(Read all about Frank Sinatra after the video)
Francis Albert Sinatra (//; Italian: [siˈnaːtra]; 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, to Italian immigrants, Sinatra began his musical career in the swing era with bandleaders Harry James and Tommy Dorsey. 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 turned to 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 success of From Here to Eternity, with his performance subsequently winning an Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor. 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 releasing 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 with Tom Jobim, the album Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim. It was followed by 1968's collaboration with Duke Ellington. Sinatra retired for the first time in 1971, but came out of retirement two years later and recorded several albums and resumed performing at Caesars Palace, and reached success in 1980 with "New York, New York". Using his Las Vegas shows as a home base, he toured both within the United States and internationally until a short time before his death in 1998.
Sinatra forged a highly successful career as a film actor. After winning an Academy Award for From Here to Eternity, he starred in The Man with the Golden Arm (1955), and received critical acclaim for his performance in The Manchurian Candidate (1962). He appeared in various musicals such as On the Town (1949), Guys and Dolls (1955), High Society (1956), and Pal Joey (1957), winning another Golden Globe for the latter. Toward the end of his career, he became associated with playing detectives, including the title character in Tony Rome (1967). Sinatra would later receive the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award in 1971. On television, The Frank Sinatra Show began on ABC in 1950, and he continued to make appearances on television throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Sinatra was also heavily involved with politics from the mid-1940s, and actively campaigned for presidents such as Harry S. Truman, John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, though before Kennedy's death Sinatra's alleged Mafia connections led to his being snubbed.
While Sinatra never formally learned how to read music, he had an impressive understanding of it, and he worked very hard from a young age to improve his abilities in all aspects of music. A perfectionist, renowned for his dress sense and performing presence, he always insisted on recording live with his band. His bright blue eyes earned him the popular nickname "Ol' Blue Eyes". Sinatra led a colorful personal life, and was often involved in turbulent affairs with women, such as with his second wife Ava Gardner. He went on to marry Mia Farrow in 1966 and Barbara Marx in 1976. Sinatra had several violent confrontations, usually with journalists he felt had crossed him, or work bosses with whom he had disagreements. He was honored at the Kennedy Center Honors in 1983, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Ronald Reagan in 1985, and the Congressional Gold Medal in 1997. Sinatra was also the recipient of eleven Grammy Awards, including the Grammy Trustees Award, Grammy Legend Award and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. After his death, American music critic Robert Christgau called him "the greatest singer of the 20th century", and he continues to be seen as an iconic figure.
Francis Albert Sinatra[a] was born on December 12, 1915, in an upstairs tenement at 415 Monroe Street in Hoboken, New Jersey.[b] He was the only child of Italian immigrants Antonino Martino "Marty" Sinatra and Natalina "Dolly" Garaventa.[c] 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. Sinatra was 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 Sinatra biographer Kitty Kelley, also ran an illegal abortion service that catered to Italian Catholic girls for which she was nicknamed "Hatpin Dolly".[d] 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 to captain. Sinatra spent much time at his parents' tavern in Hoboken,[e] 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.
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,[f] 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.
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 depicting 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 re-released 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 prestigious 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 a Down Beat poll than Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Bob Eberly and Dick Haymes.
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 operatic tenor. 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" and "Nancy (with the Laughing Face)" as singles.
Columbia years and career slump (1946–1952)
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.
In 1946 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 Ruhlmann of 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 lyrics by 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 such as 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,[q] it was announced to the public that 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".
Though "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".
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 turned to 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 from Los Angeles in Van Heusen's single-engine plane. On October 4, 1953, 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. Sinatra typically performed there three times a year, and later acquired a share in the hotel.[r]
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&R executive Mitch Miller claiming he "couldn't give away" the singer's records.[s] Though several notable recordings were made during this time period, such as "If I Could Write a Book" in January 1952, which Granata sees as a "turning point", forecasting his later work with its sensitivity, Columbia and MCA dropped him later that year. His last studio recording for Columbia, "Why Try To Change Me Now", was recorded in New York on September 17, 1952, with orchestra arranged and conducted by Percy Faith. Journalist Burt Boyar observed, "Sinatra had had it. It was sad. From the top to the bottom in one horrible lesson."
Career revival and the Capitol years (1953–1962)
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 vice president 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, Sinatra and Doris Day released the single "Young at Heart", which reached #2 and was awarded Song of the Year.[t] 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 him."
In 1955 Sinatra released 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 "melancholy mood". 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, something which 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 with The Dorsey Brothers for a week soon afterwards at the Paramount Theatre.
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 visual standpoint". Buddy Collette considered the swing albums to have been heavily influenced by Sammy Davis, Jr., and noted that when he worked with 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 Sinatra released 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[u] 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.
In 1959, 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 for 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 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".
"Retirement" and return (1970–1981)
In 1970, Sinatra released Watertown, one of his most acclaimed concept albums, with music by Bob Gaudio (of the Four Seasons) and lyrics by 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.[x] He performed several charity concerts with Count Basie at the Royal Festival Hall in London. On November 2, 1970, 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 Sinatra had 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 campaign. Sinatra obliged and chose to sing "My Kind of Town" for the rally held in Chicago on October 20, 1972.
In 1973, 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 with 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 to Caesars Palace the following month in January 1974, despite previously vowing to perform there again [sic]. 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, Sinatra instead 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 nation, and 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 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.
In 1975, Sinatra performed in concerts in New York with Count Basie and 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 & Company (1971), and according to Denver, his song "A Baby Just Like You" was written at Sinatra's request for his new grandchild, Angela. During the Labor Day weekend held in 1976, Sinatra was responsible for reuniting old friends and comedy partners Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis for the first time in nearly twenty years, when they performed at the "Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon". That year, the Friars Club selected him as the "Top Box Office Name of the Century", and he was given the Scopus Award by the American Friends of Hebrew University in Israel and an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Nevada.
Sinatra continued to perform at Caesars Palace in the late 1970s, and was performing there in January 1977 when his mother Dolly died in a plane crash on the way to see him.[y] He cancelled two weeks of shows and spent time recovering from the shock in Barbados. In March, he performed in front of Princess Margaret at the Royal Albert Hall in London, raising money for the NSPCC. On March 14 he recorded with Nelson Riddle for the last time, recording the songs "Linda", "Sweet Loraine" and "Barbara". The two men had a major falling out, and later patched up their differences in January 1985 at a dinner organized for Ronald Reagan, when Sinatra asked Riddle to make another album with him. Riddle was ill at the time, and died that October, before they had a chance to record.
In 1978, Sinatra filed a $1 million lawsuit against a land developer for using his name in the "Frank Sinatra Drive Center" in West Los Angeles. During a party at Caesars in 1979, he was awarded the Grammy Trustees Award, while celebrating 40 years in show business and his 64th birthday. That year, former President Gerald Ford awarded Sinatra the International Man of the Year Award, and he performed in front of the Egyptian pyramids for Anwar Sadat, which raised more than $500,000 for Sadat's wife's charities.
In 1980, Sinatra's first album in six years was released, Trilogy: Past Present Future, a highly ambitious triple album that features an array of songs from both the pre-rock era and rock era. It was the first studio album of Sinatra's to feature his touring pianist at the time, Vinnie Falcone, and was based on an idea by Sonny Burke. The album garnered six Grammy nominations – winning for best liner notes – and peaked at number 17 on Billboard's album chart, and spawned yet another song that would become a signature tune, "Theme from New York, New York". That year, as part of the Concert of the Americas, he performed in the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which broke records for the "largest live paid audience ever recorded for a solo performer". The following year, Sinatra built on the success of Trilogy with She Shot Me Down, an album that was praised for embodying the dark tone of his Capitol years. Also in 1981, Sinatra was embroiled in controversy when he worked a ten-day engagement for $2 million in Sun City, in the internationally unrecognized Bophuthatswana, breaking a cultural boycott against apartheid-era South Africa. President Lucas Mangope awarded Sinatra with the highest honor, the Order of the Leopard, and made him an honorary tribal chief.
Later career (1982–1998)
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 at 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, 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.
In 1984, 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.[z] 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 A 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).
In 1990, Sinatra was awarded the second "Ella Award" by the Los Angeles-based 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.
In 1993, Sinatra returned to Capitol Records and the recording studio for Duets, which became his best-selling album. The album and its sequel, 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 the Frank Sinatra Desert Classic golf tournament. Esquire reported of the show that Sinatra was "clear, tough, on the money" and "in absolute control". 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.
Career comeback and prime (1953–1959)
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 boss Harry Cohn had been inundated by appeals from people across Hollywood to give Sinatra a chance to star as "Maggio" in the film.[ac] During production, 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 that Sinatra is "simply superb, comical, pitiful, childishly brave, pathetically defiant", commenting that his death scene is "one of the best ever photographed".
In 1954 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 in The Man With The Golden Arm (1955).[ad] 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 production, Sinatra got drunk with Robert Mitchum and Broderick Crawford and trashed Kramer's dressing room. Kramer vowed to never hire Sinatra again at the time, and later regretted casting him as a Spanish guerrilla leader in The Pride and the Passion (1957).
In 1956 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 comedian Joe E. Lewis in The Joker Is Wild; the song "All the Way" won the Academy Award for Best Original Song. By 1958 Sinatra was one of the ten biggest box office draws in the United States, appearing with 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 for walking off the set of Henry King's Carousel (1956),[ae] in 1960 Sinatra starred opposite 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. Sinatra personally financed the film, and paid Martin and Davis Jr. fees of $150,000 and $125,000 respectively, sums considered exorbitant for the period. In 1962, 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 in 1963. For his performance in Come Blow Your Horn, he was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy.
Though 1965's Von Ryan's Express was a major success, and he had directed 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 Sinatra 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.[af]
In the late 1960s, Sinatra became known for playing detectives, including Tony Rome in Tony Rome (1967) and its sequel Lady In Cement (1968). He also played a similar role in 1968's The Detective.
In 1970, 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 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. Hutton's 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.
Sinatra had three children, Nancy (born 1940), Frank Jr. (1944–2016), and Tina (born 1948) with his first wife, Nancy Sinatra (née Barbato; born September 11, 1917) (m. 1939–1951). Sinatra's second wife, Ava Gardner had an abortion in November 1952.
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 arrest.[aj] Sinatra had numerous extra-marital affairs, and gossip magazines published details of affairs with women including Marilyn Maxwell, Lana Turner, and Joi Lansing.[ak]
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, and 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 admitted that Sinatra might be the father of her son, Ronan Farrow (born 1987).
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 Heusen, golfer 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.
Though 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 for healing after his mother died in a plane crash in 1977. He died as a practicing Catholic and had a Catholic burial.
Style and personality
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".
For Santopietro, 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 with humor". 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 elation". 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 Garland's publicist 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.[al] Yet Sinatra was known for his generosity, particularly after his comeback. Kelley notes that when Lee J. Cobb nearly died from a heart attack in June 1955, 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 brand new Cadillac.
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. Sinatra was present at the Mafia Havana Conference in 1946, and when the press learned of 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 "adored" 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.
The 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 FBI kept 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 documented that 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".
In 1960, Sinatra bought a share in the Cal Neva Lodge & Casino, a casino hotel which straddles the California-Nevada state line on the north shores of Lake Tahoe. Though it only opened between June and September, Sinatra built the Celebrity Room theater, which attracted the Sinatra show business pals, Red Skelton, Marilyn Monroe, Victor Borge, Joe E. Lewis, Lucille Ball, Lena Horne, Juliet Prowse, the McGuire Sisters and others. By 1962 he reportedly held a 50% share in the hotel. Sinatra's gambling license was temporarily stripped by the Nevada Gaming Control Board in 1963 after Giancana was spotted on the premises.[am] Due to ongoing pressure from the FBI and Nevada Gaming Commission on mobster control of casinos, Sinatra agreed to give up his share in Cal Neva and the Sands. That year, Sinatra's son, Frank Sinatra, Jr., was kidnapped, but was eventually released unharmed. Sinatra restored his gaming license in February 1981, following support from Ronald Reagan.