Once Upon a Time at the Top Spot: The Four Seasons, “Big Girls Don’t Cry”

Thursday, November 17, 2016
Once Upon a Time at the Top Spot: The Four Seasons, “Big Girls Don’t Cry”

54 years ago today, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons arrived at the pinnacle of the Billboard Hot 100 for the first of five weeks with a song inspired by a John Payne movie. As far as which movie, however, it depends on who you ask.

Written by Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio, “Big Girls Don’t Cry” arrived at a time when the Four Seasons were already riding high in the charts, a status best evidenced by the fact that it was the group’s second single of 1962 to spend five weeks at #1. (Their previous single, “Sherry,” had done the same thing.) Crewe and Gaudio have different stories as to how they came up with the title of the song, however.

To hear Gaudio tell the tale, he was watching the 1955 John Payne film Tennessee’s Partner when he heard Payne slap his co-star, Rhonda Fleming, across the face, after which she snapped back, “Big girls don’t cry.” Inspired, Gaudio scribbled down the line, only to fall asleep immediately thereafter, but when he awoke the next morning, he penned the tune. Funny thing, though: Crewe says that he got the brainstorm for the title when he woke up to see Payne smacking around Fleming in a different film: 1956’s Slightly Scarlet.

(We’ve got to give the advantage to Crewe on this one, mostly because the line in question isn’t actually in Tennessee’s Partner, but it is in Slightly Scarlet.)

“Big Girls Don’t Cry” remains a classic tune, one which has been sung on The Lucy Show, 3-2-1 Contact, and Kids Incorporated…and, hey, if that’s not a cross-demographic hit, we don’t know what is!