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Pat Boone still guided by his conscience

The singer with a squeaky-clean image is promoting a book illustrating his values.

June 16, 2007|Bob Thomas | Associated Press

Pat Boone calls it his museum. The walls of his office are covered with paintings and photos of the singer in his prime, as well as covers of his albums, which sold in the millions -- more than Elvis.

There's a bronzed bust of the singer as a young man, a bronzed pair of his signature white buck shoes and a box containing a worn catcher's mask sent after Boone was seriously injured while bicycling. An accompanying note reads: "Dummy. Next time use this. I love you. Francis Albert" -- as in Sinatra.

Despite his memorabilia, Boone doesn't live in the past. He just returned from Arizona, where he sang for retirees. Last year he recorded five albums, which he released on his record label. He and his wife, Shirley, are active in church work.

And he's also promoting a new book, "Pat Boone's America 50 Years."

It's a coffee-table book -- large-size, 156 pages jammed with 200 photos and an autobiography, as well as some comments about his causes, including opposition to abortion.

"The book is part of a trilogy," Boone said. "When I was 21 to 22, I was getting 5,000 letters a week from young people. Many asked for advice that they couldn't get from other sources. I wanted to write a book that would answer those letters." He called it "Twixt 12 and 20."

Years later, he wrote "My New Song," which told of his spiritual journey.

"I got on my soapbox," he said of the new book. "It seemed to me that it was an opportunity to say to my fellow citizens that America has become something different to the world."

His dark hair slightly tinged with gray, Boone is a rugged 73, thanks to daily workouts and a sensible diet. In an interview, he talked about his movie career and why it came to a halt.

Boone's fame with records, concerts and TV in the mid-1960s prompted 20th Century Fox to sign him to a movie contract. He starred in musicals and dramas such as "April Love," "Mardi Gras," "Journey to the Center of the Earth" and "State Fair."

Then the studio offered him a role opposite Marilyn Monroe in a film based on William Inge's play "Celebration."

"Believe me, I would have loved to play opposite Marilyn Monroe," Boone said. "I went to the studio boss, Buddy Adler, and said, 'I've got a lot of teenage fans, and they would be upset if I played a person who has an affair with an older woman. I can't do that.' "

He turned down other edgy roles too -- a minister leading a double life, a killer, drunk, a pervert. Word got around and the scripts stopped coming, but Boone kept busy with concerts, records and other pursuits.

The Boone saga seems ideal: marrying at 19 to his high school sweetheart; father of four daughters by 23; graduating magna cum laude from college while selling millions of records; TV and movie star.

"We raised a family in Hollywood, which is quite a feat," he said. "And we got four daughters married to good guys."

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