Friday, July 20, 2012

RIP Frank Trapani

Posted By on Fri, Jul 20, 2012 at 3:45 PM

Cities take great pride in their offbeat low-budget commercials. New Orleans is no exception — in fact, it's likely the most fertile ground for eccentric, memorable ads and their iconic stars. WYES even produced a documentary, Stay Tuned, about the city's love for its classic TV spots.

But the undisputed champ, the king of all local ads (whether in New Orleans or anywhere else, for that matter), is Frankie & Johnny's.

The Special Man, the customers, and, of course, the dancing man. That's Frank Trapani, the Frankie in Frankie & Johnny's, and he died Thursday at age 83. Read Dominic Massa's report at WWL-TV here.

Kevin Allman remembers before Hurricane Katrina, his phone — just one digit off from the Frankie & Johnny's number — would receive all-hours calls and voicemails about the commercials. Mostly about how dumb they are, or, in one case, how poor of a dancer he is.

I've watched, recorded and recreated the Frankie & Johnny's commercial endless times, and I'd sometimes walk through my old apartment's long hallways in Trapani's signature dance-walk. Or face off my roommate in a dance-walk duel. It's rare that an entire city can identify a seemingly obscure line from a 30-second commercial and laugh, not at it, but with it, and with great affection. Mr. Frankie: Thank you.

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Speaking of Frankie & Johnny's, Frank Trapani

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