photoshop skills notwithstanding). ‘Course, I’m probably biased… I grew up on Herman’s Hermits thanks to my dad and still enjoy a little “There’s a Kind of Hush” on my iPod from time to time. Photo from PeterNoone.com.
Call me crazy, but I feel like if a teen girl wanted Davy Jones to play her prom these days (ala The Brady Bunch), she could probably make it happen pretty easily. Ah, anyway, given his diminutive stature, I thought for sure this was a joke, but Davy says it himself – his original goal in life was to be a jockey. His dad sent him to train with Basil Foster, but after spending a little time with Davy, Foster decided he was better suited for show business. He hooked Davy up with an actor friend, and, like Peter Noone, Davy soon found himself acting on Coronation Street. He was so great in the role that he started acting in plays and even received a Tony Award nomination for his portrayal of the Artful Dodger in Oliver! when he was just 16. He was signed to star in a sitcom about a boy band, which, of course, turned into a real band. Since the Monkees’ decline, he has returned to his Broadway roots and also – go figure – raises and trains racehorses. And he still tours, doing a gig or two a month (good people of Hershey, Pa., he’s headed your way!). Photo from DavyJones.net.
I know I didn’t get all of the big Teen Idols, so I’m curious to know who your big crushes were back in the day. I grew up in the era of N’SYNC and the Backstreet Boys but never got into them; my boy-band crushes tended more toward Paul McCartney and Jim Morrison. Share yours in the comments… the more embarrassing, the better!