90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Inside Facts on Frank Sinatra

James Kaplan, author of a new Sinatra bio, offers some scintillating facts about the man, the legend, “The Voice.” If you missed our hour with Kaplan on the young Sinatra’s career, you can find the show here.

One of Sinatra’s childhood nicknames was “Scarface”:

Sinatra hated to be photographed from his left side. He weighed 13 ½ pounds at birth and bore the forceps scars for the rest of his life. Sinatra had a scar from the left corner of his mouth to his jaw line, and a cauliflower ear.

The bad-boy image from his infamous 1938 mug shot was caused by an arrest for…seduction:

Sinatra’s first tabloid moment erupted when one of his girlfriends attacked his soon-to-be-wife (Nancy) at a nightclub and later had him arrested not once (for seduction), but twice (for adultery)!

Sinatra’s first publicist – George Evans – auditioned girls for how loud they could scream and placed them in the audience at Sinatra’s shows:

Evans would rehearse with the girls and offer timed screaming cues throughout the playlist. He would give them a five-dollar-bill to ensure that they would stay for at least five of Sinatra’s shows.

The Godfather’s Johnny Fontane character was based on Sinatra even though he denied it:

In the novel, Puzo relates how the fictional bandleader Les Halley (Tommy Dorsey) pressures the fictional singer Johnny Fontane (Sinatra) into an impossibly severe personal-services contract. Fontane approaches his godfather to intervene and after putting a pistol to Halley’s head, Corleone gets the singer released from his contract.  Sinatra refused to acknowledge the portrayal, but Jerry Lewis asserts that the Mafia did approach Dorsey with “an offer he couldn’t refuse.”

Sinatra was accused of dodging the draft in WWII:

Sinatra was disqualified from service in WWII (for a busted eardrum, mastoids, and emotional instability). A controversy erupted when a story surfaced that Sinatra was under FBI investigation for reportedly paying doctors $40,000 to declare him unfit to serve.

Sinatra was a humanitarian who hated intolerance:

Sinatra had encountered far too many black geniuses to feel anything but pity and contempt for racist America. In the throes of racial tension, Sinatra spoke of the importance of education and how he had suffered racial intolerance – as an Italian-America – back home in New Jersey. He even made a short film, The House I Live In (1945), to oppose anti-Semitism and prejudice at the end of World War II, for which he was awarded an honorary Oscar.

J. Edgar Hoover started his 1,275 page FBI Sinatra dossier in the 1940s…because a fan compared Sinatra to Hitler in a letter to the FBI:

Hoover’s Sinatra obsession began after a radio listener wrote to the FBI and said “the other day I turned on a Frank Sinatra program and I thought how easy it would be for certain-minded manufacturers to create another Hitler here in America through the influence of mass-hysteria!”

Sinatra and Columbia Records created the first thematic album of popular music available to the American public in 1946:

Even though Sinatra’s singing could be heard on the radio and in concert, it was a time when the notion of a phonograph album was new and exotic. The first Sinatra box set, with four records inside, sold for the not inconsiderable price of $2.50, the equivalent of $30 today. And the people bought it by the tens of thousands.

Sinatra tried killing himself at the lowest point in his career:

His power usurped by Perry Como and newcomer Eddie Fisher – Sinatra tried to kill himself in February of 1951. Sinatra was walking through Times Square when he saw giant crowds of girls beneath Fisher’s Paramount marquee. Reminded of his past fame, and fall from fortune, Sinatra went back to his suite, laid his head on the stove, and turned on the gas. His A&R manager found him lying on the floor, sobbing.  It was his third attempt at suicide.

 

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • David

    When I was growing up my grandmother was a seamstress and made shirts for Frank Sinatra through a tailor in Hollywood…”Margret’s of Hollywood” The trivia part of this was that he never wore the same long-sleeved white shirt twice. True or not, this is what my grandmother relayed to me when I was 5 or 6 years old and I never forgot it.

  • Margie

    My father was a paper boy with a prime spot outside Steel Pier on the boardwalk in Atlantic City in the 1930′s and early 40′s. He was an avid autograph collector, so he got signatures from all the performers to whom he sold papers. The autograph book I have has the signature of Frank Sinatra with “vocalist” in parentheses underneath from when he performed with the Harry James Band in 1940. The same autograph book, by the way, contains the signatures of many big band luminaries: Harry James, Tommy Dorsey, Jimmy Dorsey, Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman, Ziggy Elman, Vincent Lopez, Bob Crosby, Guy, Victor, and Carmen Lombardo, Glenn Gray, Hal Kemp, Horace Heidt and many other stars of the time.

ONPOINT
TODAY
Apr 16, 2014
A woman walks past a CVS store window in Foxborough, Mass., Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2012. The nation’s major drugstore chains are opening more in-store clinics in response to the massive U.S. health care overhaul, which is expected to add about 25 million newly insured people who will need medical care and prescriptions, as well as offering more services as a way to boost revenue in the face of competition from stores like Safeway and Wal-Mart. (AP)

Retailers from Walgreens to Wal-Mart to CVS are looking to turn into health care outlets. It’s convenient. Is it good medicine? Plus: using tech to disrupt the healthcare market.

Apr 16, 2014
Harvard Business School is one of the top-ranked MBA programs in the country. Our guest today suggests those kinds of degrees aren't necessary for business success. (HBS / Facebook)

Humorist and longtime Fortune columnist Stanley Bing says, “forget the MBA.” He’s got the low-down on what you really need to master in business. Plus: the sky-high state of executive salaries.

RECENT
SHOWS
Apr 15, 2014
In this file photo, author and journalist Matt Taibbi speaks to a crowd of Occupy Wall Street protestors after a march on the offices of pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, Wednesday, Feb. 29, 2012, in New York. There was a heavy police presence around the 42nd Street area as the demonstration began Wednesday morning outside. (AP)

Muckraking journalist Matt Taibbi sees a huge and growing divide in the US justice system, where big money buys innocence and poverty means guilt. He joins us.

 
Apr 15, 2014
A crowd gathers at the finish line of the Boston Marathon in Boston for a Sports Illustrated photo shoot before the one-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings, Saturday, April 12, 2014. (AP)

One year after the Boston Marathon bombing, we look at national and local security on the terrorism front now, and what we’ve learned.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
How Boston Is Getting Ready For the 2014 Boston Marathon
Tuesday, Apr 15, 2014

Boston Globe metro reporter Maria Cramer explains how the 2014 Boston Marathon will be different than races in the past.

More »
Comment
 
WBUR’s David Boeri: ‘There’s Still Much We Don’t Know’
Tuesday, Apr 15, 2014

WBUR’s senior reporter David Boeri details the ongoing investigation into the alleged Boston Marathon Bombing perpetrators.

More »
Comment
 
Remembering The Boston Marathon Bombing, One Year Later
Tuesday, Apr 15, 2014

One year after the Boston Marathon Bombing, we look back at our own coverage of the attacks and the community’s response from April 2013.

More »
Comment