The Life of Frank Sinatra, Part 3

Originally Written and Compiled by: Gary Cadwallader for Seaside Music Theatre With special thanks to MaryAnn Eifert for research materials.

In the early 1960's, Sinatra finally had enough clout and capital to form his own record label. In 1961 he formed Reprise Records, and he himself would prove to be the label's biggest star, though the first couple of albums (Ring-A-Ding-Ding in 1961, and Swing Along With Me in 1962) were not huge successes. That would all change in 1965 (when Sinatra was 50) and 1966 when Sinatra recorded two very popular albums: September Of My Years in 1965 and Strangers In The Night in 1966. Both albums were very successful with "September" winning three Grammy Awards, including Best Album, and "Strangers" giving him his first #1 single in years: the title song "Strangers In The Night."

It was in the early 60's that Sinatra's rumored ties to the mafia were solidified, though he had been linked to various Mafioso throughout his career. He was part owner of the gambling casino/hotel, the Cal-Neva Lodge in Lake Tahoe, when the state of Nevada forced him give up the lodge because mobster Sam Giancana (1908-1975) was permitted to spend a great deal of time there. Giancana had been banned from all Nevada casinos due to his vast criminal record.

Meanwhile, Sinatra was busy making movies. Cole Porter's Can-Can (1960) with good friend Shirley Maclaine, Oceans Eleven (1960) with his friends Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop, known collectively then as "The Summit," Sergeants 3 (1962), also featuring "The Summit," The Manchurian Candidate (1962) with Laurence Harvey and Angela Lansbury, and Robin and The Seven Hoods (1964) with Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Bing Crosby.

In 1966, after dating Lauren Bacall and Juliet Prowse, Sinatra remarried for a second time, this time to 21 year old actress Mia Farrow. Their wedding made waves due to their 30 year age difference, but it encapsulated an era when swingin' older men dated pretty, younger women. Their marriage did not last long; Sinatra and Farrow separated within 18 months.

"The Summit," Sinatra, Martin, Davis, Bishop, and Lawford, often performed together in Las Vegas and in Hollywood and became notorious for their all-night parties, girlfriends, happy-go-lucky attitude, and a new, swingin' cool language. They were renamed "The Rat Pack" and developed a legendary status. Other performers considered auxiliary "Rat Pack" members were Shirley MacLaine, Bing Crosby, Liza Minnelli, and Jerry Lewis.

In the late 1960's, Sinatra had several big successes. His duet with his daughter Nancy, "Something Stupid" was a #1 smash in 1967, as was his new-found 1969 anthem, "My Way," and his 1967 recording with Brazilian superstar Antonio Carlos Jobim, Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim created a craze for bossa nova music. Some of his film highlights of the time include The Detective (1968) with Lee Remick and Jack Klugman, and Lady In Cement (1968) with Raquel Welch.

In 1971, he announced his retirement from entertainment, but his career was far from over. Sinatra did a television special in 1973 entitled "Ol' Blue Eyes Is Back" and eventually went back to the concert stage, did television, appeared in front of the camera (That's Entertainment in 1974, That's Entertainment II in 1977, and The First Deadly Sin in 1980) and ended up back in the recording studio. Some of Sinatra's later albums include Trilogy (1980), which included the Kander and Ebb classic "Theme From New York, New York," Sinatra and (Sylvia) Syms (1983), L.A. Is My Lady (1984), and Frank Sinatra Conducts Tone Poems of Color (1992).

In 1976 Sinatra married Barbara Marx (ex-wife of Zeppo Marx), who was to be his fourth and final wife. As a tribute to Sinatra's influence on many contemporary musicians, an album entitled Duets was released in 1993 with Sinatra singing duets of his popular songs with Bono (of U2), Barbra Streisand, Aretha Franklin, and Natalie Cole, among others. It became Sinatra's biggest selling album of all time, selling more than 3 million copies. Sinatra released a follow-up called Duets II the next year, on which he sang duets with Lena Horne, Willie Nelson, Gladys Night, and Neil Diamond, among others.

Sinatra retired a second time in 1995, and, after a period of declining health, passed away on May 14, 1998. His career as a popular performer spanned more than 50 years, creating fans out of generation after generation of music lovers and film buffs.

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