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Frank Sinatra PDF Print E-mail

Francis Albert "Frank" Sinatra (pronounced /sɨˈnɑːtrə/; December 12, 1915 – May 14, 1998) was an American singer and actor.

Beginning his musical career in the swing era with Harry James and Tommy Dorsey, Sinatra became a successful solo artist 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 (for his performance in From Here to Eternity).

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, was a founding member of the Rat Pack and fraternized with celebrities and statesmen, including John F. Kennedy. Sinatra turned 50 in 1965, recorded the retrospective September of My Years, starred in the Emmy-winning television special Frank Sinatra: A Man and His Music, and scored hits with "Strangers in the Night" and "My Way".

With sales of his music dwindling and after appearing in several poorly received films, Sinatra retired for the first time in 1971. Two years later, however, he came out of retirement and in 1973 recorded several albums, scoring a Top 40 hit with "(Theme From) New York, New York" in 1980. 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 also forged a successful career as a film actor, winning the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in From Here to Eternity, a nomination for Best Actor for The Man with the Golden Arm, and critical acclaim for his performance in The Manchurian Candidate. He also starred in such musicals as High Society, Pal Joey, Guys and Dolls and On the Town. Sinatra was honored at the Kennedy Center Honors in 1983 and 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.

Born in December 1915 in Hoboken, New Jersey, Sinatra was the only child of Italian immigrants Natalie Della Garaventa (from Liguria) and Antonino Martino Sinatra (from Sicily) and was raised Catholic. He left high school without graduating, having attended only 47 days before being expelled because of his rowdy conduct. Sinatra's father, often referred to as Marty, served with the Hoboken Fire Department as a Captain. His mother, known as Dolly, was influential in the neighborhood and in local Democratic Party circles, but also ran an illegal abortion business from her home; she was arrested several times and convicted twice for this offense. During the Great Depression, Dolly nevertheless provided money to their son for outings with friends and expensive clothes. Sinatra was arrested for carrying on with a married woman, a criminal offense at the time. He worked as a delivery boy at the Jersey Observer newspaper, and as a riveter at the Tietjan and Lang shipyard, but music was Sinatra's main interest, and he carefully listened to big band jazz. He began singing for tips at the age of eight, standing on top of the bar at a local nightclub in Hoboken. Sinatra began singing professionally as a teenager in the 1930s, although he learned music by ear and never learned how to read music.

Sinatra began to show signs of senility in his last years and after a heart attack in February 1997, he made no further public appearances. After suffering a further heart attack, he died at 10:50 pm on May 14, 1998 at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, with his wife Barbara by his side. He was 82 years old. Sinatra's final words, spoken as attempts were made to stabilize him, were "I'm losing". The official cause of death was listed as complications from senility, heart and kidney disease, and bladder cancer. His death was confirmed by the Sinatra family on their website with a statement accompanied by a recording of the singer's version of "Softly As I Leave You". The next night the lights on the Las Vegas Strip were dimmed for 10 minutes in his honor. President Bill Clinton, as an amateur saxophonist and musician, led the world's tributes to Sinatra, saying that after meeting and getting to know the singer as President, he had "come to appreciate on a personal level what millions of people had appreciated from afar". Elton John stated that Sinatra, "was simply the best - no one else even comes close". In a concert live in Ephesus, John tells the audience of an experience which he explains as "one of the most special moments for me as a songwriter", when he went to the Royal Albert Hall in London and seeing Frank Sinatra who sang John's 1976 hit, "Sorry Seems To Be the Hardest Word".

On May 20, 1998 at the Roman Catholic Church of the Good Shepherd (Beverly Hills) in Beverly Hills, Sinatra's funeral was held, with 400 mourners in attendance and hundreds of fans outside. Gregory Peck, Tony Bennett, and Frank, Jr., addressed the mourners, among whom were Jill St. John, Tom Selleck, Joey Bishop, Faye Dunaway, Tony Curtis, Liza Minnelli, Kirk Douglas, Robert Wagner, Bob Dylan, Don Rickles, Nancy Reagan, Angie Dickinson, Sophia Loren, Bob Newhart, Mia Farrow, and Jack Nicholson. A private ceremony was held later that day at St. Theresa's Catholic Church in Palm Springs. Sinatra was buried following the ceremony next to his parents in section B-8 of Desert Memorial Park in Cathedral City, a quiet cemetery on Ramon Road where Cathedral City meets Rancho Mirage and near his compound, located on Rancho Mirage's tree-lined Frank Sinatra Drive. His close friends, Jilly Rizzo and Jimmy Van Heusen, are buried nearby in the same cemetery.

Sinatra garnered considerable attention due to his alleged personal and professional links with organized crime, including figures such as Carlo Gambino, Sam Giancana, Lucky Luciano, and Joseph Fischetti. The Federal Bureau of Investigation kept records amounting to 2,403 pages on Sinatra. With his alleged Mafia ties, his ardent New Deal politics and his friendship with John F. Kennedy, he was a natural target for J. Edgar Hoover's FBI. 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. They also portray rampant paranoia and strange obsessions at the FBI and reveal nearly every celebrated Sinatra foible and peccadillo.

For a year Hoover investigated Sinatra's alleged Communist affiliations, but found no evidence. The files include his rendezvous with prostitutes, and his extramarital affair with Ava Gardner, which preceded their marriage. Celebrities mentioned in the files are Dean Martin, Marilyn Monroe, Peter Lawford, and Giancana's girlfriend, singer Phyllis McGuire.

The FBI's secret dossier on Sinatra was released in 1998 in response to Freedom of Information Act requests.

The released FBI files reveal some tantalizing insights into Sinatra’s lifetime consistency in pursuing and embracing seemingly conflicting affiliations. But Sinatra’s alliances had a practical aspect. They were adaptive mechanisms for behavior motivated by self-interest and inner anxieties. In September of 1950 Sinatra felt particularly vulnerable. He was in a panic over his moribund career and haunted by the continual speculations and innuendos in circulation regarding his draft status in World War II. Sinatra “was scared, his career had sprung a leak.” In a letter dated September 17, 1950 to Clyde Tolson, Sinatra offered to be of service to the FBI as an informer. An excerpted passage from a memo in FBI files states that Sinatra “... feels he can be of help as a result of going anywhere the Bureau desires and contacting any people from whom he might be able to obtain information. Sinatra feels as a result of his publicity he can operate without suspicion…he is willing to go the whole way.” The FBI declined his assistance.

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