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5 surprising Frank Sinatra facts


Saturday, December 12, 2015, 1:11 PM

Frank Sinatra performs at Madison Square Garden in the 1970s.Kappock, Gene

Frank Sinatra performs at Madison Square Garden in the 1970s.

Frank Sinatra had a well-earned reputation as a hard-drinking, tough-talking larger-than-life celebrity.

But there were many sides to the late crooner — who would’ve turned 100 years old Saturday — some of which will surprise the casual fan.

Here are five unique facts about the Chairman of the Board that you may not have previously known.

His views on civil rights

Sinatra was decades ahead of his time on social issues such as civil rights.

Citing the anti-Italian discrimination he faced as a poor kid growing up in Hoboken, Sinatra spoke out against racial and ethnic prejudice as early as the 1940s.

He was also known to work with black artists, like Count Basie, Quincy Jones, and, of course, Sammy Davis, Jr., when such partnerships were frowned upon.

In 1945, he made a short film, “The House I Live In,” about the evils of religious discrimination.

“Look, fellas, religion makes no difference,” he tells a group of boys in the film, “Except maybe to a Nazi, or somebody that’s stupid.”

His son was kidnapped

Less than a month after the assassination of his friend President John Kennedy, Sinatra suffered another crisis, as his 19-year-old son, Frank Jr., was kidnapped by a crew of dimwitted amateurs.

According to the FBI, Barry Keenan, Joe Amsler, and John Irwin kidnapped the younger Sinatra on December 8, 1963 after he performed in Lake Tahoe, demanding a $ 240,000 ransom.

Sinatra gathered the money and arranged to have it delivered to Sepulveda, California on December 11.

But, as Keenan and Amsler picked up the money, Irwin grew nervous and decided to free the victim.

Sinatra, Jr. was found unharmed a short time later.

Feeling the heat of the massive press coverage, Irwin confessed to his brother, who called the FBI.

Soon, all three bumbling crooks were in custody and were quickly convicted of the kidnapping. Most of the ransom money was recovered.

He offered to help the FBI


Sinatra posing with high-ranking mobsters, including Carlo Gambino (second from right, standing) at the Westchester Premier Theater in New York, September 26, 1976.

Sinatra was known to fraternize with high-ranking mob figures, so it isn’t surprising that the F.B.I. kept a large file on him.

What is surprising is that it contains a memorandum from 1950 stating that Sinatra wanted to ”do some good for his country under the direction of the F.B.I.” and was ”willing to do anything even if it affects his livelihood and costs him his job.”

The file doesn’t say whether Sinatra ever provided information to the feds, but it’s not hard to imagine what his friends in the mob would have thought of his desire to help the government.

He attempted suicide

According to “Frank: The Voice,” by James Kaplan, after his career hit the skids and his marriage to Ava Gardner crumbled in the early 1950s, Sinatra attempted suicide more than once.

It wasn’t until his Oscar-winning role in “From Here to Eternity” reignited his career that Sinatra emerged from his depression, accoding to the book.

He hated “My Way”

One of Sinatra’s most iconic songs, “My Way,” was possibly his least favorite.

“And of course, the time comes now for the torturous moment— not for you, but for me,” he told the audience at the L.A. Ampitheater before performing it in 1979.

At a later performance in Atlantic City, he made his feelings about the song known in more Sinatra-like fashion:

“I hate this song,” he raged, “I got it up to here with this God damned song!”


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