launching this website, we have had the pleasure of hearing from so many
wonderful people whose lives were touched by Frankie, either directly as
relatives or as dedicated fans. Many of you have shared your stories and
memories of Frankie, which in turn we will share with you via this page.
If you have any fond memories of Frankie, please let
us know! We love
to hear from you!
Sleepy time on the set - Frankie and the Bowery Boys take a cat-nap between takes.
Frankie is to the front on the left, behind him is Gabriel Dell. Billy Benedict is behind Gabe.
Betty Marie, Frankie's wife, has her head on Gabe's shoulder. David Gorcery is
stretched out at the front right. And Huntz Hall is playing babysitter to none other
than Darlene, Frankie's daughter! Photo provided by Darlene Darro.
We received many wonderful stories from Frank, the man who married Frankie's step-daughter, Christopher (who died in 1991). Sadly Frank passed away last year (2007), but here are just some of the stories he shared with us about Frankie:
Joking was a way of life for Frankie. He was a pleasure to be around. I NEVER saw him angry, mean or vicious. Dorathy said that once they were at a party of some kind and another person came up and said Hello to Frankie. Frankie just coldly turned away and would not speak. Dorathy asked him why since she had never seen him cold to anyone. He said, oh that so and so was one of the lawyers who worked my parents back and forth between them until all the money was gone. THEN, the divorce was completed. He said that when it was over, he and his Daddy had zero money, just his contract with Monogram.
He never spoke much about himself in the movies, he would talk about the other actors involved. He would tell us about Mantan. Dorothy and Frankie visited with Mantan and family in , I believe, the 60's. He spoke of the actors on the set of Operation Petticoat . . . Cary, Tony, Okie . . . how they played cards on the set. When Tony Curtis told them about how smooth and quiet a new Rolls Royce ran where you could hear the clock tick at 60 MPH on the freeway.
He was so GENERIOUS even
when he had virtually nothing. I remember being at their apartment on
Poinsettia Place in Hollywood and him jumping up and running out the door.
We yelled, where are you going? He said "Ice Cream truck!"
I asked Dorathy ... does he love ice cream? She said oh, that's not it, go
look. And there was Frankie next to the Ice Cream truck out in the street
buying ice cream for every kid that came along. He did until his pocket
Frankie was in The Notorious Landlady ... a bit part. He was in the chair when the little old lady was pushed over the cliff. I was working at the Wiltern Theater when the movie came out and Frankie and Dorathy came to see it. On the way out Frankie was laughing and laughing about how when they were leaving their seats some lady and her friend were discussing the movie and one said, "Was that a dummy in the chair?" The other said, "No, I think it was the old lady." Frankie remarked to them, 'it was a dummy all right, a REAL dummy!''
He used to also talk about how Red Skelton, when he would jump on top of the "little old lady" and hold her down, would say things to him just the two of them could hear. Things we cannot print. ... something like ... "now try to get up you little so and so," but much more graphic. Frankie said they both would be on the verge of cracking up and had to try and hide their faces from the audience.
Frankie was one of those guys where you would never say at a restaurant, "Oh this is such a pretty glass" because . . . when you left he more than likely would hand it to you in the car. NOT a kleptomaniac, but more for the fun of it and not really thinking it was a big theft or anything like that. One time, just for the heck of it, I told him that the tablecloth at this Italian restaurant was neat. It was obviously too big for him to sneak out and Dorathy said thank goodness you didn't say you liked the cloth napkins, or he would find a way to get them for you. We all laughed and Frankie said something like, "do you like this TABLE?"
Frankie fan Stuart A. Babins shared this story with us:
I lived in Los Angeles from 1947-1951 and while I was there I lived in Inglewood for a time.
I don't remember the exact time period, but it had to be sometime just prior to 1950 that I used to visit a small amusement park in Inglewood that had a pony ring. I remember going there and the guy that ran the pony ring looked very familiar. I then recognized him as being Frankie. Like it said in the bio, times had to be tough after life as a child actor and then returning home from the Navy after WW2 and not finding a lot of work in films.
It's been a long time since all that happened, and of course the memories have faded, but I did meet several movie stars during my time in Los Angeles (I used to leave school and get on a bus and go to Hollywood and hang out in front of the Brown Derby) but meeting Frankie at that amusement park still sticks in my mind.
We were thrilled to
hear from relatives of Frankie's cousin, Frances, recently! Here is some
information Frances' granddaughter shared with us about Frankie and his parents!
"(Frances) told me stories of when Frank and Ada would come to town, and would bring their big trunks full of beautiful costumes made of sequins and satin. I interviewed my grandmother and this is what she said, "Frank was crazy about the circus when he was 16 or 17 years old. Then vaudeville came in. They had a good act (Frank, Frankie and Ada.) Frankie would do flips and what not. Frank and Ada would do hand balancing and acrobatics. Ada was strong. She could pick up Frank with one hand."
Left: What may be the only known photo of Frankie's mother, Ada.
Right: Frank Sr. and Frankie posing for a publicity shot.
There were two photos which we'd found but didn't know where they were taken. We sent them to Frances' granddaughter in hopes of some kind of identification. What we learned was really interesting:
"Well, I smiled when I saw the first photo! That is Frankieís Uncle Harry, his Dadís sister, Olgaís husband (as the Indian). He just dressed up that way, maybe for the tourists? They owned the ice cream parlor in Weott, California. Weott is no longer there, however. It washed away with the flood of the Eel River [an event which happened in 1964]. What a fun picture of Frankie and the ice cream! My grandmother would spend the summer in Weott and had many fond memories."
Left: Frankie with his cousin (on his father's side), Frances.
Right: A signed photograph Frankie gave to Frances.
These two pictures were from the photo album of Frankie's cousin, Frances, and we believe
the pictures were taken while Frances was visiting Los Angeles. Frances passed away
some time ago after battling cancer but her granddaughter, Kristina, was kind enough
to share these photos with us!
A rare family photo. Frankie is seen here with father
Frank Sr. to his left. Cousin Frances is standing behind Frankie.
The small woman may be Frankie's mother Ada, but can't
be verified. The other woman is Mabel, Frank Sr.'s sister
and Frances' mother.