Frank Sinatra was born on the 12 of December 1915 as Francis Albert Sinatra. The only son of Anthony Martin and Natalie Della Sinatra, who raised him in Hoboken, a small town in New Jersey that runs alongside the Hudson river separating NJ from New York City.
From a young age Frank idolised such figures as Bing Crosby and Billy Holliday and decided at the age of fifteen that he would like to follow in their footsteps. In 1935 he took his first step down the road to success, entering into a radio talent show, grouped with a trio of singers and dancers. The group went on to win first prize and Sinatra started to perform for several different radio stations, singing frequently for them. For a time though, he was working as a singer and waiter at the Rustic Cabin, a restaurant in NJ. This is where he received his big break, when he was noticed by a trumpet player named Henry James who decided that the young Sinatra would be perfect for his band, “The Music Makers”.
After seven months with the band, ‘Ol Blue Eyes’ (as he was called) moved on to join a swing orchestra, headed by Tommy Dorsey. It was with this group that the man became a success, making a name for himself due to his unique phrasing as well as the emotional performances he carried out. It was his first recorded song released in 1943 at the age of 28, titled “All or Nothing at All”, which served him well and became a huge hit. Over the next five years between 1946 and 1951, Sinatra branched out from his music career to indulge in the acting business, contracted by the major motion picture company MGM with a guarantee of $1.5million per year. Proving himself on stage, his talent came through behind the camera as well, completing many successful films of the time, for example, “Anchors Aweigh” and “On the Town”. Frank Sinatra was then becoming a house hold name and by the late forties, he had both fame and fortune, becoming even more increasingly popular among fans of all ages.
Unfortunately Frank suffered from his vocal chords haemorrhaging, turning his life upside down as his professional signing career plummeted. At 37 years of age he had to face the music as his employers from Universal, CBS and Colombia Records decided to abandon him along with his personal agent. It was then that Frank turned to his wife at the time Ava Gardner, a Hollywood actor.
Ava helped her husband through his difficult times by securing him in the role of Angelo Maggio in the 1953 picture “From Here To Eternity” which Sinatra himself believed he was born to play, as it fit him so well. He agreed to take part on a cut of only $8000, a major step down from his previous ventures. Unsurprising to Sinatra, his performance dramatically picked his career up to its natural standard. Proving to the doubting directors that he could play alongside the Hollywood Hotshots like Burt Lancaster and Donna Reed and even walking away with the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his work on the film.
Sinatra’s acting career wasn’t just a one off flash in the pan, he held on at the top, giving his usual riveting performance as a heroin addict in The Man with the Golden Arm. Sinatra was back on top and his musical career was reborn. Now he was the ‘King of music’, movies and television. Expressing him self in many ways, creating at the same time some of the most popular albums he has ever made. Releasing “A Swinging Affair” and “Come Fly with Me” alongside major box office hits such as “High Society” and “Guys and Dolls”. It was, in this time of the late fifties early sixties, where the Frank Sinatra legend takes form due to the calm, cool, and collected way he handled himself through out the limelight of his career. Throughout the 60’s and 70’s Sinatra stayed mostly in television, making appearances on the big screen as well.
It was in 1988 that the Rat Pack reunion tour was launched; the Rat Pack originally formed in 1995 by actor Humphrey Bogart and was meant to be just a gathering of guys for night of drinking, gambling and having fun. After the death of Humphrey Bogart two years later, the packs new leader became Sinatra and was comprised mostly of his buddies, the most famous being Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr as well as Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop. They performed with each other in a relaxed atmosphere yet also with an intimate humour which is not often portrayed in the groups of today.
It was with this quality that they stormed through the late 50’s and 60’s, creating a massive fan base as they played there parts on screen and on stage, feeding the growing attraction. The Rat Pack reunion tour with Sammy Davis Jr, Liza Minnelli who replaced Dean Martin due to schedule reasons, and obviously Frank himself, boomed with major success. Releasing two Duet albums - which sold more than any of Sinatra’s previous work. Proving that his style of song and music was and will always is very much alive. Crossing over generation barriers and appealing to a varied audience, both young and old.
Frank Sinatra was a man of many talents receiving various awards for his efforts over the years. Including an Oscar for his acting skills, a lifetime achievement award and to top that the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest honour that can be presented to a civilian in the U.S.A. Up until his death on May 14 1998, when he was at the age of 82, he had always been a generous man. Contributing wealthily to charities, and providing funds to build a hospital and schooling centre in his home town. He regretted the fact that he could not serve his country during war due to medical reasons, but he served in his own way, raising the spirits of the country and the troops through his songs and contributions.
He lived a live that was full, which many people admire even if they are not fans of his music. Becoming popular through generations and many more to come, Frank Sinatra will always be a well known name and he will always be remembered for the extreme life he lived:
“I’ve lived a life that’s full,
I’ve travelled each and every highway.
But more, much more than this,
I did it my way.”