|Frank Sinatra Biography||
|~back to authors profile on focusdep~|
Francis Albert Sinatra (December 12, 1915 – May 14, 1998) was a popular and highly acclaimed male vocalist and actor. Renowned for his impeccable phrasing and timing, critics place him alongside such artists as Bing Crosby, Elvis Presley, and The Beatles as one of the most important, popular and influential musical figures of the 20th century. http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:iyg9kett7q7b~T1 Profile
Sinatra had a larger-than-life presence in the public eye and, over a seven-decade career in show business, became an United States Pop icon. His brash, sometimes swaggering attitude was perhaps best embodied by his signature song "My Way (song)", and more generally by his frequently gutsy cinematic performances. He also garnered considerable attention due to his alleged connections with the Mafia.
Francis Albert Sinatra was born in Hoboken, New Jersey, in 1915. He was the only child of a quiet Sicily fireman, Anthony Martin Sinatra (1894-1969). Anthony had emigrated to the United States in 1895. His mother, Natalie Dolly Garaventa (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 middle-class surroundings, due to his father's secure job as a fireman and his mother's strong political ties to the Democratic Party (United States) in Hoboken. 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 Selective Service System#Classifications 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.
In September of 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 and toured with Bowes. Sinatra then took a job as a singing waiter and MC at the Rustic Club in Englewood, NJ. In 1939 bandleader and trumpet player Harry James heard Sinatra on the radio. James hired Sinatra and the two recorded together for the first time on July 13, 1939. 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 1940's "I'll Never Smile Again," which spent several weeks at number one on Billboard magazine's then-new chart of America's top-selling records. His vast appeal to the "bobby soxers," as teenager 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.) It was as a featured singer with Dorsey that Sinatra made his earliest film appearances, such as the 1942 Eleanor Powell/Red Skelton comedy, Ship Ahoy in which the uncredited singer performed a couple of songs. In 1943, he signed with Columbia Records as a solo artist with initially great success, particularly during the musicians' recording strike action. 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. However, Sinatra's career began a decline in the late 1940s, as novelty tunes became popular with audiences, and Sinatra moved into his 30s, causing some loss of appeal to new teen-age audiences. He also strained his voice from overwork, and committed a series of public-relations gaffes -- including the punching of newspaper columnist Lee Mortimer -- that severely tarnished his public image. 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.
Post-war revival of career
What might be called Sinatra's second career began as a full-fledged dramatic actor when he played the scrappy Pvt. Angelo Maggio in the eve-of-Attack on Pearl Harbor drama From Here to Eternity (1953), for which he won an Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor. This role and performance became legendary at the time as the key comeback moment in Sinatra's career. Virtually overnight, his career recovered after several years in the wilderness.Eternity The following year, Sinatra played a crazed, coldblooded assassin determined to kill the President of the United States in the thriller Suddenly (1954 film) (available freely online here). Critics found Sinatra's performance one of the most chilling portrayals of a psychopath ever committed to film. This was followed in 1955 by his portrayal of a heroin in Nelson Algren The Man with the Golden Arm, for which he received an Academy Award for Best Actor nomination. Musically, Sinatra reinvented himself with a series of complex adult albums featuring darker emotional material starting with In the Wee Small Hours. In 1953, he had signed with Capitol Records, where he worked with many of the finest arrangers of the era, most notably Nelson Riddle, Gordon Jenkins, and Billy May. By the early 1960s, he was a big enough star to start his own record label: Reprise Records. His position with the label earned him the long-lasting nickname "The Chairman of the Board". The famous Sinatra comeback is the stuff of American legend, and, indeed, there seemed little in either his 1940s film career or his radio and television performances of the early 1950s to predict the dramatic success he would enjoy on screen in the 1950s and 1960s. However, the musical turnaround should not have been unexpected. At the very end of his Columbia recording career, in two performances in 1952 Sinatra had given advance warning of what would become the new sound he achieved in the 1950s at Capitol. In "The Birth of the Blues" it would be the sound of the new and "swinging" Sinatra: a hipper, tougher, more masculine persona than the sometimes boyish Sinatra of the 1940s. In "I'm A Fool To Want You" he anticipated the darker, melancholic sound of the great "torch" albums of the 1950s. Neither performance was sufficient to prevent Columbia from declining to renew his contract, in what must surely rank as one of the great errors in the business history of American popular music. In the 1950s and 1960s, this new Sinatra would become the most popular attraction in Las Vegas, Nevada, the venue of choice for performers of his era as the rise of rock and roll began to reduce the market for their recordings. He was friends with many other entertainers, including Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr, actor Peter Lawford, comedian Joey Bishop, and sometimes Shirley MacLaine. They formed the core of the Rat Pack, a loose group of entertainers who were friends and socialized together--and whose wild and unpredictable antics would dominate show business news for much of the period from 1958 to 63. Sinatra played a major role in the desegregation of Nevada hotels and casinos in the 1960s. Sinatra led his fellow members of the Rat Pack in refusing to patronize hotels and casinos that denied service to Sammy Davis Jr. With the release of the film Ocean's Eleven (1960 film) (1960), the Rat Pack became the subject of great media attention, and this gave the Rat Pack, Sinatra in particular, the leverage he needed to force hotels and casinos to end segregation. In 2001, Las Vegas, Nevada named Frank Sinatra Drive, a new street parallel to Interstate 15 and Las Vegas Boulevard, in his honor. Sinatra was close to the Kennedy family and was a friend and strong supporter of President John F. Kennedy. Years later, Sinatra's youngest daughter Tina would state that Sinatra and mob figure Sam Giancana had helped Kennedy win a crucial primary election in 1960 by helping to deliver the union votes.Union Sinatra is said to have introduced Kennedy to Judith Campbell Exner, 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. This soured Sinatra's relationship with the Kennedy family and the Democratic Party, and by the late 1960s Sinatra had become a Republican and supporter of Richard Nixon, who became President in 1968. http://www.nj.com/sinatra/ledger/index.ssf?/sinatra/stories/mob.html Mob Sinatra would lose his Nevada casino license in 1963 when Giancana was seen in the Cal-Neva Lodge casino, of which Sinatra was a part owner.Casino Sinatra resumed his strong film work with the 1962 paranoid classic The Manchurian Candidate (1962 film), in which he played the troubled, frequently blinking, but nonetheless resolute protagonist. In 1965's Von Ryan's Express, Sinatra added dimensionality to a World War II action role. His other film appearances during this time were either cameos or, as in the case of 1964's Robin and the Seven Hoods, critically-panned efforts to trade in on his image. In the 1970s Sinatra staged a retirement and several comebacks, recording less frequently but continuing to perform in Las Vegas and around the world. It was a period during which, by taking to the road again, Sinatra sought to bring the great American songbook of the 1920s and 1930s to a much wider audience than the one that frequented the casinos of Las Vegas. In 1981 Sinatra's Nevada casino license was reinstated after hearings by the Nevada Gaming Control Board. Indeed, journalist Pete Hamill wrote in his book, Why Sinatra Matters, that Sinatra was "the most investigated American performer since John Wilkes Booth." "Sure, I knew some of those guys," Sinatra himself said. "I spent a lot of time in saloons. And saloons are not run by the Christian Brothers. There were a lot of guys around, and they came out of Prohibition, and they ran pretty good saloons. I was a kid. I worked in the places that were open. They paid you, and the checks didn't bounce. I didn't meet any Nobel Prize winners in saloons. But if Francis of Assisi was a singer and worked in saloons, he would've met the same guys." , The Lovo-maniacs, which attempted a fictional insight into his complex personality. Sinatra's singing career continued into the 1990s, most notably with his commercially-successful Duets (Frank Sinatra album) albums on which he sang with other stars such as U2's Bono (U2). He continued to perform live until February 1995, but by then the nearly 80-year-old singer often had to rely on teleprompters for his lyrics, to compensate for his failing memory.
Love and marriage
Sinatra was married to his childhood sweetheart, Nancy Barbato, in Jersey City, New Jersey on February 4, 1939. They had three children together: Nancy Sinatra (born June 8, 1940), Frank Sinatra, Jr. (born January 10, 1944), and Tina Sinatra (born June 20, 1948). Although Sinatra did not remain faithful to his wife, he was by many accounts a devoted father. However, his affair with Ava Gardner became public and the couple was separated in 1950. They were divorce on October 29, 1951 despite Nancy Sr.'s (as she was sometimes known) religious qualms and objections. According to public reports Frank and Nancy Sr. remained on at least civil terms, if not better, and Nancy would recount how Frank still loved her cooking and would send someone by to pick up her home-made specialties many decades after they separated. Sinatra married the actress Ava Gardner on November 7, 1951, only ten days after his divorce from his first wife became final. They were separated on October 27, 1953 but were not divorced until 1957. She was considered to be his truest love, but that did not guarantee marital success and stability in Hollywood. Sinatra proposed to actress Lauren Bacall, whom he had been seeing since shortly after her husband Humphrey Bogart died in 1957, but reneged when word of their relationship became public. On December 8, 1963, Frank Sinatra, Jr. was List of famous kidnappings. Sinatra paid the kidnappers' $240,000 ransom demand (even offering $1,000,000 if only his son would be returned, though the kidnappers bizarrely turned down this offer), and his son was released unharmed on December 10. Because the kidnappers demanded that Sinatra call them only from payphones, Sinatra carried a roll of dimes with him throughout the ordeal, and this became a lifetime habit. The kidnappers were subsequently apprehended and convicted. A movie called Stealing Sinatra has been shot about this incident. Sinatra married actress Mia Farrow, 30 years his junior, in 1966. They were divorced two years later. In 1976, Sinatra married Barbara Blakeley Marx (formerly married to Zeppo Marx), who converted to Catholicism to marry him. She remained his wife until his death, although her relations with Sinatra's children were consistently portrayed as stormy, something Nancy Sinatra (Jr.) confirmed when she publicly claimed that Barbara had not bothered to call Frank's children even when the end was near, although they were close by, and the children missed the opportunity to be at their father's bedside when he died.
Alleged organized crime links
Sinatra has been frequently linked to members of the Mafia and it has long been rumored that his career was aided behind the scenes by organized crime.http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/special_report/1998/05/98/sinatra/94360.stm One of his uncles, Babe Gavarante, was a member of a Bergen County armed gang connected to the organization of Willie Moretti. Gavarante was convicted of murder in 1921 in connection with an armed robbery in which he had driven the get-away car. Sinatra was also allegedly personally linked to Willie Moretti, his first wife Nancy Barbato was a cousin of one of his senior henchmen and Sinatra sang at the daughter's wedding in 1948. According to testimony from Moretti, Sinatra received help from him in arranging performances in return for kick-backs. He had associations with and did favours for Charles Fischetti, a notorious Chicago mobster dating back to 1946 according to the FBI. Sinatra was also friends with Charles's brother Joseph who ran the Fontainebleau Hotel complex in Miami, who arranged work for him and introduced him to Charles Luciano in Havana. After Luciano's deportation to Italy, Sinatra visited him at least twice, singing at a 1946 Christmas Party and gifting the famed mobster with a gold cigarette case engraved "To my dear pal Charlie, from his friend Frank" the next year. These visits were widely reported by the media and used as further evidence of Sinatra's ties to the mob, haunting him for the rest of his life. Among the allegations was the $2 million that Sinatra gave Luciano. As Joseph "Doc" Stacher later recalled of the Havana meeting, "The Italians among us were all very proud of Frank. They always told me they had spent a lot of money helping him in his career ever since he was in Tommy Dorsey’s band. Lucky Luciano was very fond of Frank’s singing. Frankie flew into Havana with the Fischettis, with whom he was very friendly, but of course, our meeting had nothing to do with hearing him croon. Everyone brought envelopes of money for Luciano. But more important, they came to pay allegiance to him." The "Havana" allegations - while the basis of rumors for Sinatra's mob ties - have never been proved, and Luciano himself denied there was any criminal association in his autobiography. Sinatra had a strong friendship with Sam Giancana who always wore a sapphire friendship ring given to him by Sinatra, and who ordered the killing of about 200 people. A number of alleged incidents have been noted where people who angered Sinatra had been threatened by Giancana's mob. Comedian Jackie Mason has alleged that after mocking Sinatra in his routine, he received threats and his hotel room was shot up in his presence. After he continued, he received death threats and was roughed up and his nose broken. J. Edgar Hoover apparently suspected Sinatra over the years, and Sinatra's file at the FBI ended up at 2,403 pageshttp://foia.fbi.gov/foiaindex/sinatra.htm, detailing allegations of extortion against Ronald Alpert for $100,000. Sinatra publicly rejected these accusations many times, and was never charged with any crimes in connection with them. The character Johnny Fontane in the book and movie The Godfather (novel) is widely viewed as having been inspired by Frank Sinatra and his alleged connections. Indeed, Sinatra was furious with Godfather author Mario Puzo over the Fontane character and reportedly confronted Puzo in public with profane threats.
A frequent visitor, property owner and benefactor in the Palm Springs, California area, Sinatra wished to be buried in the desert he grew to love so much. Frank Sinatra died at the age of 82 of a heart failure in Los Angeles, California, following a long battle with coronary heart disease, kidney disease, bladder cancer, and dementia. He had undergone surgery to remove part of his intestines in 1986, and had suffered a bad fall from the stage in 1994, while singing "My Way". His funeral was held on May 20, 1998 at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Beverly Hills and at St. Theresa's Catholic Church in Palm Springs, California. Sinatra's last words were (according to his daughter Nancy Sinatra, as told to Variety (magazine) senior columnist, Army Archerd): "I'm losing." Sinatra was buried a short distance east of St. Theresa's next to his parents in section A-8 of Desert Memorial Park in Cathedral City, California, a quiet, unassuming cemetery on Ramon Road at the border of Cathedral City and Rancho Mirage, California and near his famous Rancho Mirage compound, located on tree-lined Frank Sinatra Drive. His longtime friend, Jilly Rizzo, who died in a Rancho Mirage car crash in 1992, is buried in the same cemetery as is pop star, former Palm Springs mayor and United States House of Representatives, Sonny Bono. Legend has it that Sinatra was buried in a blue suit with a flask of Jack Daniel's and a roll of ten dimes which was a gift from his daughter, Tina, along with a card that said "Sleep warm, Poppa - look for me." The ten dimes were a habit dating back to the kidnapping of his son, Frank Sinatra, Jr. due to the kidnappers' demands that negotiations be made via pay phone. A Zippo lighter (which some take to be a reference to his mob connections) is purported to be buried with him as is a pack of Camel cigarettes. The words The Best is Yet to Come are imprinted on his tombstone.
Sinatra's vocal style represented a significant departure from the 'crooner' style of his idol, Bing Crosby. Sinatra's generation represented the first generation of children that had grown up in the era of the microphone, and the amplification of sound enabled singers to sing in a much softer, personal and nuanced style. Bing Crosby had begun this change, and established a new American singing style based around conversational ease. However Sinatra, as he himself once noted, sang more, by which he meant that he introduced a bel canto sound to the tradition begun by Bing Crosby. And, more importantly, he might be said to have brought the Crosby tradition to artistic completion, taking it to levels of intensity and depth of feeling that, because of the displacement of the Bing Crosby-Sinatra tradition by rock and roll and subsequent genres, are unlikely to be achieved again. Two other great performers of the 1930s and 1940s were significant influences on Sinatra: Billie Holiday and Mabel Mercer. Sinatra regularly heard "Lady Day" in New York clubs in the 1940s and learned from her the importance of authenticity of emotion. From Mercer he learned the importance of the element of "story" in a song. For Sinatra a song is a three-four minute narrative — sometimes even the story of himself, his own life, his own heartaches, his own feelings of buoyancy — and this is why Ella Fitzgerald could say of him, "With Frank, it's always this little guy, telling this ... story." The archetypal examples of the Sinatra song as story could later be found in two selections from his 1958 Capitol LP Frank Sinatra Sings For Only The Lonely: "Angel Eyes (song)" and "One for My Baby (And One More For The Road)".
Sinatra would certainly have been considered a 'pop' singer before the Rock and roll era, and the epithets Traditional Pop or more specifically classic pop have perhaps been coined to describe Sinatra's style. There still exists a much wider debate, as with Ella Fitzgerald, as to whether Sinatra is a jazz singer. Certainly he performed with the finest jazz musicians, and largely performed material from the Great American Songbook. There are very few occasions when Sinatra was recorded scat singing, but minor nuances and slight deviations from the vocal line are a hallmark of the material he recorded, and he is also known for his impeccable jazz timing and phrasing. Indeed, it is impossible to imagine the Sinatra of the great years after 1953 without the influence of jazz. It is no accident that he would be Lester Young's ideal singer in the band Young had hoped to lead, nor that Miles Davis identified Sinatra's phrasing as an influence on his own. The list of Sinatra's jazz admirers is long and stellar, including such figures as Count Basie, Stan Getz, and Oscar Peterson. The question of his status as a "jazz singer" has never seemed to matter as much to such artists as it has to critics and academicians.Jazz
Songs and albums
Sinatra left a vast legacy of recordings, from his very first sides with the Harry James orchestra in 1939, the vast catalogs at Columbia in the 1940s, Capitol in the 1950s, and Reprise from the 1960s onwards, up to his 1994 album Duets II. Some of his best known recorded songs include:
Awards and legacy
Sinatra won ten Grammy Awards during his career, including Grammy Award for Album of the Year for Come Dance With Me in 1959, September of My Years in 1965, and A Man and His Music in 1966, and Grammy Award for Record of the Year for "Strangers in the Night" in 1966. (The Grammy Awards only began in 1958, after two peaks of Sinatra's recording career had already happened.) In addition, Sinatra was named the Down Beat readers' poll Male Singer of the Year sixteen times between 1941 and 1966 and the Personality of the Year six times between 1954 and 1959, and was named the Down Beat critics' poll Male Singer of the Year twice, in 1955 and 1957. Sinatra was also named the Playboy (magazine) Jazz All-Star Poll Male Vocalist of the Year seven times between 1957 and 1963.Seven In 2001 BBC Radio 2 named Sinatra as the "Greatest Voice of the Twentieth Century".Greatest Sinatra was inducted into the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame in 1980. Stephen Holden wrote for the 1983 Rolling Stone Record Guide: :Frank Sinatra's voice is pop music history. ... Like Presley and Dylan—the only other white male American singers since 1940 whose popularity, influence, and mythic force have been comparable—Sinatra will last indefinitely. He virtually invented modern pop song phrasing. Two decades later, radio personality and musician Jonathan Schwartz (radio)'s assessment in a 2005 book review for the New York Observer showed that Sinatra's musical reputation had not diminished: :I believe, based on a lifetime of consideration, that Frank Sinatra was the greatest interpretive musician this country has ever produced.
In Japan, Frank Sinatra appeared in commercials for All Nippon Airways.
Courtesy of: http://www.wikipedia.org/