Sunday, December 7, 2008

Johnny Come Lately?

For a brief moment, Johnny Restivo seemed poised for stardom; he certainly had the requisite smoldering good looks, and his initial rock-and-roll single, "The Shape I'm In," was a coy play on his rather obvious charms.

Restivo was actually nominated for a Best New Artist Grammy in 1959; his rather odd company also included non-singer Edd "Kookie" Byrnes; Rat Pack aspirant Bobby Darin; and jazz singers Mark Murphy and Mavis Rivers. Despite this, major stardom eluded him in the States; unlike Pat Boone, Frankie Avalon, or even our beloved Fabian, the male pop pin-ups of the day were publicized as nice, wholesome boys next door. Restivo, on the other hand, looked as if he stepped out of a John Rechy vignette. Not surprisingly, however, Restivo's dark handsomeness made him a Very Big Star in such far-flung lands as Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina, where he hosted his own television program. He also graudated from beefcake status to full-fledged Suave Nightclub Performer, as evidenced by his final, 1964 album, Spotlight on Johnny Restivo.

Retired from show business, Johnny Restivo today runs a mattress concern; which, considering the bedroom fantasies he helped to fuel during his brief heyday, seems altogether right.


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