One of the most famous voices in the world, Frank Sinatra's expressive baritone comforted and soothed America during the difficult years of World War II and continues to work its magic today.
Francis Albert Sinatra was born in Hoboken, NJ in 1915. As a teenager, Sinatra dropped out of high school to begin his singing career with the Hoboken Four. He won a radio talent contest with this group in 1937 and began working as a singing waiter in a New Jersey cafe. He worked there until his discovery by Harry James. After spending a year with the James' band, Sinatra moved on to the more prestigious Thomas Dorsey Orchestra. He was featured on many chart-topping recordings by these bands. In 1942, Sinatra took his first careful steps toward a solo career, recording four songs on his own. Once he established himself as a solo entertainer he began to take over the radio, the pop charts, and even the cinema.
Sinatra enjoyed wide success as a motion picture actor, beginning in the 40's with light hearted musicals such as "Higher and Higher." From there he went on to non-singing roles and even won an Academy Award in 1953 for his performance in the film "From Here to Eternity." This recognition propelled his acting and singing careers even further, as he became a truly powerful dramatic actor. Sinatra continued to perform and act until he turned 80 in 1995.
Arguably, Frank Sinatra was the most popular recording artist of the 20th century. His ability to dig up American songs from the 20's, 30's and 40's and reinvent them for a modern audience led to the rediscovery of many wonderful songs that have now been forever enshrined as American classics. Sinatra's most spectacular achievement, however, was his longevity. The fact that his five decade career outlasted so many dramatic shifts of popular musical taste proves that his popularity was much more than a passing fad.
* Sinatra was a major force in the movement to desegregate Las Vegas casinos in the 60's. He and his "Rat Pack" refused to patronize any hotel or casino that had a policy of segregation, and most of these establishments quickly bowed under the pressure.
* For all of his life Sinatra had a very unpredictable temper, often screaming at reporters and getting in fights. In one particularly violent tantrum he ripped a phone out of the wall of his hotel room, broke the windows, and then set it on fire.
* Though his temper was excessive, Sinatra was known for going from extremely angry to somewhat amused in a matter of seconds. In one incident he dumped hot coffee on a casino manager named Carl Cohen, who had somehow gotten on the singer's wrong side. Cohen responded by punching Sinatra in the face, knocking out his front teeth. Sinatra than concluded, as he later told a friend, "never fight a Jew in the desert."
* In his later years Sinatra was accused many times of having connections with organized crime and the Mafia. Sinatra rejected the charges, but the allegations were taken seriously—The FBI's file on Sinatra is 2,403 pages long. It is generally accepted as truth that he at least had strong friendships with members of the Mafia including Sam Giancana, who allegedly ordered the demise of over 200 people.