Charles Eugene “Pat” Boone (born June 1, 1934) is an American singer, composer, actor, writer, television personality, motivational speaker, and spokesman. He was a successful pop singer in the United States during the 1950s and early 1960s.
He sold more than 45 million records, had 38 top-40 hits, and appeared in more than 12 Hollywood films.
According to Billboard, Boone was the second-biggest charting artist of the late 1950s, behind only Elvis Presley, and was ranked at No. 9 in its listing of the Top 100 Top 40 Artists 1955–1995.
Until the 2010s, Boone held the Billboard record for spending 220 consecutive weeks on the charts with one or more songs each week.
At the age of 23, he began hosting a half-hour ABC variety television series, The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom, which aired for 115 episodes (1957–1960). Many musical performers, including Edie Adams, Andy Williams, Pearl Bailey, and Johnny Mathis, made appearances on the show. His cover versions of rhythm and blues hits had a noticeable effect on the development of the broad popularity of rock and roll. Elvis Presley was the opening act for a 1955 Pat Boone show in Cleveland, Ohio.
As an author, Boone had a number-one bestseller in the 1950s (Twixt Twelve and Twenty, Prentice-Hall). In the 1960s, he focused on gospel music and is a member of the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. He continues to perform and speak as a motivational speaker, a television personality, and a conservative political commentator.
Boone was born Charles Eugene Boone on June 1, 1934, in Jacksonville, Florida, the son of Margaret Virginia (Pritchard) and Archie Altman Boone. Boone was reared primarily in Nashville, Tennessee, a place he still visits. His family moved to Nashville from Florida when Boone was two years old. He attended and graduated in 1952 from David Lipscomb High School in Nashville. His younger brother, whose professional name is Nick Todd, was also a pop singer in the 1950s and is now a church music leader.
In a 2007 interview on The 700 Club, Boone claimed that he is the great-great-great-great grandson of the American pioneer Daniel Boone.
He is a cousin of two stars of Western television series: Richard Boone of CBS’s Have Gun – Will Travel and Randy Boone, of NBC’s The Virginian and CBS’s Cimarron Strip. Research done a few years ago by The Boone Society found that Pat and his siblings are not biological descendants of Daniel Boone, nor of any of Daniel’s brothers.
Pat’s siblings were notified and have acknowledged that the research done by The Boone Society is true.
In November 1953, when he was 19 years old, Boone married Shirley Lee Foley, daughter of country music great Red Foley and his wife, singer Judy Martin. They have four daughters: Cheryl Lynn (better known as Cherry), Linda Lee, Deborah Ann (better known as Debby), and Laura Gene. Starting in the late 1950s, Boone and his family were residents of Leonia, New Jersey.
In college, he primarily attended David Lipscomb College, later Lipscomb University, in Nashville. He graduated in 1958 from Columbia University School of General Studies magna cum laude and also attended North Texas State University, now known as the University of North Texas, in Denton, Texas.
Boone began his career by performing in Nashville’s Centennial Park
He began recording in 1954 for Republic Records (not to be confused with the current label with that name), and by 1955, for Dot Records.
His 1955 version of Fats Domino’s “Ain’t That a Shame” was a hit. This set the stage for the early part of Boone’s career, which focused on covering R&B songs by black artists for a white American market.
Randy Wood, the owner of Dot, had issued an R&B single by the Griffin Brothers in 1951 called “Tra La La-a”—a different song from the later LaVern Baker one—and he was keen to put out another version after the original had failed. This became the B side of the first Boone single “Two Hearts Two Kisses”, originally by the Charms – whose “Hearts Of Stone” had been covered by the label’s Fontane Sisters.
Once the Boone version was in the shops, it spawned more covers by the Crew-Cuts, Doris Day, and Frank Sinatra.
A number-one single in 1956 by Boone was a second cover and a revival of a then seven-year-old song “I Almost Lost My Mind”, by Ivory Joe Hunter, which was originally covered by another black star, Nat King Cole.
According to an opinion poll of high-school students in 1957, the singer was nearly the “two-to-one favorite over Elvis Presley among boys and preferred almost three-to-one by girls …”
During the late 1950s, he made regular appearances on ABC-TV’s Ozark Jubilee, hosted by his father-in-law.
Boone cultivated a safe, wholesome, advertiser-friendly image that won him a long-term product endorsement contract from General Motors during the late 1950s, lasting through the 1960s.
He succeeded Dinah Shore singing the praises of the GM product: “See the USA in your Chevrolet … drive your Chevrolet through the USA, America’s the greatest land of all!” GM had also sponsored The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom.
In the 1989 documentary Roger & Me, Boone stated that he first was given a Chevrolet Corvette from the GM product line, but after his wife and he started having children, at one child a year, GM supplied him with a station wagon, as well.
Many of Boone’s hit singles were covers of hits from black R&B artists. These included: “Ain’t That a Shame” by Fats Domino; “Tutti Frutti” and “Long Tall Sally” by Little Richard;
“At My Front Door (Crazy Little Mama)” by The El Dorados; and the blues ballads “I Almost Lost My Mind” by Ivory Joe Hunter, “I’ll be Home” by the Flamingos and “Don’t Forbid Me” by Charles Singleton. Boone also wrote the lyrics for the instrumental theme song for the movie Exodus, which he titled “This Land Is Mine”. (Ernest Gold had composed the music.)
As a conservative Christian, Boone declined certain songs and movie roles that he felt might compromise his beliefs—including a role with sex symbol Marilyn Monroe. In one of his first films, April Love, the director, Henry Levin, wanted him to give co-star Shirley Jones a kiss (which was not in the script). Since this would be his first onscreen kiss, Boone said that he wanted to talk to his wife first, to make sure it was all right with her. He had his own film production company, Cooga Mooga Productions.
He appeared as a regular performer on Arthur Godfrey and His Friends from 1955 through 1957, and later hosted his own The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom, on Thursday evenings. In the early 1960s, he began writing a series of self-help books for adolescents, including Twixt Twelve and Twenty.
The British Invasion ended Boone’s career as a hitmaker, though he continued recording throughout the 1960s.
In the 1970s, he switched to gospel and country, and he continued performing in other media, as well.
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In 1959, Boone’s likeness was licensed to DC Comics, first appearing in Superman’s Girl Friend, Lois Lane #9 (May 1959) before starring in his own series from the publisher which lasted for five issues from September 1959 to May 1960.
In the 1960s and 1970s. the Boone family toured as gospel singers and made gospel albums, such as The Pat Boone Family and The Family Who Prays.
In the early 1970s, Boone founded the record label Lamb & Lion Records. It featured artists such as Pat, the Pat Boone Family, Debby Boone, Dan Peek, DeGarmo and Key, and Dogwood.
In 1974, Boone was signed to the Motown country subsidiary Melodyland.
The label was later to be renamed Hitsville after a Christian church sued Motown’s president Berry Gordy over the use of the earlier name. The country subsidiary was closed in 1977.
In 1978, Boone became the first target in the Federal Trade Commission’s crackdown on false-claim product endorsements by celebrities.
He had appeared with his daughter Debby in a commercial to claim that all four of his daughters had found a preparation named Acne-Statin a “real help” in keeping their skin clear.
The FTC filed a complaint against the manufacturer, contending that the product did not really keep skin free of blemishes. Boone eventually signed a consent order in which he promised not only to stop appearing in the ads, but also to pay about 2.5% of any money that the FTC or the courts might eventually order the manufacturer to refund to consumers.
Boone said, through a lawyer, that his daughters actually did use Acne-Statin, and that he was “dismayed to learn that the product’s efficacy had not been scientifically established as he believed.”
In 1956 Boone was one of the biggest recording stars in the US. Several film studios pursued him for movies; he decided to go with 20th Century Fox who made Elvis Presley’s first movie.
Fox reworked a play he had bought, Bernadine, into a vehicle for Boone. The resulting film was a solid hit, earning $3.75 million in the US.
Even more popular was April Love (1957), a remake of Home in Indiana. Boone regards it as one of his favourites, “the kind of movie I wish I could have made 20 more of: a musical, appealing characters, some drama, a good storyline, a happy ending, it’s the kind of film which makes you feel good. I never wanted to make a depressing or immoral film.”
In 1957 he was voted the third most popular star in the US.
Less popular was a musical comedy Mardi Gras (1958), which was the last movie of Edmund Goulding. However Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959), a science fiction adventure tale was a huge hit. Boone had been reluctant to do it, and needed to be persuaded by being offered the chance to sing several songs and given a percentage of the profits, but was glad he did.
He produced and starred in a documentary, Salute to the Teenagers (1960) but did not make a film for a while, studying acting with Sanford Meisner. He returned with a military comedy All Hands on Deck (1961), a mild hit.
He was one of several names in another remake, State Fair (1962), a box office disappointment. Musicals were becoming less fashionable in Hollywood, so Boone decided to take on a dramatic role in the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer-distributed movie The Main Attraction (1962) for Seven Arts Productions, his first movie outside Fox.
It was an unhappy experience for Boone as he disliked the implication his character had sex with Nancy Kwan’s and he got into several public fights with the producers.
He had a deal with Fox to make three films at $200,000 a film with his production company. This was meant to start with a thriller, The Yellow Canary (1963), in which Boone would play an unsympathetic character.
New management came in at the studio which was unenthusiastic about the picture but because Boone had a pay or play deal, they decided to make it anyway, only with a much shorter budget. Boone even paid some money out of his own pocket to help complete it.
Boone’s next movie for Fox was another low budget effort, The Horror of It All (1963), shot in England. He shot a comedy in Ireland Never Put It in Writing (1964) for Allied Artists. Boone’s third film for Fox was an “A” production, Goodbye Charlie (1964) but Boone was in support of Debbie Reynolds and Tony Curtis.
Boone was one of the many names in The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965). He appeared in The Perils of Pauline (1967), a pilot for a TV series that did not eventuate, which was screened in some theatres. Boone’s last film of note was The Cross and the Switchblade (1970).
In 1997, Boone released In a Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy, a collection of heavy metal covers. To promote the album, he appeared at the American Music Awards in black leather. He was then dismissed from Gospel America, a TV show on the Trinity Broadcasting Network. After making a special appearance on TBN with the president of the network, Paul Crouch, and his pastor, Jack Hayford, many fans accepted his explanation of the leather outfit being a “parody of himself”. Trinity Broadcasting then reinstated him, and Gospel America was brought back.
In 2003, the Nashville Gospel Music Association recognized his gospel recording work by inducting him into its Gospel Music Hall of Fame.
In September 2006, Boone released Pat Boone R&B Classics – We Are Family, featuring cover versions of 11 R&B hits, including the title track, plus “Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag”, “Soul Man”, “Get Down Tonight”, “A Woman Needs Love”, and six other classics.
Boone and his wife, Shirley, live in Beverly Hills, a suburb of Los Angeles. At one time, their neighbors were Ozzy Osbourne and his family. A sound-alike of Boone’s cover of Osbourne’s song “Crazy Train” became the theme song for The Osbournes (though the original Boone version appears on The Osbournes soundtrack).
In 2010, plans were announced for the Pat Boone Family Theater at Broadway at the Beach in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The attraction was never built.
In 2011 Boone acted as a spokesperson for Security One Lending, a reverse mortgage company.
Since at least 2007 Boone has acted as a spokesperson for Swiss America Trading Corporation, a broker of gold and silver coins that warns of “America’s Economic Collapse”.
Pat Boone grew up in the Church of Christ.
In the 1960s, Boone’s marriage nearly came to an end because of his use of alcohol and his preference for attending parties.
However, after coming into contact with the Charismatic Movement, Shirley began to focus more on her religion and eventually influenced Pat and their daughters toward a similar religious focus.
At this time, they attended the Inglewood Church of Christ in Inglewood, California.
In the spring of 1964, Boone spoke at a “Project Prayer” rally attended by 2,500 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.
The gathering, which was hosted by Anthony Eisley, a star of ABC’s Hawaiian Eye series, sought to flood the United States Congress with letters in support of school prayer, following two decisions in 1962 and 1963 of the United States Supreme Court which struck down the practice as in conflict with the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Joining Boone and Eisley at the Project Prayer rally were Walter Brennan, Lloyd Nolan, Rhonda Fleming, Gloria Swanson, and Dale Evans. Boone declared, “what the communists want is to subvert and undermine our young people. … I believe in the power of aroused Americans, I believe in the wisdom of our Constitution. … the power of God.”
It was noted that Roy Rogers, John Wayne, Ronald Reagan, Mary Pickford, Jane Russell, Ginger Rogers, and Pat Buttram had endorsed the goals of the rally and would also have attended had their schedules not been in conflict.
In the early 1970s, the Boones hosted Bible studies for celebrities such as Doris Day, Glenn Ford, Zsa Zsa Gabor, and Priscilla Presley at their Beverly Hills home. The family then began attending The Church On The Way in Van Nuys, a Foursquare Gospel megachurch pastored by Jack Hayford.
On an April 22, 2016, broadcast of Fox News Radio’s The Alan Colmes Show, Boone discussed an episode of Saturday Night Live which included a sketch entitled God Is A Boob Man; the sketch parodied the film God’s Not Dead 2 in which Boone had a role.
He described the sketch as “blasphemy”, stating that the Federal Communications Commission should forbid any such content, and that it should revoke the broadcast licenses of any “network, or whoever is responsible for the shows.”