YOUNG AT HEART – FRANK SINATRA

I was trying to figure out the Rat Pack’s enduring appeal, for men, let’s face it, predominantly men — at first I thought it had to do with nostalgia, and then I remembered an incident from my youth.

My dad (truly a father of another era) took a friend and me on trip to Vegas. Dad had business to conduct and custody of his high school daughter for the weekend. He placed us at a table center front for Frank Sinatra, an aging cue ball sort of a fellow, to my eyes… Dad departed, then a hulking gentleman in a nice suit joined us and said, “Frank said for me to keep an eye on youse girls.” (Yes, he did.) “You wanna ginger ale?” Actually, I wanted to start giggling. It didn’t seem real, and then the show started, and the cue ball sang, and it was a blast, personal, engaging, you name it.

So, the Rat Pack… I know their exploits were legendary. I think Sammy Davis Jr. was quoted as saying things like, “You don’t swing where you sleep”. But, on stage they were infectiously fun and that’s what’s appealing.

Pictured below is Frank Sinatra (prior to cue ball status) and Rosiland Russell at the 26th annual Academy Awards Governor’s Ball.

And, the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor goes to…

Frank Sinatra in, FROM HERE TO ETERNITY (pictured on set with director Fred Zinneman and Montgomery Clift)

Frank Sinatra Oscar From Here to Eternity

Backstage after the win.

13 Comments »

  1. Well, a ring-a-ding-ding, Vickie-loo that was tres funny! “Cueball”, oh-ho-ho! I’m not much for the Rat Pack (hey, I kinda liked Sammy because I thought of him as the outsider…) but who can resist Frankie’s voice? 🙂 “Fairytales can come true, it could happen to you, if you are among the very…” 😉

      • His voice changed, no doubt. It got a bit deeper, but it got a lot more body. Sinatra’s genius, to me, was his phrasing. He could take a lyric and make it purr; a good lyric became great. I think the best example is “One For My Baby.” He bends the notes on the time bar so that they come out like a conversation. He’s on pitch, his vibrato is good — but he’s telling a story, not just singing a song.

        I’m sure I’d heard it somewhere before, but back before I had it in my collection, and long before digital, I was driving Salt Lake City to New York. And about 2 in the morning, some trucker clear-channel station put that on. I had to pull over to listen to it — it could make you cry, I think. The DJ’s phone lines were jammed with other Sinatra requests.

        About an hour later I pulled into a truck stop for coffee, and overheard a couple of guys who appeared to be old friends and happened to the same place at the same time. “Did you hear Sinatra?” one asked. “Yeah, that was something. It reminded me of this girl I knew . . .”

        There’s also the story about “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and the 1957 recording There’s a line in there about “maybe next year we can be together/Until then we’ll have to muddle through somehow.” So well after midnight in California they’re recording this, and Sinatra stops. He won’t sing that line. Sinatra doesn’t “muddle through.” So they called the lyricist, Hugh Martin, got him out of bed, and said they had to change the lyric. (Sinatra had recorded the original earlier, but that was then . . .). Back and forth — finally Sinatra came up with “Hang a shining star upon the highest bough.”

        Most people sing that version today. No muddling through, we’ll hang stars on high.

        That’s Sinatra.

  2. Okay, five guys to the right of Peter Lawford: One is Norman Fell, yes? Michael Ansara on top of that quintent? Two guys to the left of Joey Bishop. I should have watched enough black and white TV . . . but the names aren’t coming.

    Can you help?

    • From left to right (and I can’t place one of the actors) Richard Conte, Buddy Lester, Joey Bishop, Sammy Davis Jr., Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, Henry Silva, – then the group of three – I see Akim Tamiroff and Clem Harvey at the bottom of the frame – I’ll have to find out who the third is!

      • Found a site that identifies some of them:

        Frank Sinatra With Richard Conte, Joey Bishop, Sammy Davis, Jr. Peter Lawford, Dean Martin, Henry Silva, Norman Fell.in Ocean’s 11.*Filmstill – Editorial Use Only*.CAP/PLF.Supplied by Capital Pictures.

        You were right about Henry Silva, and Akim Tamiroff and Clem Harvey. I’m impressed.

        Another shot from the same session around the pool table. I can’t identify any more with that:

        Looking at the cast of the original “Ocean’s 11,” I think the second from left is the old comedian Buddy Lester, who was in the movie.

        And this photo identifies all of them (yet another shot): The last one is Richard Benedict.

        I’ve never seen that movie, nor the newer ones.

  3. P.S.: In college, I developed a great love for Sinatra. His old Capitol recordings were often available on cheap cut out, and Nelson Riddle’s orchestra was really great. But I never got a chance see him perform.

    I did meet him once, sorta. Sinatra was big on helping the national multiple sclerosis group, and when I was doing press for Orrin Hatch, MS named a football coach from Utah as their Man of the Year. The guy got MS, but got a scooter, and took his team to the state championship anyway. A great story.

    So they set up a photo with President Reagan. Hatch was chairman of the Senate Labor Committee, and had done some good work for MS, and so we got a frantic call one morning to hustle Hatch down to the White House for the photo — Hatch Reagan, the family from Utah, and MS spokesman Frank Sinatra.

    We got down there in a hurry, and they had the grip-and-grin set up — the President and Nancy shook hands with any warm body coming into the room and we’d get a signed photo for our wall. I wasn’t expecting that.

    But all the time that’s going on, Sinatra was sitting at the President’s desk, feet up sometimes, talking on the phone. He was obviously unhappy with someone, somewhere, who wasn’t doing what he wanted to have done. He finished one conversation, then he’d buzz Reagan’s secretary and tell her to get some other guy. About three phone calls.

    I really wanted a photo with Sinatra, and a chance to shake his hand. I asked a guy I knew on the White House staff, and he waved to some other guy standing close to Sinatra. “Some of the staff would like to have a photo with Mr. Sinatra,” the WH guy started to explain. “Mr. Sinatra doesn’t want that,” Sinatra’s guy said curtly, and turned and walked away.

    The White House photographers got the group set up for the official group photo, the President, Nancy, the football coach from Utah, his family, Sen. Hatch . . . but Sinatra was still on the phone. Everyone got quiet while he finished his call. Then he got up, walked to the group, the photographer put him in the middle of the group. There was a flurry of camera clicks after someone said “smile,” and Sinatra was gone.

    Even the President of the United States knew when Frank was in the room.

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