May 27, 1998
The first and only time I saw Frank Sinatra in person, I didn’t see his startling blue eyes. I saw only a smile which spread over his entire face making his eyes twinkle even in the darkness of the theater where he was performing. His voice (which would later be called “golden”) sent the teenage girls around me into a frantic, with many of them screaming with delight. Contrary to stories in later years after his stardom was assured, no one fainted nor did anyone rush up to the stage. I was only a wisp of a girl hanging on to the arms of a family friend who had to drag me along if she wanted to see Mr. Sinatra. I hadn’t the slightest concept as to why so many people were being so rude and drowning out the voice they claimed to adore.
I recall hearing some of the girls in the audience yelling “Frankie.” That was a memory implanted into my memory then and reinforced over the years. By the time I was in my teens, Frank Sinatra’s recordings were available in the individual jukeboxes at each booth of every restaurant and cafe where teenagers and adults alike gathered for family meals or something from the soda fountain. A single nickel dropped into the coin slot and a button selection would keep the singing idol performing. Sometimes everyone would pop a coin or two into the jukebox and the “Golden Voice” would entertain everyone continuously.
Born to Dolly and Martin Sinatra on December 15, 1915 in Hoboken, N.J., the new little boy weighed in at a whopping thirteen and a half pounds. Wanting to christen their son as early as possible, the baby was whisked away by his father and a friend. The friend, Frank Garrick, while holding the new child, was approached by the priest. The priest look at Mr. Garrick and quietly asked his name. “Francis,” he replied. After the christening was over, they discovered that instead of the baby being named for his father, he had been named with his godfather’s name. Instead of carrying his father’s name, he had been named Francis Albert Sinatra.
“Marty,” as he was intended to be called, was called “Frank.” How fitting the name was for him mainly because it’s interesting to note that unlike the larger percentage of young hope-to-be-stars, Frank Sinatra’s name was never changed. I can’t help but think most name changes were for the better. Who would want to call John Wayne by his real name of “Marion?” And Marilyn Monroe’s real name was “Norma Jean.” I suppose it’s what we get used to, and like fans all over the world, we either loved or disliked Frank Sinatra. I don’t recall anyone I knew having any inbetween opinion.
Highlights of His Early Career
Biographical histories record that Frank Sinatra entertained the troops during World War II on the Armed Forces radio show with Dinah Shore. I don’t recall personally if this is true or not, and since I never trust gossip columnists or tabloids – nor much I hear via any media – then this information may not be correct. Rather than do any extensive research, I prefer to rely on a bit of memory, a few facts heard recently after his death, and using a few facts from a book I have owned for many years. Many different sources report items as being factual, and maybe they are, but it’s just as likely they are not unless one heard them straight from Sinatra’s mouth. Another record written about him is that he made his first professional appearance in 1937 at the Rustic Cabin Roadhouse in Englewood, N.J. There’s also a few lines written here and there about Frank singing in a saloon his father owned and ran aside from his regular employment as a policeman. I wasn’t old enough to see his first movie debut in 1935 in which he appeared with Michele Morgan either, but it’s a fact he did. The movie was “Higher and Higher.”
Other facts are easily backed up as truth with authentic photographs or old news reels. The biography program seen on the “History” channel on cable television sounds as if they research extensively before their presentations. However, much of its programming is filled in by friends or people who knew the star, so again, I’m not one to adopt everything they say as absolute truth.
In 1939 he married Nancy Barbato and had two children. Nancy Sandra Sinatra was born in 1940 and Frank, Jr. was born in 1944. On October 30, 1951 they divorced. Ava Gardner became his second wife on November 7, 1951. On July 19, 1966 he entered into a “May-December” marriage with young Mia Farrow, but was divorced in August of 1968. On July 11, 1976 he married for the last time. He and Barbara lived in Beverly Hills. A note of interest: Frank had his first marriage, which took place in the Roman Catholic Church, annulled. Personally, I don’t see how anyone can annul a marriage – especially where children are involved. Does it change the legitimacy of children? Or the validity of a previous valid marriage?
Career as a Star
Is there anyone in the world today who has not heard the music of Frank Sinatra? I doubt it. But contrary to reports hailing him to be the greatest of singers using descriptive adjectives from “golden” to “velvet,” Frank Sinatra was never my favorite singer. Nor was he even in my top ten! Yes, I enjoyed his music sometimes, but even back in the “Oh, Frankie” days, I preferred another well known singer whose natural talent surpassed that of Frank Sinatra, a new nova about to burst into the music field as very few singers have done. Sinatra’s records have sold well over 100 million copies and earned him ten Grammys.
His film career is, of course, my primary interest in Frank Sinatra. Such as the Oscar given to Frank Sinatra for his portrayal of a soldier in the film, “From Here To Eternity,” in 1953. The movie also won Best Picture that year. His second Oscar was awarded to him in 1971 for his humanitarian work. Other films included “The Manchurian Candidate,” “Guys and Dolls,” “High Society,” and many, many other films. I can’t recall any movie he was in that was really bad. I do recall my parents saying that if Frank Sinatra was in the movie, then it was probably worth seeing.
My Favorite Movie
“The Miracle of the Bells,” made in 1948, came at about the time when I was at the age to be most impressed. Though the movie’s leading roles were played by Fred MacMurray and a new star going by only the one name, Valli, Frank Sinatra was clearly a co-star. This sentimental drama didn’t do good at the box office; it was considered by reviewers to be trite. But as a young girl easily brought to tears by anything of a “miraculous” nature, this movie remains to be one of my favorites. Valli played the part of a young woman reaching stardom and then stricken with a fatal disease. Her role-within-a-role was of Saint Joan, and I have never understood why Valli wasn’t given that role in the Hollywood production of the movie. Valli made only two other movies in 1950, and then I’ve never heard anything more about her. But back to the movie I like so much: The young movie queen requests to be buried in her home town with all the bells of all the churches to be rung. Frank Sinatra’s role is that of a young priest. The “miracle” which occurs spreads thoughout the town, the state, and the world.
Ties to the Mafia?
Much has been written about this. Names and dates have been linked directly to Frank Sinatra. President John Fitzgerald Kennedy dropped all friendship ties when he was given a report of nineteen pages from the Justice Department. Frank switched his political aid to the other party from then on, and never recovered from the hurt inflicted by his one-time friend. Frank Sinatra vehemently denied all such ties throughout his life. Though “A picture is worth a thousand words,” just having been photographed with infamous personalities, does it prove the negative? Frank Sinatra told one interviewer that his only connection was because his name ended in a vowel.
On May 14, 1998 at 10:35 in the evening, Francis Albert Sinatra passed away at the age of 82. But stars never die. They continue to twinkle in media heavens through the recordings of their artistry. For those of us who are soothed by his music, Frank Sinatra lives. For those of us who like to be entertained and live in a land of fantasy through his movies, Frank Sinatra lives. We remember famous personalities for reasons of our own. We loved them regardless of bad press. The man with the “Golden Voice” and the famous blue eyes sleeps in peace with others who have gone before him, but remembered for the best of himself and not the worst.