Legends Frankie Avalon, James Darren to bring witty banter to Oscar's Palm Springs Friday
Oscar's Palm Springs welcomes entertainment icons Frankie Avalon and James Darren Friday for "An Intimate Evening" of conversation and revelations. These men, whose popularity in the 1950s and '60s rivaled that of Justin Bieber today, were among the first teen idols of their time.
Fans attending the Q&A will get to ask both artists questions to get an inside look at their careers and bodies of work. Avalon and Darren are likely to discuss such topics as: Sandra Dee, Annette Funicello, "Star Trek," growing up in Philadelphia, "Grease," being married more than 60 years each, directing TV shows, living in the desert, their hit records, the Academy Awards, William Shatner, Heather Locklear and more. The evening will include career film clips as well as funny and revealing stories about their movies, records and TV shows.
In a career spanning six decades, James Darren has enjoyed success on both the big and small screens and as a recording artist and live performer. As an actor, he is known for his roles in "Gidget" and its two sequels as well as "The Gene Krupa Story," "The Guns of Navarone," "T.J. Hooker," "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" and more.
Avalon, whose hit song "Venus" spent five weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1959, enjoyed success on the big screen as the Big Kahuna in a series of popular beach party movies alongside Funicello. But perhaps his best-known performance on screen is as Teen Angel in "Grease," which he says he's still asked about nearly 45 years after its release.
"About 20,000 times a day, in fact," Avalon tells The Desert Sun. "No matter where I go. And then somebody will have to remind a young person, 'You know, this is the guy who did 'Beauty School Dropout' in 'Grease.' Of all the films I've done, this picture just never stops. And there are new generations that happen constantly. 'Grease' is forever."
"Well, enjoy it while you can," Darren retorts in a manner that shows the level of comfort between the two, who have been friends a long time.
In fact, they've known each other practically all their lives. Before they became James Darren and Frankie Avalon, Jimmy Ercolani and Frank Avallone grew up in the same South Philadelphia neighborhood.
"Jimmy got the opportunity to go to Hollywood before me," Avalon says. "And he became a movie star in a picture called 'Rumble on the Docks.' I remember reading about him in the local newspapers, and I said, 'I'm going to try it, too.' Jimmy was kind of my mentor."
Oscar's owner Dan Gore was intrigued by the idea of showcasing two icons that are also besties.
"When we approached Frankie, he mentioned he wanted to do it with Jimmy," he says. "I was like, 'wow, two major heartthrobs from yesteryear that are also best friends. That sounds way too cool.' It’s gonna be a great night of stories and memories of their amazing careers.
"I remember James Darren from 'T.J. Hooker' and thinking: 'Wow, I may have to become a police officer if that’s what my co-workers will look like.' And Frankie Avalon — hello, he is a major teen idol from the past who has worked with legendary actors. It’s just exciting to look back at Hollywood and how it all started, the history of these stars set a great platform for where Hollywood is today."
Darren and Avalon say they are looking forward to Friday night as Oscar's.
"I know we're going to have a blast," Darren says. "I just know it. I know Frankie so well. I know what triggers him, and he knows what triggers me. We'll have a good time."
"And I'll tell you what," Avalon adds. "The audience is really going to experience a combination of two guys that have been in this business for over 60 years, reminiscing about our personal friendship and, of course, our professional one."
"Yeah," Darren says. "And the fact that we're lunatics helps, too."
"Right," Avalon answers, not missing a beat.
"An Intimate Evening with Frankie Avalon & James Darren" will take place at Oscar's Palm Springs, 125 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way #108, on Friday, March 18. Doors open for dinner and drinks at 5 p.m.; show begins at 7 p.m. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit oscarspalmsprings.com.
As the philanthropy and special sections editor at The Desert Sun, Winston Gieseke writes about nonprofits, fundraising and locals who give back. Reach him at email@example.com.