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Conny Froboess

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Actress/singer Conny Froboess was the first child singing star in Germany's history and subsequently became a teen idol during the late '50s and early '60s. Born Cornelia Froboess in 1943, she grew up in postwar Germany and was a natural singer as well as an actress. Working under the professional name Conny Froboess — although she also later recorded as Cornelia Froboess — she had her first hit in 1951 at age eight, in the form of a pop number titled "Pack die Badehose Ein" (aka "Pack Your Swimsuit"), which had been written by her father and was so popular that it became a lingering pop culture catch phrase. She continued singing throughout the decade and remained a popular figure, using both of her names on different occasions. As rock & roll's influence began to be felt in Germany, Froboess — who was still a teenager and, thus, a natural fit for the new music — began doing occasional rhythm numbers that incorporated a livelier, quasi-rock & roll beat into her music, roughly akin to what Connie Francis was doing in America and Petula Clark was doing in England and France at around the same time. Meanwhile, on screen, she further cultivated this shift in image in a series of music-oriented movies in which she was teamed romantically with actor Peter Kraus, using their real first names — the "Conny und Peter" series ran into the early '60s and made use of both her acting and singing talents. Conny Froboess was for many years the embodiment of the ideal Berlin girl, sort of the German equivalent of what Sandra Dee embodied in America in the role of Gidget, representing a quintessential Southern California teenager. Froboess reached the peak of her music career in 1962, when she placed sixth in the Eurovision Aong Contest with the number "Zwei Kleine Italiener" (aka "Two Little Italians"), which became her only chart-topping single in Germany. Her film career, however, has lasted well into the 21st century — as early as the mid-'60s, she'd branched out from teen musicals to doing filmed operetta, including a movie version of Carl Zeller's Der Vogelhandler. She was still working in movies into her sixties, a testament to her abilities as an actress as well as the durability of her talent.

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