The Great Photo Album Adventure (Part 8): Lou Marks

It was the last weekend of November,  2014,  and we were celebrating our new holiday display:  26 lighted photos of South Philadelphia celebrities  –  drawn from our star-packed 1960s photo album  –  looked down from our windows onto E. Passyunk Avenue and Tasker Street.

15_11_16 1 Celebrity Windows(And, yes, everyone from Bobby Rydell and Fabian, to Al Martino and
Joey Giardello,  will be back in our windows in January, 2016.)

Feeling festive,  we headed out to Stogie Joe’s Tavern for a square pie with sausage and broccoli rabe.

It was the perfect choice:  Stogie Joe’s Passyunk Avenue building once housed the gym where boxer Joey Giardello trained,  and Joey was among our window celebrities.

But,  like everything related to Art Tavani’s magical South Philadelphia photo album,  the coincidences didn’t end there….

“NICE  LOOKING  MUSSELS!”

Soon we were comparing appetizers with the people at the next table.

“Be sure to check out our holiday windows on your way home,”  we told them.  “We’ve got everyone from Bobby Rydell to Fisher and Marks up there!”

15_11_16 2 Fisher & Marks(Singer and dancer Al Fisher,  left,  was the semi-straight man to comedian and jitterbug champ Lou Marks)

“Fisher and Marks?”  one of the men asked.  “I’m friends with Lou’s son!” 

15_11_16 3 Fisher & Marks Album(Lou Marks,  right,  delivers a hot foot to partner Al Fisher on the cover of
their 1964 comedy album.  The back featured testimonials by Jimmy Durante,
Joey Bishop,  Sammy Davis, Jr.  & more.)

Understated as always,  I nearly face-planted in their linguine.

“Lou Mark’s son – whoa!   Can you connect us…?”

SHINING  WITH  THE  STARS

Soon we were trading photos with Lou Franco, Jr.  (Marks’ real last name),  and lapping up stories about backstage visits to Palumbo’s,  Sciolla’s Supper Club  and the Latin Casino to rub elbows with Joey Bishop,  Jimmy Durante,  Al Martino,  Frank Sinatra,  Dean Martin,  Mayor Frank Rizzo,  and more.

(Thank you,  Jim Drnec,  for the introduction…!)

15_11_16 4 Franco & Durante(A young Lou Franco, Jr.  backstage with Philadelphia favorite Jimmy Durante.)

“I remember going to his shows in the early ’60s,  when I was 7 or 8 years old,”  Lou, Jr. said.  “He and Al Fisher were both great tap dancers,  and started out separately as dancers and singers.  When they got together,  they did Italian humor that people really got.

“I still remember people losing their minds laughing,  just from my dad’s funny faces. When we walked down 9th Street,  you couldn’t go five feet without someone calling out his name.”

15_11_16 5 Lou Marks(Admirers pose with Lou Marks,  center,  at the Order of Brotherly Love
Italian social club.  That’s a photo of South Phila. comedian Phil Jaye at back.)

THE  SHOW  MUST  GO  ON…

A South Philadelphia High School graduate,  Marks first gained fame as a jitterbug champ.  He and Al Fisher performed together for almost 40 years until Fisher’s 1986 death,  regularly playing venues like the Las Vegas Sands Hotel.

Marks was  “the quintessential entertainer,”  his son recalled.  “He always performed in a tuxedo and patent leather shoes.  Even off-stage,  he was always a sharp dresser,  with a hat,  tie,  cufflinks,  rings and a watch.

“I remember when I was 10 or 11,  and he was really sick.  He was coughing and had a fever,  but he still went onstage to entertain.”

After Al Fisher’s death,  Marks variously teamed with singers Dave Michaels and Bobby Burnett,  still playing venues like Atlantic City’s Showboat casino into his 80s. He died in 2007 at age 83.

15_11_16 6 Franco_Bishop 1968(“To my nephew Louie,”  wrote comedian Joey Bishop.  “With all of my best
wishes from your Uncle Joey.”)

“We never waited in a restaurant or show line with Dad,”  Lou said.  “It was quite embarrassing to us kids,  but we would always be marched right in past all these people waiting to eat or see a show.  Wish I had that privilege now!”

FAMILY TRADITION

Lou Marks was married to Delores Maye,  an actress and dancer who taught ballet and tap dance.

And yes,  Lou, Jr. is also a longtime performer,  playing award-winning guitar locally and nationally with groups like Pretty Poison, Aviator,  Don’t Call Me Francis,  and Robert Hazard.

15_11_16 7 Lou Franco(Guitarist and vocalist Lou Franco, Jr.
Photo by Diane Richter Photography)

Check out the schedule for his Lehigh Valley classic rock band,  the Lou Franco Project, here.  Tuxedos and patent leather shoes optional.

2 thoughts on “The Great Photo Album Adventure (Part 8): Lou Marks

  1. I have enjoyed your photo display and your blog!

    I grew up in South Philly on. Passyunk Avenue and have always loved the many talented performers that grew up in the neighborhood.

    If you go to the main hallway of South Philadelphia high school they have a ” wall of fame ” showcasing all of the performers that went to Southern.

    Thank you again! Fran

    Like

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