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 23, 2014
In this Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012, file photo, Chet Kanojia, founder and CEO of Aereo, Inc., shows a tablet displaying his company's technology, in New York. Aereo is one of several startups created to deliver traditional media over the Internet without licensing agreements. (AP)

The Supreme Court looks at Aereo, the little startup that could cut your cable cord and up-end TV as we’ve known it. We look at the battle. Plus: a state ban on affirmative action in college admissions is upheld. We’ll examine the implications.

Apr 23, 2014
Attendees of the 2013 Argentina International Coaching Federation meet for networking and coaching training. (ICF)

The booming business of life coaches. Everybody seems to have one these days. Therapists are feeling the pinch. We look at the life coach craze.

RECENT
SHOWS
Apr 22, 2014
This undated handout photo, taken in 2001, provided by the Museum of the Rockies shows a bronze cast of the Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton known as the Wankel T.rex, in front of the Museum of the Rockies at Montana State University in Bozeman, Mont. (AP)

As a new Tyrannosaurus Rex arrives at the Smithsonian, we’ll look at its home – pre-historic Montana – and the age when dinosaurs ruled the Earth.

 
Apr 22, 2014
Security forces inspect the site of a suicide attack in the town of Suwayrah, 25 miles (40 kilometers) south of Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, April 21, 2014. Suicide bombings and other attacks across Iraq killed and wounded dozens on Monday, officials said, the latest in an uptick in violence as the country counts down to crucial parliament elections later this month. (AP)

We look at Iraq now, two years after Americans boots marched out. New elections next week, and the country on the verge of all-out civil war.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
The Week In Seven Soundbites: April 18, 2014
Friday, Apr 18, 2014

Holy week with an unholy shooter. South Koreans scramble to save hundreds. Putin plays to the crowd in questioning. Seven days gave us seven sounds.

More »
Comment
 
Our Week In The Web: April 18, 2014
Friday, Apr 18, 2014

Space moon oceans, Gabriel García Márquez and the problems with depressing weeks in the news. Also: important / unnecessary infographics that help explain everyone’s favorite 1980′s power ballad.

More »
Comment
 
Some Tools And Tricks For College Financial Aid
Thursday, Apr 17, 2014

Some helpful links and tools for navigating FAFSA and other college financial aid tools.

More »
Comment