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Whether you're talking about recorded music, live performances, movies, or simply living large, Frank Sinatra had few, if any, equals. From humble beginnings, he rose to the very pinnacle of society. His was a truly American story.

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Whether you're talking about recorded music, live performances, movies, or simply living large, Frank Sinatra had few, if any, equals. From humble beginnings, he rose to the very pinnacle of society. His was a truly American story.


Francis Albert Sinatra was born December 12, 1915 in Hoboken, New Jersey. Little did the world that day know it, but one of the most important and, dare we say, greatest men of the twentieth century was born.

The son of Italian immigrants, Sinatra grew up poor on the streets of Hoboken. Those tough early years made him all the more determined to work hard and make something of his life.


The first break of his musical career came on Major Bowes Amateur Hour as part of the Hoboken Four.

Frank then took a job as a singing waiter at a place called The Rustic Cabin.

He was spotted by trumpeter Harry James who had recently left Benny Goodman's band. James needed a boy singer and Sinatra jumped at the chance to go on the road.


In January 1940, Sinatra accepted an offer from the far more successful bandleader Tommy Dorsey. Over the next two and a half years, he was featured on 16 Top Ten hits recorded by Dorsey.

During this period, he also performed on various radio shows with Dorsey and appeared with the band in the films Las Vegas Nights (1941) and Ship Ahoy (1942).


In 1942, he tested the waters for a solo career by recording a four-song session which included Cole Porter's "Night and Day," which became his first chart entry under his own name in March 1942. Soon after Sinatra left the Dorsey band.


His big breakthrough came due to his engagement as a support act to Benny Goodman at the Paramount Theatre in New York, which began on New Year's Eve.


It made him a popular phenomenon, the first real teen idol, with school girls swooning in the aisles.


Although untrained as an actor, Sinatra began to have success in films, especially when the part matched his personality.

Anchors Aweigh, in which Sinatra was paired with Gene Kelly, was released in July 1945 and went on to become the most successful film of the year.

Anchors Aweigh Video Clip


Sinatra was one of the biggest stars. In addition to recording, he also had a successful film career, and his own weekly radio show.


Sinatra was losing the boyish-crooner image. His whole attitude was becoming a little more hip. His voice lowered, lost a little of it’s sweetness. Listen.

Gone was the curly-haired, bow-tied image. In it’s place was a long tie, and the hat….the Cavanaugh hat which has become a Sinatra trademark.


In 1951, Sinatra’s marriage to film star Ava Gardner created a scandal.

Frank had dumped his first wife Nancy and their three children to marry her.


Their five-year marriage was marked by highly publicized battles.

“If we’d thought a bit at the end of it when we started painting the town, we’d have been aware that our love affair was too hot not to cool down.”


After reading the novel “From Here to Eternity”, Sinatra decided he was born to play the part of the underdog Italian Angelo Maggio. Few believed Sinatra could handle a serious dramatic part.

He got a screen test with Ava’s help, and even he was surprised when he got the part.


Sinatra won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Maggio in “From Here to Eternity.”


Just when it seemed Sinatra’s career was washed up, he had re-invented himself.

A new arranger – Nelson Riddle, began a collaboration with Frank that took his music in a new direction. These songs had more rhythm, more bounce and energy than the ballads he had been famous for a decade ago.


The Long-Playing record, or “LP”, was brand new, and Sinatra mastered the new medium.

Instead of one-shot hits, people were listening to an 8-song collection. Frank had them eating out of his hand.

Sinatra was one of the first people to view the recording as a complete concept, not just a collection of songs. Throughout this period Sinatra alternated between up-tempo swinging records, and those devoted to slow arrangements.


Time Magazine reported that although he officially listed his occupation as “baritone singer” on his tax return, he was “just about the hottest item in show business today.”


His generous acts of charity, his friendships with important people, including the President of the United States, his battles with certain members of the media, his fights against intolerance were all becoming legendary – all were a part of his colorful mystique.


It was Frank’s influence – and his talent – that helped to build the city of Las Vegas. He took it as his own, and the public wanted to know, to see with their own eyes, why he and his friends were having so much fun out there.

So they went in droves – and spent a lot of money in the process.


This was the Rat Pack – a group of talented youthful stars that did as they liked. Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop. And of course the ring leader – Frank Sinatra.


Rock Music was now the most popular in America, and Frank never adjusted to it.

In the late 60’s and early 70’s he made a few attempts at incorporating it into his style, but it never worked.


More than two-thirds of his professional life was spent in the rock era, much of it reacting to rhythms and attitudes he found alien. "The most brutal, ugly, degenerate, vicious form of expression it has been my displeasure to hear,"

Frank Sinatra had a show on ABC called “The Frank Sinatra Show,” which featured himself and many other current stars. It ran for 14 episodes. Who is he with here?


On December 8, 1963, 19-year-old Frank Sinatra Jr. heard a knock at the door. When he answered, a .38 revolver was pointed at him.

Frank Sinatra Jr.

Frank Sinatra Jr. was kidnapped and held for $240,000 in ransom.

After dropping off the ransom money, Frank Jr.’s information about the kidnappers led to their arrest within a few days. But the lasting effects were felt by the whole family.


In 1971 Sinatra decided to retire.

On June 19th of that year he gave what was to be his farewell performance.


Two years later, Sinatra had had some time to relax, and was missing what had been for so long the core of his life. He recorded for the first time in 3 years – Ol’ Blue Eyes is Back.


This time, Sinatra didn’t try to fit into the style that was prevailing. He came back doing his own material, his own style.

He did it … HIS WAY

(watch the video)


Video will play automatically

Sinatra continued working, making recordings, touring, and performing live shows for the rest of his life. This song is called “My Way.” You can tell that Sinatra really relates to the words of this song. Just listen and watch how he pulls in the crowd as if he is personally telling each audience member about his own life story, including the many mistakes he has made along the way.


Frank scored a hit in 1980, turning the theme to the film “New York, New York” into an instant standard. Here Frank is singing with Liza Minelli, daughter of Judy Garland, who played Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz.

Video of New York, New York with Liza Minelli


… and again in 1994 with “Duets” in which he performs his trademark songs with a variety of popular singers from all backgrounds.


Frank Sinatra was arguably the most important popular music figure of the 20th century. His only real rivals for the title are Elvis Presley and the Beatles. In a professional career that lasted 60 years, he demonstrated a remarkable ability to maintain his appeal and pursue his musical goals even when current trends were in other directions.



1. Come Fly with Me

(click to start)

2. All The Way

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