Efforts to replace a crumbling mural of famous South Philadelphia musicians gained momentum Wednesday when officials learned that Frankie Avalon had pledged money to help find a new home for the endangered creation.
The $5,000 donation from the crooner and movie star added to $5,000 committed earlier in the week by longtime disc jockey Jerry Blavat in an effort to raise an estimated $80,000 for the project, said Jane Golden, founder and chief of the Mural Arts Program.
Also this week, officials identified two potential locations on South Broad Street for the replacement mural. Golden said she hopes a wall will be chosen in the next two weeks from the sites under consideration: Tasker Street, and Wolf Street.
"I'm really excited," said Golden, who hashed out the game plan in a meeting with community leaders and representatives of some of the celebrities pictured in the mural.
Avalon and Blavat are among seven South Philly natives whose larger-than-life images have been deteriorating in a decade-old mural of singers and public figures who largely found fame during the 1950s and 1960s teen-idol years.
They, along with Bobby Rydell, Chubby Checker, Fabian, Al Martino, and Eddie Fisher, are featured on the wall near Pat's King of Steaks at Ninth Street and Passyunk Avenue.
The mural is not being repaired on the same wall because a four-story development has been proposed on an adjacent lot. But it is among the city's more popular murals, leading officials to fast-track efforts to rehabilitate it by painting a new one elsewhere.
An artist has been chosen: David McShane, a portrait specialist who has painted notable murals, including one of legendary baseball player Jackie Robinson (near Broad and Somerset Street), and a collage of famous Franks, including Sinatra and Zappa (at Dirty Frank's, 13th and Pine Streets).
And while designs have not yet been drawn up, a decision has been made to add two more faces to the wall: South Philly-born rocker Charlie Gracie, and 1950s and '60s actor-heartthrob James Darren.
Blavat, Rydell, Checker, and Avalon have said they want to preserve or replace the mural in some way, as has Alison Martino, daughter of the late actor and singer. Blavat has said he would help raise money to make it happen.
The goal, Golden said, is to design, prepare, paint, and unveil the replacement mural in about a year.