May 16, 1998OBITUARY
Frank Sinatra Dies at 82; Matchless Stylist of Pop
By STEPHEN HOLDEN
Frank Sinatra, the singer and actor whose
extraordinary voice elevated popular song
into an art, died on Thursday night in
Los Angeles. He was 82.
The cause was a heart attack, said his publicity agent,
Susan Reynolds. Ms. Reynolds said his fourth wife, Barbara,
his son, Frank Jr., and daughters, Tina and Nancy, were at his
side at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. She said he would be
given a private funeral.
Widely held to be the greatest singer in American pop
history and one of the most successful entertainers of the
20th century, Sinatra was also the first modern pop superstar.
He defined that role in the early 1940's when his first solo
appearances provoked the kind of mass pandemonium that later
greeted Elvis Presley and the Beatles.
During a show business career that spanned more than 50
years and comprised recordings, film and television as well as
countless performances in nightclubs, concert halls and sports
arenas, Sinatra stood as a singular mirror of the American
His evolution from the idealistic crooner of the early
1940's to the sophisticated swinger of the 50's and 60's
seemed to personify the country's loss of innocence. During
World War II, Sinatra's tender romanticism served as the
dreamy emotional link between millions of women and their
husbands and boyfriends fighting overseas. Reinventing himself
in the 50's, the starry-eyed boy next door turned into the
cosmopolitan man of the world, a bruised romantic with a
tough-guy streak and a song for every emotional season.
In a series of brilliant conceptual albums, he codified a
musical vocabulary of adult relationships with which millions
identified. The haunted voice heard on a jukebox in the wee
small hours of the morning lamenting the end of a love affair
was the same voice that jubilantly invited the world to ''come
fly with me'' to exotic realms in a never-ending party.
Sinatra appeared in 58 films, and won an Academy Award as
best supporting actor for his portrayal of the feisty misfit
soldier Maggio in ''From Here to Eternity'' (1953). As an
actor, he could communicate the same complex mixture of
emotional honesty, vulnerability and cockiness that he
projected as a singer, but he often chose his roles
indifferently or unwisely.
It was as a singer that he exerted the strongest cultural
influence. Following his idol Bing Crosby, who had pioneered
the use of the microphone, Sinatra transformed popular singing
by infusing lyrics with a personal, intimate point of view
that conveyed a steady current of eroticism.
The skinny blue-eyed crooner, quickly nicknamed The Voice,
made hordes of bobby-soxers swoon in the 1940's with an
extraordinarily smooth and flexible baritone that he wielded
with matchless skill. His mastery of long-lined phrasing
inspired imitations by many other male crooners, notably Dick
Haymes, Vic Damone and Tony Bennett in the 1940's and 50's and
most recently the pop jazz star Harry Connick Jr.
After the voice lost its velvety youthfulness, Sinatra's
interpretations grew more personal and idiosyncratic, so that
each performance became a direct expression of his personality
and his mood of the moment. In expressing anger, petulance and
bravado -- attitudes that had largely been excluded from the
acceptable vocabulary of pop feeling -- Sinatra paved the way
for the unfettered vocal aggression of rock singers.
The changes in Sinatra's vocal timbre coincided with a
precipitous career descent in the late 1940's and early 50's.
But in 1953, Sinatra made one of the most spectacular career
comebacks in show business history, re-emerging as a
coarser-voiced, jazzier interpreter of popular standards who
put a more aggressive personal stamp on his songs.
Almost singlehandedly, he helped lead a revival of
vocalized swing music that took American pop to a new level of
musical sophistication. Coinciding with the rise of the
long-playing record album, his 1950's recordings -- along with
Ella Fitzgerald's ''song book'' albums saluting individual
composers -- were instrumental in establishing a canon of
American pop song literature.
With Nelson Riddle, his most talented arranger, Sinatra
defined the criteria for sound, style and song selection in
pop recording during the pre-Beatles era. The aggressive
uptempo style of Sinatra's mature years spawned a genre of
punchy, rhythmic belting associated with Las Vegas, which he
was instrumental in establishing and popularizing as an
By the late 1950's, Sinatra had become so much the
personification of American show business success that his
life and his art became emblematic of the temper of the times.
Except perhaps for Hugh Hefner, the founder of Playboy
magazine, probably nobody did more to create a male ideal in
the 1950's. For years, Sinatra seemed the embodiment of the
hard-drinking, hedonistic swinger who could have his pick of
women and who was the leader of a party-loving entourage.
That personality and wardrobe, borrowed in part from his
friend Jimmy Van Heusen, the talented songwriter and man about
town who liked to insouciantly sling his raincoat over his
shoulder, was, in turn, imitated by many other show business
figures. It was a style Sinatra never entirely abandoned. Even
in his later years, he would often stroll onto the stage with
a drink in his hand.
On a deeper level, Sinatra's career and public image
touched many aspects of American cultural life. For millions,
his ascent from humble Italian-American roots in Hoboken,
N.J., was a symbol of ethnic achievement. And more than most
entertainers, he used his influence to support political
candidates. His change of allegiance from pro-Roosevelt
Democrat in the 1940's to pro-Reagan Republican in the 1980's
paralleled a seismic shift in American politics.
By the end of his career, Sinatra's annual income was
estimated in the tens of millions of dollars, from concerts,
record albums, real estate ventures and holdings in several
companies, including a missile-parts concern, a private
airline, Reprise Records (which he founded), Artanis (Sinatra
spelled backward) Productions and Sinatra Enterprises.
Songs of Love Inspiring Romances
Sinatra left his imprint on scores of popular songs and was
the background voice, it seemed, for the romances of most
Americans, from the earliest to the second time around. Among
the standards he recorded at least three times were ''All or
Nothing at All,'' ''Angel Eyes,'' ''Autumn in New York,'' ''I
Concentrate on You,'' ''I Get a Kick Out of You,'' ''I'll Be
Seeing You,'' ''I'll Never Smile Again,'' ''I've Got a Crush
on You,'' ''I've Got You Under My Skin,'' ''Nancy (With the
Laughing Face),'' ''Night and Day,'' ''One for My Baby,''
''September Song'' and ''Stormy Weather.''
His personal signature songs included ''Put Your Dreams
Away'' (his 1945 theme) and later ''Young at Heart'' (1954),
''All the Way'' (1957), ''It Was a Very Good Year'' (1965),
''Strangers in the Night'' (1966), ''My Way'' (1969) and ''New
York, New York'' (1980).
For decades, his private life, with its many romances,
feuds, brawls and associations with gangsters, was grist for
the gossip columns. But he also had a reputation for
spontaneous generosity, for helping singers who were starting
out and for supporting friends who were in need. And over the
years he gave hundreds of millions of dollars to various
Sinatra was born in Hoboken on Dec. 12, 1915, the only
child of Martin Sinatra, a boilermaker and sometime boxer from
Catania, Sicily, and his wife, Natalie Garavante, who was
nicknamed Dolly. The young Francis Albert Sinatra attended
Dave E. Rue Junior High School and Demarest High in Hoboken.
He decided to become a singer either after attending a Crosby
concert or seeing a Crosby film sometime in 1931 or 1932. His
mother encouraged his ambition, allowing him to drop out of
In 1935, after two years of local club dates, he joined
three other young men from Hoboken who called themselves the
Three Flashes. The quartet renamed itself the Hoboken Four and
won first prize on ''Major Bowes's Original Amateur Hour.''
After several months with the group, Sinatra decided to go
it alone, and in the late 1930's he had his first important
nightclub engagement, at the Rustic Cabin, a roadhouse in
Alpine, N.J. Local radio exposure brought him to the attention
of Harry James, the trumpet player who had recently left Benny
Goodman to form his own band. James signed Sinatra for $75 a
week, and the singer made his first concert appearance with
the James band in June 1939 and his first recording the next
month. A New Family And a New Fame
Early that year, he married his longtime sweetheart, Nancy
Barbato. They had three children: Nancy, who was born in 1940;
Franklin Wayne (later shortened to Frank Jr.), born in 1944,
and Christina (Tina), born in 1948.
Six months after Sinatra signed with Harry James, Tommy
Dorsey invited him to join his band, which was far more
popular. Released without protest from his contract by James,
Sinatra remained with Dorsey from January 1940 until September
1942. His first successful record with the band was ''Polka
Dots and Moonbeams.'' Six months after joining Dorsey, he
scored his first No. 1 hit, ''I'll Never Smile Again,'' a
dreamy ballad he sang with the Pied Pipers, the vocal group
then led by Jo Stafford.
Determined to be the first singer since Crosby to have a
successful solo career, he split from Dorsey, who held him to
a contract that gave the band leader 43 1/3 percent of the
singer's income for the next decade. Eventually Sinatra, with
his record label, Columbia, and his booking agency, MCA,
bought out the contract.
In addition to ''I'll Never Smile Again,'' Sinatra left
behind several classic early recordings with Dorsey. They
included ''Star Dust'' (1940, with the Pied Pipers), ''This
Love of Mine'' (1941) and ''There Are Such Things'' (1942,
with the Pied Pipers).
Sinatra's last concert with Dorsey was in September 1942.
Three months later, he made history at the age of 27 with his
first solo appearance at the Paramount Theater in New York
City. Billed as an ''extra added attraction'' on a program
headlined by Benny Goodman, Sinatra appeared on Dec. 30 and
set off a public hysteria that made headlines. Within weeks he
had signed lucrative contracts with Columbia Records, R.K.O.
Pictures and the radio program ''Your Hit Parade.''
The adulation reached a high point on Oct. 12, 1944, the
opening day of a three-week return engagement at the
Paramount, when 30,000 fans -- most of them bobby-soxers --
formed a frenzied mob in Times Square.
''It was the war years, and there was a great loneliness,''
Sinatra, who was kept from the draft by a punctured eardrum,
later recounted. ''I was the boy in every corner drugstore
who'd gone off, drafted to the war. That was all.''
From 1943 to 1945, he was the lead singer on ''Your Hit
Parade'' and at the same time began recording for Columbia.
Because of a musicians' strike, the accompaniment on his first
several recording sessions for the label was a vocal chorus
called the Bobby Tucker Singers, instead of an orchestra. In
June 1943, however, Columbia rereleased a recording he had
made in September 1939 with Harry James. The recording, ''All
or Nothing at All,'' which had sold 8,000 copies in its first
release, sold over a million.
Once the musicians' strike was settled in November 1944,
Sinatra began recording with Axel Stordahl, who had been a
trombonist and lead arranger with Tommy Dorsey. Stordahl's
sweet string-laced settings for Sinatra's recordings
silhouetted a yearning voice that one writer compared to
Until Sinatra left Columbia for Capitol Records in 1953,
Stordahl remained his principal arranger. He also brilliantly
exploited the songs of Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne, who tailored
many of their ballads to Sinatra's voice and style.
Riding High in April, Shot Down in May
Sinatra's first movie appearance was in 1940, singing with
the Dorsey band in ''Las Vegas Nights.'' He made his movie
acting debut in 1943, in ''Higher and Higher,'' an innocuous
bit of froth that was described by Bosley Crowther, movie
critic for The New York Times, as ''a slapdash setting for the
incredibly unctuous readings of the Voice.'' The film was
followed by ''Step Lively'' (1944) and ''Anchors Aweigh''
(1945), the first of three movies in which Sinatra played Gene
Kelly's sidekick. In these early films, Sinatra, often wearing
a sailor suit and projecting a skinny soulfulness, played a
wide-eyed innocent who was shy with women.
In 1945, he also made ''The House I Live In,'' a 10-minute
patriotic plea for racial and religious tolerance that won him
a special Academy Award. Like his mother, Sinatra was an
ardent Democrat and supporter of President Franklin Delano
Roosevelt's New Deal. He visited the White House in 1944 and
campaigned for Roosevelt in his bid for a fourth term as
Sinatra's popularity remained at a peak through 1946, when
he had 15 hit singles. Then it began a gradual slide that
steepened after 1948 and hit bottom in 1952. As early as
November 1947, an appearance at the Capitol Theater in New
York drew disappointing attendance. Only 4 Sinatra singles
made the Top 10 in 1947, and the number dropped to one in
Although he had shown himself to have an engaging screen
presence, his film career had not made him a top box-office
star. From 1946 to 1949, he appeared in five MGM musicals --
''Till the Clouds Roll By'' (1946) (in which he sang ''Ol' Man
River'' in a white suit), ''It Happened in Brooklyn'' (1947),
''The Kissing Bandit'' (1948), ''Take Me Out to the Ball
Game'' (1949) and ''On the Town'' (1949) -- and one R.K.O.
film, ''The Miracle of the Bells'' (1948), in which he was
miscast as a priest. After two more unsuccessful pictures,
''Double Dynamite'' (1951) and ''Meet Danny Wilson'' (1952),
his movie career all but evaporated.
Part of the public disenchantment came after the columnist
Robert Ruark denounced him in 1947 for having socialized with
the deported gangster Lucky Luciano in Cuba. The suggestion
that the singer consorted with criminals made him a target of
the conservative press, which resented his pro-Roosevelt
political stance. For the rest of Sinatra's career, stories of
his relations with the underworld dogged him, and he reacted
angrily to the charges. Divorce and Remarriage; Career
While his career was in decline in the late 1940's, his
marriage to Nancy Barbato also unraveled. In 1949 he had begun
an affair with the movie star Ava Gardner. The relationship
became public the next year, and on November 7, 1951, one week
after his divorce was final, he married her in Philadelphia.
Passionate but stormy, the marriage lasted just less than
two years. MGM announced their separation in October 1953, and
they were divorced in 1957. (She died in 1990.)
Those personal upheavals, including a suicide attempt,
coincided with increasing tension between Sinatra and Columbia
Records after Mitch Miller took the company's creative reins
In an ever more desperate search for a hit single, Sinatra
let himself be coerced into recording inferior material, the
most notorious example being ''Mama Will Bark,'' a 1951
novelty duet with the television personality Dagmar that
included dog imitations by Donald Baine.
Although his voice had begun to reflect the strain he was
under, he still made some powerful recordings, including
''April in Paris,'' the anguished ''I'm a Fool to Want You''
and renditions of ''Castle Rock'' and ''The Birth of the
Blues'' that anticipated the swinging Sinatra of the
Sinatra's phenomenal resurgence began in 1953 with the
release of ''From Here to Eternity,'' Fred Zinnemann's film
version of James Jones's best-selling novel about American
G.I.'s in Hawaii on the eve of World War II. His portrayal of
Maggio, the combative Italian-American soldier who is beaten
to death in a stockade, his spirit unbroken, won him rave
reviews, an Oscar and renewed public sympathy.
In April 1953, Sinatra, then 37, had signed with Capitol
Records. A cautious deal, the contract was for only one year,
with no advance. Sinatra arrived at Capitol just when his
voice had lost most of its youthful sheen, but the move proved
fortunate. Only five years earlier, the long-playing record
had been introduced, and the longer form encouraged Sinatra,
who brought remarkable introspective depth to the
interpretation of lyrics, to make cohesive album-length
In his second recording session for Capitol, in late April
1953, Sinatra was teamed with Nelson Riddle, who became the
most important of the several arrangers with whom he worked
during his decade with the label. A trombonist who had also
worked with Tommy Dorsey, Riddle pioneered in augmenting a
big-band lineup with strings, and he was the master of an
elegant pop impressionism that enhanced Sinatra's vocal image
of urbane sophistication. On a series of classic pop albums
for Capitol, the singer and arranger virtually reinvented
swing music for a more opulent era.
That process began with their first single release, ''I've
Got the World on a String,'' which hit the pop charts in the
summer of 1953. It continued with the albums ''Songs for Young
Lovers,'' released in early 1954, and ''Swing Easy,'' which
came out six months later.
The collaboration hit its artistic peak with three albums.
''In the Wee Small Hours,'' a 16-cut collection of classic
torch songs sung in a quietly anguished baritone, was released
in the spring of 1955. ''Songs for Swingin' Lovers,'' released
a year later, defined Sinatra in his adult ''swinging'' mode.
It included what many regard as his greatest recorded
performance: Cole Porter's ''I've Got You Under My Skin.''
''Frank Sinatra Sings for Only the Lonely,'' released in
the summer of 1958, expanded on the mournful, introspective
tone of ''Wee Small Hours'' by adding shadings that were at
once jazzier and more operatic. The album, which included his
classic recording of ''What's New,'' inspired Linda Ronstadt's
hit 1983 album ''What's New,'' which in turn spurred a revival
of interest in elegant 50's pop styles.
Sinatra's Capitol albums were among the first so-called
concept albums in the way they explored different adult
approaches to love and invoked varied aspects of the singer's
personality. These were the fun-loving hedonist (''Songs for
Swingin' Lovers'' and its equally brilliant 1957 follow-up,
''A Swingin' Affair''), the romantic confidant (''Close to
You,'' recorded with the Hollywood String Quartet), the
jet-set playboy (''Come Fly With Me''), the romantic loner
(''Where Are You?,'' ''No One Cares'') and the hardened
sensation-seeker (''Come Swing With Me''). The Hit
Maker And Prolific Actor
In 1959, ''Come Dance With Me!,'' a hard-swinging album
arranged by Billy May, won Sinatra his first Grammy Awards,
for album of the year and best male vocal performance, and
stayed on the sales chart for 140 weeks, longer than any other
Sinatra's career as a maker of hit singles was also
rejuvenated. ''Young at Heart,'' which hit the pop charts in
February 1954, reached No. 2 on Billboard's pop singles chart,
and ''Learnin' the Blues'' reached No. 1 the following year.
His other significant hits from the late 1950's included
''Love and Marriage,'' (which was written for a television
production of ''Our Town,'' in which Sinatra played the Stage
Manager), ''The Tender Trap'' (1955), ''Hey! Jealous Lover''
(1956), ''All the Way'' (1957) and ''Witchcraft'' (1958).
During this period, the versatile team of Jimmy Van Heusen
and Sammy Cahn, who had become partners in 1954, functioned
almost as Sinatra's house songwriters, supplying both movie
song hits and the title songs for albums.
After ''From Here to Eternity,'' Sinatra's movie career
boomed, with the roles many and varied. He played the
perennial gambler Nathan Detroit in the film adaptation of the
Broadway musical ''Guys and Dolls'' (1955), a heroin addict in
''The Man With the Golden Arm'' the same year and an Army
investigator tracking a would-be assassin in the political
thriller ''The Manchurian Candidate'' (1962).
His performance in ''The Man With the Golden Arm'' won him
an Academy Award nomination for best actor.
In his better movie roles -- playing a would-be
Presidential assassin in ''Suddenly'' (1954), the comedian Joe
E. Lewis in ''The Joker Is Wild'' (1957) and a vulnerable
intellectual in ''Some Came Running'' (1958) -- Sinatra
conveyed an outsider's edgy volatility that matched the
film-noirish mood of his more introspective albums.
His roles in the film musicals ''High Society'' (1956) and
''Pal Joey'' (1957) as well as ''Guys and Dolls'' effectively
played off his scrappy, streetwise image.
Assessing his film career, the critic David Thomson said
Sinatra had a ''pervasive influence on American acting: he
glamorized the fatalistic outsider; he made his own anger
intriguing, and in the late 50's especially he was one of our
darkest male icons.''
''Sinatra is a noir sound,'' he said, ''like saxophones,
foghorns, gunfire and the quiet weeping of women in the
background.'' Chairman of the Board, Leader of the Rat
Sinatra remained a top box office draw for nearly a decade,
and his success as both singer and actor led the New York
radio personality William B. Williams to nickname him Chairman
of the Board of show business. The name stuck for the rest of
his long career.
At a time when restraints on sexual and social behavior had
begun to loosen a bit, the high-living Sinatra, who enjoyed
gambling and womanizing, became in the popular press the
embodiment of the swinger, a concept repeatedly invoked by his
album titles. In the 60's, Sinatra appeared to be America's
quintessential middle-aged playboy.
''Ocean's Eleven'' (1960) was the first of three Sinatra
films to feature the star surrounded by the hard-drinking,
high-living clique -- nicknamed the Rat Pack -- that included
Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, Sammy Davis Jr. and Joey Bishop.
The group was an outgrowth of a social circle that had
centered on Humphrey Bogart, who died in 1957. The Rat Packers
would appear together in three more lighthearted capers:
''Sergeants Three'' (1962), ''Four for Texas'' (1963) and
''Robin and the Seven Hoods'' (1964). This was the other side
of Sinatra. As carefully as he plumbed his music, after 1960
he seemed largely to be walking through his movies. Las
Vegas Playground And Kennedy Campaign
One of the Rat Pack's favorite playgrounds was Las Vegas,
where Sinatra was a pioneer entertainer. In 1953, he bought a
2 percent interest in the Sands Hotel, and eventually became a
corporate vice president. He earned $100,000 a week in his
frequent performances at the Sands and used the hotel for
recording albums and making movies.
After supporting Adlai Stevenson's bid for the Presidency
in 1956, Sinatra worked avidly for John F. Kennedy in 1960 and
supervised the newly elected President's inaugural gala in
Washington in January 1961. But his pro-Kennedy sentiments
cooled after the President canceled a weekend visit to
Sinatra's house because the singer had played host to the
Chicago mob boss Sam Giancana and his associates. And in 1963,
the singer lost his Nevada gambling license after Giancana was
seen in the Cal-Neva gambling casino in which the singer held
a major interest. The license was restored in 1981. By the
1970's, Sinatra had turned to the right. He became a supporter
of Richard M. Nixon and Ronald Reagan.
Sinatra's recording career entered a major new phase when
he formed his own record company, Reprise, in late 1960. Since
the new label overlapped his Capitol contract, for about a
year he recorded for both labels. In 1963, he sold his record
company to Warner Brothers, retaining a one-third interest. In
association with Warner Brothers, he also set up his own
independent film production company, Artanis.
Beginning with ''Ring-a-Ding-Ding!'' in 1961 and for the
next 20 years, Sinatra recorded more than 30 albums for
Reprise. By this time, his voice had hardened and coarsened.
Except for ''Francis Albert Sinatra and Antonio Carlos
Jobim,'' a remarkable 1967 collaboration with the Brazilian
songwriter, guitarist and singer in which he sang very softly,
his ballad singing tended toward the stentorian, often with a
noticeable edge of macho toughness. The coarsening of his
voice, however, helped give his singing an extra rhythmic
punch. Looking Back Brings Its Rewards
Increasingly, his albums had a self-consciously
retrospective air. ''I Remember Tommy . . .'' (1961) looked
back to his days with the Dorsey band. ''Sinatra's Sinatra''
(1963) consisted entirely of newly recorded Sinatra favorites.
His 50th birthday in 1965 was celebrated with the release
of two deliberately monumental albums, ''September of My
Years'' and ''A Man and His Music,'' an anthology of his
career that he narrated and sang. ''September of My Years,''
whose title anthem of middle-aged nostalgia was custom-written
by Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen and arranged by Gordon
Jenkins, won Grammys for album of the year and best male vocal
performance. Sinatra scored a double triumph in 1966 when ''A
Man and His Music'' was voted album of the year, and
''Strangers in the Night,'' his first No. 1 single in 11
years, won record of the year. The string of hits continued
with a Top 5 hit, ''That's Life'' (1966), and ''Something
Stupid'' (1967), a duet with his daughter Nancy.
In 1969 he had a substantial hit with ''My Way,'' an
adaptation of a French ballad, ''Mon Habitude,'' by Claude
Francois, Jacques Revaux and Giles Thibaut, with English
lyrics by Paul Anka. Along with ''New York, New York,'' which
he recorded for a three-disk set, ''Trilogy: Past, Present,
Future'' (1980), it became one of the signature songs of his
The moment when Sinatra and his style of music seemed the
least fashionable was in the late 1960's, when the youthful
rock counterculture dominated popular music. Sinatra was no
fan of rock-and-roll, having once dismissed it as music
''sung, played and written for the most part by cretinous
He did make tentative efforts to adapt to changing styles,
trying his hand at songs by Jim Croce, Jimmy Webb, Neil
Diamond, Neil Sedaka, John Denver, Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell,
Stevie Wonder, Peter Allen, Billy Joel and the Beatles, among
others. But even singing soft rock, he never sounded entirely
His surprise marriage in 1966 to the actress Mia Farrow,
then 21 (30 years his junior), seemed in part to be a search
for a youthful connection. They were divorced in 1968.
As a film actor, Sinatra continued to work steadily through
the 1960's. Besides his Rat Pack jaunts, his films included
''Come Blow Your Horn'' (1963), ''Von Ryan's Express'' (1965),
''Tony Rome'' (1967), ''The Detective'' (1968) and ''Dirty
Dingus Magee'' (1970). Retirement? Could It Be? Doing
That His Way
In June 1971, Sinatra announced his retirement during a
gala concert at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles,
but it lasted only two years. He returned with the album ''Ol'
Blue Eyes Is Back,'' the title of which gave him his last show
In 1976 he married for the fourth time, to Barbara Blakely
Marx, who had been married to Zeppo Marx. She survives him,
along with his daughters, his son and two grandchildren.
His recordings and films became less frequent. In 1980,
after a six-year hiatus, he released ''Trilogy: Past, Present,
Future,'' a concept album in which a Gordon Jenkins oratorio
imagined the singer as an intergalactic traveler. It was
followed by the moody ''She Shot Me Down'' (1981) and the
jazzy ''L.A. Is My Lady'' (1984).
Sinatra returned to film in 1977 with a television movie,
''Contract on Cherry Street,'' which was poorly received, as
was his last major Hollywood role, as an aging detective in
''The First Deadly Sin'' (1980). In 1984, he briefly appeared
as himself in ''Cannonball Run 2.'' For his 75th birthday in
1990, Capitol and Reprise each released extensive, elaborately
packaged Sinatra retrospectives. Columbia had released a
six-disk anthology four years earlier.
Sinatra worked vigorously for the 1980 Presidential
campaign of his close friend Ronald Reagan, and produced and
directed a three-hour inaugural gala that was shown in an
edited form on television in 1981. In 1985 he was given the
Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian
Even after he stopped making records and movies, Sinatra
continued to give concerts. In the early 1980's, he was paid
$2 million for four concerts in Argentina and $2 million for
nine concerts in Sun City, South Africa. Sun City appearances
by Sinatra, who had always supported civil rights causes, drew
sharp criticism from anti-apartheid groups.
In 1982, he signed a $16 million three-year contract with
the Golden Nugget Hotel in Atlantic City. In 1988 and 1989,
Sinatra was still listed in Forbes magazine as among the 40
richest entertainers, with an annual income estimated at $14
million in 1989 and $12 million in 1988. But when he was
required to submit a financial statement to the Nevada Gaming
Commission for a renewal of his gambling license in 1981, he
claimed a surprisingly modest net worth of just over $14
Sinatra's life was rocked in 1986 by the publication of
''His Way,'' Kitty Kelley's best-selling unauthorized
biography, which focused on his volatile personality, his
personal feuds, his streak of violence and his relationships
over the years with organized-crime figures. It was a harsh
portrait that nevertheless acknowledged Sinatra's role as a
musical icon. The Concert Giver And Singer of Solo
Sinatra toured the world in 1989 with Sammy Davis Jr. and
Liza Minnelli in a concert package billed as ''the ultimate
event.'' It was one of the grander bills in a rigorous touring
schedule that he maintained into his late 70's. He toured with
Shirley MacLaine in 1992. Increasingly during his performances
in later years he resorted to using electronic prompters at
the front of the stage to read lyrics.
In 1993, at the age of 77, Sinatra had an astounding
recording-career comeback with ''Frank Sinatra Duets,'' a
collection of 13 Sinatra standards rerecorded with such pop
stars as Barbra Streisand, Tony Bennett, Aretha Franklin,
Luther Vandross and Bono of the Irish rock group U2. The
record was widely criticized for being an engineering stunt,
since none of the guest singers were actually in the recording
studio with Sinatra, who recorded his parts separately. The
record nevertheless sold over two million copies in the United
States. A year later, there was a weaker follow-up using a
different roster of guests.
Sinatra's last concert was on Feb. 25, 1995, at the Palm
Desert Marriott Ballroom in Palm Desert, Calif.
Assessing his own abilities in 1963, Sinatra sounded a note
that was quintessentially characteristic: forlorn and tough.
''Being an 18-karat manic-depressive, and having lived a life
of violent emotional contradictions, I have an overacute
capacity for sadness as well as elation,'' he said. ''Whatever
else has been said about me personally is unimportant. When I
sing, I believe, I'm honest.'' Swingin' and in Films
With the November 1995 release of Frank Sinatra's complete
works on Reprise, the entire catalogue on all labels is
available on compact disk. Here is a selective discography.
Tommy Dorsey/Frank Sinatra: Alltime Greatest Hits, Vol. 4
The Voice (Columbia)
Frank Sinatra: The Voice,
The Columbia Years, 1943-1952 (4 CD's, Columbia)
Easy/Songs For Young Lovers (Capitol)
In the Wee Small
Songs for Swingin' Lovers (Capitol)
This Is Sinatra! (Capitol)
Close to You (featuring the
Hollywood String Quartet) (Capitol)
A Swingin' Affair
Where Are You? (Capitol)
Come Fly With Me
September of My
Moonlight Sinatra (Reprise)
Albert Sinatra and Antonio Carlos Jobim (Reprise)
Me Down (Reprise)
Frank Sinatra Duets (Capitol)
Frank Sinatra appeared in 58 movies, winning an Oscar for
his performance as Maggio, the doomed G.I. in ''From Here to
Eternity'' (1953). He played everything from a shy sailor in
''Anchors Aweigh'' (1945) to a tough Army investigator in
''The Manchurian Candidate'' (1962), a tormented drug addict
in ''The Man With the Golden Arm'' (1955) and a daring
prisoner of war in ''Von Ryan's Express (1965). Here are some
of his films. Higher and Higher (1943)
On the Town (1949)
From Here to Eternity (1953)
The Man With the Golden Arm (1955)
Guys and Dolls
High Society (1956)
Pal Joey (1957)
Joker Is Wild (1957)
Some Came Running (1959)
The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
Blow Your Horn (1963)
Robin and the Seven Hoods (1964)
Von Ryan's Express (1965)
Tony Rome (1967)