Girls chant “We want Paul!”—but it’s not McCartney they’re swooning over. This is the summer of 1961, and the Beatles are still more than a year away from recording Love Me Do. Instead, the heart throb du jour is a 19-year-old kid from Canada named Paul Anka. At the Atlantic City boardwalk, the ladies line up to get autographs; some of them also give, or receive, a kiss. The camera follows the young star backstage and into the dressing room. The concert is about to start, so Anka dresses hurriedly. We see him in his underwear. Later, he speaks candidly of being “a heavy kid” in school and of his determination to become what entertainers were expected to be. He lost 35 pounds.
“You’ve got to have appeal,” he says, looking almost directly into the camera. “You’ve got to look like you’re in show business—if you don’t, you’re not going to make it.”