He sold over 45 million albums, had 38 Top 40 hits and appeared in more than 12 Hollywood movies. Boone's talent as a singer and actor, combined with his old-fashioned values, contributed to his popularity in the early rock and roll era.
According to Billboard, Boone was the second biggest charting artist of the late 1950s, behind only Elvis Presley but ahead of Ricky Nelson and The Platters, and was ranked at No. 9—behind The Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney but ahead of artists such as Aretha Franklin and The Beach Boys—in its listing of the Top 100 Top 40 Artists 1955–1995. Boone still holds the Billboard record for spending 220 consecutive weeks on the charts with one or more songs each week.
At the age of twenty-three, 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. During his tours in the 1950s, Elvis Presley was one of his opening acts.
As an author, Boone had a No. 1 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.
Born Charles Eugene Boone in Jacksonville, Florida, 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.
The handprints of Pat Boone in front of The Great Movie Ride at Walt Disney World's Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park
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.
In 1953, shortly before he turned 19, Boone married Shirley Lee Foley (b. April 24, 1934), daughter of country music great Red Foley and his wife, singer Judy Martin. They had four daughters: Cheryl Lynn, 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, inDenton, Texas. During his college career, he was a member of Kappa Alpha Order.
He began recording in 1954 for Republic Records. His 1955 version of Fats Domino's "Ain't That a Shame" was a hit. (Domino complimented Boone's rendition.) 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 than 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 Crewcuts, Doris Day and Frank Sinatra.
A No. 1 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 sponsoredThe Pat Boone Chevy Showroom. In the 1989 documentary Roger & Me, Boone stated that he first was given a Corvette from the Chevrolet product line, but after he and wife 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 lyrics 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). But, 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 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.
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 Lion & Lamb Records. It featured artists such as Pat, The Pat Boone Family, Debby Boone, Dan Peek, DeGarmo & Key, and Dogwood.
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 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 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. His one-time neighbor was 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).
On December 30, 2010, Glenn W. Milligan of Liquid Metal Holdings said the Pat Boone Family Theater would open in May 2011 in the former NASCAR Cafe at Broadway at the Beach in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. With 600 seats, the Boone Theater will be smaller than many of the resort's attractions, but Milligan says this may be an advantage. Other performers were to includeillusionist Morgan Strebler, the 2011 Merlin Award winner, though in September 2011 it was announced he would be replaced. The economic crisis has been one of the reasons for delays, but on May 25, 2011, the theater received the first of several needed permits from the city. The $1 million project was set to be complete in August 2011, but the opening date was delayed twice. At a news conference on June 2, which included a performance by Strebler, theater officials said Boone would attend the opening and perform 14 times each year. Other entertainment will include gospel music concerts and Christmas shows. The theater will have a Boone museum with the singer's memorabilia.
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. After having a charismatic encounter, Shirley began to focus more on her religion and would eventually influence 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'sHawaiian Eye series, sought to flood the United State 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 that "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 W. 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, California — a Foursquare Gospel congregation led by pastor Jack Hayford.
Boone campaigned for Ronald Reagan to become Governor of California in 1966 and 1970, and actively supported Reagan's bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 1976. He was a vocal supporter of the Vietnam War. In 2006, Boone wrote an article for WorldNetDaily, in which he argued that Democrats and others who were against the president during the Iraq War could be questioned for their patriotism. He was interviewed by Neil Cavuto on Fox News, where he expressed his outrage toward opponents of George W. Bush (in particular the Dixie Chicks). He said that their criticisms of the president showed they did not "respect their elders".
In the 2007 Kentucky gubernatorial election, Boone campaigned for incumbent Republican Ernie Fletcher with a prerecorded automated telephone message stating that the Democratic Party candidate Steve Beshear would support "every homosexual cause." As part of the campaign, Boone asked, "Now do you want a governor who'd like Kentucky to be another San Francisco?"He assisted the McCain 2008 presidential campaign by lending his voice to automated campaign robocalls.
On December 6, 2008 Boone wrote an article for WorldNetDaily wherein he drew analogies between recent gay rights protests and recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India. He reminded readers of hostage taking, exploding bombs, systematic murder and chaotic conditions of carnage. In it, he asserted that marriage is a biblically ordained institution, which the government has no part in defining. He then stated that equal rights for women and blacks were not "obtained by threats and violent demonstrations and civil disruption" but rather through due process. He concluded by warning that unless they're checked, the "hedonistic, irresponsible, blindly selfish goals and tactics of homegrown sexual jihadists will escalate into acts vile, violent and destructive".
On August 29, 2009, Boone wrote an article comparing liberalism to cancer, likening it to "black filthy cells".
In December 2009, Boone agreed to endorse the conservative U.S. congressional candidate John Wayne Tucker (R) for his campaign in Missouri's 3rd congressional district against incumbentRuss Carnahan (D) for the 2010 mid term elections.
In 2009, Boone, a "birther", stated his belief that President Barack Obama is ineligible to serve as the President of the United States. Boone also has alleged that Barack Obama is fluent in Arabic and read the Koran in Arabic as a boy. He has also claimed that President Obama "hasn’t celebrated any Christian holidays in the White House."
Boone received a lifetime achievement award at the 38th annual Conservative Political Action Conference held in February 2011.
Since 1977, Boone has hosted the annual Pat Boone Golf Tournament in Chattanooga, Tennessee, a celebrity event that benefits a faith-based home for children of families in crisis.
According to the Nashville Gospel Music & Entertainment Examiner, Boone partnered with GOD TV in 2010 to provide foundational funding for a community development center in East Africa. The Pat Boone Family Life Center in Loiborsoit, Tanzania provides much needed health services and clean water through a deep water well. GOD TV CEO, Rory Alec said "We are privileged to partner with Pat and Shirley Boone to impact the everyday lives of several thousand Masai people. Pat Boone is just as well known for his artistic talents as his Christian faith and the generosity of the Boone family has inspired us to reach further to help bring about transformation in Africa."
"Clean water, and with it small medical clinics and even basic primary and secondary schools, are literally life-changing developments, offering healthy lives and unthought-of futures to countless thousands who otherwise would live and die with no chance even to participate in the 21st century," Boone wrote in an article about his trip to Africa, in WorldNetDaily.
Boone is a basketball fan and had ownership interests in two teams. He owned a team in the Hollywood Studio League called the "Cooga Moogas." The Cooga Moogas included Bill Cosby, Rafer Johnson, Gardner McKay, Don Murray, and Denny "Tarzan" Miller.
With the founding of the American Basketball Association, Boone became the majority owner of the league's team in Oakland, California on February 2, 1967. The team was first named the Oakland Americans but was later renamed as the Oakland Oaks, the name under which it played from 1967 to 1969. The Oaks won the 1969 ABA championship.
Despite the Oaks' success on the court, the team had severe financial problems. By August 1969 the Bank of America was threatening to foreclose on a $1.2 million loan to the Oaks, and the team was sold to a group of businessmen in Washington, DC, and became the Washington Caps.