Annette-sings-anka The albums kept coming, one after another: Annette, Annette Sings Anka, Hawaiiannette, Italiannette, and Dance ANNETTE (her personal favorite) were all recorded and released in less than two years. All the while she continued to appear on television and make personal appearances. She also began her film career at this time, with The Shaggy Dog and Babes in Toyland. She was everywhere, it seemed, including the covers of teen magazines, doing countless “date layouts” with the male teen idols of the moment. There she was with Fabian…with Frankie Avalon…and Bobby Rydell. She was friends with them all, even went out with Frankie on a couple of legitimate not-for-the-camera dates. But her real crush, the only one the magazines were right about, was on Paul Anka.
“I was crazy about him,” she says simply. And the feeling, it turned out, was mutual. There were backseat kisses on the 1959 Caravan of Stars tour bus, and in 1960 she recorded an entire album of his songs (Annette Sings Anka) that included a jazz swing number called “It’s Really Love” that he’d written just for her. A few years later, stripped of the lyrics, it would be repackaged as Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show theme.
annette sings ankaAnnette says she doesn’t know what might have happened if their careers hadn’t constantly kept them apart or if, as Anka remembers it, certain people hadn’t suggested that a serious relationship might not be the best thing for a teen idol’s image. “They told us we were too young to be that serious,” Anka says, “which was tough to hear at the time.” The result was the last song Anka wrote about Annette: “Puppy Love.”
“The public was ready for her,” Anka says now, trying to explain why Annette was such a phenomenon in those innocent years. “In some way sit was about style and imaging and packaging, and she did have the power of television behind her. But it wasn’t as if she was trying to put something over on the public. She could sing, no matter what she might say. And she never pretended to be anything other than what she was. People could see she had integrity, and they responded to that.”