Frankie Albano, please call home

(Disclaimer: the title of this post is intended to be tongue-in-cheek, and is not an actual plea. 😉 )

One of the most fascinating mysteries of the Tarot world is “What ever happened to Frankie Albano?” He seems to have dropped off the face of the earth after publishing his tres 60’s recoloring of the RWS.(But he appears to have colored his deck according to B.O.T.A instructions, not as an attempt to create anything “psychedelic”. Note the purple mountains on the Fool: and the rainbow on Temperance )

The first thing one turns to when looking to see if fresh information has surfaced is google. And this page features prominently in the results:

From it, we can see that there was someone named Frankie Albano making records. The text, however, leaves much to be desired. It states that Frankie Albano and the Deadbeats “released a promo single for Dondee records in 1936, even though the single was originally set down in 1922” But if you’ve ever spent any time with old records, you know that 45 RPM singles with big center holes requiring an adaptor didn’t even exist in the 1930’s. From Wikipedia: “The 7-inch 45 rpm record was released 31 March 1949 by RCA Victor as a smaller, more durable and higher-fidelity replacement for the 78 rpm shellac discs.” Source:

As we can see here, “1936” would have been the catalog number: I have no idea what the number “1922” is, but it’s certainly not a year, either.

I did find the record on the Tower label on youtube. It’s got a Jan and Dean/Beach Boys flavor, but Albano’s vocals seem to be influenced by Frankie Valli:

And Nancy T. very kindly provided this image from the September 1965 issue of Beat magazine:

A bit of trivia: Besides Frankie Albano and the Deadbeats, there was a Tommy Love and the Deadbeats recording on the Dondee label.
They recorded for the Orbit label as well, and you can easily find them on youtube. From listening to the vocals, it’s obvious that Tommy Love is NOT Frankie Albano. But one can speculate that they knew each other, if indeed they’re backed by the same band.

There is also a Frank Albano (born 1939, making him about the same age as our guy) who is the current reputed underboss of the Trafficante crime family in Tampa, Florida. But this is not the Tarot guy, obviously. I DO think the singer is the Albano who did the deck, though. In the early to mid 60’s, he took a shot at fame and fortune with a mashup of beach music and Frankie Valli style vocals. When that didn’t work, he left the music business, and in 1967 he did a mashup of Tarot and Ouija:

Are you starting to see a pattern here? A man who likes to combine things? Beach music and Frankie Valli. Tarot and Ouija. RWS and BOTA. 😉

Then the deck came along in 1968. And not a peep out of him after the deck.

Mysteries like this are perfect for reading cards. So why not ask HIS deck?

“What became of Frankie Albano after he disappeared?”

First, we have Death. And I suspect there’s a literal slant, he’d be very old if he was still around. But I don’t think he ended up like Jimmy Hoffa. The other cards are saying he was around for awhile. Death is also “That’s it, the end”, talking about him walking away from his old life. There’s a finality to it. Next, we have the 10 of Pentacles. It’s a card of monetary success, he made a decent living doing something else, for awhile at least. Pamela Colman Smith’s image is interesting in this reading: Odysseus has returned home, and nobody knows him but his old dogs. There’s a certain anonymity about it. Hiding in plain sight, not being recognized. The Six of Pents is also a card of Success, but we’ve dropped back down to 6 from 10. It also reflects the Death card. So it’s probable that the prosperity of the 10 didn’t last, but I still don’t see him as one of the beggars here. He just did VERY well for awhile, and then something changed and he just did OK. For those who are interested, the Qabalistic correspondences are the axis Tiphareth – Netzach, Malkuth through Earth, and Tiphareth through Earth. Almost like a round trip.;)

All of this makes me wonder if “Frankie Albano” might be a stage name. At the time he was recording, the industry was full of Italian teen heartthrobs like Dion, Fabian, Bobby Rydell, Frankie Avalon, and so many others – including the aforementioned Frankie Valli. A name like “Frankie Albano” would have seemed like a pretty good strategy at the time. He does look Italian in the photo, but his original name might not have reflected that: it could have been Americanized, or he could be Italian on his maternal side only. Maybe he retained the Albano name during his Tarot phase, and then dropped it, dropped out of sight, and started going by his legal name again. That goes a long way towards explaining why there’s no trace of “Frankie Albano”.

This is pure speculation, but one possibility is that he went back to wherever he came from and went into the family business. I can easily imagine “Frankie” rebelling and running off to California to try to be a rock star, and later, to make a name for himself in Tarot. But when it didn’t pay off as planned, returning and taking up the yoke.

He could have repaired your washing machine, or owned the corner liquor store, or sold you a car, or installed your Aunt’s carpet…

I like to think his later career was something more creative. But he could have been anybody.

Addendum, 2020: We have a birthdate:”Frankie Joseph Albano- 14-06-1938. Born- New Galilee- Penslyvainia (sic!).”
My stage name theory was incorrect, apparently, but the cards talking about a return home were, as usual, correct: if the trail of ads are his, he did indeed return to LA.

20 responses »

  1. Hmmm, here’s an ad from Los Angeles magazine, August 1998. I don’t know that it’s the same guy, but it would certainly support the 10 of Pents and Albano “hiding in plain sight”:

    VISA/MC. 714-707-5153

    • back in the day, when his hopes for a recording career were smashed, those who knew him referred to him as “Frankie Album-no.”

    • Ever think of starting a GoFundMe page of some sort to hire a pi to find him? His deck was copyrighted, so Stu Kaplan had to get the rights to reproduce the deck somehow. Supposedly according to Dusty White Frankie once worked for him. I never heard of Frankie Albano before 2 years ago when I got into Tarot. Even if he’s not still with us can you imagine if he had children that had no idea about all of this!

    • I there is an article and a picture about him in September 1965 issue of Beat magazine.. unfortunately I cannot attach the article to this but if anybody wants to email me I’ll be happy to share it with you. Just put Frankie Albano in the subject line.

      • Thanks, Nancy. Sent you an email!

        ETA: I’d originally attached the image here, but WordPress is no longer supporting images in the comments. So I did what I should have done in the first place – inserted it into the post! Thanks again.

  2. Two more 45 rpm records have appeared on youtube since I wrote this blog post. No Frankie Valli-style vocals on these. They’re more like something Dion would do.

  3. I met Frankie Albano in London in the early 1970s. I was the buyer for the gift department at the Way In on the very top floor of Harrods. He came to see me and offered me the Tarot cards to sell. I was always interested in the Tarot and so I bought them and we kind of had a relationship for a while. He was charming and gracious, older than me, I was around 20, and he had a very nice flat in London just behind Harrods. I went there on several occasions. He introduced me to avocados. He made me dinner one evening and the appetizer was an avocado pear with vinaigrette dressing and I thought it was the most revolting thing I’d ever tasted in my life! Avocados were a rarity in the UK. He clearly had money and he told me that he used to live on a ranch in Big Sur and had been an actor.

    • Hi, Charmian, and apologies for the late reply.
      So he was still involved with his Tarot deck and using the name Frankie Albano in the early 70’s? That could be important. A lot of people say that he disappeared after a disagreement with Stuart Kaplan, but nobody knows the details, Kaplan published the USG RWS in 1971 and I always assumed he bullied the smaller publishers like Tarot Productions and University Books into submission. If it’s not asking you to betray a confidence, did he mention anything in regards to any of this?

      I’ve never found evidence of any acting roles, but for some reason I believe this. Being in California, he would almost certainly try to get into the business, and he may well have had some uncredited parts. After all, there was the music, the Tarot…he seemed comfortable trying different things, and acting would be a good chance at the fame he sought.

      Avocados? I’m surprised he could get them in London at all! I read a book about the Beatles once. George Harrison had never seen them either until the Beatles came to the states in 1963. He said it looked like eating wax, but he did try them eventually and he liked them. We eat a lot of them where I live, but it’s a TexMex thing: we make guacamole. I’ve never had them with a vinaigrette, but I agree that it doesn’t sound like anything to write home about, lol.

      Thanks for posting!

      • He never talked about any problems with the publishers of his Tarot Pack. He just showed up with them and they sold well. And for all I know he wasn’t really Frankie Albano. As I said this was the early 70s, I was young and there was no such thing as Google. He clearly had money, he had a very expensive flat in a very expensive part of London in Knightsbridge. He liked to cook and I remember he did it well. It wasn’t his fault that I thought avocados were vile haha. At one point he mentioned that he had been up for the lead in the movie the boy with the green hair. He also mentioned when he lived at the ranch in Big Sur he had a pet chimpanzee. But the Tarot cards were real as I carried them at my gift department at the Way In, Harrods. I wish I had photographs of him from that time

      • Charmian – It was him. See Bill’s comment below about the ad for private readings at 51,Beauchamp Place SW3.

  4. There’s a quarter page ad in the October 1977 issue of Harpers & Queen where he is advertising “in depth private readings by appointment only at 51,Beauchamp Place SW3.
    Unable to post photo to this reply,but send info and I will. The ad is precious, so poorly done…

    • Thanks, Bill! You should have an email from me.
      ETA: The email bounced. 😦
      I don’t want to put my email address here publicly for obvious reasons, but if you use the contact form here
      you’ll have it when I respond. I do want to see this ad! I googled the address you gave, and it’s apparently in Knightsbridge – a pretty posh area, from what I understand. He wasn’t around there much longer, a year later they opened a pizza place at that site.

    • For those who have a subscription, you can also see a small ad in the London Guardian on 16 November 1976, page 21, announcing his presence in London and offering his services:

      Frankie Albano, California’s noted clairvoyant, reader of the stars, psychometrists, creator of the Albano Waite tarot cards in London for personal consultation. Kensington W8. Tel. (redacted).

      • Thank you, Janet! This is the first one I’ve seen that mentions the deck.
        Kensington is another posh area – I think we’re on track. 😉

  5. His mom’s obituary – there are clues here:

    “Rose Albano Gabrich, 94, of South Beaver Twp., formerly of New Galilee and Koppel, died Thursday, January 30, 2014, at the Beaver Valley Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

    Born November 24, 1919, in Lisbon, Ohio, she was the daughter of the late Joseph and Carmella Gerwile Zitto. Rose was a member of the former Queen of Heaven Church and was currently a member of St Monica – Chippewa.

    In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her first husband, Joe Albano, and her second husband, Sylvester ‘Gabby’ Gabrich; four brothers, Dominic, Tony, Paul and James Zitto, and a sister, Mary Zitto.

    She is survived by two sons and a daughter-in-law, Frank ‘Frankie’ and Marilyn Albano, CA, and Joseph ‘Joey’ Albano, New Galilee; two grandchildren, Brian and Gina Albano, and three grandchildren, Alexa, Alivia and Dante Gaydos.

    Friends will be received Monday from 4 to 6 only in the GABAUER-LUTTON FUNERAL HOME & CREMATION SERVICES, INC., 117 Blackhawk Road, Chippewa Twp.,, where prayers will be offered Tuesday at 9:30 a.m., followed by a Mass at 10 a.m. in St. Monica – Chippewa. Father Kim Schreck will officiate.

    Interment will follow in St. Mary Cemetery.”

      • Hello Charmian, hope all is well.
        I do have a quick question – would you happen to remember if the decks being sold at Way In Harrods were published by US Games, or if they were unsold Tarot Productions stock?
        It’s a long shot – most of us tend not to remember things like this. But I have to ask. Thanks in advance!

      • Hi Stella,
        I’m sorry to say I have absolutely no recollection, as this was the early 70s! But because I only dealt with Frankie I am pretty sure they were his own stock.
        Hope that helps

      • It does.
        And I just recalled that USGames didn’t start publishing this deck until 1991. There was an AG Müller facsimile in the late 80’s, but in the 70’s there were only Albano’s editions. My mistake!
        Thank you.

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