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Video interview | Connie Francis talks about mental illness, 'Where the Boys Are'

BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com

Singing legend Connie Francis -- the bestselling female recording artist of the 1950s and '60s -- has become chairwoman of Mental Health America's new national campaign.

Connie FrancisFrancis, 71 and a Broward resident, knows first-hand about mental illness: In 1974, a rapist sneaked into the star's Howard Johnson motel room in Westbury, N.Y., and attacked her. She tried to kill herself in 1983 and her father had her committed to a hospital. Through 1991, ``I had 17 involuntary mental commitments in different states,'' she says.

Now healthy, Francis will head up Mental Health America's new STAR (Stress, Treatment, Awareness, Recovery) program. ``I don't want to be remembered for the heights I have reached, but for the depths from which I've come,'' Francis said at the group's luncheon this week at Embassy Suites in Fort Lauderdale.

Francis is busy these days. This weekend, she'll perform with Dionne Warwick at the Las Vegas Hilton. On May 29, she'll return to Fort Lauderdale Beach for a 50th anniversary celebration of her classic film, Where the Boys Are, and release a remixed dance version of the 1960 hit title song.

The new Where the Boys Are single is produced by Francis' godson Rob Fusari -- who recently sued ex-girlfriend Lady Gaga, claiming she ditched him after he helped make her a star.

Photo by STEVE ROTHAUS / MIAMI HERALD STAFF

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