Fifteen years ago this month (May 15) Frank Sinatra died at the age of 82..
American singer and actor, (Francis Albert) “Frank” Sinatra, was born on December 12, 1915. Interestingly, Sinatra once wanted to be a journalist. He was once a copy-boy for the Jersey Observer.
He attended secretarial school and studied English, typing and shorthand. He was soon made cub sports reporter. Sinatra was also employed as a maitre d’, comedian and singer for 25 dollars a week at the long gone Rustic Cabin in Englewood, New Jersey.
It was at that very roadhouse in 1939 that Sinatra would be discovered by Harry James. He toured with James’ band and soon after rose to prominence recording more than 90 tunes with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. By 1943 his acting career had taken off as well as he debuted in the motion picture Higher and Higher.
His live gigs were soon disrupted by numerous hysterical “bobby soxer” fans. He released his first album, The Voice of Frank Sinatra in 1946 (Columbia Records-click to buy).
Unfortunately, in 1949 his career stalled. He suffered from vocal hemorrhages which caused his concerts to fail. He lost his film contract and created a scandal when he had an affair with Ava Gardner. At only 34, his career seemed to be at an end.
Still, Sinatra was down but not out. With some help from his now wife Gardner, he scored the part of Angelo Maggio, tough Italian, in From Here to Eternity. He received an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1953.
Sinatra overcame his vocal cord afflictions and signed with Capitol Records. He put out a number of critically-acclaimed records including Songs for Swingin’ Lovers, Come Fly with Me, Only the Lonely and Nice ‘n’ Easy. He put out a string of hit singles such as: “Young at Heart”, “Hey Jealous Lover” and “All the Way”.
Sinatra was in the midst of his own golden era. Sinatra soon went on to hold court as chairman of the board over his “Rat Pack” (Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Peter Lawford). He now held all the cards and naturally dealt them out in his own inimitable style.
He hung with numerous celebrities including President John F. Kennedy. He turned 50 in 1965, won an Emmy for his TV special Frank Sinatra: A Man and His Music, and put out more hits including “Strangers in the Night” and “My Way”. By this time, however, Las Vegas was no longer his, his music sales dwindled and his film appearances faltered.
His signature sound began to waver so he retired in 1971. Over the next two decades he would occasionally return to work again. In 1980 he would have yet another hit with “(Theme From) New York, New York” and tour occasionally making his last public performance in 1994.
On May 14th, 1998, after his second heart attack, Sinatra died at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. He was 82. His official cause of death was reported as “complications from dementia, heart and kidney disease, and bladder cancer.”
He was buried Desert Memorial Park in Cathedral City, California. Sinatra is next to his parents in section B-8. His grave marker includes the phrase “The Best Is Yet To Come”.