Vintage Hunk: Pat Boone

By: Mike McCrann

“On a day like today
We passed the time away
Writing love letters in the sand”

When I was a teenager in the late 1950s, the singing rage was Elvis Presley. Before Elvis shook up the music world, there Pat Boone, perhaps the cutest pop singer of the decade.

With his adorable, all-American looks, Pat Boone was a pop star who sold over 45 million records and had a brief but promising movie career.

As a closeted teenager in St. Louis, I had a secret crush on Boone. Later when he turned way too religious and right wing, I felt a bit ashamed, but at the time Pat was just the boy next door...only a gorgeous one who could sing.

Charles Eugene Boone was born in Florida in 1934 and grew up in Nashville. Early in his career, Boone covered R&B songs by black artists. His 1955 version of Fats Domino's "Ain't That A Shame" was a big hit.

In 1957 Boone hit number one with "Love Letters In The Sand." I can still see him singing this hit on Dick Clark's American Bandstand.

Pat Boone's movie career got off to a good start especially with April Love co-starring Shirley Jones and the sci-fi classic Journey To the Center of the Earth, where we got to see Pat shirtless. His most famous film is probably the 3rd version of State Fair with Ann-Margret.

Pat Boone was natural and charming on screen but hinted at no real acting prowess.

With the advent of Elvis Presley and the Beatles in the early '60s, Pat Boone was quickly relegated to the past. His marriage at 19 plus his conservative religious and political views did not find favor in later years.

Pat Boone and his wife Shirley had four daughters, including Debby who enjoyed her own career as a singer with her number one hit "You Light Up My Life." The Boones are still married and occasionally Pat pokes fun at his clean cut image, even appearing in black leather at the American Music Awards in the late '90s to promote his heavy metal album.

But for this former teenager from the Eisenhower era, Pat Boone will always be the handsome and sexy man who really did have a nice voice. More importantly he was a closeted gay's ideal of what a boyfriend should be. There have been a lot of celebrity crushes since then but Pat Boone was the first.