Halle Berry, Vivica A. Fox, Lela Rochon, and Larenz Tate star in ‘Why Do Fools Fall in Love.’

Halle Berry, Vivica A. Fox, Lela Rochon, and Larenz Tate star in ‘Why Do Fools Fall in Love.’ – Cover Story

Aldore Collier

The sexy, scandalous life of Frankie Lymon and the three women he married without ever divorcing has been brought to the big screen in Why Do Fools Fall In Love.

The film’s title refers to one of the biggest hits of the 1950s, a song written and performed by the hot New York group Frankie Lymon and The Teen-Agers. The movie revolves around a 1986 court dispute among three women who claim to be the widow of Lymon. The concept of bigamy meant absolutely nothing to Lymon or any of the women in his life.

Larenz Tate is Lymon, a talented singer who also was quite the ladies’ man, wooing them with his boyish charm. He went into an emotional tailspin when drugs overtook his life.

Halle Berry is Zola Taylor, the elegant and sole female member of The Platters. She had a 10-year relationship with Lymon. Vivica A. Fox is Elizabeth Waters, a welfare mom, shoplifter and hooker who was amazed that a superstar would want to be with her.

Lela Rochon is Emira Eagle, a low-key and demure Southern school-teacher who met Lymon while he was on leave from the Army.

In the early 1980s, Diana Ross re-recorded Why Do Fools Fall In Love. Her version became a mega-success. That brought the women running to law offices to lay claim to whatever money was now due to the estate of Lymon, who died in 1968. Each woman assumes that she is the sole spouse of Lymon. They insult one another, take swings at one another and end up slugging it out in court to get the millions and discredit the other two.

Tate told Jet: “This is a departure from what you’ve seen me do. You want to reinvent yourself. What better way to re-invent myself than to do a bio pic (biography picture), a special bio pic. This is a special film. It’s special because it reflects a time where a lot of people in the music business didn’t know about the business. And Frankie Lymon is a product of not knowing about business. And the thing about him was that he loved women. He married three of them, one right after the other.”

Director Gregory Nava, who directed Selena, said, “This is a great tale! A wonderful story. Much of the story takes place when he’s no longer a big recording star, but still does performances. The characters are so great. And this movie asks the eternal question: ‘Why do fools fall in love?’ We all want to know. It’s so interesting that the guy who wrote and performed Why Do Fools Fall In Love would have such an incredibly crazy, foolish love life.”

Nava said he was considering bringing in a complete newcomer for the role of Lymon. But Larenz Tate came in and said he wanted to do it. “I immediately realized he could do it. He could make Frankie Lymon live again and be alive. We’re showing all of

Frankie’s life from when he did Why Do Fools Fall In Love to when he overdosed in 1968. He was 26 or something like that. We needed an actor who could play both ends and Larenz has the age that he could play younger and a little older.”

In the film, Berry’s character is elegant and sensitive. But, she’s also aggressive and feisty. Zola and Elizabeth knew each other before the 1986 court battle. When they initially see each other, four-letter words fly along with fists. Rochon’s Emira character was new to both. She was meek, refined and conservative. Even though Zola and Elizabeth disliked each other, they joined forces to express disdain for what they saw as Miss Goody Two Shoes.

“Little Richard” Penniman makes a significant, humorous cameo appearance. He plays himself in the film and takes the stand and gives his take on Lymon’s life and loves. Of course, he has to talk about his place in music history.

Miguel Nunez of “Sparks” fame plays the young Little Richard in the film.

Each woman had emotional, humorous and devastating tales to tell about Lymon and how he affected her life.

Tina Andrews, the screenwriter who came up with the idea initially, told JET: “It was fascinating to get to know Frankie’s life as told through

these women. So, I started with the female characters first. That was how I pitched the project to the studio. They picked it up in 24 hours and said, Wes, let’s make this movie immediately.’ The pitch was simple: It’s the story of three women who married one man. He not only marries all three of them, but hadn’t divorced any of them. It’s bigamy and then bigamy on top of bigamy with the women. These women were still married to their husbands when they married Frankie. Diverse women found something about this one man to love. Conversely, he saw something in these very different women that attracted him to them.”

In addition to a superstar cast, the film’s soundtrack features such musical superstars as Missy Elliott, the Spice Girls and En Vogue.

COPYRIGHT 1998 Johnson Publishing Co.

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