The Life and Times of
By Esme Hawes
Chelsea House Publishers
Francis Albert Sinatra was born on December 12, 1915, in Hoboken, New Jersey. He later became known as Frank Sinatra and one of the greatest entertainers of his time. American singers, Bing Crosby and Billie Holiday, influenced Frank. Sinatra then developed a vocal phrasing in his music that influenced generations of popular vocalists. Sinatra anticipated the decline of big-band instrumental jazz music, and helped establish an enthusiastic climate for popular singers. One of the songs Frank Sinatra is most known for singing is the hit “My Way”, which my grandfathers favorite song. When I hear the song it reminds me of him and sometimes brings a tear to my eye.
Frank Sinatra’s career began after he signed his first performing contract, when he was 24. He got his start singing with Tommy Dorsey’s band in the 1930’s. He then scored his first number one song a little more than a year later, “I’ll Never Smile Again”. Sinatra’s worked as a radio singer during World War II making only $15 a week, but it did gain him a lot of popularity. While working there, he wed Nancy Barbato on February 4, 1939. He soon left Dorsey’s band for a solo career that lead him to several hits and great success in the 50’s and 60’s. Young At Heart, All the Way, Witchcraft, Strangers in the Night, and that’s Life were some of his hit songs.
In the 1940s Sinatra started on a career by himself and became the idol of the “bobby-soxers”. Which were teenage girls who yelled out, “Ohh Frankie!!” and passed out because of his soft-voiced singing. During this time he also did some film musicals such as, Anchors Aweigh in 1945, Till the Clouds Roll By in 1947, and On the Town in 1949.
In the 50’s, Sinatra was also one of the first to approach albums as full works or art, instead of collections of singles. His songs still remain to have the distinctive style when he performed them. Also during the 50’s, his movie career also took off. In 1953 he won an Academy Award for his performance in From Here to Eternity, and he didn’t even sing. He also won an Oscar award for Best Supporting Actor for the 1953 movie From Here to Eternity. He also appeared in classic films such as, Guys and Dolls, High Society, Manchurian Candidate and Ocean’s 11, which put him with the other members of the Rat Pack, which included Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford.
In the 60’s, Sinatra recorded with the big bands of American jazz musicians Count Basie and Duke Ellington. Frank Sinatra was a soulful crooner that established himself as he branched out into films. After leaving Capitol Records in 1961, Sinatra became one of the first to wear the artist-mogul hat when he founded Reprise Records.
Sinatra enjoyed his most recent chart success in 1993 with the album Frank Sinatra Duets, which debuted on the album charts at number two and featured performances by Aretha Franklin, Luther Vandross and Bono. Other contributors to the album included Barbara Streisand, and Julio Iglesias. The album sequel Duets II 1994 won Sinatra his ninth Grammy Award in 1996. Duets II included collaborations with country-and-western star Willie Nelson, jazz singer Lena Horne, and popular singer and songwriter Neil Diamond.
Frank Sinatra, the legendary leader of the Rat Pack and arguably the greatest entertainer of this century, died of a heart attack Thursday night, May 14, 1998, in Los Angeles at the age of 82. Sinatra spent almost 50 great years in show business, which he evolved from pop music’s first teen idol to a respected vocal stylist to an Academy Award-winning actor. Despite his many accomplishments, Sinatra may be best remembered not for what he did, but for how he did it. Francis Albert Sinatra is a great man, and will be remembered for many years to come.
The life and times of Frank Sinatra
Chelsea House Publishers