APRIL A-Z CHALLENGE: FRANNIE

Frances Cowles was a dancer, and a member of the Neighborhood Playhouse. Stan met her there, fell in love (as he did with many of his girlfriends) and married her in 1923 in the Little Church Around The Corner in NYC. They worked together on the Vitaphone shorts including Al Jolson, but his business took him away too much, and then he got the London posting. Frannie didn’t like the weather over there and found the people unfriendly, so finally their marriage ended. At her 100th birthday party, she said she had been married to “The King of England.” I wrote The Ballad of Frannie & Stannie to the tune of Frankie & Johnny, and sang it to her that day. She was quite a character and wrote rather good doggerel verse in her later years. Here’s the one I wrote for her:

FRANNIE & STANNIE
(With apologies to Frankie & Johnnie)

Frannie and Stannie were lovers.
Their affair went very fast.
They courted and married and parted
Then, remembering good times past
Each went his own way, but friends they would stay.

Frannie she was a New Yorker;
Mercy me how she could dance.
She was small, she was dark haired and pretty,
Stannie knew that he hadn’t a chance.
So he married Fran, he became her man.

Now Stannie he loved folk music,
But science was also his thing.
He worked days at the Bell Laboratories,
And when he came home he’d sing
The same damn songs, the whole night long.

While Frannie was at a performance,
And Stannie was recording sound,
They neither had much time for romance,
Travelling all around
Each to his or her art, and they grew apart.

Stan went to Europe on business
To introduce Talkies there,
While Frannie she carried on dancing
In the follies, around Times Square,
And in SoHo; they were both on the go.

Well, they finally knew it was over
So fondly they murmured “Goodbye.”
Frannie she started a dancing school
And Stan stayed on in Rye.
They had had a blast, but it just didn’t last.

Frannie and Stannie were lovers.
Their affair went very fast.
They courted and married and parted
But, remembering good times past
Each went his own way, and friends they did stay.

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