FRANCIS ALBERT SINATRA (/sᵻˈnɑːtrə/ ; Italian: ; December 12,
1915 – May 14, 1998) was an American singer, actor, and producer who
was one of the most popular and influential musical artists of the
20th century. He is one of the best-selling music artists of all time
, having sold more than 150 million records worldwide. Born in
Hoboken, New Jersey
Hoboken, New Jersey , to Italian immigrants ,
Sinatra began his
musical career in the swing era with bandleaders
Harry James and Tommy
Sinatra found success as a solo artist after he signed with
Columbia Records in 1943, becoming the idol of the "bobby soxers ". He
released his debut album,
The Voice of Frank Sinatra , in 1946.
Sinatra's professional career had stalled by the early 1950s, and he
Las Vegas , where he became one of its best known performers
as part of the
Rat Pack . His career was reborn in 1953 with the
From Here to Eternity , with his performance subsequently
Academy Award and
Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting
Sinatra released several critically lauded albums, including In
the Wee Small Hours (1955), Songs for Swingin\' Lovers! (1956), Come
Fly with Me (1958), Only the Lonely (1958) and Nice \'n\' Easy (1960).
Sinatra left Capitol in 1960 to start his own record label, Reprise
Records , and released a string of successful albums. In 1965, he
recorded the retrospective
September of My Years , starred in the Emmy
-winning television special Frank Sinatra:
A Man and His Music , and
released the tracks "
Strangers in the Night " and "
My Way ". After
Sinatra at the Sands , recorded at the Sands Hotel and
Casino in Vegas with frequent collaborator
Count Basie in early 1966,
the following year he recorded one of his most famous collaborations
Tom Jobim , the album Francis Albert
Sinatra "> Hoboken, New
Jersey , early 20th century
Sinatra was born on December 12, 1915, in an upstairs
tenement at 415 Monroe Street in
Hoboken, New Jersey
Hoboken, New Jersey . He was the
only child of Italian immigrants Antonino Martino "Marty"
and Natalina "Dolly" Garaventa .
Sinatra weighed 13.5 pounds (6.1
kg) at birth and had to be delivered with the aid of forceps , which
caused severe scarring to his left cheek, neck, and ear, and
perforated his ear drum, damage that remained for life. Due to his
injuries at birth, his baptism at St. Francis Church in Hoboken was
delayed until April 2, 1916. A childhood operation on his mastoid
bone left major scarring on his neck, and during adolescence he
suffered from cystic acne that scarred his face and neck.
raised Roman Catholic .
When Sinatra's mother was a child, her pretty face earned her the
nickname "Dolly". Energetic and driven, biographers believe that she
was the dominant factor in the development of her son's personality
traits and extraordinary self-confidence.
Barbara Sinatra claims that
Dolly was abusive to him as a child, and "knocked him around a lot".
Dolly became influential in Hoboken and in local Democratic Party
circles. She worked as a midwife , earning $50 for each delivery,
and according to
Kitty Kelley , also ran an illegal
abortion service that catered to Italian Catholic girls for which she
was nicknamed "Hatpin Dolly". She also had a gift for languages and
served as a local interpreter. Sinatra's illiterate father was a
bantamweight boxer who fought under the name Marty O'Brien. He later
worked for 24 years at the Hoboken Fire Department, working his way up
Sinatra spent much time at his parents' tavern in
Hoboken, working on his homework and occasionally singing a song on
top of the player piano for spare change. During the Great Depression
, Dolly provided money to her son for outings with friends and to buy
expensive clothes, resulting in neighbors describing him as the
"best-dressed kid in the neighborhood". Excessively thin and small as
a child and young man, Sinatra's skinny frame later became a staple of
jokes during stage shows. "They'd fought through his childhood and
continued to do so until her dying day. But I believe that to counter
her steel will he'd developed his own. To prove her wrong when she
belittled his choice of career ... Their friction first had shaped
him; that, I think, had remained to the end and a litmus test of the
grit in his bones. It helped keep him at the top of his game."
—Sinatra's daughter Nancy on the importance of his mother Dolly in
his life and character.
Sinatra developed an interest in music, particularly big band jazz,
at a young age. He listened to
Gene Austin ,
Rudy Vallée , Russ
Colombo , and
Bob Eberly , and "idolized"
Bing Crosby . Sinatra's
maternal uncle, Domenico, gave him a ukulele for his 15th birthday,
and he began performing at family gatherings.
Sinatra attended David
E. Rue Jr. High School from 1928, and A. J. Demarest High School in
1931, where he arranged bands for school dances. He left without
graduating, having attended only 47 days before being expelled for
"general rowdiness". To please his mother, he enrolled at Drake
Business School, but departed after 11 months. Dolly found Sinatra
work as a delivery boy at the Jersey Observer newspaper, where his
godfather Frank Garrick worked, and after that,
Sinatra was a riveter
at the Tietjen and Lang shipyard. He performed in local Hoboken
social clubs such as The Cat's Meow and The Comedy Club, and sang for
free on radio stations such as WAAT in Jersey City. In New York,
Sinatra found jobs singing for his supper or for cigarettes. To
improve his speech, he began taking elocution lessons for a dollar
each from vocal coach John Quinlan, who was one of the first people to
notice his impressive vocal range.
Frank Sinatra discography
HOBOKEN FOUR AND HARRY JAMES (1935–1939)
Sinatra (far right) with the
Hoboken Four on Major Bowes'
Amateur Hour in 1935
Sinatra began singing professionally as a teenager, but he learned
music by ear and never learned to read music. He got his first break
in 1935 when his mother persuaded a local singing group, the 3 Flashes
, to let him join. Fred Tamburro, the group's baritone , stated that
"Frank hung around us like we were gods or something", admitting that
they only took him on board because he owned a car and could
chauffeur the group around.
Sinatra soon learned they were auditioning
Major Bowes Amateur Hour show, and "begged" the group to let
him in on the act. With Sinatra, the group became known as the
Hoboken Four, and passed an audition from
Edward Bowes to appear on
Major Bowes Amateur Hour show. They each earned $12.50 for the
appearance, and ended up attracting 40,000 votes and won first
prize—a six-month contract to perform on stage and radio across the
Sinatra quickly became the group's lead singer, and,
much to the jealousy of his fellow group members, garnered most of the
attention from girls. Due to the success of the group, Bowes kept
asking for them to return, disguised under different names, varying
from "The Seacaucus Cockamamies" to "The Bayonne Bacalas". Harry
James in 1942
Sinatra found employment as a singing waiter at a roadhouse
called "The Rustic Cabin" in
Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey
Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey , for which
he was paid $15 a week. The roadhouse was connected to the WNEW radio
station in New York City, and he began performing with a group live
during the Dance Parade show. Despite the low salary,
that this was the break he was looking for, and boasted to friends
that he was going to "become so big that no one could ever touch him".
In March 1939, saxophone player Frank Mane, who knew
Jersey City radio station WAAT where both performed on live
broadcasts, arranged for him to audition and record "Our Love", his
first solo studio recording. In June, bandleader
Harry James , who
Sinatra sing on "Dance Parade", signed a two-year contract
of $75 a week one evening after a show at the Paramount Theatre in New
York. It was with the James band that
Sinatra released his first
commercial record "From the Bottom of My Heart" in July. No more than
8,000 copies of the record were sold, and further records released
with James through 1939, such as "All or Nothing At All", also had
weak sales on their initial release. Thanks to his vocal training,
Sinatra could now sing two tones higher, and developed a repertoire
which included songs such as "My Buddy ", "
Willow Weep for Me ",
"It\'s Funny to Everyone But Me ", "Here Comes the Night", "On a
Little Street in Singapore ", "
Ciribiribin " and "Every Day of My Life
TOMMY DORSEY YEARS (1939–1942)
Sinatra performing at the Rustic Cabin in 1938 Tommy
Dorsey in the film
The Fabulous Dorseys (1947)
Sinatra became increasingly frustrated with the status of the Harry
James band, feeling that he was not achieving the major success and
acclaim he was looking for. His pianist and close friend Hank Sanicola
persuaded him to stay with the group, but in November 1939 he left
James to replace Jack Leonard as the lead singer of the Tommy Dorsey
Sinatra signed a contract with Dorsey for $125 a week at Palmer
Chicago , and James agreed amicably to release
his contract. On January 26, 1940, he made his first public
appearance with the band at the
Coronado Theatre in Rockford, Illinois
, opening the show with "Stardust ". Dorsey recalled: "You could
almost feel the excitement coming up out of the crowds when the kid
stood up to sing. Remember, he was no matinée idol . He was just a
skinny kid with big ears. I used to stand there so amazed I'd almost
forget to take my own solos". Dorsey was a major influence on Sinatra
and became a father figure .
Sinatra copied Dorsey's mannerisms and
traits, becoming a demanding perfectionist like him, even adopting his
hobby of toy trains. He asked Dorsey to be godfather to his daughter
Nancy in June 1940.
Sinatra later said that "The only two people I've
ever been afraid of are my mother and Tommy Dorsey". Though Kelley
Sinatra and drummer
Buddy Rich were bitter rivals, other
authors state that they were friends and even roommates when the band
was on the road, but professional jealousy surfaced as both men wanted
to be considered the star of Dorsey's band. Later,
Sinatra helped Rich
form his own band with a $25,000 loan and provided financial help to
Rich during times of the drummer's serious illness.
In his first year with Dorsey,
Sinatra recorded over forty songs.
Sinatra's first vocal hit was the song "
Polka Dots and Moonbeams " in
late April 1940. Two more chart appearances followed with "Say It "
and "Imagination ", which was Sinatra's first top-10 hit. His fourth
chart appearance was "I\'ll Never Smile Again ", topping the charts
for twelve weeks beginning in mid-July. Other records with Tommy
Dorsey issued by
RCA Victor include "
Our Love Affair " and "Stardust"
in 1940; "
Oh! Look at Me Now ", "Dolores ", "Everything Happens to Me
" and "
This Love of Mine " in 1941; "
Just as Though You Were There ",
"Take Me " and "
There Are Such Things " in 1942; and "It Started All
Over Again ", "
In the Blue of Evening " and "It\'s Always You " in
1943. As his success and popularity grew,
Sinatra pushed Dorsey to
allow him to record some solo songs. Dorsey eventually relented, and
on January 19, 1942,
Sinatra recorded "Night and Day ", "The Night We
Called It a Day ", "
The Song is You " and "Lamplighter\'s Serenade "
at a Bluebird recording session, with
Axel Stordahl as arranger and
Sinatra first heard the recordings at the Hollywood
Palladium and Hollywood Plaza and was astounded at how good he
sounded. Stordahl recalled: "He just couldn't believe his ears. He was
so excited, you almost believed he had never recorded before. I think
this was a turning point in his career. I think he began to see what
he might do on his own".
After the 1942 recordings,
Sinatra believed he needed to go solo,
with an insatiable desire to compete with Bing Crosby, but he was
hampered by his contract which gave Dorsey 43% of Sinatra's lifetime
earnings in the entertainment industry. A legal battle ensued,
eventually settled in August 1943. On September 3, 1942, Dorsey bid
farewell to Sinatra, reportedly saying as
Sinatra left, "I hope you
fall on your ass". He replaced
Sinatra with singer
Dick Haymes .
Rumors began spreading in newspapers that Sinatra's mobster godfather,
Willie Moretti , coerced Dorsey to let
Sinatra out of his contract for
a few thousand dollars, holding a gun to his head.
Stordahl to leave Dorsey with him and become his personal arranger,
offering him $650 a month, five times the salary of Dorsey. Dorsey
and Sinatra, who had been very close, never patched up their
differences before Dorsey's death in 1956, worsened by the fact that
Dorsey occasionally made biting comments to the press such as "he's
the most fascinating man in the world, but don't put your hand in the
ONSET OF SINATRAMANIA AND ROLE IN WORLD WAR II (1942–1945)
By May 1941,
Sinatra topped the male singer polls in Billboard and
Down Beat magazines. His appeal to bobby soxers , as teenage girls of
that time were called, revealed a whole new audience for popular
music, which had been recorded mainly for adults up to that time. The
phenomenon became officially known as "Sinatramania" after his
"legendary opening" at the Paramount Theatre in New York on December
30, 1942. According to Nancy Sinatra,
Jack Benny later said, "I
thought the goddamned building was going to cave in. I never heard
such a commotion ... All this for a fellow I never heard of." Sinatra
performed for four weeks at the theatre, his act following the Benny
Goodman orchestra, after which his contract was renewed for another
four weeks by Bob Weitman due to his popularity. He became known as
"Swoonatra" or "The Voice", and his fans "Sinatratics". They organized
meetings and sent masses of letters of adoration, and within a few
weeks of the show, some 1000
Sinatra fan clubs had been reported
across the US. Sinatra's publicist, George Evans, encouraged
interviews and photographs with fans, and was the man responsible for
Sinatra as a vulnerable, shy, Italian–American with a
rough childhood who made good. When
Sinatra returned to the Paramount
in October 1944 only 250 persons left the first show, and 35,000 fans
left outside caused a near riot, known as the Columbus Day Riot,
outside the venue because they were not allowed in. Such was the
bobby-soxer devotion to
Sinatra that they were known to write
Sinatra's song titles on their clothing, bribe hotel maids for an
opportunity to touch his bed, and accost his person in the form of
stealing clothing he was wearing, most commonly his bow-tie .
Sinatra signed with
Columbia Records as a solo artist on June 1, 1943
during the 1942–44 musicians\' strike . Columbia Records
Harry James and Sinatra's August 1939 version of "All or
Nothing at All", which reached number 2 on June 2, and was on the
best–selling list for 18 weeks. He initially had great success,
and performed on the radio on
Your Hit Parade from February 1943 until
December 1944, and on stage. Columbia wanted new recordings of their
growing star as quickly as possible, so
Alec Wilder was hired as an
arranger and conductor for several sessions with a vocal group called
the Bobby Tucker Singers. These first sessions were on June 7, June
22, August 5, and November 10, 1943. Of the nine songs recorded during
these sessions, seven charted on the best–selling list. That year
he also made his first solo nightclub appearance at New York's
Riobamba , and a successful concert in the Wedgewood Room of the
Waldorf-Astoria New York that year secured his popularity
in New York high society.
Sinatra released "You\'ll Never Know ",
"Close to You ", "
Sunday, Monday, or Always " and "People Will Say
We\'re in Love " as singles. By the end of 1943 he was more popular in
Down Beat poll than Bing Crosby, Perry Como,
Bob Eberly and Dick
Sinatra (left) on the Armed Forces Radio in 1944
Sinatra did not serve in the military during World War II. On
December 11, 1943, he was officially classified 4-F ("Registrant not
acceptable for military service") by his draft board because of a
perforated eardrum. However, army files reported that
Sinatra was "not
acceptable material from a psychiatric viewpoint", but his emotional
instability was hidden to avoid "undue unpleasantness for both the
selectee and the induction service". Briefly, there were rumors
reported by columnist
Walter Winchell that
Sinatra paid $40,000 to
avoid the service, but the
FBI found this to be without merit.
Toward the end of the war,
Sinatra entertained the troops during
several successful overseas
USO tours with comedian
Phil Silvers .
During one trip to Rome he met the Pope , who asked him if he was an
Sinatra worked frequently with the popular Andrews
Sisters in radio the 1940s, and many
USO shows were broadcast to
troops via the
Armed Forces Radio Service (AFRS). In 1944 Sinatra
released "I Couldn\'t Sleep a Wink Last Night " as a single and
recorded his own version of Crosby's "White Christmas ", and the
following year he released "I Dream of You (More Than You Dream I Do)
Saturday Night (Is the Loneliest Night of the Week) ", "Dream "
Nancy (with the Laughing Face) " as singles.
COLUMBIA YEARS AND CAREER SLUMP (1946–1952)
Sinatra in November 1950
Despite being heavily involved in political activity in 1945 and
1946, in those two years
Sinatra sang on 160 radio shows, recorded 36
times, and shot four films. By 1946 he was performing on stage up to
45 times a week, singing up to 100 songs daily, and earning up to
$93,000 a week.
Sinatra released "
Oh! What it Seemed to Be ", "Day by Day ",
"They Say It\'s Wonderful ", "
Five Minutes More " and "The Coffee Song
" as singles, and launched his first album,
The Voice of Frank
Sinatra , which reached No. 1 on the Billboard chart. William
AllMusic noted that
Sinatra "took the material very
seriously, singing the love lyrics with utter seriousness", and that
his "singing and the classically influenced settings gave the songs
unusual depth of meaning". He was soon selling ten million records a
year. Such was Sinatra's command at Columbia that his love of
conducting was indulged with the release of the set Frank Sinatra
Conducts the Music of
Alec Wilder , an offering unlikely to appeal to
Sinatra's core fanbase at the time, which consisted of teenage girls.
The following year he released his second album,
Songs by Sinatra ,
featuring songs of a similar mood and tempo such as
Irving Berlin 's
How Deep is the Ocean? " and
Harold Arlen 's and
Jerome Kern 's "All
The Things You Are ". "Mam\'selle ", composed by
Edmund Goulding with
Mack Gordon for the film The Razor\'s Edge (1946), was
released as a single.
Sinatra had competition; versions by
Art Lund ,
Dick Haymes ,
Dennis Day , and The Pied Pipers also reached the top
ten of the Billboard charts. In December he recorded "Sweet Lorraine
" with the
Metronome All-Stars , featuring talented jazz musicians
Coleman Hawkins ,
Harry Carney and
Charlie Shavers , with Nat
King Cole on piano, in what Charles L. Granata describes as "one of
the highlights of Sinatra's Columbia epoch".
Sinatra's third album, Christmas
Songs by Sinatra , was originally
released in 1948 as a 78 rpm album set, and a 10" LP record was
released two years later. When
Sinatra was featured as a priest in
The Miracle of the Bells , due to press negativity surrounding his
alleged Mafia connections at the time, it was announced to the public
Sinatra would donate his $100,000 in wages from the film to the
church. By the end of 1948,
Sinatra had slipped to fourth on Down
Beat's annual poll of most popular singers (behind
Billy Eckstine ,
Frankie Laine , and Bing Crosby). and in the following year he was
pushed out of the top spots in polls for the first time since 1943.
Frankly Sentimental (1949) was panned by Down Beat, who commented that
"for all his talent, it seldom comes to life".
The Hucklebuck " reached the top ten, it was his last single
release under the Columbia label. Sinatra's last two albums with
Columbia, Dedicated to You and Sing and Dance with
Frank Sinatra ,
were released in 1950.
Sinatra would later feature a number of the
Sing and Dance with
Frank Sinatra album's songs, including "Lover ",
"It\'s Only a Paper Moon ", "
It All Depends on You ", on his 1961
Capitol release, Sinatra\'s Swingin\' Session!!! .
Cementing the low of his career was the death of publicist George
Evans from a heart attack in January 1950 at 48. According to Jimmy
Van Heusen , Sinatra's close friend and songwriter, Evans's death to
him was "an enormous shock which defies words", as he had been crucial
to his career and popularity with the bobbysoxers. Sinatra's
reputation continued to decline as reports broke out in February of
his affair with
Ava Gardner and the destruction of his marriage to
Nancy, though he insisted that his marriage had long been over even
before he had met Gardner. In April,
Sinatra was engaged to perform
at the Copa club in New York, but had to cancel five days of the
booking due to suffering a submucosal hemorrhage of the throat. Evans
once noted that whenever
Sinatra suffered from a bad throat and loss
of voice it was always due to emotional tension which "absolutely
destroyed him". The
Desert Inn , Las Vegas, where
performing in 1951
In financial difficulty following his divorce and career decline,
Sinatra was forced to borrow $200,000 from Columbia to pay his back
taxes after MCA refused to front the money. Rejected by Hollywood, he
Las Vegas and made his debut at the
Desert Inn in September
1951, and also began singing at the Riverside Hotel in
Reno, Nevada .
Sinatra became one of Las Vegas's pioneer entertainers, and a
prominent figure on the Vegas scene throughout the 1950s and 1960s
onwards, a period described by Rojek as the "high-water mark" of
Sinatra's "hedonism and self absorption". Rojek notes that the Rat
Pack "provided an outlet for gregarious banter and wisecracks", but
argues that it was Sinatra's vehicle, possessing an "unassailable
command over the other performers".
Sinatra would fly to Las Vegas
Los Angeles in Van Heusen's single-engine plane. On October 4,
Sinatra made his first performance at the Sands Hotel and Casino
, after an invitation by the manager
Jack Entratter , who had
previously worked at the Copa in New York.
performed there three times a year, and later acquired a share in the
Sinatra's decline in popularity was evident at his concert
appearances. At a brief run at the Paramount in New York he drew small
audiences. At the
Desert Inn in
Las Vegas he performed to half-filled
houses of wildcatters and ranchers. At a concert at
Chez Paree in
Chicago, only 150 people in a 1,200-seat capacity venue turned up to
see him. By April 1952 he was performing at the
Kauai County Fair in
Hawaii. Sinatra's relationship with
Columbia Records was also
disintegrating, with A">
Nelson Riddle , Sinatra's album arranger
The release of the film
From Here to Eternity in August 1953 marked
the beginning of a remarkable career revival. Santopietro notes that
Sinatra began to bury himself in his work, with an "unparalleled
frenetic schedule of recordings, movies and concerts", in what
authors Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan describe as "a new and
brilliant phase". On March 13, 1953,
Sinatra met with Capitol Records
Alan Livingston and signed a seven-year recording
contract. His first session for Capitol took place at KHJ studios at
Studio C, 5515 Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles, with Axel Stordahl
conducting. The session produced four recordings, including "I\'m
Walking Behind You ", Sinatra's first Capitol single. After spending
two weeks on location in
Hawaii filming From Here to Eternity, Sinatra
returned to KHJ on April 30 for his first recording session with
Nelson Riddle , an established arranger and conductor at Capitol who
was Nat King Cole's musical director. After recording the first song,
"I've Got the World on a String",
Sinatra offered Riddle a rare
expression of praise, "Beautiful!", and after listening to the
playbacks, he could not hide his enthusiasm, exclaiming, "I'm back,
baby, I'm back!"
In subsequent sessions in May and November 1953,
Sinatra and Riddle
developed and refined their musical collaboration, with Sinatra
providing specific guidance on the arrangements. Sinatra's first
album for Capitol,
Songs for Young Lovers , was released on January 4,
1954, and included "
A Foggy Day ", "
I Get a Kick Out of You ", "My
Funny Valentine ", "
Violets for Your Furs " and "They Can\'t Take That
Away from Me ", songs which became staples of his later concerts.
That same month,
Doris Day released the single "Young at
Heart ", which reached #2 and was awarded Song of the Year. In
March, he recorded and released the single "Three Coins in the
Fountain ", a "powerful ballad" that reached #4. Sinatra's second
album with Riddle,
Swing Easy! , which reflected his "love for the
jazz idiom" according to Granata, was released on August 2 of that
year and included "Just One of Those Things ", "Taking a Chance on
Love ", "Get Happy ", and "All of Me ".
Swing Easy! was named Album
of the Year by Billboard, and he was also named "Favorite Male
Vocalist" by Billboard, Down Beat, and
Metronome that year. Sinatra
came to consider Riddle "the greatest arranger in the world", and
Riddle, who considered
Sinatra "a perfectionist", offered equal
praise of the singer, observing, "It's not only that his intuitions as
to tempi, phrasing, and even configuration are amazingly right, but
his taste is so impeccable ... there is still no one who can approach
In the Wee Small Hours , his first 12" LP,
featuring songs such as "
In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning ",
Mood Indigo ", "
Glad to Be Unhappy " and "
When Your Lover Has Gone ".
According to Granata it was the first concept album of his to make a
"single persuasive statement", with an extended program and
Sinatra embarked on his first tour of Australia
the same year. Another collaboration with Riddle resulted in the
development of Songs for Swingin\' Lovers! , sometimes seen as one of
his best albums, which was released in March 1956. It features a
recording of "I\'ve Got You Under My Skin " by
Cole Porter ,
Sinatra paid meticulous care to, taking a reported 22
takes to perfect.
His February 1956 recording sessions inaugurated the studios at the
Capitol Records Building , complete with a 56-piece symphonic
orchestra. According to Granata his recordings of "Night and Day",
"Oh! Look At Me Now" and "From This Moment On " revealed "powerful
sexual overtones, stunningly achieved through the mounting tension and
release of Sinatra's best-teasing vocal lines", while his recording of
"River, Stay \'Way from My Door " in April demonstrated his
"brilliance as a syncopational improviser". Riddle noted that Sinatra
took "particular delight" in singing "The Lady is a Tramp", commenting
that he "always sang that song with a certain amount of
salaciousness", making "cue tricks" with the lyrics. His penchant for
conducting was displayed again in 1956's
Frank Sinatra Conducts Tone
Poems of Color , an instrumental album that has been interpreted to be
a catharsis to his failed relationship with Gardner. Also that year,
Sinatra sang at the Democratic National Convention , and performed
The Dorsey Brothers for a week soon afterwards at the Paramount
Sinatra in 1957
Sinatra released Close to You , A Swingin\' Affair! and
Where Are You? – his first album in stereo, with
Gordon Jenkins .
Granata considers "Close to You" to have been thematically his closest
concept album to perfection during the "golden" era, and Nelson
Riddle's finest work, which was "extremely progressive" by the stands
of the day. It is structured like a three-act play, each commencing
with the songs "
With Every Breath I Take ", "
Blame It On My Youth "
and "It Could Happen to You ". For Granata, Sinatra's A Swingin'
Affair! and swing music predecessor Songs for Swingin' Lovers!
solidified "Sinatra's image as a 'swinger', from both a musical and
Buddy Collette considered the swing albums to have
been heavily influenced by
Sammy Davis, Jr.
Sammy Davis, Jr. , and noted that when he
Sinatra in the mid-1960s he approached a song much
differently than he had done in the early 1950s. On June 9, 1957, he
performed in a 62-minute concert conducted by Riddle at the Seattle
Civic Auditorium , his first appearance in
Seattle since 1945. The
recording was first released as a bootleg, but in 1999 Artanis
Entertainment Group officially released it as the
Sinatra \'57 in
Concert live album, after Sinatra's death. In 1958
the album Come Fly with Me with
Billy May . It reached the top spot
on the Billboard album chart in its second week, remaining at the top
for five weeks, and was nominated for the
Grammy Award for Album of
the Year at the inaugural
Grammy Awards . The title song, "Come Fly
With Me ", written especially for him, would become one of his best
known standards. On May 29 he recorded seven songs in a single
session, more than double the usual yield of a recording session, and
an eighth was planned, "Lush Life ", but
Sinatra found it too
technically demanding. In September,
Sinatra released Frank Sinatra
Sings for Only the Lonely , a stark collection of introspective
saloon songs and blues-tinged ballads which proved a huge commercial
success, spending 120 weeks on Billboards album chart and peaking at
No. 1. Cuts from this LP, such as "Angel Eyes " and "One for My Baby
(and One More for the Road) ", would remain staples of the "saloon
song" segments of Sinatra's concerts.
Sinatra released Come Dance with Me! , a highly successful,
critically acclaimed album which stayed on Billboard's Pop album chart
for 140 weeks, peaking at #2. It won the
Grammy Award for Album of the
Year , as well as Best Vocal Performance, Male and Best Arrangement
Billy May . He also released
No One Cares in the same year, a
collection of "brooding, lonely" torch songs, which critic Stephen
Thomas Erlewine thought was "nearly as good as its predecessor Where
Are You?, but lacked the "lush" arrangements of it and the "grandiose
melancholy" of Only the Lonely.
In the words of Kelley, by 1959,
Sinatra was "not simply the leader
of the Rat Pack" but had "assumed the position of il padrone in
Hollywood". He was asked by
20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox to be the master of
ceremonies at a luncheon attended by President
Nikita Khrushchev on
September 19, 1959. Nice \'n\' Easy , a collection of ballads, topped
the Billboard chart in October 1960 and remained in the charts for 86
weeks, winning critical plaudits. Granata noted the "lifelike
ambient sound" quality of Nice and Easy, the perfection in the stereo
balance, and the "bold, bright and snappy" sound of the band. He
highlighted the "close, warm and sharp" feel of Sinatra's voice,
particularly on the songs "
September in the Rain ", "I Concentrate on
You ", and "My Blue Heaven ".
REPRISE YEARS (1961–1981)
Dean Martin and
Judy Garland in 1962
Sinatra grew discontented at Capitol, and fell into a feud with Alan
Livingston , which lasted over six months. He decided to form his own
Reprise Records and, in an effort to assert his new
direction, temporarily parted with Riddle, May and Jenkins, working
with other arrangers such as
Neil Hefti ,
Don Costa , and Quincy Jones
Sinatra the company developed into a music industry
"powerhouse", and he later sold it for an estimated $80 million. His
first album on the label,
Ring-a-Ding-Ding! (1961), was a major
success, peaking at No.4 on Billboard. The album was released in
February 1961, the same month that
Reprise Records released Ben
The Warm Moods , Sammy Davis, Jr.'s The Wham of Sam, Mavis
River 's Mavis and
Joe E. Lewis 's It is Now Post Time. On September
11 and 12, 1961,
Sinatra recorded his final songs for Capitol. In an
effort to maintain his commercial viability in the 1960s, Sinatra
Elvis Presley 's hit "Love Me Tender ", and later recorded
Paul Simon such as "
Mrs. Robinson ", the Beatles ("Something
", "Yesterday "), and
Joni Mitchell ("
Both Sides, Now ").
Sinatra and Strings , a set of standard
ballads arranged by Don Costa, which became one of the most critically
acclaimed works of Sinatra's entire Reprise period. Frank Sinatra, Jr.
, who was present during the recording, noted the "huge orchestra",
Nancy Sinatra stated "opened a whole new era" in pop music, with
orchestras getting bigger, embracing a "lush string sound". Sinatra
Count Basie collaborated for the album Sinatra-Basie the same
year, a popular and successful release which prompted them to rejoin
two years later for the follow-up
It Might as Well Be Swing , arranged
by Quincy Jones. The two became frequent performers together, and
appeared at the Newport
Jazz Festival in 1965. Also in 1962, as the
owner of his own record label,
Sinatra was able to step on the podium
as conductor again, releasing his third instrumental album Frank
Sinatra Conducts Music from Pictures and Plays .
Sinatra at the
Grauman's Chinese Theatre in 1965
Sinatra reunited with
Nelson Riddle for The Concert Sinatra
, an ambitious album featuring a 73-piece symphony orchestra arranged
and conducted by Riddle. The concert was recorded on a motion picture
scoring soundstage with the use of multiple synchronized recording
machines that employed an optical signal onto 35 mm film designed for
movie soundtracks. Granata considers the album to have been
"impeachable" , "one of the very best of the Sinatra-Riddle ballad
albums", in which
Sinatra displayed an impressive vocal range,
particularly in "Ol\' Man
River ", in which he darkened the hue. In
1964 the song "
My Kind of Town " was nominated for the Academy Award
for Best Original Song .
Sinatra released Softly, as I Leave You ,
and collaborated with
Bing Crosby and
Fred Waring on America, I Hear
You Singing , a collection of patriotic songs recorded as a tribute to
the assassinated President John F. Kennedy.
became involved in charitable pursuits in this period. In 1961 and
1962 he went to Mexico, with the sole purpose of putting on
performances for Mexican charities, and in July 1964 he was present
for the dedication of the
Frank Sinatra International Youth Center for
Arab and Jewish children in
Sinatra's phenomenal success in 1965, coinciding with his 50th
birthday, prompted Billboard to proclaim that he may have reached the
"peak of his eminence". In June 1965, Sinatra,
Sammy Davis, Jr.
Sammy Davis, Jr. , and
Dean Martin played live in
St. Louis to benefit Dismas House, a
prisoner rehabilitation and training center with nationwide programs
that in particular helped serve African Americans. The Rat Pack
concert was broadcast live via satellite to numerous movie theaters
across America. The album
September of My Years was released
September 1965, and went on to win the
Grammy Award for best album of
the year. Granata considers the album to have been one of the finest
of his Reprise years, "a reflective throwback to the concept records
of the 1950s, and more than any of those collections, distills
Frank Sinatra had ever learned or experienced as a
vocalist". One of the album's singles, "
It Was a Very Good Year ",
Grammy Award for Best Vocal Performance, Male. A career
A Man and His Music , followed in November, winning Album
of the Year at the Grammys the following year. The Sands Hotel
and Casino in 1959
Sinatra released That\'s Life , with both the single of
"That\'s Life " and album becoming Top Ten hits in the US on
Billboard's pop charts.
Strangers in the Night went on to top the
Billboard and UK pop singles charts, winning the award for Record of
the Year at the Grammys. Sinatra's first live album,
Sinatra at the
Sands , was recorded during January and February 1966 at the Sands
Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
Sinatra was backed by the Count Basie
Quincy Jones conducting.
Sinatra pulled out from the
Sands the following year, when he was driven out by its new owner
Howard Hughes , after a fight.
Sinatra started 1967 with a series of recording sessions with
Antônio Carlos Jobim . He recorded one of his most famous
collaborations with Jobim, the Grammy-nominated album Francis Albert
Antônio Carlos Jobim , which was one of the best-selling
albums of the year, behind the Beatles's Sgt. Pepper\'s Lonely Hearts
Club Band . According to Santopietro the album "consists of an
extraordinarily effective blend of bossa nova and slightly swinging
jazz vocals, and succeeds in creating an unbroken mood of romance and
Stan Cornyn noted that
Sinatra sang so softly on the
album that it was comparable to the time that he suffered from a vocal
hemorrhage in 1950.
Sinatra also released the album The World We Knew
, which features a chart-topping duet of "Somethin\' Stupid " with
daughter Nancy. In December,
Sinatra collaborated with Duke
Ellington on the album Francis A. ">
Caesars Palace in 1970, where
Sinatra performed from 1967 to 1970 and 1973 onwards
Sinatra released Watertown , one of his most acclaimed
concept albums, with music by
Bob Gaudio (of the Four Seasons) and
Jake Holmes . However, it sold a mere 30,000 copies that
year and reached a peak chart position of 101. He left Caesars Palace
in September that year after an incident where executive Sanford
Waterman pulled a gun on him. He performed several charity concerts
Count Basie at the
Royal Festival Hall
Royal Festival Hall in London. On November 2,
Sinatra recorded the last songs for
Reprise Records before his
self-imposed retirement, announced the following June at a concert in
Hollywood to raise money for the Motion Picture and TV Relief Fund.
He finished the concert with a "rousing" performance of "That's Life",
and stated "Excuse me while I disappear" as he left the stage. He
told LIFE journalist Thomas Thompson that "I've got things to do, like
the first thing is not to do _anything_ at all for eight months ...
maybe a year", while
Barbara Sinatra later claimed that
grown "tired of entertaining people, especially when all they really
wanted were the same old tunes he had long ago become bored by".
While he was in retirement, President
Richard Nixon asked him to
perform at a Young Voters Rally in anticipation of the upcoming
Sinatra obliged and chose to sing "My Kind of Town" for the
rally held in
Chicago on October 20, 1972.
Sinatra came out of his short-lived retirement with a
television special and album. The album, entitled Ol\' Blue Eyes Is
Back , arranged by
Gordon Jenkins and
Don Costa , was a success,
reaching number 13 on Billboard and number 12 in the UK. The
television special, Magnavox Presents
Frank Sinatra , reunited Sinatra
Gene Kelly . He initially developed problems with his vocal cords
during the comeback due to a prolonged period without singing. That
Christmas he performed at the
Sahara Hotel in Las Vegas, and returned
Caesars Palace the following month in January 1974, despite
previously vowing to perform there again . He began what Barbara
Sinatra describes as a "massive comeback tour of the United States,
Europe, the Far East and Australia". In July, while on a second tour
of Australia, he caused an uproar by describing journalists there –
who were aggressively pursuing his every move and pushing for a press
conference – as "bums, parasites, fags, and buck-and-a-half
hookers". After he was pressured to apologize,
insisted that the journalists apologize for "fifteen years of abuse I
have taken from the world press". In the end, Sinatra's lawyer,
Mickey Rudin, arranged a final concert which was televised to the
Sinatra was given the opportunity to say "I love your
attitude, I love your booze" to the Australian people. In October
1974 he appeared at New York City's
Madison Square Garden
Madison Square Garden in a
televised concert that was later released as an album under the title
The Main Event – Live . Backing him was bandleader
Woody Herman and
the Young Thundering Herd, who accompanied
Sinatra on a European tour
later that month.
Frank Sinatra at the White House in 1973
Sinatra performed in concerts in New York with Count Basie
Ella Fitzgerald , and at the
London Palladium with Basie and Sarah
Vaughan , and in Tehran at Aryamehr Stadium , giving 140 performances
in 105 days. In August he held several consecutive concerts at Lake
Tahoe together with the newly-risen singer
John Denver , who became
a frequent collaborator.
Sinatra had recorded Denver's "Leaving on a
Jet Plane " and "My Sweet Lady" for
Sinatra signed a $16
million three-year deal with the Golden Nugget
Las Vegas in 1982
Santopietro stated that by the early 1980s, Sinatra's voice had
"coarsened, losing much of its power and flexibility, but audiences
didn't care". In 1982, he signed a $16 million three-year deal with
the Golden Nugget of Las Vegas. Kelley notes that by this period
Sinatra's voice had grown "darker, tougher and loamier", but he
"continued to captivate audiences with his immutable magic". She added
that his baritone voice "sometimes cracked, but the gliding
intonations still aroused the same raptures of delight as they had at
the Paramount Theater". That year he made a reported further $1.3
million from the Showtime television rights to his "Concert of the
Americas" in the Dominican Republic, $1.6 million for a concert series
Carnegie Hall , and $250,000 in just one evening at the Chicago
Fest. He donated a lot of his earnings to charity. He put on a
performance at the White House for the Italian Prime Minister, and
performed at the
Radio City Music Hall with
Luciano Pavarotti and
George Shearing .
Sinatra was selected as one of the five recipients of the 1983
Kennedy Center Honors
Kennedy Center Honors , alongside
Katherine Dunham ,
James Stewart ,
Elia Kazan , and
Virgil Thomson . Quoting
Henry James , President
Reagan said in honoring his old friend that "art was the shadow of
humanity" and that
Sinatra had "spent his life casting a magnificent
and powerful shadow". On September 21, 1983,
Sinatra filed a $2
million court case against
Kitty Kelley , suing her in punitive
damages, before her unofficial biography, His Way, was even published.
The book became a best-seller for "all the wrong reasons" and "the
most eye-opening celebrity biography of our time", according to
William Safire of The New York Times.
Sinatra was always adamant that
such a book would be written on his terms, and he himself would "set
the record straight" in details of his life. According to Kelley, the
family detested her and the book, which took its toll on Sinatra's
health. Kelley claims that
Tina Sinatra blamed her for her father's
colon surgery in 1986. He was forced to drop the case on September
19, 1984, with several leading newspapers expressing concerns about
his views on censorship.
Sinatra worked with
Quincy Jones for the first time in
nearly two decades on the album,
L.A. Is My Lady , which was well
received critically. The album was a substitute for another Jones
project, an album of duets with
Lena Horne , which had to be
abandoned. In 1986,
Sinatra collapsed on stage while performing in
Atlantic City and was hospitalized for diverticulitis , which left
him looking frail. Two years later,
Sinatra reunited with Martin and
Davis, Jr. and went on the
Rat Pack Reunion Tour, during which they
played a number of large arenas. When Martin dropped out of the tour
early on, a rift developed between them and the two never spoke again.
On June 6, 1988,
Sinatra made his last recordings with Reprise for an
album which was not released. He recorded "My Foolish Heart ," "Cry Me
River ," and other songs.
Sinatra never completed the project, but
take number 18 of "My Foolish Heart" may be heard in The Complete
Reprise Studio Recordings (1995).
Brendan Grace in
Sinatra was awarded the second "Ella Award" by the Los
Society of Singers , and performed for a final time with
Ella Fitzgerald at the award ceremony.
Sinatra maintained an active
touring schedule in the early 1990s, performing 65 concerts in 1990,
73 in 1991 and 84 in 1992 in seventeen different countries.
Sinatra returned to
Capitol Records and the recording studio
Duets , which became his best-selling album. The album and its
Duets II , released the following year, would see Sinatra
remake his classic recordings with popular contemporary performers,
who added their vocals to a pre-recorded tape. During his tours in
the early 1990s, his memory failed him at times during concerts, and
he fainted onstage in
Richmond, Virginia , in March 1994. His final
public concerts were held in
Fukuoka Dome in Japan on December
19–20, 1994. The following year,
Sinatra sang for the very last
time on February 25, 1995, before a live audience of 1200 select
guests at the Palm Desert Marriott Ballroom, on the closing night of
Frank Sinatra Desert Classic golf tournament. Esquire reported of
the show that
Sinatra was "clear, tough, on the money" and "in
Sinatra was awarded the Legend Award at the 1994
Grammy Awards , where he was introduced by
Bono , who said of him,
"Frank's the chairman of the bad attitude ... Rock 'n roll plays at
being tough, but this guy is the boss – the chairman of boss ... I'm
not going to mess with him, are you?"
In 1995, to mark Sinatra's 80th birthday, the Empire State Building
glowed blue. A star-studded birthday tribute, Sinatra: 80 Years My
Way, was held at the
Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, featuring
performers such as
Ray Charles ,
Little Richard ,
Natalie Cole and
Salt-N-Pepa singing his songs. At the end of the program Sinatra
graced the stage for the last time to sing the final notes of the
"Theme from New York, New York" with an ensemble. In recognition of
his many years of association with Las Vegas,
Frank Sinatra was
elected to the
Gaming Hall of Fame in 1997.
SINATRA, THE MUSICIAN
"He'd always been critical of his voice, and that only intensified
as he got older. He never liked to discuss a performance afterward
because he knew his voice wasn't as good as it used to be. If someone
told him he'd been great, he'd reply, 'It was a nice crowd, but my
reed was off' or 'I wasn't so good on the third number'. Strangely, in
spite of his hearing problems, he had the most incredible ear, which
often drove those he worked with nuts. There could be an orchestra of
a hundred musicians, and if one played a bum note he'd know exactly
who was responsible." —
Barbara Sinatra on Sinatra's voice and
Sinatra never formally learned how to read music, he had a
fine, natural understanding of it, and he worked very hard from a
young age to improve his abilities in all aspects of music. He did,
however, learn to follow a lead sheet during a performance by
"carefully following the patterns and groupings of notes arranged on
the page" and made his own notations to the music, using his ear to
detect semi-tonal differences. Granata states that some of the most
accomplished classically trained musicians soon noticed his musical
understanding, and remarked that
Sinatra had a "sixth sense", which
"demonstrated unusual proficiency when it came to detecting incorrect
notes and sounds within the orchestra".
Sinatra was an aficionado of
classical music, and would often request classical strains in his
music, inspired by composers such as
Puccini and Impressionist
masters. His personal favorite was
Ralph Vaughan Williams . He would
insist on always recording live with the band because it gave him a
"certain feeling" to perform live surrounded by musicians. By the mid
1940s, such was his understanding of music that after hearing an air
check of some compositions by
Alec Wilder which were for strings and
woodwinds, he became the conductor at
Columbia Records for six of
Wilder's compositions: "Air for Oboe", "Air for English Horn", "Air
for Flute", "Air for Bassoon", "Slow Dance" and "Theme and
Variations". The works, which combine elements of jazz and classical
music, were considered by Wilder to have been among the finest
renditions and recordings of his compositions, past or present. At
one recording session with arranger
Claus Ogerman and an orchestra,
Sinatra heard "a couple of little strangers" in the string section,
prompting Ogerman to make corrections to what were thought to be
copyist's errors. Critic Gene Lees, a lyricist and the author of the
words to the Jobim melody "This Happy Madness", expressed amazement
when he heard Sinatra's recording of it on
Axel Stordahl at the Liederkrantz Hall in New York, c. 1947
Nelson Riddle found
Sinatra to be a "perfectionist who drove
himself and everybody around him relentlessly", and stated that his
collaborators approached him with a sense of uneasiness because of his
unpredictable and often volatile temperament. Granata comments that
Sinatra was almost fanatically obsessed with perfection to the point
that people began wondering if he was genuinely concerned about the
music or showing off his power over others. On days when he felt that
his voice was not right, he would know after only a few notes and
would postpone the recording session until the following day, yet
still pay his musicians. After a period of performing,
of singing a certain set of songs and was always looking for talented
new songwriters and composers to work with. Once he found ones that he
liked, he actively sought to work with them as often as he could, and
made friends with many of them. He once told
Sammy Cahn , who wrote
songs for Anchor's Away, "if you're not there Monday, I'm not there
Monday". Over the years he recorded 87 of Cahn's songs, of which 24
were composed by
Jule Styne , and 43 by Jimmy Van Heusen. The
Cahn-Styne partnership lasted from 1942 until 1954, when Van Heusen
succeeded him as Sinatra's main composer. Unlike many of his
Sinatra insisted upon direct input regarding
arrangements and tempos for his recordings. He would spend weeks
thinking about the songs he wanted to record, and would keep an
arranger in mind for each song. If it were a mellow love song, he
would ask for Gordon Jenkins. If it were a "rhythm" number, he would
think of Billy May, or perhaps
Neil Hefti or some other favored
arranger. Jenkins considered Sinatra's musical sense to be unerring.
His changes to Riddle's charts would frustrate Riddle, yet he would
usually concede that Sinatra's ideas were superior. Barbara Sinatra
Sinatra would almost always credit the songwriter at the
end of each number, and would often make comments to the audience,
such as "Isn't that a pretty ballad" or "Don't you think that's the
most marvelous love song", delivered with "childlike delight". She
states that after each show,
Sinatra would be "in a buoyant,
electrically charged mood, a post-show high that would take him hours
to come down from as he quietly relived every note of the performance
he'd just given". "His voice is more interesting now: he has
separated his voice into different colors, in different registers.
Years ago, his voice was more even, and now it is divided into at
least three interesting ranges: low, middle, and high. probing more
deeply into his songs than he used to. That may be due to the ten
years he's put on, and the things he's been through." —Nelson
Riddle noting the development of Sinatra's voice in 1955.
Sinatra's split with Gardner in the fall of 1953 had a profound
impact on the types of songs he sang and his voice. He began to
console himself in songs with a "brooding melancholy", such as "I\'m a
Fool to Want You ", "Don\'t Worry \'Bout Me ", "
My One and Only Love "
There Will Never Be Another You ", which Riddle believed was the
direct influence of Ava Gardner. Lahr comments that the new Sinatra
was "not the gentle boy balladeer of the forties. Fragility had gone
from his voice, to be replaced by a virile adult's sense of happiness
and hurt". Author Granata considered
Sinatra to have been a "master
of the art of recording", noting that his work in the studio "set him
apart from other gifted vocalists". During his career he made over
1000 recordings. Recording sessions would typically last three hours,
Sinatra would always prepare for it by spending at least an
hour by the piano beforehand to vocalize, followed by a short
rehearsal with the orchestra to ensure the balance of sound. During
his Columbia years
Sinatra would use a RCA 44 microphone, which
Granata describes as "the 'old-fashioned' microphone which is closely
associated with Sinatra's crooner image of the 1940s", though when
performing on talk shows later he would use a bullet-shaped RCA 77 .
At Capitol he used a
Neumann U47 , an "ultra-sensitive" microphone
which better captured the timbre and tone of his voice.
In the 1950s, Sinatra's career was facilitated by developments in
technology. As disc jockey Jonathan Schwartz said, "Never before had
there been an opportunity for a popular singer to express emotions at
an extended length". In the words of author John Lahr, "as many as
sixteen songs could be held by the twelve-inch L.P., and this allowed
Sinatra to use song in a novelistic way, turning each track in a kind
of chapter, which built and counterpointed moods to illuminate a
larger theme". Santopietro writes that through the 1950s, well into
the 1960s, "every
Sinatra LP was a masterpiece of one sort of another,
whether uptempo, torch song, or swingin' affairs. Track after track,
the brilliant concept albums redefined the nature of pop vocal art".
Frank Sinatra filmography
DEBUT, MUSICAL FILMS, AND CAREER SLUMP (1941–1952)
Till the Clouds Roll By
Till the Clouds Roll By (1946)
Sinatra attempted to pursue an acting career in Hollywood in the
early 1940s. While films appealed to him, being exceptionally
self-confident, he was rarely enthusiastic towards his own acting,
once remarking that "pictures stink".
Sinatra made his film debut in
1941, performing in an uncredited sequence in
Las Vegas Nights ,
singing "I'll Never Smile Again" with Tommy Dorsey's The Pied Pipers.
In 1943 he had a cameo role along with
Duke Ellington and Count Basie
in Charles Barton 's
Reveille with Beverly , making a brief appearance
singing "Night and Day ". The following year he was given his leading
roles in Higher and Higher and Step Lively for
RKO Pictures .
Gene Kelly and
Kathryn Grayson in the
Technicolor musical Anchors Aweigh , in which
he played a sailor on leave in Hollywood for four days. A major
success, it garnered several
Academy Award wins and nominations, and
the song "
I Fall in Love Too Easily ", sung by
Sinatra in the film,
was nominated for the
Academy Award for Best Original Song . In 1946,
Sinatra briefly appeared at the end of
Richard Whorf 's commercially
Till the Clouds Roll By
Till the Clouds Roll By , a
Technicolor musical biopic of
Jerome Kern , in which he sang "Ol\' Man
Sinatra co-starred with
Gene Kelly in the Technicolor
musical Take Me Out to the Ball Game , a film set in 1908, in which
Sinatra and Kelly play baseball players who are part-time
vaudevillians. He teamed up with Kelly for a third time in On the
Town , playing a sailor on leave in New York City. Today the film is
rated very highly by critics, and in 2006 it ranked No. 19 on the
American Film Institute 's list of best musicals . Both Double
Dynamite (1951), an RKO
Irving Cummings comedy produced by Howard
Hughes , and
Joseph Pevney 's Meet Danny Wilson (1952) failed to make
an impression. The New York World Telegram and Sun ran the headline
"Gone on Frankie in '42; Gone in '52".
CAREER COMEBACK AND PRIME (1953–1959)
Sinatra as Maggio in
From Here to Eternity (1953) Sinatra
Grace Kelly on the set of High Society (1956)
Fred Zinnemann 's
From Here to Eternity deals with the tribulations
of three soldiers, played by
Burt Lancaster ,
Montgomery Clift , and
Sinatra, stationed on
Hawaii in the months leading up to the attack on
Pearl Harbor .
Sinatra had long been desperate to find a film role
which would bring him back into the spotlight, and Columbia Pictures
Harry Cohn had been inundated by appeals from people across
Hollywood to give
Sinatra a chance to star as "Maggio" in the film.
Montgomery Clift became a close friend, and
Sinatra later professed that he "learned more about acting from him
than anybody I ever knew before". After several years of critical and
commercial decline, his
Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor win
helped him regain his position as the top recording artist in the
world. His performance also won a
Golden Globe Award for Best
Supporting Actor – Motion Picture . The
Los Angeles Examiner wrote
Sinatra is "simply superb, comical, pitiful, childishly brave,
pathetically defiant", commenting that his death scene is "one of the
best ever photographed".
Sinatra starred opposite
Doris Day in the musical film Young
at Heart , and earned critical praise for his performance as a
psychopathic killer posing as an
FBI agent opposite
Sterling Hayden in
the film noir Suddenly .
Sinatra was nominated for an
Academy Award for Best Actor and BAFTA
Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his role as a heroin addict
The Man With The Golden Arm (1955). After roles in Guys and Dolls
, and The Tender Trap ,
Sinatra was nominated for a BAFTA Award for
Best Actor in a Leading Role for his role as hospital orderly in
Stanley Kramer 's début picture,
Not as a Stranger . During
Sinatra got drunk with
Robert Mitchum and Broderick
Crawford and trashed Kramer's dressing room. Kramer vowed to never
Sinatra again at the time, and later regretted casting him as a
Spanish guerrilla leader in
The Pride and the Passion (1957).
Sinatra featured alongside
Bing Crosby and
Grace Kelly in
High Society for MGM, earning a reported $250,000 for the picture.
The public rushed to the cinemas to see
Sinatra and Crosby together
on-screen, and it ended up earning over $13 million at the box office,
becoming one of the highest-grossing pictures of 1956. In 1957,
Sinatra starred opposite
Rita Hayworth and
Kim Novak in George Sidney
's Pal Joey , for which he won for the
Golden Globe Award for Best
Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy . Santopietro considers
the scene in which
Sinatra sings "
The Lady Is a Tramp " to Hayworth to
have been the finest moment of his film career. He next portrayed
Joe E. Lewis in
The Joker Is Wild ; the song "All the Way "
Academy Award for Best Original Song . By 1958
one of the ten biggest box office draws in the United States,
Dean Martin and
Shirley MacLaine in Vincente Minnelli
's Some Came Running and
Kings Go Forth with
Tony Curtis and Natalie
Wood . "High Hopes ", sung by
Sinatra in the
Frank Capra comedy, A
Hole in the Head (1959), won the
Academy Award for Best Original
Song, and became a chart hit, lasting on the Hot 100 for 17 weeks.
LATER CAREER (1960–1988)
Due to an obligation he owed to
20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox for walking off the
set of Henry King 's Carousel (1956), in 1960
Shirley MacLaine ,
Maurice Chevalier and
Louis Jourdan in
Can-Can . He earned $200,000 and 25% of the profits for the
performance. Later that year he starred in the Las Vegas-set Ocean\'s
11 , the first film to feature the
Rat Pack together and the start of
a "new era of screen cool" for Santopietro.
financed the film, and paid Martin and Davis Jr. fees of $150,000 and
$125,000 respectively, sums considered exorbitant for the period. In
Sinatra had a leading role opposite
Laurence Harvey in The
Manchurian Candidate , which he considered to be the role he was most
excited about and the high point of his film career.
Vincent Canby ,
writing for the magazine Variety, found the portrayal of Sinatra's
character to be "a wide-awake pro creating a straight, quietly
humorous character of some sensitivity." He appeared with the Rat
Pack in the western
Sergeants 3 , following it with
4 for Texas
4 for Texas in
1963. For his performance in Come Blow Your Horn , he was nominated
Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical
Though 1965's Von Ryan\'s Express was a major success, and he had
None but the Brave that year, in the mid 1960s, Brad Dexter
wanted to "breathe new life" in Sinatra's film career by helping him
display the same professional pride in his films as he did his
recordings. On one occasion, he gave
Anthony Burgess 's novel
A Clockwork Orange (1962) to read, with the idea of making a film, but
Sinatra thought it had no potential and did not understand a word.
In the late 1960s,
Sinatra became known for playing detectives,
Tony Rome in
Tony Rome (1967) and its sequel Lady In Cement
(1968). He also played a similar role in 1968's The Detective .
Sinatra starred opposite
George Kennedy in the western Dirty
Dingus Magee , an "abysmal" affair according to Santopietro, which
was panned by the critics. The following year,
Sinatra received a
Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award
Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award and had intended to play
Detective Harry Callahan in
Dirty Harry (1971), but had to turn the
role down due to developing Dupuytren\'s contracture in his hand.
Sinatra's last major film role was opposite
Faye Dunaway in Brian G.
The First Deadly Sin (1980). Santopietro noted that as a
troubled New York City homicide cop,
Sinatra gave an "extraordinarily
rich", heavily layered characterization, one which "made for one
terrific farewell" to his film career.
TELEVISION AND RADIO CAREER
Dean Martin and
Frank Sinatra on The
Dean Martin Show in 1958
After beginning on the
Major Bowes Amateur Hour radio show with the
Hoboken Four in 1935, and later WNEW and WAAT in Jersey City, Sinatra
became the star of various radio shows of his own on
the early 1940s to the mid 1950s. In 1942
Sinatra hired arranger Axel
Stordahl away from
Tommy Dorsey before he began his first radio
program that year, keeping Stordahl with him for all of his radio
work. By the end of 1942 he was named the "Most Popular Male Vocalist
on Radio" in a
Down Beat poll. Early on he frequently worked with the
popular Andrews Sisters on radio, and they would appear as guests on
each other's shows, as well as on many
USO shows broadcast to troops
Armed Forces Radio Service (AFRS). He appeared as a special
guest in the sisters' ABC Eight-to-the-Bar Ranch series, while the
trio in turn guested on his
Songs by Sinatra series on CBS. Sinatra
had two stints as a regular member of cast of
Your Hit Parade ; his
first was from 1943 to 1945, and second was from 1946 to May 28,
1949, during which he was paired with the then-new girl singer, Doris
Day . Starting in September 1949, the BBD born March 25, 1917 ) (m.
1939–1951). Sinatra's second wife,
Ava Gardner had an abortion in
Sinatra had met Barbato in
Long Branch, New Jersey in the late 1930s,
where he spent most of the summer working as a lifeguard . He agreed
to marry her after an incident at "The Rustic Cabin" which led to his
Sinatra had numerous extra-marital affairs, and gossip
magazines published details of affairs with women including Marilyn
Lana Turner , and
Joi Lansing . "Frank attracted women.
He couldn't help it. Just to look at him—the way he moved, and how
he behaved—was to know that he was a great lover and true gentleman.
He adored the company of women and knew how to treat them. I had
friends whose husbands were 'players', and every time the husbands had
affairs my friends were showered with gifts. Well, I was constantly
showered with gifts, but no matter what temptations Frank may have had
while I wasn't around, he made me feel so safe and loved that I never
became paranoid about losing him." —
Barbara Sinatra on Sinatra's
popularity with women.
Sinatra was married to Hollywood actress
Ava Gardner from 1951 to
1957. It was a turbulent marriage, with many well-publicized fights
and altercations, . The couple formally announced their separation on
October 29, 1953, through MGM. Gardner filed for divorce in June
1954, at a time when she was dating matador
Luis Miguel Dominguín ,
but the divorce was not settled until 1957.
Sinatra continued to feel
very strongly for her, and they remained friends for life. He was
still dealing with her finances in 1976.
Sinatra reportedly broke off engagements to
Lauren Bacall in 1958,
Juliet Prowse in 1962. He married
Mia Farrow on July 19, 1966, a
short marriage which ended with divorce in Mexico in August 1968.
They remained close friends for life, and in a 2013 interview Farrow
Sinatra might be the father of her son, Ronan Farrow
Sinatra was married to
Barbara Marx from 1976 until his death. The
couple married at
Sunnylands , in
Rancho Mirage, California , the
estate of media magnate
Walter Annenberg , on July 11, 1976.
Sinatra was close friends with
Jilly Rizzo , songwriter Jimmy Van
Ken Venturi , comedian Pat Henry and baseball manager
Leo Durocher . In his spare time,
Sinatra enjoyed listening to
classical music, and would attend concerts when he could. He swam
daily in the Pacific Ocean, finding it to be therapeutic and giving
him much-needed solitude. He would often play golf with Venturi at
the course in Palm Springs, where he lived, and liked painting,
reading, and building model railways.
Sinatra was critical of the church on numerous occasions, and
had a pantheistic, Einstein-like view of God in his earlier life, he
turned to the
Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church for healing after his mother died
in a plane crash in 1977. He died as a practicing Catholic and had a
STYLE AND PERSONALITY
Sinatra in 1955
Sinatra was noted for his impeccable sense of style. He always
dressed immaculately, both in his professional and private life. He
believed that as he was the best, he had to give his best to the
audience, and would wear expensive custom-tailored tuxedos on stage as
a sign of respect and to look important. He spent lavishly on stylish
pin-striped suits and other clothing, and later admitted that clothing
made him feel wealthy and important, bolstering his ego. He was also
obsessed with cleanliness—while with the
Tommy Dorsey band he
developed the nickname "Lady Macbeth", because of frequent showering
and switching his outfits. His deep blue eyes earned him the popular
nickname "Ol' Blue Eyes".
Sinatra was the personification of America in the
1950s: "cocky, eye on the main chance, optimistic, and full of the
sense of possibility".
Barbara Sinatra wrote that "A big part of
Frank's thrill was the sense of danger that he exuded, an underlying,
ever-present tension only those closest to him knew could be defused
Cary Grant , a good friend of Sinatra's, stated that
Sinatra was the "most honest person he'd ever met", who spoke "a
simple truth, without artifice which scared people", and was often
moved to tears by his performances. Jo-Caroll Dennison commented that
he possessed "great inner strength", and that his energy and drive was
"enormous". A workaholic, he reportedly only slept for four hours a
night on average. Throughout his life,
Sinatra had mood swings and
bouts of mild to severe depression , admitting to an interviewer in
the 1950s that "I have an over-acute capacity for sadness as well as
Barbara Sinatra stated that he would "snap at anyone for
the slightest misdemeanor", while Van Heusen said that when Sinatra
got drunk it was "best to disappear".
Sinatra's mood swings often developed into violence, directed at
people he felt had crossed him, particularly journalists who gave him
scathing reviews, publicists and photographers. According to Rojek he
was "capable of deeply offensive behavior that smacked of a
persecution complex". He received negative press for fights with Lee
Mortimer in 1947, photographer Eddie Schisser in
Houston in 1950, Judy
Jim Byron on the
Sunset Strip in 1954, and for a
confrontation with Washington Post journalist
Maxine Cheshire in 1973,
in which he implied that she was a cheap prostitute. Yet
known for his generosity, particularly after his comeback. Kelley
notes that when
Lee J. Cobb
Lee J. Cobb nearly died from a heart attack in June
Sinatra flooded him with "books, flowers, delicacies", paid his
hospital bills, and visited him daily, telling him that his finest
acting was yet to come. In another instance, after a heated argument
with manager Bobby Burns, rather than apologize,
Sinatra bought him a
ALLEGED ORGANIZED-CRIME LINKS AND CAL NEVA LODGE
Mugshot of mobster
Lucky Luciano in 1936
Sinatra became the stereotype of the "tough working-class Italian
American", something which he embraced.
Sinatra commented that if it
had not been for his interest in music he would "probably have ended
in a life of crime". In his early days, Mafia boss
Willie Moretti ,
Sinatra's godfather and notorious underboss of the Genovese crime
family , helped him for kickbacks and was reported to have intervened
in releasing him from his contract with Tommy Dorsey.
present at the Mafia
Havana Conference in 1946, and when the press
Sinatra being in Havana with
Lucky Luciano , one newspaper
published the headline, "Shame, Sinatra". He was reported to be a
good friend of
Sam Giancana , and the two were seen playing golf
together. Kelley quotes Jo-Carrol Silvers in saying that Sinatra
Bugsy Siegel , and would boast about him to friends and how
many people he had killed. Kelley claims that
Sinatra and mobster
Joseph Fischetti had been good friends from 1938 onward, and acted
like "Sicilian brothers". She also states that
Sinatra and Hank
Sanicola were financial partners with
Mickey Cohen in the gossip
magazine Hollywood Night Life.
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) kept records amounting to
2,403 pages on Sinatra, becoming a natural target with his alleged
Mafia ties, his ardent
New Deal politics and his friendship with John
F. Kennedy . The
Sinatra under surveillance for almost five
decades beginning in the 1940s. The documents include accounts of
Sinatra as the target of death threats and extortion schemes. The FBI
Sinatra was losing esteem with the Mafia as he grew
closer to President Kennedy, whose younger brother Attorney General
Robert Kennedy was leading a crackdown on organized crime. Sinatra
denied Mafia involvement, declaring that "any report that I
fraternized with goons or racketeers is a vicious lie".
Sinatra bought a share in the Cal Neva Lodge "> Sinatra,
pictured here with
Eleanor Roosevelt in 1960, was an ardent supporter
of the Democratic Party until the early 1970s.
Sinatra held differing political views throughout his life. His
Dolly Sinatra (1896–1977), was a Democratic Party ward
Sinatra met President
Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944, and
subsequently heavily campaigned for the Democrats in the 1944
presidential election . According to Jo Carroll Silvers, in his
Sinatra had "ardent liberal" sympathies, and was "so
concerned about poor people that he was always quoting Henry Wallace
". He was outspoken about racism, particularly toward blacks and
Italians, from early on. In November 1945
Sinatra was invited by the
Gary, Indiana , to try to settle a strike by white students
of Froebel High School against the "Pro-Negro" policies of the new
principal. His comments, while praised by liberal publications, led
to accusations by some that he was a Communist , which he strongly
denied. In the 1948 presidential election ,
campaigned for President
Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman . In 1952 and 1956, he also
campaigned for Adlai Stevenson .
Of all the U.S. Presidents he associated with during his career, he
was closest to
John F. Kennedy .
Sinatra often invited Kennedy to
Hollywood and Las Vegas, and the two would womanize and enjoy parties
together. In January 1961
Peter Lawford organized the
Inaugural Gala in Washington, D.C., held on the evening before
President Kennedy was sworn into office. In 1962,
Sinatra was snubbed
by Kennedy during his visit to Palm Springs when he decided to stay
with the Republican Bing Crosby, due to
FBI concerns about Sinatra's
alleged connections to organized crime.
Sinatra had invested a lot of
his own money in upgrading the facilities at his home in anticipation
of the President's visit, fitting it with a heliport, which he later
reportedly smashed up with a sledgehammer upon being rejected.
Despite the snub, when he learned of Kennedy's assassination he
reportedly sobbed in his bedroom for three days.
Presidential Medal of Freedom
Presidential Medal of Freedom by President
Ronald Reagan .
Sinatra worked with
Hubert H. Humphrey in 1968, and remained a
supporter of the Democratic Party until the early 1970s. Although
still a registered Democrat,
Sinatra endorsed Republican Ronald Reagan
for a second term as
Governor of California in 1970. He officially
changed allegiance in July 1972 when he supported
Richard Nixon for
re-election in the 1972 presidential election .
In the 1980 presidential election ,
Sinatra supported Ronald Reagan
and donated $4 million to Reagan's campaign.
Reagan's Presidential gala, as he had done for Kennedy 20 years
previously. In 1985, Reagan presented
Sinatra with the Presidential
Medal of Freedom , remarking, "His love of country, his generosity for
those less fortunate ... make him one of our most remarkable and
Santopietro notes that
Sinatra was a "lifelong sympathizer with
Jewish causes ". He was awarded the
Hollzer Memorial Award by the Los
Angeles Jewish Community in 1949. He gave a series of concerts in
Israel in 1962, and donated his entire $50,000 fee for appearing in a
cameo role in
Cast a Giant Shadow (1966) to the Youth Center in
Jerusalem. On November 1, 1972, he raised $6.5 million in bond
pledges for Israel, and was given the Medallion of Valor for his
Frank Sinatra Student Center at the
Hebrew University of
Jerusalem was dedicated in his name in 1978.
From his youth,
Sinatra displayed sympathy for African Americans and
worked both publicly and privately all his life to help them win equal
rights. He blamed racial prejudice on the parents of children.
Sinatra played a major role in the desegregation of
Nevada hotels and
casinos in the 1950s and 1960s. At the Sands in 1955,
against policy by inviting
Nat King Cole into the dining room, and in
1961, after an incident where an African-American couple entered the
lobby of the hotel and were blocked by the security guard,
Sammy Davis, Jr.
Sammy Davis, Jr. forced the hotel management to begin hiring black
waiters and busboys. On January 27, 1961,
Sinatra played a benefit
Carnegie Hall for
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. and led his fellow
Rat Pack members and Reprise label mates in boycotting hotels and
casinos that refused entry to black patrons and performers. According
to his son,
Frank Sinatra, Jr. , King sat weeping in the audience at
one of his father's concerts in 1963 as
Sinatra sang "Ol\' Man River
", a song from the musical
Show Boat that is sung by an
African-American stevedore. When he changed his political
affiliations in 1970,
Sinatra became less outspoken on racial issues.
Though he did much towards civil rights causes, it did not stop the
occasional racial jibe from him and the other
Rat Pack members toward
Davis at concerts.
Sinatra's gravestone at
Desert Memorial Park in Cathedral City,
Sinatra died with his wife at his side at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
Los Angeles on May 14, 1998, aged 82, after a heart attack .
Sinatra had ill health during the last few years of his life, and was
frequently hospitalized for heart and breathing problems, high blood
pressure, pneumonia and bladder cancer. He was further diagnosed as
having dementia . He had made no public appearances following a heart
attack in February 1997. Sinatra's wife encouraged him to "fight"
while attempts were made to stabilize him, and his final words were,
"I'm losing." Sinatra's daughter, Tina, later wrote that she and her
sister, Nancy, had not been notified of their father's final
hospitalization, and it was her belief that "the omission was
deliberate. Barbara would be the grieving widow alone at her husband's
side." The night after Sinatra's death, the lights on the Empire
State Building in New York City were turned blue, the lights at the
Las Vegas Strip were dimmed in his honor, and the casinos stopped
spinning for a minute.
Sinatra's funeral was held at the
Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church of the Good
Beverly Hills, California
Beverly Hills, California , on May 20, 1998, with 400
mourners in attendance and thousands of fans outside.
Gregory Peck ,
Tony Bennett, and Sinatra's son, Frank Jr., addressed the mourners,
who included many notable people from film and entertainment.
Sinatra was buried in a blue business suit with mementos from family
Life Savers , Tootsie Rolls , a bottle of
Jack Daniel\'s , a pack of Camel cigarettes , a
Zippo lighter ,
stuffed toys, a dog biscuit, and a roll of dimes that he always
carried—next to his parents in section B-8 of Desert Memorial Park
Cathedral City, California .
His close friends
Jilly Rizzo and
Jimmy Van Heusen
Jimmy Van Heusen are buried nearby.
The words "
The Best Is Yet to Come ", plus "Beloved Husband ">
Sinatra, c. 1943
American music critic
Robert Christgau referred to
Sinatra as "the
greatest singer of the 20th century". His popularity was later
matched only by
Elvis Presley ,
The Beatles , and
Michael Jackson .
Sinatra was the "greatest male pop singer in the
history of America", who amassed "unprecedented power onscreen and
off", and "seemed to exemplify the common man, an ethnic
twentieth-century American male who reached the 'top of the heap', yet
never forgot his roots". Santopietro argues that
Sinatra created his
own world, which he was able to dominate—his career was centred
around power, perfecting the ability to capture an audience.
Gus Levene commented that Sinatra's strength was that when
it came to lyrics, telling a story musically,
Sinatra displayed a
"genius" ability and feeling, which with the "rare combination of
voice and showmanship" made him the "original singer" which others who
followed most tried to emulate. George Roberts , a trombonist in
Sinatra's band, remarked that
Sinatra had a "charisma, or whatever it
is about him, that no one else had". Biographer Arnold Shaw
considered that "If
Las Vegas had not existed,
Sinatra could have
invented it". He quoted reporter James Bacon in saying that Sinatra
was the "swinging image on which the town is built", adding that no
other entertainer quite "embodied the glamour" associated with Las
Vegas as him.
Sinatra continues to be seen as one of the icons of the
20th century, and has three stars on the
Hollywood Walk of Fame
Hollywood Walk of Fame for
his work in film and music. There are stars on east and west sides of
the 1600 block of
Vine Street respectively, and one on the south side
of the 6500 block of
Hollywood Boulevard for his work in television.
Frank Sinatra's television star on the
Hollywood Walk of Fame
Hollywood Walk of Fame ,
located on 1637
In Sinatra's native New Jersey, Hoboken's
Frank Sinatra Park , the
Hoboken Post Office, and a residence hall at Montclair State
University were named in his honor. Other buildings named for Sinatra
Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in
Astoria, Queens , the
Frank Sinatra International Student Center at Israel's Hebrew
University in Jerusalem dedicated in 1978, and the
Frank Sinatra Hall
USC School of Cinematic Arts in Los Angeles, California,
dedicated in 2002.
Wynn Resorts ' Encore
Las Vegas resort features a
restaurant dedicated to
Sinatra which opened in 2008. Items of
memorabilia from Sinatra's life and career are displayed at USC's
Frank Sinatra Hall and Wynn Resort's
Sinatra restaurant. Near the
Las Vegas Strip is a road named
Frank Sinatra Drive in his honor. The
United States Postal Service issued a 42-cent postage stamp in honor
Sinatra in May 2008, commemorating the tenth anniversary of his
United States Congress
United States Congress passed a resolution introduced by
Bono Mack on May 20, 2008, designating May 13 as
Frank Sinatra Day to honor his contributions to American culture.
Sinatra received three honorary degrees during his lifetime. In May
1976, he was invited to speak at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas
UNLV ) graduation commencement held at Sam Boyd Stadium. It was at
this commencement that he was bestowed an Honorary Doctorate
litterarum humanarum by the university. During his speech, Sinatra
noted that his education had come from "the school of hard knocks" and
was suitably touched by the award. He went on to describe that "this
is the first educational degree I have ever held in my hand. I will
never forget what you have done for me today". A few years later in
1984 and 1985,
Sinatra also received an Honorary Doctorate of Fine
Loyola Marymount University as well as an Honorary Doctorate
of Engineering from the
Stevens Institute of Technology .
FILM AND TELEVISION PORTRAYALS
Sinatra has been portrayed on numerous occasions in film and on
television. A television miniseries based on Sinatra's life, titled
Sinatra , was aired by
CBS in 1992.
Sinatra was directed by James
Steven Sadwith , who won an
Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual
Achievement in Directing for a Miniseries or a
Special , and starred
Philip Casnoff as Sinatra.
Sinatra was written by
Abby Mann and Philip
Mastrosimone, and produced by Sinatra's daughter, Tina.
Sinatra has subsequently been portrayed on screen by
Ray Liotta (The
Rat Pack , 1998),
James Russo (
Stealing Sinatra , 2003), Dennis
Hopper (The Night We Called It a Day , 2003), and
Robert Knepper (My
Way , 2012), and spoofed by
Joe Piscopo and
Phil Hartman on Saturday
Night Live . A biographical film directed by
Martin Scorsese has long
been in production. A 1998 episode of the BBC documentary series
The Voice of the Century, focused on Sinatra. Alex Gibney
directed a four-part biographical series on Sinatra, All or Nothing At
All, for HBO in 2015. A musical tribute was aired on
in December 2015 to mark Sinatra's centenary.
Frank Sinatra discography
Frank Sinatra bibliography
* Frank Sinatra\'s recorded legacy
Frank Sinatra Show (radio program)
* Biography portal
* Film portal
* Pop music portal
* Television in the United States portal
* Music portal
* ^ On his original birth certificate, Sinatra's name was recorded
incorrectly as "Frank Sinestro", a clerical error. In May 1945, he
officially corrected the name on his birth certificate to "Francis A.
* ^ The house at 415 Monroe Street burned down and no longer
exists. The site is marked by a brick archway with a bronze plaque on
the sidewalk that reads, "Francis Albert Sinatra: The Voice". The
building at 417 Monroe Street has a sign that reads "From Here to
Eternity", with images of an Oscar statue. It was opened as a museum
by Ed Shirak in 2001, but closed after five years due to maintenance
* ^ Other sources incorrectly say Catania.
* ^ Dolly was reportedly arrested six or seven times and convicted
twice for providing illegal abortions, the first of which was in
* ^ In 1920, Prohibition of alcohol became law in the US. Dolly and
Marty ran a tavern during those years, allowed to operate openly by
local officials who refused to enforce the law.
* ^ Sinatra's loss of employment at the newspaper led to a
life-long rift with Garrick. Dolly said of it: "My son is like me. You
cross him, he never forgets."
Nancy Sinatra notes that he owned a Chrysler and people would
show amazement that such a young kid could afford it.
* ^ The jealousy exhibited by the group members often led to brawls
in which they would beat up the small, skinny young Sinatra.
* ^ Only one copy of this recording was made, a 78 rpm disc. Mane
wrote "Frank Sinatra" on the record label and kept the recording in a
drawer through the years, giving
Sinatra a copy on a cassette tape as
a gift in 1979. Mane died in 1998, only months after Sinatra's death;
in 2006, Mane's widow offered the recording for sale through Gurnsey's
auction house in New York.
* ^ The only sticking point was that James wanted
Sinatra to change
his name to Frankie Satin, as he thought that
Sinatra sounded too
Italian. Neither Sinatra, nor his mother, would agree to this; he
told James that his cousin,
Ray Sinatra , was a bandleader in Boston,
kept his own name and was doing well with it. James knew of Ray
Sinatra, so he did not press the issue.
* ^ the vocalist, not to be confused with the comedian Jack E.
Sinatra acknowledged his debt to James throughout his life, and
upon hearing of James' death in 1983, stated: "he is the one that made
it all possible."
* ^ Kelley claims that arguments and fights regularly broke out
Sinatra and Rich, who were both arrogant with volatile
tempers. In one incident witnessed by Stafford backstage at the Astor
Hotel in New York, Rich called
Sinatra a name and
Sinatra threw a
heavy glass pitcher filled with water and ice at Rich's head. In
another incident at the
Golden Gate Theater in San Francisco, Rich
reportedly attempted to ram
Sinatra against the wall with his high F
Sinatra said: "The reason I wanted to leave Tommy's band was
that Crosby was Number One, way up on top of the pile. In the open
field, you might say, were some awfully good singers with the
Bob Eberly (with
Jimmy Dorsey ) was a fabulous vocalist.
Mr. Como (with
Ted Weems ) is such a wonderful singer. I thought, if I
don't make a move out of this and try to do it on my own soon, one of
those guys will do it, and I'll have to fight all three of them to get
* ^ Sinatra's lawyer, Henry Jaffe, met with Dorsey's lawyer N.
Joseph Ross in
Los Angeles in August 1943. In the words of Kelley: "In
the end, MCA, an agency representing Dorsey and courting Sinatra, made
Dorsey a $60,000 offer that he accepted. To obtain Frank as a client,
the agency paid Dorsey $35,000 while
Sinatra paid $25,000, which he
borrowed from Manie Sacks as an advance against his royalties from
Columbia Records. MCA agreed that until 1948 it would split its
Sinatra with GAC, the agency that Frank had signed with
when he left the Dorsey band." However, during a 1979 concert at the
Universal Amphitheatre in Los Angeles,
Sinatra claimed that it took
him years to escape the contract, and that Dorsey had cost him seven
* ^ The incident started rumors of Sinatra's involvement with the
Mafia , and was fictionalized in the book and movie The Godfather .
Sinatra was spotted in Havana in 1946 with mobster Lucky
Luciano , which started a series of negative press articles,
Sinatra with the Mafia. In 1947 he was involved in a
violent incident with journalist
Lee Mortimer , who had written some
of the most scathing articles on his alleged connections. Kelley
claims that his articles grew so offensive that
Sinatra pounced on him
outside Ciro's and punched him behind the left ear in response to an
insult in which he was called a "dago".
Sinatra was taken to court,
and according to Kelley, Mortimer received Mafia threats to drop the
case or lose his life.
Sinatra bought a two percent share in the hotel for $54,000.
At one point the share reached nine percent. He was reportedly
ordered to sell his interest in the Sands in 1963, due to his
association with mobster
Sam Giancana .
* ^ Miller tried to offset Sinatra's declining record sales by
introducing "gimmicky novel tunes" into the singer's repertoire such
as "Mama Will Bark" to appeal to younger audiences. "Mama Will Bark"
is often cited as the worst of Sinatra's career. Miller thought he
would try this novelty approach for
Sinatra because he felt the
singer's "great records" weren't selling. Initially,
along with this approach, but eventually he came to resent Miller for
the poor quality of material he was being offered.
Sinatra was not very enthusiastic about the song initially. His
friend, Jimmy Van Heusen, convinced him that the song would be a
success. Young at Heart was produced by Day's husband at the time,
Marty Melcher , whom
Sinatra detested. Their feud grew worse when
Melcher suggested that Day sing "Young at Heart" as the film's title
song when Sinatra's recording of the song was already a hit. Day
conceded that she did not care whose voice was heard singing the
film's title song. Because of the rift, the Young at Heart soundtrack
album contains all the songs heard in the film but the title Young at
Heart. Sinatra's hit recording is heard at the beginning and end of
* ^ Granata noted that Riddle himself believed that the album came
across as darker and more introspective than normal due to the due of
his own mother who had recently died earlier in the month that it was
Nancy Sinatra notes that her father had a falling out with a
bureaucrat in the country, who refused to admit
Sinatra into his
house. She claims that though he was not formally banned from the
country, the bureaucrat "made it seem so" and stated that the
situation caused much humiliation to the family.
* ^ Hughes still resented
Sinatra for marrying Ava Gardner, the
subject of his own affections. After Hughes saw to it that the hotel
imposed restrictions on what he could gamble in the casino, Sinatra
began what The
Los Angeles Times describes as a "weekend-long tirade"
against the "hotel's management, employees and security forces",
culminating in a punch from executive Carl Cohen that knocked the caps
off Sinatra's front teeth. He began performing at
Caesars Palace .
Sinatra was playing a high stakes baccarat at Caesars Palace,
where he was performing at the time, in the early morning hours of
September 6, 1970. Normal limits for the game are US$2,000 per hand;
Sinatra had been playing for US$8,000 and wanted the stakes to be
raised to US$16,000. When
Sinatra began shouting, hotel executive
Sanford Waterman came to talk with him. Witnesses to the incident said
the two men both made threats, with Waterman producing a gun and
pointing it at Sinatra.
Sinatra walked out of the casino and returned
to his Palm Springs home without fulfilling the rest of his three week
engagement there. Waterman was booked on a charge of assault with a
deadly weapon, but was released without bail. The local district
attorney's office declined to file charges against Waterman for
pulling the gun, stating that
Sinatra had refused to make a statement
regarding the incident.
* ^ On January 6, 1977, Dolly was aboard a Lear Jet which had just
taken off from
Palm Springs Airport when crashed into 10,000 square
feet (930 m2) Ridge in the eastern area of the San Gorgonio Wilderness
* ^ Horne developed vocal problems and Sinatra, committed to other
engagements, could not wait to record.
Mitch Miller played English horn and oboe on the Sinatra-led
* ^ Riddle notes that Sinatra's range was from the low G to the
high F, almost two octaves, but that his practical range was the low
A-flat to a D, in comparison to
Bing Crosby whose range was G to C.
Sinatra could "surpass him by probably as much as four tones at the
top". Though Riddle stated that Sinatra's lowest was G, it should be
noted that he often hit the low F in concerts, and hit the low F at
0:41 in the recording of "
What Is This Thing Called Love? " for the
1955 album In the Wee Small Hours.
Sinatra successfully later sued a BBC interviewer who claimed
that he'd used his Mafia connections to get the part.
Sinatra later remarked that he had always considered his
The Man With The Golden Arm to have been the greatest
of his film career, and that he'd won the Oscar for the wrong role.
Sinatra had stormed off the set when he learned that the film
was to be shot in both Cinemascope and a new 55-millimeter process.
Refusing to make "two pictures for the price of one", he left the
production and did not return. Fox initially sued
Sinatra for a
million dollars for breach of contract and replaced him with Gordon
MacRae . Fox agreed to drop the charges on condition that he appear in
another picture of theirs.
* ^ The film was later made by
Stanley Kubrick in 1971 and is now
considered to be one of the greatest films of all time.
Your Hit Parade was a popular weekly radio and television
program from 1935 to 1958. Sponsored by American Tobacco Company's
Lucky Strike brand of cigarettes, the show featured the top ten songs
of each week.
* ^ Producer
Irving Mansfield described
Sinatra as being obsessed
with the thought that his wife, Ava Gardner, was having an affair with
her former husband, Artie Shaw. He often started shouting about this
on the set of the television show when he phoned his home and could
not reach Gardner. Mansfield had to communicate with
the entourage that always accompanied him to CBS.
Sinatra was always
late to work and did not care to spend any time at rehearsal; he
blamed all those connected with the program for the poor ratings it
received. Mansfield was at his wits' end with
Sinatra and his
television show and quit the program. Mansfield informed him that he
was man of great talent but a failure as a person, which led to
Sinatra attempting to angrily fire him. Mansfield replied that he was
too late, as he had resigned that morning.
* ^ Presley had responded to the criticism: "... is a great
success and a fine actor, but I think he shouldn't have said it ...
is a trend, just the same as he faced when he started years ago."
* ^ While working at "The Rustic Cabin", in 1939 he became involved
in a dispute between his girlfriend Toni Della Penta, who suffered a
miscarriage, and Nancy Barbato, a stonemason's daughter. After Della
Penta attempted to tear off Barbato's dress,
Sinatra ordered Barbato
away and told Della Pinta that he would marry Barbato, several years
his junior, because she was pregnant. Della Penta went to the police,
Sinatra was arrested on a morals charge for seduction. After a
fight between Della Penta and Dolly, Della Penta was later arrested
Sinatra married Barbato that year, and
Nancy Sinatra was
born the following year.
* ^ Turner later denied the claims in her 1992 autobiography,
saying that "the closest things to dates Frank and I enjoyed were a
few box lunches at MGM".
* ^ Rojek states that
Sinatra verbally assaulted Cheshire at a
party in 1973, remarking "Get away from me, you scum. Go home and take
a bath ... You're nothing but a two-dollar cunt. You know what that
means, don't you? You've been laying down for two dollars all your
life". According to Rojek,
Sinatra then proceeded to place two dollar
bills into her wine glass and remarked "Here's two dollars baby,
that's what you're used to".
* ^ According to Kelley, Giancana blamed
Sinatra for the ordeal and
was fuming at the abuse he had given to the commission's chairman, Ed
Olsen. The two men never spoke again.
* ^ At the time, President Kennedy's brother, Attorney General
Robert F. Kennedy
Robert F. Kennedy , was intensifying his own investigations into
organized crime figures such as
Chicago mob boss Sam Giancana, who had
earlier stayed at Sinatra's home. Kennedy was strongly advised by
Henry Petersen , a senior official of the Justice Department, to avoid
staying with Sinatra.
* ^ When
Sinatra learned that Kennedy's killer Lee Harvey Oswald
had watched Suddenly just days before the assassination, he withdrew
it from circulation, and it only became distributed again in the late
* ^ "
Frank Sinatra obituary". BBC News. May 16, 1998. Retrieved May
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Sinatra. Random House. ISBN 978-1-4464-7288-0 .
* Sinatra, Nancy (1995). Frank Sinatra: An American Legend. General
Publishing Group. ISBN 978-1-881649-68-7 .
* Sinatra, Nancy (1986). Frank Sinatra, My Father. Simon and
Schuster. ISBN 978-0-671-62508-5 .
* Sinatra, Tina; Coplon, Jeff (2000). My Father's Daughter: A
Memoir. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-684-87076-2 .
* Sirvaitis, Karen (August 1, 2010). The European American
Experience. Twenty-First Century Books. ISBN 978-0-7613-4088-1 .
* Small, Pauline (2009). Sophia Loren: Moulding the Star. Intellect
Books. ISBN 978-1-84150-234-2 .
* Smith, Chris (2009). One Hundred and One Albums that Changed
Popular Music. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-537371-4 .
* Smith, Martin (2005). Frank Sinatra: When Ol\' Blue Eyes was a
Red. Redwords. ISBN 978-1-905192-02-1 .
* Sonneborn, Liz (January 1, 2002). A to Z of American Women in the
Performing Arts. Infobase Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4381-0790-5 .
* Summers, Anthony; Swan, Robbyn (2010). Sinatra: The Life.
Transworld. ISBN 978-1-4070-6890-9 .
* Terrace, Vincent (November 1, 1998). Radio Programs, 1924–1984:
A Catalog of More Than 1800 Shows. McFarland. ISBN 978-0-7864-4513-4 .
* Terrace, Vincent (June 19, 2013). Television Specials: 5,336
Entertainment Programs, 1936–2012, 2d ed. McFarland. ISBN
* Thomas, Evan (February 5, 2013). Robert Kennedy: His Life. Simon
and Schuster. ISBN 978-1-4767-3456-9 .
* Travis, Dempsey J. (December 1, 2001). The
FBI Files: On the
Tainted and the Damned. Urban Research Pr.
* Turner, John Frayn (January 1, 2004). Frank Sinatra. Taylor Trade
Publications. ISBN 978-1-58979-145-9 .
* Tyler, Don (January 1, 2007). Hit Songs, 1900–1955: American
Popular Music of the Pre-rock Era. McFarland. ISBN 978-0-7864-2946-2 .
* Waldman, Carl; Donovan, Jim (February 1, 1999). Forever Sinatra: A
Celebration in Words & Images. Legends Press. ISBN 978-0-9668136-0-9 .
* Wayne, Jane Ellen (2004). Ava Gardner: Her Life and Loves. Robson.
ISBN 978-1-86105-785-3 .
* Wayne, Jane (April 16, 2006). The Leading Men of MGM. Da Capo
Press. ISBN 978-0-7867-1768-2 .
* Weatherford, Mike (January 1, 2001). Cult Vegas: The Weirdest! the
Wildest! the Swingin\'est Town on Earth!. Huntington Press Inc. ISBN
* Whitburn, Joel (1986). Pop Memories 1890–1954. Menomonee Falls,
Wisconsin: Record Research, Inc. ISBN 0-89820-083-0 .
* Whitburn, Joel (2001). Joel Whitburn\'s top pop albums,
1955–2001. Record Research. ISBN 978-0-89820-147-5 .
* Wilson, Colin; Wilson, Damon (May 31, 2011). Scandal!: An
Explosive Exposé of the Affairs, Corruption and Power Struggles of
the Rich and Famous. Ebury Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7535-4732-8 .
* Wood, Ean (September 1, 1996). Born to Swing. Sanctuary. ISBN
* Young, William H.; Young, Nancy K. (2007). The
Great Depression in
America: A Cultural Encyclopedia, Volume 2. Greenwood Publishing
Group. ISBN 978-0-313-33522-8 .
* Young, William H.; Young, Nancy K. (2010). World War II and the
Postwar Years in America: A Historical and Cultural Encyclopedia.
ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-0-313-35652-0 .
* Freedland, Michael. (May 1, 1998). All the Way: A Biography of
Frank Sinatra. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-0-312-19108-5 .
* Hemming, Roy. (1995). The Best of the Columbia Years: 1943–1952
Sinatra Standards". Sony Music Entertainment. New York.
* James Kaplan. Sinatra: The Chairman. New York: Doubleday, 2015.
* Pickard, Roy. (1994).
Frank Sinatra at the Movies. Hale. ISBN
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