Francis Albert Sinatra (December 12, 1915 – May 14, 1998) was an Italian American jazz-oriented popular singer and Academy Award-winning actor.
Beginning his musical career in the swing era with Harry James and Tommy Dorsey, Sinatra became a solo artist with great success in the early to mid-1940s, being the idol of the "bobby soxers". His professional career had stalled by the 1950s, but it was reborn in 1954 after he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He signed with Capitol Records and released several critically lauded albums (such as In the Wee Small Hours, Songs For Swingin' Lovers, Come Fly With Me, Only the Lonely and Nice 'n' Easy). Sinatra left Capitol to found his own record label, Reprise Records (finding success with albums such as Ring-A-Ding-Ding, Sinatra at the Sands and Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim), toured internationally, and fraternized with the Rat Pack and President John F. Kennedy in the early 1960s. Sinatra turned fifty in 1965, recorded the retrospective September of My Years, and scored hits with "Strangers in the Night" and "My Way". Sinatra attempted to weather the changing tastes in popular music, but with dwindling album sales and after appearing in several poorly received films, he retired in 1971. Coming out of retirement in 1973, he recorded several albums, scoring a hit with "(Theme From) New York, New York", and toured both within the United States and internationally until a few years before his death in 1998.
Sinatra was born in Hoboken, New Jersey and had three children; Nancy, Frank Jr. and Tina by his first wife Nancy Barbato. He was married three more times, to the actresses Ava Gardner and Mia Farrow and finally to Barbara Marx, to whom he was married at his death.
Francis Albert Sinatra was born in Hoboken, New Jersey to a family living at 415 Monroe St. in Hoboken. He was the only child of a quiet Sicilian fireman, Anthony Martin Sinatra (1894-1969). Anthony had emigrated to the United States in 1895. His mother, Natalie Dolly Garavanta (1896-1977), was a talented, tempestuous Ligurian, who worked as a midwife, Democratic party ward boss, and part-time abortionist. Known as "Hatpin Dolly," she emigrated in 1897. Although it is part of the Sinatra folklore that Frank had an impoverished childhood, he was actually brought up in a middle-class environment, due to his father's secure job as a fireman and his mother's strong political ties to the Democratic Party in Hoboken. More exactly, the home he was raised in, especially after the age of 5, was comfortably middle-class even as the surrounding neighborhood tipped toward lower middle class.
Following his teen years in New Jersey, Sinatra was interested in serving his country during World War II. But on December 9, 1941, close to his 26th birthday, Sinatra was classified as 4-F at Newark Induction Center, due to a punctured eardrum he suffered from a difficult forceps delivery. This allowed Sinatra to pursue entertainment, rather than being enlisted in the Army Air Corps.
One of Sinatra's earliest jobs as a singer was at the Hoboken Union Club where, in 1935 he got his first break when his singing group, The Three Flashes, along with Harold Arlen, were approached by talent scout Edward 'Major' Bowes. Frank's mother, Dolly, had been instrumental in getting her son work during these years, and managed to persuade the trio to include Frank, who would appear in non-singing roles - as a waiter and as part of a blackface minstrel group - in promotional films for Major Bowes' Amateur Hour.
In September 1935 he appeared on the Major Bowes Amateur Hour as part a group called the Hoboken Four. The group won the show's talent contest with a record 40,000 votes, which led to a national tour with Bowes. Sinatra then took a job as a singing waiter and MC at the Rustic Cabin in Englewood, NJ. (Legend has it that Frank Sinatra was actually not going to get this job but when the first choice Frankie Manion turned down the job, the owner chose Sinatra.) The pay was a mere $15 a week, and Sinatra was left to carry his own public-address system around to local gigs, but the Rustic Cabin gig would allow Sinatra to be heard across New York on the WNEW radio station. In 1939 the wife of bandleader and trumpet player Harry James heard Sinatra on the radio. James, whom Sinatra had been trying to contact via photos and letters, hired Sinatra on a salary of $75 a week and the two recorded together for the first time on July 13, 1939.
Although the Harry James Orchestra never met with a huge amount of success, they were generally well received, and Sinatra, who recorded ten songs with the group for Brunswick and Columbia, gained a great deal of experience, and good notice from the likes of Metronome, during his tenure with the group. At the end of the year he left James to join the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, where he rose to fame as a ballad singer. His first and biggest hit with the band was 1940s "I'll Never Smile Again," which spent several weeks at number one - and was the first "number one" - on Billboard magazine's then-new chart of America's top-selling records. His vast appeal to the "bobby soxers," as teenage girls were called, revealed a whole new audience for popular music, which had appealed mainly to adults up to that time. (The complete span of his career with Dorsey was released in the 1994 box set The Song Is You.)
From March 13 to April 9, 1940 Sinatra sang with the Tommy Dorsey Band at the New York Paramount, the venue in which he, as a solo singer, caused pandemonium during the coming years. On record, Sinatra cut 29 singles with Dorsey during 1941 and was named Male Vocalist of the Year by Billboard that May. His departure from the Dorsey Band was announced on stage at the Circle Theatre in Indianapolis on August 28, 1942.
The Columbia Years and "The Voice"
In 1943, he signed with Columbia Records as a solo artist with initially great success, particularly during the musicians' recording strikes. Vocalists were not part of the musician union and were allowed to record during the ban by using a cappella vocal backing. Sinatra scored several hits during the strike, then enjoyed one of his biggest hits when the strike ended with "Saturday Night Is the Loneliest Night of the Week." He also starred on radio programs during this period and was widely considered the nation's second-most-popular singer, behind Bing Crosby, whose attendance/box office records at the New York Paramount he shattered in December 1942, when a two-week engagement was extended to eight. It was during these shows that teenage fans, known as Bobbysoxers, began to create a deafening roar, the likes of which had never been heard before, when Sinatra was on stage. "Sinatra-mania" was now, officially, in full swing as he landed no less than 23 top ten singles on Billboard between 1940 and early 1943 and became affectionately known as "The Voice."
In 1943, Sinatra made his debut at Madison Square Garden - in a benefit show for Greek War Relief - and caused a stir playing to a crowd of 10,000 at the Hollywood Bowl, a venue usually reserved for classical music and opera. The takings were so huge that the Bowl, in severe financial distress, was able to wipe all of its debt from the earnings. That October, Songs by Sinatra premiered on CBS radio, and ran over the course of the next two years.
In 1944, Sinatra started his film career in earnest - after appearing in three pictures as the singer with the Dorsey Band in 1941/1942 - signing a seven-year contract with RKO and appearing in light musical vehicles - Step Lively, Higher and Higher, catered to appeal to teenage fans. Sinatra was soon noticed by Louis B. Mayer, who bought his contract from RKO and upped his salary from $25,000 to $130,000 per film under a $1.5 million contract with MGM.
When Sinatra returned to the Paramount in October 1944, 35,000 fans caused a near riot outside the venue. Dubbed 'The Columbus Day Riot', it took the police hours to defuse the situation. Sinatra was rapidly becoming one of the biggest stars in all of the entertainment business, with estimates suggesting that he had some 40 million fans in America. He returned to the Paramount the following November, again playing to ecstatic crowds, something that was more than a trend across the nation as Sinatra embarked on a cross-country tour over the spring and summer of 1946, playing at the Golden Gate Theatre [San Francisco], Chicago Stadium, Madison Square Garden and the Hollywood Bowl amongst other major venues.
In 1945, Sinatra co-starred with Gene Kelly in Anchors Aweigh. A major success, this set the standard for subsequent Kelly/Sinatra pictures, such as Take Me Out to the Ball Game and On the Town, all of which were hugely popular with fans and critics alike. That same year he was loaned out to RKO to star in a short film titled The House I Live In. Directed by Melvin LeRoy, this film on tolerance and racial equality earned a special Academy Award. In the 1950s, Sinatra reprised the song "The House I Live In" on the Frank Sinatra Show, saying "That's a fine piece of material. I wouldn't mind doing that every week."
By 1946, Sinatra was performing 45 shows a week during some months. That year saw the release of his first concept album, The Voice of Frank Sinatra, and the debut of his own weekly radio show. On screen, he appeared at the finale of Till the Clouds Roll By singing Ol' Man River and starred in the well-received It Happened in Brooklyn.
At the end of 1946, Frank Sinatra was also invited to Cuba, during the week of the Havana Conference for a gala party, but he was not there as a conference attendee. Sinatra's party was, however, used as a pretext for the Mafia Bosses to be in Havana. Sinatra flew to Havana with three members of the Chicago delegation, Al Capone cousins, Charlie, Rocco and Joseph Fischetti. Joseph Fischetti was there as Sinatra's chaperone, while Charlie and Rocco attended the meeting and also had the job of delivering a suitcase with $2 million to Lucky Luciano, his share of the U.S. rackets he still controlled.
On April 13, 1947, Sinatra was at the Waldorf Astoria in New York to receive the Thomas Jefferson Award for Fighting Against Intolerance. October 13 was named "Frank Sinatra Day" in Hoboken, New Jersey, where Sinatra was presented with the key to the city by the Mayor and the chief of police.
The down-side of fame for Sinatra was a series of public relations gaffes that tarnished his name and his image. Many saw him as a would-be thug, a womanizer and someone who wasn't adverse to slapping around members of the press if the got on the wrong side of him. Critic Lee Mortimer felt the brunt of Sinatra when he was struck in a Hollywood club after taking a dig at "It Happened in Brooklyn" and Sinatra's performance in a film that was otherwise well received. It was in reference to such incidents that Don Rickles, seeing Sinatra in the audience while he was performing at a nightclub, invited Sinatra to feel free to slug somebody and make himself at home.
Of this first phase of Sinatra's career, it can be said that it anticipated virtually every phase of what, in the 1960s, would be called "The Youth Movement." His sudden--and for many his alarming--appeal to teenagers became a topic of journalistic and even sociological comment. Later musical idols would pass through the same stages of massive initial appeal, decline, and retrenchment, but few, however, would manage to attract as many new audiences as Sinatra did. This became essential to any popular music career that aspired to longevity.
From November 13 to December 3, 1947, Sinatra was giving eight shows a day during a 17-day engagement at the Capitol Theatre in New York. While there, he got involved in the fixed Jake LaMotta-Billy Fox boxing match held at Madison Square Garden on November 14, which caused his sponsorship of a youth football team that played only one game (in the first Pop Warner Santa Claus Bowl in Philadelphia) and lost. On December 29, 1947, Sinatra appeared with Kathryn Grayson and Gene Kelly on a Lux Radio presentation of Anchors Aweigh.
In 1948 Sinatra would act in two films, the critically panned The Kissing Bandit and in his first non-singing role as a priest in Miracle of the Bells. The latter fell foul of bad publicity when Sinatra was allegedly linked to Mafia boss Lucky Luciano, prompting his agent, George Evans to announce that his $100,000 fee was being donated to the Church. But the film was savaged by critics, and any hopes that Sinatra might emulate Bing Crosby's Oscar-winning role as a priest in Going My Way went up in smoke.
By the end of 1948 Sinatra himself felt that his career was "stalling," something that was confirmed to a degree when he slipped to No. 5 on Down Beat's annual poll of most popular singers. With record sales also slipping Sinatra tried a new musical approach, recording a couple of gospel songs and succumbing to recording the odd novelty tracks such as The Hucklebuck and Bop! Goes My Heart. But Sinatra never abandoned quality material, and would still record brilliant interpretations of Autumn in New York, Body and Soul, Laura and numerous standards besides.
1949 saw a change for the better, as Frank once again teamed up with Gene Kelly to co-star in Take Me Out to the Ball Game. Directed by Busby Berkley and with strong support from Jules Munshin, Betty Garrett and Esther Williams Take Me Out to the Ball Game was well-received critically and became a major commercial success, raking in $3.4 million in rentals and becoming the 11th highest earning film of the year. That same year Sinatra would team up with Gene Kelly for a third time in On the Town. Hailed a classic of the genre, On the Town was groundbreaking for its location shooting - something unheard of at the time for a musical - in New York City. Jules Munshin and Betty Garrett would provide support yet again, as would Ann Miller who shone in several dance routines. By the end of 1949 alone, On the Town would earn over $3 million, becoming the 17th biggest earning film of the year and earning a standing as one of the great musicals of Hollywood's Golden Era.
Ava, Vegas Debut and Sinatra in Decline
After two years' absence Sinatra returned to the concert stage on January 12, 1950, in Hartford, Connecticut. Takings of $18,267 over two nights were Sinatra's highest to date, but, under a hectic schedule over the ensuing years, Sinatra's voice suffered, resulting in him hemorrhaging his vocal cords on stage at the Copacabana (nightclub) on April 26, 1950.
From July 10 to 23, 1950, Sinatra performed to standing-room-only crowds at the London Palladium, Ava Gardner being in attendance during, at least one of his shows. In August 1950, Sinatra played to ecstatic crowds in Atlantic City, NJ.
On October 7, 1950, The Frank Sinatra Show premiered on CBS. This Saturday-night show was broadcast weekly from 9:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., leading to a radio series, also on CBS, called Meet Frank Sinatra. A second series of The Frank Sinatra Show premiered on October 1, 1952, but ratings were dwarfed by the likes of The Milton Berle Show.
Sinatra's career continued to decline as novelty tunes became popular with audiences, and as he moved into his mid-30's, his potential appeal to new teenage audiences declined. But, contrary to popular belief, Sinatra did have some hits during this time--Birth of the Blues, Goodnight Irene, Castle Rock, Bim Bam Baby, Mama Will Bark--and he continued to work on stage, TV, and radio.
In September 1951, Sinatra made his Las Vegas debut at the Desert Inn. A month later, a second series of the Frank Sinatra Show aired on CBS. On November 7, 1951, Sinatra married Ava Gardner. They had an extremely tempestuous relationship, and the ascent of Gardner's career seemed to coincide with the decline in Sinatra's career. They split up in 1953 and divorced in 1957.
By 1952, Sinatra was at his lowest ebb. Double Dynamite, a movie vehicle with Jane Russell and Groucho Marx, was a critical and commercial failure But he badly needed his $25,000 fee for (the film) Meet Danny Wilson to stop the bank from repossessing his home. Neither film proved popular, although in the latter Sinatra acquitted himself well as a nightclub singer under the thumb of the mob.
Between March 26 and April 8, 1952, Sinatra was back on stage at the Paramount Theater in New York, playing to a much smaller crowd than in the days of the rioting Bobby-Soxers, while a British tour in 1953--playing in Blackpool, Dundee, and Glasgow--among other places, was met with a middling response.
After several flops on record, screen, and stage, both Columbia and MCA dropped Sinatra in 1952.
From Here to Eternity to Capitol Studios
The rebirth of Sinatra's career began when he played Pvt. Angelo Maggio in the eve-of-Pearl Harbor drama From Here to Eternity (1953), for which he won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. This role and performance have become legendary, marking the turnaround in Sinatra's career, in which he went from being lost in a critical and commercial wilderness for several years to an Oscar-winning actor and, once again, one of the top recordings artists in the world.
In 1953, Sinatra signed with Capitol Records, where he worked with many of the finest musical arrangers of the era, most notably Nelson Riddle, Gordon Jenkins, and Billy May. Sinatra reinvented himself with a series of albums featuring darker emotional material, starting with In the Wee Small Hours (1953), and followed by Frank Sinatra Sings For Only The Lonely (1958), and Where Are You? (1957). He also developed a hipper, 'swinging' persona, as heard on Swing Easy! (1954), Songs For Swingin' Lovers (1956), Come Fly With Me (1957).
Back on the big screen, Sinatra won rave reviews for a seething turn as an assassin determined to kill the President of the United States in the thriller Suddenly.Young at Heart - the song that could be considered as his "comeback" single - peaked on the Billboard charts at #2 and would become the title of the Sinatra/Doris Day remake of the film Four Daughters. By the end of the year, Billboard named "Young at Heart" Song of the Year, Swing Easy! (his second album for Capitol) was named Album of the Year and Sinatra was named "Top Male Vocalist" by Billboard, Down Beat and Metronome.
The following year Sinatra would win a starring role alongside Robert Mitchum and Olivia DeHavilland in the much anticipated screen adaptation of Morton Thompson's best-selling novel Not as a Stranger. Lighter fare would follow in the shape of The Tender Trap, a romantic musical with Debbie Reynolds, whilst despite failing to accrue the role of Sky Masterson, Sinatra co-starred with Marlon Brando in the hugely popular and successful Guys and Dolls, which was the highest grossing film of 1955.
Released in 1955, Sinatra's first 12" LP In the Wee Small Hours was also his first collaboration with Nelson Riddle. Hailed as a masterpiece by critics, In the Wee Small Hours would set the standard for future Sinatra albums and signaled a huge leap forward for the concept album. It spent a record 18 weeks at #2 on the Billboard album chart.
One of the most sensational films of its day was Otto Preminger's The Man with the Golden Arm (1955) and here, in the lead-role as reformed heroin addict Frankie Machine, Sinatra gave arguably his best and most widely acclaimed performance. Groundbreaking for its depiction of drug addition, bucking Hollywood's production codes and for a thrilling jazz score courtesy of Elmer Bernstein, The Man With the Golden Arm would prove popular at the box office whilst Sinatra was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor at the 29th Academy Awards.
It was during these years in Hollywood that Sinatra would associate with Humphrey Bogart's "Holmby Hills Rat Pack", a group of actors - including Lauren Bacall, David Niven and Judy Garland - who had grown dissatisfied with the studio system. It was Bogart himself who bestowed upon Sinatra the long-lasting nickname "The Chairman of the Board", and once commented that "If he could stay away from the broads and devote his time to being an actor, he'd be one of the best in the business."
In 1955 Sinatra starred in Our Town, a one-off TV drama based on the play by Thornton Wilder. Co-starring Eva Marie Saint and Paul Newman, Our Town was broadcast in color live on NBC and was well received, garnering positive reviews, strong ratings and an Emmy Award for the song "Love and Marriage". Sinatra would complain, however, about the time taken to produce the show and stayed away from starring roles on TV until Contract on Cherry Street in 1977. During this time Sinatra would also begin to explore several business ventures that would prove lucrative for him over the years. An acquisition of a percentage in the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas led him to performing exclusively there, whilst in 1956, he produced his first film, the psychological western Johnny Concho. The same year he co-starred with his boyhood idol, Bing Crosby, and Grace Kelly - in her final acting role - in the movie version of Cole Porter's High Society, which grossed over $13 million at the North American box office and became the 8th highest earning film of the year.
Despite a hectic schedule during the mid-fifties, which included the filming of five movies in 1955 alone, Sinatra found time to serve as the conductor of the first album to be recorded at the Capitol Records Tower in Los Angeles, Frank Sinatra Conducts Tone Poems of Color. A second collaboration with Nelson Riddle, Songs For Swingin' Lovers, was an undisputed triumph, expanding on what Swing Easy! had suggested and doing so with the same panache and style that made In the Wee Small Hours such a success. The first ever number one album in the UK, Songs for Swingin' Lovers featured several updates of Broadway and Tin Pan Alley standards recorded by a singer at the very top of his game. The highlight for many remains the astonishing I've Got You Under My Skin - a 56 bar masterpiece that burns and build to an exhilarating trombone solo spun round Sinatra's remarkable vocal performance.
In 1957 Sinatra gave one of his finest on-screen performances in The Joker Is Wild, a biopic of nightclub singer Joe E. Lewis, whose throat was cut by the mob, forcing him to find a new career as a stand-up comic. Sinatra's starred with Rita Hayworth and - for a second time - Kim Novak in his next film Pal Joey. Based on the play by Richard Rogers and Lorenz Hart and once thought too risque for Hollywood, critics hailed Pal Joey as definitive Sinatra vehicle which was written about extensively by Leonard Maltin for the 2002 CD box-set Frank Sinatra in Hollywood 1940-1964. Sinatra won the Golden Globe for 'Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy' for his role as Joey Evans although this is one of the few post-From Here to Eternity movies in which Sinatra didn't top the bill. Here, he agreed to allow Rita Hayworth top billing, saying "It's ok to make it Hayworth/Sinatra/Novak. I don't mind being in the middle of that sandwich".
Come Fly With Me
Come Fly With Me (1958) took several years to come to fruition, but when Sinatra and Billy May finally collaborated on this travelogue-style concept album, the results were, typically, outstanding. A number one album for five weeks on Billboard, Come Fly With Me remains one of the defining Sinatra albums, his interpretations of the title track ("Come Fly With Me"), "Moonlight in Vermont", "Autumn in New York" and It's Nice to Go Travelling being some of his finest recordings of the era. The mood would change dramatically, however, for Sinatra's second album of 1958, Frank Sinatra Sings for Only the Lonely. A stark collection of introspective saloon songs and blues-tinged ballads, this album contained some of the most lauded recordings of Sinatra's career and in many ways could be considered the apex of the Sinatra/Riddle collaborations. Only the Lonely was a mammoth commercial success, peaking at #1 on Billboard's album chart during a 120 week stay, whilst cuts from this LP such as "Angel Eyes" and "One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)" would remains staples of Sinatra's concerts until the very end.
Sinatra would court further acclaim for his acting when he starred in Vincente Minnelli's highly revered small-town melodrama Some Came Running. Based on the novel by James Jones, this would be the first film in which Sinatra and Dean Martin acted together, whilst Shirley MacLaine - who was Oscar Nominated for her role here - would become a long-time friend of Sinatra. For the film Kings Go Forth, Boris Karloff served as Sinatra's acting coach. Co-starring with Tony Curtis and Natalie Wood, this remains one of the few films set during the so-called "Champaign Campaign" in France at the end of World War II. A secondary plot of interracial romance was somewhat taboo for the time prompting Curtis to comment some time later that it was one of the most difficult roles of his career. Sinatra, himself, said that, despite his stance on racial intolerance, he "took the part as a performer, not a lecturer on racial problems."
In 1957 Sinatra signed a $3 million deal with ABC to star in the The Frank Sinatra Show. Many top stars of the day appeared as guests - Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Dean Martin - but the public and critics failed to warm to an over-ambitious program. Sinatra's subsequent projects with ABC were a series of four specials broadcast over 1959 and 1960 sponsored by Timex.
In November 1957, the New York Times reckoned that Frank Sinatra's annual income was $4 million, whilst had proven himself to be the most consistent album-seller in the U.S, shifting, on average, 200,000 copies of each release.
In July 1958 Sinatra sang at a benefit in Monte Carlo. Princess Grace was in attendance and, on this night, Sinatra worked for the first time with Quincy Jones. Their working relationship would last until the 1980s, and their friendship until the end of Sinatra's life.
By this time Sinatra had become close to the Kennedy family and was a friend and strong supporter of the soon-to-be President John F. Kennedy. Years later, Sinatra's youngest daughter Tina Sinatra stated that Sinatra and mafia figure Sam Giancana had helped Kennedy win a crucial primary election in 1960 by helping to deliver union votes. Sinatra is said to have introduced Kennedy to Judith Campbell, who had been a girlfriend of both Sinatra's and Giancana. Campbell allegedly began a relationship with Kennedy; eventually Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy became alarmed and told his brother to distance himself from Sinatra. On March 24. 1962, Kennedy and Sinatra's friendship officially ended after President Kennedy chose to stay at Bing Crosby's house instead of Frank's. This all soured Sinatra's relationship with the Kennedy family, including Peter Lawford (as explained in the above sentence's source), and the Democratic Party, and by the late 1960s Sinatra had joined with his 'pally' Dean Martin and became a Republican and supporter of Richard Nixon, who became President in 1968. Sinatra would lose his Nevada casino license in 1963 when Giancana was seen in the Cal-Neva Lodge casino at the North Shore of Lake Tahoe, of which Sinatra was a part owner.
After the bleakness of the much lauded Frank Sinatra Sings for Only the Lonely Sinatra was back in the recording studio to cut a more buoyant album during December of 1958. The result was the multi-Grammy Award winning album Come Dance With Me. A dozen-track swing-set that boasted a jaunty re-recording of an old Columbia favorite Saturday Night - although now, instead of friends coming to "call" Sinatra was singing about friends coming to ball - along with up-beat versions of I Could Have Danced All Night, Baubles, Bangles and Beads and Dancing in the Dark. A massive success, the album's title-track would win Best Male Pop Vocal Performance at the 1960 Grammy Awards, whilst the album itself would be named Album of the Year -- on Billboard, Come Dance With Me would peak at #2 during a 140 week chart-run... in the UK it would reach the same position during a 30 week stay.
In 1959 Sinatra would act in his third war film, Never So Few. Based on the novel by Tom T. Chamales about U.S. Soldiers and guerrillas fighting the Japanese in Burma during World War II. Steve McQueen was hired after Sammy Davis, Jr. was dropped from the film after a falling out with Sinatra. Sinatra's last film of the decade would bring Frank Capra out of semi-retirement to direct what would be his penultimate film, A Hole In the Head.
On television, the first Frank Sinatra Timex Special was broadcast on ABC in October of 1959. Featuring Mitzi Gaynor, Dean Martin and Bing Crosby, positive reviews and good ratings helped ABC capitalise on their investment in Sinatra. The second special, The Frank Sinatra Timex Special: An Afternoon With Frank Sinatra was set to be taped in the Palm Springs desert but heavy rainfall forced the show back onto a soundstage and a hasty script re-write. Guest stars on the show were Juliet Prowse, Peter Lawford, The Hi-Lo's and Ella Fitzgerald.
Between 1955 and 1959, Sinatra spent more weeks than anyone else on Billboard's album chart - 450 weeks in total - reaching the top-ten no less than 14 times. 10 of his singles reached the top-twenty on Billboard. In the UK. Sinatra was just as successful, reaching the album top-ten fourteen times between 1956 and 1959, scoring four number ones in the process. Songs For Swingin' Lovers (1956) proved so popular that its sales registered on the singles chart, becoming the only album to rank among the UK's top-twenty singles as well as becoming the first UK number one album on July 28, 1956.
Sinatra would start the sixties as he ended the fifties, his first album of the decade, Nice 'n' Easy, topping Billboard's album chart and winning critical plaudits en masse, this, despite Sinatra growing discontented at Capitol Records and having decided to form his own label, Reprise Records. His first album on the label, Ring-A-Ding-Ding (1961), was a major success peaking at #4 on Billboard and #8 in the UK. During this time, Sinatra was highly prolific on the album charts, placing 8 albums among Billboard's top ten over the course of 1960 and 1961 alone, a feat repeated in the UK.
The Frank Sinatra Timex Show: Here's To The Ladies was a Valentines Day special in February 1960 and featured an appearance by Eleanor Roosevelt, who recited the lyrics to High Hopes whilst Lena Horne sang with Sinatra and Juliet Prowse guest starred for a second time. Sinatra's fourth - and final - Timex special was broadcast the following March and secured massive viewing figures. Titled It's Nice to Go Travelling the show is more commonly known as Welcome Home Elvis having featured Elvis Presley on his first TV appearance in three years.
On May 29, 1960, Sinatra was in Tokyo to play his first shows in Japan, where he was extremely popular and would return several times over the coming decades, giving his final public performances at the Fukuoka Dome in 1994.
Sinatra's first [released] movie of the 1960s was the all-star vehicle Can-Can. Featuring Louis Jourdan, Maurice Chevalier, Shirley MacLaine and Juliet Prowse, the film was a major commercial success - especially after Soviet Premier Nikita Krushchev visited the set in September of 1959, and lambasted the production as being an example of "western decadence" - whilst the accompanying album won the Grammy Award for Best Motion Picture Soundtrack at the 1960s awards.
Following hot on the heels of Can Can was Ocean's 11, the film that would become the definitive on-screen outing for 'The Rat Pack'. A major success commercially, if hardly an artistic triumph, Ocean's 11 was the ninth most successful film of 1960, with over $5.5 million taken in domestic rentals.
On January 27, 1961, Sinatra played a benefit show at Carnegie Hall for Martin Luther King, Jr. and would go on to play a major role in the desegregation of Nevada hotels and casinos in the 1960s. Sinatra led his fellow members of the Rat Pack and label-mates on Reprise in refusing to patronize hotels and casinos that wouldn't allow black singers to play live or wouldn't allow black patrons. Sinatra would often speak from the stage on desegregation.
Later in the year, he returned to Australia for a series of shows at Sydney Stadium. As a live performer, Sinatra was far traveled, and, in April 1962, he embarked on a self-financed world tour to raise money for various children's charities. Concerts in China, Israel, Greece, Italy, London, Los Angeles, Milan, Tel Aviv and Japan raised in excess of one million dollars for various benefits. In Japan, Sinatra was presented with the key to Tokyo, the first time this honour had been bestowed upon a non-Japanese civilian.
The only Sinatra picture released in 1961 was the disaster movie The Devil at Four O'Clock, directed by Mervyn LeRoy. Sinatra would co-star with Spencer Tracy, who said of Sinatra, "Nobody at 'Metro' (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer) ever had the power that Sinatra has today."
In 1961 Sinatra would record a salute to former boss Tommy Dorsey in the form of the album I Remember Tommy. Here, Sinatra revisited several songs that he made standards with the Dorsey Band during the 1940s, with Sy Oliver providing new arrangements that were in tune with where Sinatra was musically at this time, but harked back to his heyday with Dorsey. With over 200,000 advance orders, I Remember Tommy would peak at #3 on Billboard.
Over September 11th and 12th, 1961, Sinatra would record his final songs for Capitol Records. Quite aptly, these recordings would be arranged by Sinatra's former Columbia Records arranger Axel Stordahl. Harking to the past before moving forward, the title of the album would be Point of No Return - recordings of Noel Coward's "I'll See You Again" and Eubie Blake's "Memories of You" brought out the best in both Sinatra and Stordahl, whilst re-recordings of I'll Be Seeing You and These Foolish Things (Remind Me of You) referenced Sinatra's halcyon days at Columbia on an album that peaked at #19 on Billboard's album chart.
The Reprise Musical Repertory Theatre
In 1962, Sinatra and Count Basie collaborated for the album Sinatra-Basie. This popular and successful release would prompt them to rejoin two years later for a follow-up It Might As Well Be Swing, which was arranged by Quincy Jones. One of Sinatra's more ambitious albums from the mid-sixties was The Concert Sinatra, which was recorded with a 73-piece symphony orchestra on 35 mm tape. Arguably the most lavish album of his career, The Concert Sinatra wasn't a live recording, but a studio album that found Sinatra recording five Rogers and Hammerstein and two Rogers and Hart compositions among the eight cuts, all of which were arranged by Nelson Riddle. On the album sleeve, it was suggested that this album was a "new achievement of artistic purity and control." It peaked at #6 on Billboard's album chart and #8 in the UK.
As Reprise Records flourished and Sinatra's artistic vision widened further, not to mention his commercial success remaining at a peak without falter for almost a decade solid by this time, he embarked upon a project that would boast the talent of the record label he started and owned: The Reprise Musical Repertory Theatre. Produced by Sinatra himself, complete scores from four lauded Broadway musicals were commissioned and a wealth of talent established to record. Wielding the baton was veteran Hollywood conductor Morriss Stoloff and the arrangements done by Sinatra stalwarts Billy May and Nelson Riddle. Sinatra, featuring only when and where appropriate would sing alongside Dean Martin, Debbie Reynolds, The Maguire Sisters, Jo Stafford, Clark Dennis, Rosemary Clooney, Sammy Davis, Jr., Dinah Shore and Bing Crosby on scores from Kiss Me, Kate, Finian's Rainbow, South Pacific and Guys and Dolls, the latter featuring Sinatra's classic recording of Luck Be a Lady.
The Manchurian Candidate
In 1962, Sinatra resumed his strong film work in John Frankenheimer's classic thriller The Manchurian Candidate. Here, Sinatra gave one of his finest acting performances, playing the disturbed Major Bennett Marco, whose recurring nightmares about events during the Korean War lead him on a quest to find the meaning behind what's going on in his mind. Widely hailed as a masterpiece, The Manchurian Candidate featured career-best performances from both Laurence Harvey and Angela Lansbury, in a film with dark comic undertones, shades of noir and a cutting satirical edge that made it one of the American Film Institute's 100 Greatest Films. But this was a film that struggled to make it to the screen, its complex plot and themes of cold war paranoia, spies and presidential assassination was strong enough to leave the head of United Artists, Arthur Krim, perplexed about its content and what the public reaction would be. Sinatra, who had a distribution deal with UA, personally approached John F. Kennedy to ask approval of its production. Kennedy, a fan of the novel on which the film was based, eagerly agreed that the film should be made. Sinatra would later comment on "A wonderful, wonderful experience of my life... It only happens once in a performer's life. Once."
Directorial Debut and Sinatra at the Sands
In 1963, Sinatra hosted the Academy Awards ceremony, whilst returning to the big screen in the first filmed adaptation of a Neil Simon play, Come Blow Your Horn, which was a massive success, grossing almost $13 million in America alone and garnering Sinatra a Golden Globe nomination in the process. Sinatra also worked briefly with John Huston and a host of stars such as Robert Mitchum, Tony Curtis, Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas and George C. Scott in the cameo-laden mystery-thriller The List of Adrian Messenger. For a few minutes screen-time under disguise Sinatra was paid $75,000.
Released in 1963 was the LP Sinatra's Sinatra, an album that consisted of remakes of songs recorded at Columbia and Capitol during the forties and fifties. This was an attempt by Sinatra to offer current versions of the same songs on his own label, where it was hoped this album would sell in spite of the previous versions. The end result was positive, with charming updates of Nancy (With the Laughing Face) and a gently swinging version of In the Wee Small Hours. Sinatra's Sinatra reached #9 on Billboard and on the UK album chart.
A reunion with the Rat Pack in Robert Aldrich's 4 For Texas would also prove lucrative, but this would be the Clan's penultimate on-screen outing, their final (full) picture together coming the following year in the shape of a prohibition-era take on the legend of Robin Hood, Robin and the Seven Hoods. Complete with a grade-A cast, including Peter Falk, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Bing Crosby and an un-billed cameo by Edward G. Robinson, Robin and the Seven Hoods would earn respectable reviews and a box office rentals of $4.5 million.
In 1965, Sinatra made his directorial debut with the anti-war film None But The Brave. This, the first Japanese/American co-production (Warner Bros./Toho Studios) opened to good reviews and good box office in both America and Japan. Von Ryan's Express  was more action based - almost like the Saturday morning adventure serials of the '40s and '50s - teaming Sinatra up with Trevor Howard in a thrilling escapade that became a major box office success, grossing $17 million and fueling Oscar-buzz on Sinatra's part.
Sinatra's first live album, Sinatra at the Sands, was recorded during October and November 1966 at the Sands Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Backed by the Count Basie Band, with Quincy Jones serving as arranger, Sinatra at the Sands was released in August 1966, reaching #7 in the UK and #9 on Billboard.
Sinatra at 50: September of My Years
In June 1965, Sinatra, along with Sammy Davis, Jr. and Dean Martin played live in St. Louis to benefit Dismas House. The concert was beamed live via satellite to numerous movie theaters across America. Released in August 1965 was the Grammy Award winning album of the year September of My Years, whilst a career anthology A Man and His Music followed in November, itself winning album of the year at the Grammys in 1966. In 1965, the compilations Sinatra '65: The Singer Today and My Kind of Broadway were also released, whilst the TV special Sinatra: A Man and His Music garnered both an Emmy award and a Peabody Award. On July 24, Sinatra headlined the Newport Jazz Festival, playing to a standing-room-only audience.
In early 1966 the album Moonlight Sinatra appeared, followed in the spring by That's Life, both the single and album would achieve considerable success in the US - both were top-ten hits on Billboard's pop charts - before "Strangers in the Night" went on to top the Billboard and UK pop singles charts on its way to winning the award for Record of the Year at the Grammys. The album of the same name also topped the Billboard chart and reached number 4 in the UK.
On the big screen, Sinatra, along with John Wayne and Yul Brynner would appear in cameos roles in Cast a Giant Shadow , a Kirk Douglas-starring biopic on American general Mickey Marcus who fought with the Israeli army in 1948.
Sinatra would start 1967 with a series of recording sessions with the highly revered Brazilian singer/songwriter Antonio Carlos Jobim. Hailed as one of the finest moments in his career, the album, Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim, would reap critical plaudits before charting in March. Later in the year a duet with daughter Nancy, "Something Stupid", topped the Billboard pop and UK singles charts. In December, Sinatra collaborated with Duke Ellington on the album Francis A. & Edward K.
In 1967 Sinatra was also in London and war-torn Berlin to film scenes for the Sidney J. Furie-directed film, The Naked Runner. Distracted by his plans to marry Mia Farrow, Sinatra left the production early, failing to fully complete his final scenes. Despite mixed reviews, The Naked Runner was a box-office success, something that Sinatra needed after Marriage on the Rocks  and Assault on a Queen  flopped with critics and the public alike. The latter's only highlight being the musical score, which was provided by Duke Ellington.
In 1967, Gordon Douglas - who had directed the films Young At Heart  and Robin and the Seven Hoods  - was back working with Sinatra on the film Tony Rome. Sinatra, playing a wise-cracking private detective, secured good box office in a hardboiled tale of murder and corruption. A sequel, Lady In Cement  was less successful, but still a hit. Sinatra was also on more serious form in The Detective, a bleak policier that dealt with, for its time, taboo subjects. A major commercial success in America - the 20th biggest earner for 1968 with $6.5 million taken in rentals - The Detective was billed as being "An adult movie with adult themes," in which Sinatra gave one of his most intense and dedicated acting performances of the decade.
Back on the small-screen, Sinatra would once again work with Antonio Carlos Jobim and also Ella Fitzgerald on the TV special A Man and His Music + Ella + Jobim. This would be his third TV special in as many years, and a fourth in 1968 - Francis Albert Sinatra Does His Thing - paired him up with Diahann Carroll and The Fifth Dimension hamming it with Sinatra on board as The Sixth Dimension.
George Harrison visited Sinatra in the recording studio when he was cutting tracks for his second album of 1968, the folk-inspired Cycles. Featuring songs by Joni Mitchell (Both Sides Now), Gayle Caldwell (Wandering), John Hartford (Gentle on My Mind) and Jimmy Webb (By the Time I Get to Pheonix) Cycles peaked at #18 on Billboard, whilst the title-track reached #23 on the Hot 100 and #2 on Billboard's Easy Listening chart.
Sinatra's two most recent albums had followed an experimental vein, in keeping with his flirtation with contemporary styles of popular music. A Man Alone (1969) had Sinatra singing the songs of Rod McKuen, and was a moderate commercial success, peaking at #30 on Billboard and reaching the UK top 20. Watertown (1970) was one of Sinatra's most acclaimed concept albums, but was all but ignored by the public in commercial terms. Selling a mere 30,000 copies, and reaching a peak chart position of 101 put an end to plans of a television special based on the album.
On August 16, 1969, at the Houston Astrodome, Sinatra headlined an all-star tribute to the astronauts of Apollo 11, whilst his latest TV special - simply titled Sinatra - found him on typically fine form and offering some self-deprecation in the form of clips of his "worst" acting performances. Back in Vegas, after an extended run at Caesar's Palace during May, Sinatra would play at the same venue the same night Nancy Sinatra played at the Hilton and Frank Sinatra, Jr. played at the Frontier. The press dubbed this The Night of 1000 Sinatras.
With Frank Sinatra in mind, young singer-songwriter Paul Anka translated for Sinatra the song My Way from its French original Comme d'habitude, composed by Claude François and Jacques Revaux. My Way would, perhaps, become more identified with him than any other over his seven decades as a singer. Hailed as a fitting testament to a Singer who had indeed done it his way, My Way became instantly recognized as a signature of some status and was soon on its way to a peak position of #27 on Billboard's Hot 100. In the U.K. My Way was an immense success, spending a record 124 weeks on the singles chart, whilst the album of the same name peaked at #2 during a 51 week stay. On Billboard, the album would peak at #11.
On November 20, 1969 Sinatra hosted a tribute to Jack L. Warner.
The Christmas album The Sinatra Family Wish You a Merry Christmas peaked at #3 over the holiday season, this being Sinatra's first top-ten album on Billboard since That's Life in 1967, and his twenty first top-ten album of the decade. By the end of the 1960s, Sinatra had spent 1311 weeks on Billboard's album chart - second only to Johnny Mathis' 1544 weeks.
Testimony on Organized Crime and Support for Ronald Reagan
On February 27th 1970 Sinatra sang at The White House as part of a tribute to senator Everett Dirksen. Over the summer Sinatra supported a Republican candidate for the first time, as he declared for Ronald Reagan in his race for the Governorship of California. Sinatra was also good friends with Vice-President Spiro Agnew. Sinatra said he agreed with the Republican Party on most positions, except that of abortion.
Sinatra's first movie of the decade, Dirty Dingus Magee was released in 1970, it was to be his last film for seven years.
According to Nancy Sinatra in her book Sinatra: An American Legend Sinatra needed to do something lighter after the death of his father, Marty in January of 1969. During his father's final days and over the weeks after his death, Frank raised more than $800,000 to start the Martin Anthony Sinatra Medical Education Centre next to the Palm Springs Desert Hospital.
In a secret session at midnight on February 17, 1970, Sinatra testified in front of the New Jersey State Commission on organized crime. Sinatra's appearance had come amid much acrimony. Sinatra declined to answer a subpoena, and subsequently sued the federal court, claiming that his subpoena was illegal. Sinatra's suit was dismissed, and he appealed all the way to the Supreme Court, who at four votes to three, found against him.
On May 30th, at the request of Danny Thomas Sinatra performed at 'The Shower of Stars' charity event for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital at the Mid-South Coliseum in Memphis, Tennessee.
In November 1970, Sinatra performed in London's Royal Festival Hall with the Count Basie orchestra, in a charity benefit for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. The shows were taped for a BBC special, Sinatra: In Concert at The Royal Festival Hall. Sinatra later said of this concert “I have a funny feeling that those two nights could have been my finest hour really. It went so well; it was so thrilling and exciting”.
At the March 1971 fight between Mohammad Ali and Joe Frazier at Madison Square Garden (a.k.a. 'The Fight of The Century'), Sinatra was positioned ringside, taking photographs for a Life magazine feature on the fight.
March also saw the release of Sinatra & Company, an album that stalled at #93 on Billboard but peaked inside the top ten in the UK at #9.
In April 1971, Sinatra was awarded his third Academy Award, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, for his humanitarian and charitable efforts.
On 13 June 1971 - at a concert in Hollywood to raise money for the Motion Picture and TV Relief Fund - at the age of fifty-five, Sinatra announced that he was retiring, bringing to an end his thirty-six year career in show business. Closing with the song "Angel Eyes", Sinatra exited the stage on the line "'scuse me while I disappear", not returning for an encore.
In 1972 Sinatra hosted a Sunday night television broadcast introducing the first home video game system, the Magnavox Odyssey.  He was the first celebrity to promote a video game console 
After a lifetime of supporting Democratic presidential candidates, Sinatra supported Richard Nixon for re-election in the 1972 U.S. presidential election. In 1973, Spiro Agnew resigned the vice presidency, amid charges of bribery, extortion and tax fraud charges; Sinatra helped Agnew pay some of his legal bills that he faced after his exit from office.
During his years in retirement, Sinatra would still occasionally perform for various charities, whilst, on November 1, 1972, he was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Screen Actors Guild. In March 1973 he was named Man of the Year by the March of Dimes and on May 26th 1973 was named Entertainer of the Century by the Songwriters of America.
Ol' Blue Eyes Is Back
In 1973 - after receiving 30,000 requests asking him to at least record one final album - Sinatra came out of retirement with a television special and album, both entitled Ol' Blue Eyes Is Back. The album, arranged by Gordon Jenkins and Don Costa, was a great success, reaching number 13 on Billboard and number 12 in the U.K. The TV special was highlighted by a dramatic reading of Send in the Clowns and a song and dance sequence with former co-star Gene Kelly.
In January 1974, Sinatra returned to Las Vegas, performing at Caesar's Palace. This, despite vowing in 1970 never to play Caesar's Palace again, after the manager of Caesar's, Sanford Waterman, had pulled a gun on him during a heated argument. With Waterman having been recently sacked, the door was open for Sinatra to return, and so hyped and highly-anticipated were his shows that Elvis Presley's opening night at MGM's International was postponed because it clashed with Sinatra's show.
On March 13, 1974, Sinatra hosted the American Film Institute's tribute to James Cagney. The following month, he played at Carnegie Hall for the first time since 1963, in a series of benefit shows for the Variety Clubs of America. At $150 a head, the money raised from one show tallied $250,000. In May, Sinatra became a grandfather, when Nancy Sinatra gave birth to a daughter
In May 1974 Sinatra co-hosted That's Entertainment. Sinatra wasn't involved in the sequel, That's Entertainment, Part II, but several of his films were represented in a segment dedicated to him.
From June 4 to 17, 1974, Sinatra toured the Far East, playing three shows in Tokyo and one concert aboard the USS Midway at the Yukosuka Naval Base. It was at this time when, during a break in Australia, Sinatra caused an uproar when he described the journalists there - who were pushing for a press conference - as "fags," "pimps," and "whores." Australian unions representing transport workers, waiters, and journalists all went on strike, demanding that Sinatra apologize for his remarks. Sinatra instead insisted that the journalists apologize for "fifteen years of abuse I have taken from the world press." The future Prime Minister of Australia, Bob Hawke, then a union leader, also insisted that Sinatra apologize, and a settlement was eventually reached, to the apparent satisfaction of both parties, with Sinatra's final show of his Australian tour being televised to the nation. A film based on this episode, called The Night We Called It a Day, starred Dennis Hopper as Sinatra and was released in 2003.
The album Some Nice Things I've Missed was released in 1977, stalling at #48 on Billboard but faring slightly better in the UK reaching #30.
The Main Event - Live
In October 1974, Sinatra 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. The TV special would garner mostly positive reviews whilst the album - actually culled from various shows during his comeback tour - was only a moderate success, peaking at #37 on Billboard and #30 in the UK.
Sinatra was one of the presenters at the 47th Academy Awards ceremony, and the Academy Award for Documentary Feature went to Hearts and Minds, produced by Peter Davis and Bert Schneider. Schneider's congratulatory telegram was read by the head of the Vietcong delegation to the Paris Peace Accords, and Sinatra read a disclaimer, saying that the Academy was not responsible for any political remarks made on the program. Who composed the disclaimer is still a matter of controversy, with Sinatra claiming that he was made to read it by his fellow presenter Bob Hope and the Academy Awards producer, Howard W. Koch, and Schneider claiming that it was Sinatra’s point of view.
On February 9th 1975 Sinatra served as host at the AFI tribute to Orson Welles.
In 1975 Sinatra embarked on his first world tour in thirteen years. The tour proved so popular that he took out an advertisement in the Los Angeles Times stating: "It Was a Very Good Year. Countries 8, cities 30, attendance 483,261, performances 140, gross $7,817,473." In August 1975, Sinatra co-headlined with John Denver at Harrah's Lake Tahoe. An unprecedented 672,412 requests were made for tickets. In November 1975, he headlined at the London Palladium, where he had made his European debut in 1950. Some 350,000 requests were made for tickets, at the close of the year, Sinatra performed in front of 20,000 fans at the Chicago Stadium.
Marriage to Barbara Marx, death of his mother
On March 29th 1976 Sinatra was the "Friend" on John Denver's television special for ABC, John Denver and Friend. Then, on April 11th Sinatra performed at the Westchester Premier Theater, after which he posed for the now infamous photograph with several organized crime figures, including Jimmy Fratianno and Carlo Gambino.
On May 1st 1976 Sinatra was back on the road, and over ten nights would tour with Count Basie and his orchestra with their final show of the tour being in Nashville at The Grand Old Opry.
In July 1976, Sinatra married long-time girlfriend Barbara Marx, the former wife of Zeppo Marx. It was Sinatra's fourth marriage, and they remained married for the rest of Sinatra's life.
Sinatra's performance at Jerry Lewis' annual telethon for muscular dystrophy provided a surprise for host Jerry Lewis when Sinatra brought onto the stage Dean Martin to reunite Martin and Lewis after not having spoken to each other for 20 years.
On January 9, 1977, Sinatra's mother, Dolly, was killed in a plane crash on the San Gorgonio Mountain in Southern California. The death of his mother had a profound effect on Sinatra, who returned to the Catholicism of his youth, taking instruction, and remarrying Barbara Sinatra in the Catholic Church, which required the annulment of his marriage to his first wife, Nancy Barbato.
Later that year Sinatra produced and starred in his first television movie, Contract On Cherry Street.
In 1979, in front of the Pyramids in Egypt, Sinatra performed for Anwar Sadat -- back in Las Vegas, whilst celebrating his forty years in show business and his sixty-fourth birthday, he was awarded the Grammy Trustees Award during a special party at Caesar's Palace that featured a host of legendary figures from the world of entertainment.
Reagan presidency, Nevada gaming license, Rio concert
In the 1980 U.S. presidential election, Sinatra supported Ronald Reagan, and donated $4 million to Reagan's campaign. Sinatra said he supported Reagan as he was “the proper man to be the president of the United States…it's so screwed up now, we need someone to straighten it out”. Reagan's victory gave Sinatra his closest relationship with the White House since the early 1960s, as a result of which Sinatra arranged Reagan's Presidential gala, as he had done for John F Kennedy, some twenty years previously.
In 1980, Sinatra also decided to apply for a Nevada Gaming License, with President Reagan submitted as one of his references. In February 1981, Sinatra was quizzed by the Nevada Gaming Control Board about his relationships with Mafia figures, and his fifty percent ownership of the Cal-Neva lodge. The board eventually voted four to one to reinstate Sinatra's gaming license.
Between January 22 and January 25, Sinatra played to frenzied crowds at the Rio Palace in Rio de Janeiro. Still in Rio, on January 26 he played to a then world-record crowd of 175,000 at the Estádio do Maracanã. In June he returned to Carnegie Hall for a two-week long engagement. Tickets sold out in a single day, breaking all previous box office records at the ninety year old venue.
Trilogy: Past, Present and Future
In 1980, Sinatra's first album for six years was released, Trilogy: Past Present Future, a highly ambitious triple album that found Sinatra recording songs from the past (pre-rock era) and present (rock era and contemporary) that he had overlooked during his career, whilst 'The Future' was a free-form suite of new songs linked a la musical theater by a theme, in this case, Sinatra pondering over the future. The album garnered six Grammy nominations - winning for best liner notes - and peaked at a more than respectable number 17 on Billboard's album chart, whilst spawning yet another song that would become a signature tune, Theme from New York, New York as well as Sinatra's much lauded (second) recording of George Harrison's Something.
The following year, Sinatra built on the success of Trilogy with She Shot Me Down, an album that revisited the dark tone of his Capitol years, and was praised by critics as a vintage late-period Sinatra. Sinatra would comment himself that it was "A complete saloon album... tear-jerkers and cry-in-your-beer kind of things".
In 1980 Sinatra also returned to acting, playing a troubled New York City policeman in The First Deadly Sin. A film that, in tone, echoed the bleakly introspective She Shot Me Down. Commercially, it was not a major success, but Sinatra, excited about what turned out to be his final starring role, once again garnering praise for his acting. Roger Ebert said of the film that "This is a new performance, built from the ground up".
Sinatra was embroiled in controversy in 1981 when he worked a ten day engagement for $2 million in Sun City, South Africa. He was criticized for the trip by Jesse Jackson, and the United Nations special committee on Apartheid condemned Sinatra as a collaborator in Apartheid.
Kennedy Center Honors, Golden Nugget incident
In 1982, Frank returned to the recording studio as a conductor, for Sylvia Syms' album Syms by Sinatra. Sinatra suffered the deaths of several people close to him in the 1980s, losing Buddy Rich in 1987, and Don Costa and Harry James in 1983. Sinatra delivered the eulogy at Joe Louis's 1981 funeral, and paid for his medical bills during his final illness.
In 1983 Sinatra was selected as one of the five Kennedy Center Honors, alongside Katharine Dunham, Jimmy Stewart, Elia Kazan and Virgil Thomson. Quoting Henry James in honoring Sinatra, Reagan said that 'art was the shadow of humanity', and said that Sinatra had “spent his life casting a magnificent and powerful shadow”.
Shortly after the Kennedy Center Honors, Sinatra and Dean Martin were involved in an altercation at the Golden Nugget casino in Atlantic City. Rather than deal from the sealed plastic box, Sinatra told a blackjack dealer to deal by hand, which was prohibited under New Jersey state law. Sinatra was eventually accommodated, and the New Jersey Casino Control Commission fined the Golden Nugget $25,000, and suspended four employees following the incident.
Sinatra appearance on the big screen alongside his fellow Rat Packers in 1983's Cannonball Run II would be his last with "The Clan."
Return to Hoboken, L.A. Is My Lady, His Way
In 1984, for the first time in decades, Sinatra publicly returned to his birthplace in Hoboken, New Jersey, bringing President Reagan with him, who was in the midst of campaigning for the 1984 U.S. presidential election. Reagan had made Sinatra a fund-raising ambassador as part of the Republicans 'Victory 84’ get-the-vote-out-drive.
Earlier that year, Sinatra had worked with Quincy Jones for the first time in nearly two decades on the album L.A. Is My Lady. Well received critically, L.A. Is My Lady came after a Sinatra/Lena Horne project - instigated by Quincy Jones - was abandoned after Horne developed vocal problems and Sinatra, committed to other engagements, couldn't wait to record.
At the 56th Academy Awards Sinatra presented the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award to David L. Wolper.
From September 17 to 22, 1984, Sinatra played six sold-out concerts at the Royal Albert Hall in London. The following year, on May 23, 1985, Sinatra received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and later that day was awarded an honorary Doctor of Engineering degree from the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, despite the protests of the student body.
In 1986, investigative journalist Kitty Kelley published a biography of Sinatra entitled His Way. Sinatra had been to court in 1983 to try to prevent it from being published, according to Kelley, seeking '$2 million in punitive damages from me for presuming to write about him without his authorization'. He also accused her of allegedly misrepresenting herself as his authorized biographer. He later withdrew his lawsuit amid much publicity and the book went on to become number one on the New York Times best seller list and was a bestseller not only in the US but also in England, Canada, and Australia.
On October 30, 1986, Sinatra re-recorded "Mack the Knife", feeling he could better the version recorded during the L.A. Is My Lady sessions in 1984.
In February 1987 Sinatra guest starred in an episode of Magnum, P.I. titled 'Laura'. Playing a retired detective on a search for his grand-daughter's killer, Sinatra would appear on the cover of TV Guide and win good notice for his performance in the highest rating Magnum P.I. episode ever. This was Sinatra's last acting role, although, he was approached by Francis Ford Coppola to play Don Altobello in The Godfather: Part III. Sinatra declined, not wanting t
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