Sinatra 101: Frank Facts

In honor of the 101th year of the Chairman Of The Board, introducing SINATRA 101: 101 FRANK FACTS


1           Born Francis Albert Sinatra on December 12, 1915 in Hoboken, New Jersey, an only child to Italian immigrants Natalie Catherine Garavente (“Dolly”) and Saverio Antonino Martino Sinatra (“Marty”).

2           Almost died during childbirth – the doctor had trouble removing the 13 ½ pound baby Frank from his mother, scarring him with forceps and puncturing his eardrum. Frank’s grandmother, Rose, noticed the baby wasn’t breathing and held him under cold running water until he finally began to breathe.

3           Left A.J. Demarest High School during his senior year.

4           Worked as a delivery boy at the Jersey Observer newspaper and later as a riveter at the Tiejent & Lang shipyard

5           Knew he had to be a singer after seeing Bing Crosby at Loew’s Journal Square in New Jersey.

6           Favourite colour was orange.

7           Favourite drink was Jack Daniel’s.

8           Collected and operated toy trains.

9           He loved dogs. His mother would never let him have one as a child, but he made up for that later in life by having many.

10        Had his first musical break with local music group The Hoboken Four in 1935, winning the popular Major Bowes and His Original Amateur Hour radio contest.

11        Made his first demo recording with Frank Mane – ‘Our Love’– in 1939.

12        Became a singing waiter at the Rustic Cabin roadhouse in New Jersey where he met famed songwriter Cole Porter, though forgetting the words to Porter’s hit song ‘Night And Day’.

13        Arrested for breach of promise (seduction) in 1938 – regarded as a crime at the time.

14        Married his first wife Nancy Barbato on February 4, 1939.

15        Enjoyed filming home movies and was into all types of cameras as a hobby.

16        Released his first commercial recordings in 1939 with Harry James – ‘From The Bottom Of My Heart’ & ‘Melancholy Mood’. Harry wanted to change Sinatra’s name to Frankie Satin. Frank refused.

17        Had his first U.S. Billboard #1 in 1940 when he left Harry James to join with Tommy Dorsey. The song ‘I’ll Never Smile Again’ held the #1 spot for 12 weeks.

18        His first child, Nancy, was born in 1940. Frank has 3 children – Nancy Sinatra, Frank Sinatra Jr., and Tina Sinatra.

19        Became a solo artist in 1942, signing with Columbia Records after recording 4 solo sides for the Bluebird label.

20        His first high-profile solo performance was a run of shows at New York’s Paramount Theater in 1942, opening for Benny Goodman; the first time he was labelled as ‘The Voice’. The audience of ‘bobby-soxers’ went wild – an early sign of the fan hysteria he would cause throughout his career.

21        Invited to the White House for the first time in 1943 by Franklin D. Roosevelt.  Frank was a great admirer of the president and kept the invitation framed in his house in New Jersey.

22        Made his movie debut in the musical ‘Higher and Higher’ in 1943

23        First performed at the Hollywood Bowl in 1943

24        Excluded from the U.S. Army draft for World War II in 1943 due being classified as ‘4F’ – medically unfit for service – as a result of injuries from his birth.

25        Caused the Columbus Day Riots in October 1944 – a mass hysteria by tens of thousands of bobby-soxers in New York that had to be broken up by the NYPD.

26        Travelled to Europe to entertain the U.S.O. troops during World War II in 1945, with Phil Silvers. The FBI prevented Frank from travelling on previous tours.

27        Won an honorary Academy Award as part of the team for the1945 short film The House I Live In.

28        Received the Thomas Jefferson Award for his work in Fighting Against Intolerance in 1947.

29        Travelled to Havana, Cuba in 1947 and was photographed with mafia figures Rocco and Joe Fischetti, former childhood acquaintances from Hoboken, along with Lucky Luciano. Although Frank was innocent of any mafia-related activities, the story would follow him throughout his career.

30        Assaulted tabloid columnist Lee Mortimer in 1947 due to an alleged slurring comment against Frank’s Italian heritage, ending in a court case. Lee would go on to accuse Frank from of having ties to well-known mob members, which Frank always denied.

31        Hoboken celebrated Sinatra Day on October 30th 1947. 20,000 people lined the streets in the rain to celebrate with Frank.

32        Booked Sammy Davis Jr. to open up for him at the Capitol Theatre in New York during segregation in 1948. The pair remained close friends for life.

33        Counted Walt Disney as a neighbour when the Sinatra family moved to Carolwood Drive in West Los Angeles in 1948

34        Lost his voice due to ruptured vocal chords during a performance at the legendary Copacabana nightclub in New York in 1950.

35        Made his first TV appearance on The Bob Hope Show in 1950, and launched his own The Frank Sinatra Show shortly after on CBS.

36        Made his U.K. debut at the London Palladium in 1950.

37        Made his Las Vegas debut at the Desert Inn in 1951.

38        Divorced Nancy and married Ava Gardner in 1951.

39        Left Columbia Records and had The Frank Sinatra Show cancelled by CBS in1952

40        Signed with Capitol Records in 1953.

41        First played The Sands Hotel in Las Vegas in 1953, which became an iconic venue for Frank’s Vegas performances.

42        Won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for From Here To Eternity in 1954.

43        First appeared on the cover of the iconic Time magazine in 1955

44        Starred opposite Marlon Brando in the film Guys and Dolls in 1955

45        Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for The Man With The Golden Arm in 1955, though the award was won by fellow Italian American actor Ernest Borgnine.

46        Released In The Wee Small Hours in 1955 for Capitol Records, which was widely regarded as one of the first ever ‘concept’ albums. Working with famed arrangers such as Nelson Riddle, Billy May and Gordon Jenkins, further key Sinatra concept albums include Come Fly With Me (1958), Only The Lonely (1958) and No One Cares (1959), along with later Reprise Records’ releases September Of My Years (1965), Moonlight Sinatra (1966) and Watertown (1969)

47        Appeared in the movie Pal Joey alongside Rita Hayworth and Kim Novak in 1957, which would popularise one of Frank’s most famous tracks ‘The Lady Is A Tramp’ – written by Rodgers & Hart and arranged by Nelson Riddle.

48        Named as Jazz All-Star Poll Male Vocalist of the Year at the Playboy Awards in 1957 – he would win the award a total of 7 times between 1957-1963

49        First appeared on-screen with his hero Bing Crosby in the 1956 movie High Society, which also marked Grace Kelly’s final performance before she became Princess of Monaco.

50        Signed a lucrative deal with ABC for a new series of The Frank Sinatra Show in 1957, making it the most expensive half-hour in television history at the time, and featuring numerous superstar guests including Bob Hope, Peggy Lee, Kim Novak, Dean Martin, Bing Crosby, Dinah Shore, Robert Mitchum, Sammy Davis Jr., Ella Fitzgerald and Natalie Wood.

51        Proposed to Hollywood star Lauren Bacall in 1958 – the widow of his late friend Humphrey Bogart – though the engagement was called off soon after the news became public.

52        First worked with Quincy Jones for a benefit concert in Monte Carlo in 1958, with Frank appearing at the request of his former Hollywood co-star Princess Grace of Monaco.

53        Released his most commercially successful album Come Dance With Me! in 1959, which remained on the Billboard Pop Charts for 140 weeks, and won 3 GRAMMY Awards including Album Of The Year.

54        Started Reprise Records in 1960, his very own record label, despite still being under contract at Capitol. Nancy Sinatra said: “He formed Reprise in self-defense against the new technology that was becoming the vogue: overdubbing, multiple tracks, the sterility of studios dominated by machines, not energized by live audiences. It was important for him to have control of his dates, to fight off technicians who wanted to overproduce, to maintain the life and spontaneity of his work.” As owner of the label, it was here that Frank was first given the nickname ‘The Chairman Of The Board’.

55        ‘The Rat Pack’ was born in 1960 as Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford all starred in the film Ocean’s 11, and performed in Las Vegas during filming in an iconic run of shows known as The Summit at The Sands

56        Campaigned for John F. Kennedy in the 1960 U.S. presidential campaign and produced JFK’s Inaugural Gala in 1961.

57        Played a historic benefit show for Dr. Martin Luther King at New York’s Carnegie Hall in 1961.

58        Engaged to South African actress Juliet Prowse briefly in 1962.

59        Launched a world tour in support of children’s charities in 1962, paying all expenses himself

60        Hosted the Academy Awards for the first time in 1963. He would return to co- host in 1975.

61        Paid a ransom of $240,000 to free the then 19 year-old Frank Jr. from kidnappers in 1963. After being held for several days, Frank Jr. was released safely. The FBI eventually caught the kidnappers and recovered most of the ransom money.

62        Almost drowned in Kauai, Hawaii, while filming and directing None But The Brave in 1964.

63        Celebrated his 50th birthday in 1965 with the hugely successful TV special A Man And His Music where he performed many of his biggest hits in front of a live studio audience. The show won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Musical Program,a Peabody Award, as well as being nominated for a Golden Globe.

64        Met Mia Farrow in 1965. The star pair would marry a year later but divorce in 1968.

65        Recorded ‘Somethin’ Stupid’ with daughter Nancy in 1967 which spent four weeks at #1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.

66        Recorded with Brazilian superstar Antônio Carlos “Tom” Jobim in 1967, famously known as the songwriter of ‘Garota de Ipanema’ AKA ‘The Girl from Ipanema’

67        Severed ties with The Sands and moved to Caesars Palace in 1968

68        Presented with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the 43rd Academy Awards in 1971, as recognition of his contributions to humanitarian causes.

69        Announced his retirement from show business in 1971 at a Hollywood benefit concert for the Motion Picture & Television Relief Fund, at the age of 55.

70        Received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Screen Actors Guild in 1972

71        Invited by President Richard Nixon to perform ‘My Kind Of Town’ at a Young Voters Rally in Chicago in 1972 – one of his only public performance during his ‘retirement’.

72        Broke his brief retirement in 1973 and triumphantly returned to the studio, stage and screen with the studio album and TV special Ol’ Blue Eyes Is Back,

73        Released The Main Event live album and TV special in 1974, recorded at Madison Square Garden.

74        Became a grandfather for the first time in 1974, with the birth of Nancy’s daughter AJ. Frank has two other grandchildren – AJ’s sister Amanda and Frank Jr.’s son Michael – and one great-granddaughter, Miranda.

75        Married Barbara Marx in 1976. Frank was married 4 times – to Nancy Barbato (1939–51), Ava Gardner (1951–57), Mia Farrow (1966–68) and Barbara Marx (1976–98).

76        Visited Egypt for the first time in 1979 and preformed an open-air concert in front of the Sphinx and Great Pyramid of Giza on invitation of President Anwar Sadat and the first lady Jehan Sadat.

77        Celebrated his 40th Anniversary in show business on his 64th birthday with a huge celebration at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas in front of 1,000 guests, including Cary Grant, Orson Welles and Dean Martin.

78        Recorded Trilogy: Past Present Future in 1979. The ambitious triple record project was split into 3 parts, each crafted by one of Frank’s favourite arrangers – The Past: Collectibles of the Early Years (Billy May), The Present: Some Very Good Years (Don Costa), The Future: Reflections On The Future In Three Tenses (Gordon Jenkins). The album contained one of the most enduring Sinatra hits, ‘Theme From New York, New York’.

79        Campaigned for Ronald Reagan in the 1980 U.S. presidential campaign and produced Reagan’s inaugural gala in 1981, as he had previously done for President John F. Kennedy 20 years earlier.

80        Broke the Guinness World Record for the largest live audience for a single artist when he performed to a crowd of 175,000 people at the Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro in 1980.

81        Granted a gaming license in Nevada in 1981, enabling him to take on a role as a consultant for Caesars Palace.

82        Signed a lucrative deal with Steve Wynn to perform at the Golden Nugget in Atlantic City, New Jersey in 1983, and started a series of iconic TV commercials for Wynn’s Atlantic City and Las Vegas resorts throughout the 1980’s.

83        Saluted for his lifelong charitable work by Variety Clubs International in 1983 with an “All-Star Party” TV special. An emotional speech by Richard Burton noted: "Frank is a giant. Among the givers of the world, he stands tallest… forged as he is from legendary loyalty and compassion carefully hidden. Hidden because he has ordered it. Mr. Anonymous you have asked to be; Mr. Anonymous you shall be called.”

84        Appeared in his final motion picture in 1983’s Cannonball Run II which also marked the final time the classic Rat Pack line-up of Frank, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr would appear together on the big screen.

85        Received the Kennedy Center Award for exemplary lifetime achievement in the performing arts in 1983.

86        Michael Jackson attended Sinatra’s recording sessions of the 1984 Quincy Jones produced album L.A. Is My Lady.

87        Honoured with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1985 – the U.S.A.’s highest civilian honour.

88        Awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the NAACP in 1987, the oldest and largest civil rights organisation in the U.S.A.

89        Embarked on the Together Again Tour with Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. in 1988. After Dean dropped out after a short run of performances, he was soon replaced by Liza Minnelli and the tour was renamed Frank, Liza and Sammy: The Ultimate Event.

90        Has an asteroid named after him – Sinatra 7934 – discovered in 1989.

91        Began the Diamond Jubilee World Tour in December 1990 to mark his 75th birthday.

92        Frank had his own TV mini-series launched in 1992, simply called Sinatra.  The biographic drama series was developed by Tina Sinatra and won 2 Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe.

93        Frank’s 59th and final studio album would be Duets II that featured duet performances with stars such as Stevie Wonder, Willie Nelson, Neil Diamond, Antonio Carlos Jobim, as well as a special duet Frank Jr.

94        Bono presented Frank with the Legend Award for lifetime achievement at the GRAMMY Awards show in 1994. Through his career, Frank was also nominated for 34 GRAMMY Awards, winning 11, and received the GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award (1965), the aforementioned Legend Award (1994), along with 13 further GRAMMY Hall of Fame Awards.

95        After his final concert performances in Japan’s Fukuoka Dome in 1994, Frank made his final ever live performance in Palm Desert Marriott Ballroom in California in 1995 at the age of 79, before an invited VIP party audience on the last day of the Frank Sinatra Desert Classic golf tournament. His final encore was 'The Best Is Yet to Come'.

96        Passed away from a heart attack on 14th May 1998. He was 82 years old. Among the countless tributes that poured in for Frank, the Capitol Records tower in LA – where he recorded many of his albums – was draped in black bunting, the lights on the Las Vegas strip were dimmed, and New York’s Empire State Building was bathed in blue light, for Ol’ Blue Eyes.

97        From 1998 to the present day ‘Theme from New York, New York’ is played every New Year’s Eve in Times Square, and the New York Yankees play the iconic song at every home game

98        Performed on more than 1,400 recordings in a 6-decade career, appeared in more than 60 films, and produced 8 movies.

99        Awarded 31 gold, 9 platinum, 3 double platinum and 1 triple platinum album by the Recording Industry Association of America.

100     Though it was the music that made him a star, Sinatra was famous for two other things to those who knew him: his fierce loyalty to and love for his family. And no matter what fame and fortune were bestowed on him, those two things came from him true and steady.

101     Throughout his life, Frank Sinatra raised more than one billion dollars for charities around the world.



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