12 Surprising Facts About Classic Teen Idols Most Fans Never Knew

February 11, 2017

Like many other young girls growing up, my walls were covered in photos of my favorite actors and musicians. Unlike the rest of the girls my age, though, I preferred to look back to the classic teen idols of the 1950s and 1960s rather than more modern options.

Sure, I had a thing for Hanson and even picked my favorite member of the Backstreet Boys with my friends, but it just took one look at Elvis Presley swinging his hips around back in the day to have me wishing I could travel to the time of early pop stars and rock legends.

Although, along with all the hunky Hollywood actors around during that era, I’m not sure I would have ever been able to get anything done if I was surrounded by their smiling faces on my TV screen and in teen magazines.

Take a look below to learn some surprising tidbits about these classic teen idols from the past and let us know if we missed your favorite handsome face.

And don’t forget to SHARE with your friends!

Thumbnail source: Wikimedia Commons / 111 Emergency

1. Frankie Avalon Had A Flair For Trumpet

Classic teen idols: Frankie Avalon

Known as the first ever “manufactured” teen idol, Frankie became a huge hit with young audiences while starring alongside Annette Funicello in their iconic beach flicks.

However, before putting on his swimming trunks, he was considered a child prodigy when it came to playing trumpet and was featured as a studio musician on RCA singles.

2. Elvis Presley Ironically Struggled With Music

Classic teen idols: Elvis Presley

Before becoming the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis actually failed his high school music class! Considered a quiet outsider in his youth, he was still able to become the first person in his immediate family to earn a high school diploma.

3. Buddy Holly Only Ever Topped The Charts Once

Classic teen idols: Buddy Holly

Born Charles Hardin Holley, his mom gave him the nickname “Buddy” because she felt the big name was a bit much for her little boy.

Despite becoming one of the biggest names in rock and roll, even after his tragic death, Buddy only ever had one song that actually made it onto the hit charts — “That’ll Be The Day,” in 1957.

4. Ricky Nelson Had An Odd Aversion To School

Classic teen idols: Ricky Nelson

While growing up in front of TV audiences on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, he attended Hollywood High School, where he was active in football and tennis.

Later, Ricky admitted that he hated school, something not uncommon with kids, but his reasoning was a bit strange: he hated the smell of pencils. That, and having to wake up early.

5. Paul Anka Made A Heartwarming Donation

Classic teen idols: Paul Anka

At just 16 years old, the crooner joined “Biggest Show of Stars” alongside Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Chuck Berry. Paul even penned Buddy’s last, posthumous hit, “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore,” just before the bespectacled singer’s tragic death.

Paul gave all the royalties he received from the song to Buddy’s widow, María Holly.

6. Fabian Had A Bittersweet Rise To Fame

Classic teen idols: Fabian

The dreamy actor and singer was discovered at the age of 14 by Bob Marcucci and Peter DeAngelis, owners of Chancellor Records. Unfortunately, their timing was a bit off as they approached the teen as he was waiting outside his home and watching his father being taken into an ambulance after a heart attack.

Fabian was obviously offended by their poor tact, but luckily, his dad was able to recover. However, he was never well enough to work again, inspiring Fabian to take up Bob and Peter’s offer to become a star to support his family.


7. Troy Donahue’s Mailbox Must Have Been Full

Classic teen idols: Troy Donahue

Born Merle Johnson, Jr., he was given his new moniker by his agent, who also represented Rock Hudson, as an homage to Helen of Troy and her beau Paris.

According to reports from the era, the blond hunk received received 5,000–7,500 fan letters each week in 1962.

8. James Dean Had A Magical Hobby

Classic teen idols: James Dean

The Rebel Without a Cause star became an icon following his death at such a young age after only a few film roles had captured his undeniable talent — but did you also know he was a fan of doing magic tricks?

One of James’ favorite tricks was to light a cigarette by placing it and the lit match in his mouth at the same time, then flicking out the burning cigarette.

9. Bobby Sherman Stopped By ‘The Monkees’

Classic teen idols: Bobby Sherman

Before his career-making turn in Here Comes the Brides, one of Bobby’s earliest roles had him lampooning another teen idol while appearing with yet another one on screen, when he guest starred on an episode of The Monkees.

His surf star character was a humorous take on Frankie Avalon’s beach movies, and he shared several scenes with fellow idol Davy Jones.

10. Davy Jones Had A Brush With The Fab Four

Classic teen idols: Davy Jones

Davy appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show years before joining the popular band and television series, The Monkees.

He was touring with the London cast of Oliver! where he was playing the Artful Dodger when he bumped into another famous foursome: The Beatles, who were there for their debut performance on the show.

11. Bobby Vee Befriended Bob Dylan

Classic teen idols: Bobby Vee

Though they’re on complete opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to their genres, Bobby helped give folk rocker Bob Dylan his start in the music business when Bob (using the fake name Elston Gunnn — yes, that’s 3 N’s) offered his services as a piano player for The Shadows.

Their partnership ended when Bobby realized Bob could only play in the key of C, but the two remained good friends throughout their careers.

12. Neil Sedaka Was A Young Piano Prodigy

Classic teen idols: Neil Sedaka

At just 8 years old, Neil was already considered a prodigy on the piano and became one of the most relied-on writers for pop stars in the early 1950s while still a teen.

He finally struck gold with his first hit song to break into the Top 10 charts, “Oh! Carol,” which was inspired by Carole King, whom he briefly dated in high school.

Did we miss any of your favorite teen idols from back in the day? Let us know below and be sure to SHARE with your friends!