Wednesday 28 December 2022


There were two Frank Sinatras.

There was the Rat Packer who sang those great tunes backed by Billy May or Nelson Riddle, the pal of mobsters who got people banned at Vegas clubs if they “invaded his space” (this happened to a former co-worker of mine).

Then there’s the mellow singer that radio shows and cartoons made fun of, the thin guy with the bow tie who made girls hyper-ventilate after he left the Tommy Dorsey band.

Volumes have been written about Sinatra’s personal life, real and rumoured. I doubt there’s anything new to discuss. I’ll drag out something old instead.

This is a 1943 feature story from Hearst’s International News. It’s an effective piece of P.R., just what Sinatra’s handler George Evans wanted. Frankie appears to be just the aw-gee-shucks husband and father down the street, even though old Blue Eyes was already playing the female field. For his incessant, effective pushing that year, Evans won a scroll from Billboard for the “Most Effective Promotion of a Single Personality.”

At this point, Sinatra was on Your Hit Parade, sponsored by American Tobacco. At that point, Frankie didn’t rate more than having a CBS staff announcer assigned to his show. Later, the maker of Lucky Strikes would send in their big gun—Don Wilson.

Thousands Swoon
But interview with crooner fails to explain his ecstatic magnetism
By Inez Robb
International News Service Staff Correspondent
New York, July 10.—Why girls leave home in anno domini 1943 is spelled S-I-N-A-T-R-A.
When gals leave home from coast to coast these days the nation's police save themselves good bit of time and trouble by simply going and sitting on Frank Sinatra's doorstep in Hasbrouck Heights, N. J, until the kids turn up there.
Those are the incontrovertible facts, chums. But don't look at me and ask Why, Why, Why? Don't ask me either why almost as quickly as Sinatra's photo is posted outside a theater or radio studio, it's all covered with girlish love messages written in lipstick of every hue.
She Doesn't Get It.
Because darned if I know. I still don't know after thirty minutes in his presence, during which the greatest crooning phenomenon of the ages lived, breathed and talked. Even after seeing the current Miss Subway of New York City almost faint when actually presented to her idol, I still can't case it.
Furthermore, after watching his radio audience heave and, sway, moan and shriek, whistle and stamp in ecstacy at his presence, I don't get it.
Because if this undersized, pleasantly homely kid is the re-incarnation of Rudolph Valentino, Rudy Vallee, Bing Crosby and Charles Boyer, then I am Lana Turner in a bathing suit! What Frankie has got that the rest of you boys haven't got is beyond me!
But getting down to cases. I must admit that I found Frank Sinatra, at 25 the Casanova of the air, a right nice guy. And that's eating an awful lot of crow on the part of your correspondent, who went to the interview with a chip on her shoulder, prepared to pin back the ears of a conceited young mug over whom the nation's femininity at the moment is swooning in droves. (Just ask your neighborhood druggist about the upward curve in the sale of smelling salts!).
So, right away in the dressing room of the theater where he was rehearsing his radio show, I popped the $64 question.
"What," I purred, "does your wife think about a whole nation full of women sighing and lolly-gagging over her husband?"
Nancy Undertands.
"Well, Nancy's never said much about it," said Sinatra earnestly, as he puffed on his pipe with the long, long stem. "Nancy's a wonderful girl, and she doesn't resent it, I'm sure."
"You see," he explained, his blue eyes intent in his thin, sunburned face beneath a mop of very dark brown hair, "Nancy's got a sense of humor. And she knows how to reason."
And, after all, Nancy never had a ten-room house in Hasbrouck Heights, N. J., or a genuine mink coat until her own sex got taken by hysteria every time it tuned in on Sinatra or saw him do his stuff on the movie theater stage as an "added attraction."
Sitting there in the dressing room in a pair of chocolate brown slacks, a Barrymore shirt unbuttoned at the throat, a pale yellow sweater and a camel's hair sports jacket, and a gold wedding band on his left hand, this kid certainly did not look like my—or anybody else's—conception of Don Juan up to six months ago.
And I told him so without softening the blow.
"Well, gee!" he said. "Don't you think that I think I'm the reincarnation of Valentino! I'm going out to Hollywood in August to do a picture for R.K.O. All I ask is a nice, small, sympathetic part where I can sing a little.
"I don't know if I could ever carry the whole romantic lead in any picture, and get the girl in the final clinch.
"Gosh," reiterated the kid who has reintroduced the vapors to the nation as its leading feminine pastime, "I don't feel up to sweeping a girl off her feet! Look at me,” he demanded and I took a good gander, realizing that I was privy to a pleasure for which millions of women would gladly have swapped me rubies and gold.
"Just look at me? And how I photograph! I photograph horribly, honest," he grinned.
So when he goes out to Hollywood in August, Sinatra does not expect to erase Cary Grant, Fred MacMurray or Randolph Scott in a single scene. His voice may get into the boudoir, but the kid doesn't expect to follow it up. He'll let the other boys do the romantic work, while he sits out in the parlor, preferably with an accompanist and a good piano.
He's Eager to Learn
At rehearsals for his radio program, through which I sat, he could not have been more modest or more eager to learn from veterans like Milton Berle and Herbert Polesie, director of the show. Carefully and gratefully, he followed their instructions and suggestions about reading his lines.
During rehearsal, he grinned at Berle as the latter ad libbed, "What is it that Sinatra has that I haven't got and where can I get it?"
Success has happened so suddenly to Sinatra, only child of a city fireman in Hoboken, N. J., that he is as surprised as everybody else.
"I guess you'd say a whirlwind named Lady Luck has picked me up and here I am," he said. "Nancy and I are both thrilled to death by it. Neither of us has ever been happier in our lives. I can't put into words how thrilled I am by all this good fortune."
Sinatra even says a kind and hearty word for that lowest form of metropolitan life, the autograph hunter. Long before he was due to arrive for rehearsal, the front of the theater was seething with ‘teen age girls in cotton frocks, saddle shoes and ankle socks, all poised with pencils and autograph books.
But when he gets away from it all in that new 10-room house over in New Jersey, he mows his own lawn and clips his own hedge. It’s relaxing, he says. He also does a lot of carpentry at a work bench, which he built himself after moving into the house.
Sinatra is just plain nuts about one young lady, Nancy, Jr., 3, his only child.
“She is especially wonderful,” he said and I had to restrain him from relating innumerable smart sayings.
Both Get Mail.
Between his wife and himself, they get about 3,000 fan letters a week. Yes, Nancy, Sr., has her public too, with people wanting her picture and autograph no less than her spouse's. It keeps two secretaries busy answering the mail.
The dough, to put it bluntly, is rolling into the Sinatra bin at the moment. But except for the modest house and Nancy's mink coat—which he couldn't wait to buy her—"we haven't changed our way of living very much," Sinatra insisted. “Life is just about as it always was for us. We’re happy this way. Why should we change?”
Last winter, when Sinatra was suddenly swept into national fame through an engagement at the Paramount Theater in New York, the delirious, moaning, swooning ecstatic audience used to get so out of hand that it scared the wits out of Sinatra—the guy who was causing all the commotion.
"But now I know enough to clown around and string 'em along with me," he said.
Well, I can tell you that his audience may no longer scare Sinatra, but his radio audience scared the liver and lights out of me.
Finally the announcer, Olin Tice, had to ask the ‘teen age maniacs, mainly young girls from 16 to 19, to pipe down so the program could proceed. They literally had hit the roof when Sinatra put in his first appearance on the stage. He couldn’t open his mouth without such a gust of sighs going through the theater as was momentarily apt to waft away the proscenium arch.
"Modern hysteria in our time," muttered one of the boys in Raymond Scott's Orchestra, accompanying the phenom.
"You said it, brother," I agreed.
“Wimmen!” he snorted, as he picked up his sax.
Wimmen is right! But the gals had better know right now that one reason Nancy isn’t jealous of their delirium is because her husband still thinks she is prettier than any fan he’s ever seen.
“You bet!” he declared.
As for this disgruntled correspondent, she can pay Sinatra, the dream boy of the ages, no greater compliment than to say that to all appearances, the kid's hat still fits. And that, under the circumstances, is a major miracle.

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