In August 1961, "Teenage Millionaire" was released in the United States to cash in on the rock and roll craze that was sweeping the nation. Written and directed by Lawrence Doheny, the film is an unashamed tribute to rock and roll and teenage life. Chubby Checker -- along with many other performers of the time -- show up to sing within the film, portraying themselves.
"Teenage Millionaire" revolves around a teenager named Bobby -- played by Jimmy Clanton -- who dreams of being a rock and roll star, despite the discouragement of his Aunt Theodora, who doesn't approve. Luckily for Bobby, his father just so happens to be a millionaire who owns numerous radio stations. On a whim, Bobby decides to sneak one of his songs onto the air through one of his father's radio stations. Surprisingly, the song becomes an overnight sensation, catapulting Bobby into superstardom.
As the Film Develops
Within the film, Bobby obtains a bodyguard -- played by World Middleweight Boxing Champion Rocky Graziano -- and falls in love with Bambi (Diane Jergens), a girl who works for a local radio station. However, she doesn't know who Bobby is, unaware of his rock and roll success. Bobby decides to keep this a secret from her initially, but eventually reveals the truth about himself. Throughout the film, Bobby and a slew of famous musicians from the era -- including Chubby Checker -- appear as themselves to perform music. The film's plot deals with the themes of overnight success, falling in love and, most importantly, rock and roll.
Checker and Friends
Like many musical comedies of the 1960s -- and even later ones, including "The Blues Brothers" -- the plot of "Teenage Millionaire" acts as more of an excuse to showcase the numerous talented musicians of the era. Chubby Checker appears as himself to further promote "The Twist," which was a major sensation of the time. However, Checker is just one of many performers who appear as themselves within the film. Others include Jackie Wilson, Dion DiMucci, the Bill Black's Combo, Jack Larson, Vicki Spencer and Marv Johnson.
The main actor in "Teenage Millionaire" was Jimmy Clanton, who had already established himself as a musical sensation prior to the film's release. By 1958, Clanton's debut record -- "Just a Dream" -- had topped the R&B; charts. Clanton had recorded a handful of solid gold hits, including "Go Jimmy Go," "Just a Dream" and "Venus in Blue Jeans." Prior to the release of "Teenage Millionaire," Clanton starred in "Go Johnny Go," which also featured Chubby Checker.
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