Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Ten Things You Never Knew About Sinatra

Well, you may think you know him.
You may be certain of it because, after all, he's been an American icon through most of the 20th century and into the 21st.
But you don't know Sinatra -- not really.
We've been reading a lot about Sinatra lately (most notably both volumes of James Kaplan's definitive biography of 'ole blue eyes) and we've discovered lots of fascinating and not generally known bits of info.
In no particular order, here are ten of 'em:

1) Sinatra was a self-described manic depressive who had incredible dark periods -- times when he could not be persuaded to see himself or the world as anything but domed.

2) Early in his career he was urged to change his name to Frankie Satin. He laughed off the suggestion and dismissed it out of hand. "If I had done that, I'd be singing on cruise ships today," he later joked.

3) Sinatra completely broke down when his son (Frank Sinatra, Jr.) was kidnapped by a couple of amateurs. Sinatra Sr. simply could not be consoled.

4) Throughout most of his life Sinatra wore heavy pancake makeup to hide birth scars (caused by forceps) on one side of his face. He wore the makeup night and day, even when he wasn't performing.

5) The Chairman of the Board didn't coin that term himself nor did he coin the term "Rat Pack" to refer to his insider group. Rat Pack was a term coined by Humphrey Bogart to refer to his group of friends which Sinatra was a part of. Sinatra preferred to refer to his own group as "the clan."

6) On some level Frank always remained devoted to his first wife, the former Nancy Barbato who was the mother of his three children. Frank returned home to Nancy and the children often and she always kept a place for him in her home and at the family dinner table. The children believe that their parents continued to have intimate time together. In fact, Frank came very close to remarrying Nancy later in life during a period when he was on the outs with Barbara Marx, the woman who became his last wife.

7) Sinatra hated several of the songs that were synonymous with him (including My Way) and had a distaste for a couple of his big hits, most notably Strangers in the Night and Somethin Stupid. He felt My Way was boastful and that Strangers in the Night was about a gay dalliance. As for Somethin Stupid, he felt it was just that -- stupid!

8) Sinatra attempted suicide at least twice, once by slitting his wrists.

9) Though he was exceptionally well-endowed, Sinatra had no derriere and actually needed to be padded in a couple of movies for rear views.

10) Through most of his life, Sinatra wore elevator shoes which made him appear taller than his height of 5' 8".

And there's more: Sinatra could not scat sing and this bothered him. Also, he greatly envied Dean Martin's natural comedic talent. Sinatra was not particularly adept at comedy. Finally, Sinatra (always a mass of contradictions) was a loner who hated to be alone and his unwillingness to finally turn in each day and get some rest seemed to be related to a haunted fear of death. He apparently feared he wouldn't wake up.

Now you know . . . .

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