On Monday, legendary 1950s and ’60s singer Connie Francis gets a gala tribute from the Friars Club at the Waldorf, where big lights will turn out to honor the Newark-born belter of hits like “Mama,” “Who’s Sorry Now?” and “Lipstick on Your Collar” and shower her with deserving accolades.
I just chatted with Connie, and it was absolutely mind-expanding.
Me: Hi, Connie. I love you!!! What does your Friars tribute mean to you?
Connie: It’s very special. First of all, it’s an acknowledgment to people in the business. And one of the main thrusts of the program is to help wounded war veterans. To make a short story long, in the ’80s I was involuntarily committed to mental institutions 17 times in nine years in five different states. I was misdiagnosed as bipolar, ADD, ADHD, and a few other letters the scientific community had never heard of.
A few years later, I was discovered to have had post-traumatic stress disorder following a horrendous string of events in my life. Last year, my life made a complete turnaround as national spokesperson for Mental Health America’s trauma campaign.
One of the first things I was going to address was the startling statistic of how 65 percent of our men are returning from the war with PTS — post-traumatic stress — or mental brain injury. It’s a very unaddressed issue right now. I want to do a telethon for them. Republicans have cut down — sorry, I’m a die-hard liberal — but all the good things they cut out for the American people, and that’s one of them. These returning military people can’t get jobs and the government is doing very little for them. It’s worse than Vietnam. I entertained in Vietnam.
Me: Did you take medication to deal with your own problem?
Connie: At first they gave me lithium, but it made me a zombie because I didn’t have bipolar. A doctor later took me off everything.
I will run Part Two of this amazing chat on Monday.