Hello Death Watchers. Unfortunately, the reason you are here is that on May 14, 1998 at approximately 10:50 p.m. Pacific Daylight Savings Time, Francis Albert Sinatra died
after suffering a heart attack. Sinatra, as you all must know, was a brilliant singer, an accomplished actor, a true celebrity and an icon of twentieth century culture.
But, above all else for The Guys, Sinatra was an idol and an example.
On December 12, 1915 a scrawny runt of a baby was born in Hoboken, New Jersey. The story is that this little newborn was believed to be dead and was run under cold tap water before anyone realized it was alive. Of course this presumed stillborn baby would grow up to be one of the most, if not THE MOST, influential entertainers of the twentieth century. It was this tender beginning, this overcoming adversity, this spitting in the face of what THEY THOUGHT that would define Frank Sinatra for the rest of his life.
You'd think the kid was cool, like a "Summer Wind." Not so! In fact, the young Francis got his butt kicked a few times for being too well dressed and to fastidious about his appearance. That is a trait that would stick with Sinatra until the end; a trait indicative of the many first generation Americans living in U.S. cities at the time. They wanted their children to look good...to learn....to be Americans.... to do the things they could not. Goodness, Frank's parents could not imagine........they could never have dreamed.
These childhood Hoboken experiences, both good and bad, helped mold the young Francis into both a tough, street wise guy and a sharp, respectful gentleman (a combination that may seem impossible today). Of course, it is exactly that combination that made Sinatra such a hero to so many people. A well dressed man who respected all women, who knew the value of friendship, who was never afraid to lend a helping hand and, who at the same time, would be pleased as punch to knock your lights out (or have them knocked out) if you deserved it.
In 1933 Frank went to see a fella named Bing Crosby sing. Sinatra left determined to be a singer. But, unlike so many of us who dream and never do, Frank saw no boundaries between his dreams and his realities. By 1939 Sinatra was singing in a band for $65 a week. Within a year he joined up with a certain trombonist named Dorsey and his talent was quickly shown to the American people.
As was the case with most everything he did, Sinatra worked to be the best singer he could. He studied singing. He developed his lungs by running, swimming and practicing breathing. He was determined to be the best. He was cautious what he sang and what arrangements he opted for. In short, he became a superstar. His stellar voice, his wonderful arrangements, his choice of music, his stage presence and his personal demeanor combined to give THE MAN a following that he could not (and would not) shake.
All was great for Old Blue Eyes, or so one would think. But, as is often the case in the fickle world of show-biz, he fell from grace. Having cut numerous albums and after performing in numerous movies, Sinatra fell out of favor with the Hollywood elite. The war had ended (WWII) and a new age was dawning. Tastes were changing and the proper, respectful attitude of the first half of the century was yielding to a prosperous, experimental time of growth. There was no place for a Frank Sinatra.........or was there.
Frank was no fool nor was he born to lose. He was a fighter. But, he was down and out. Often black-balled and maligned by so-called friends, he plugged on. Most of us would have let it go and moved on to "normal" mundane lives. Of course, most of us are not Francis Albert Sinatra. Although the rumors run deep on how it occurred, the fact is Frank landed an Oscar winning role in "From Here To Eternity" and followed it up with stellar performances in the "Man With The Golden Arm" and "The Manchurian Candidate." Guess who was working their way back up!
Well, the late 1950's and early 1960's saw Frank rise back up, and up...and up......up............up. His music, his dedication and his sheer, outright talent could not be ignored. By the 1960's Sinatra was back on top and he would never-ever fall again..."There's only one way to go, and that's up!"
The 1970's and 1980's treated Frank well. So many tours, so much wonderful music, so many beautiful friendships. It was the 1940's and 1950's that defined the man as a brilliant performer. It was the 1960's, 1970's and 1980's that defined Sinatra as a colorful, endearing, controversial but always respectful human.
Unfortunately, Frank's health went south in the early 1990's (though some indication had surfaced before that). He wasn't seen as much, though he did cut two albums with pop stars during this period. By the 1995/1996 time frame rumors of poor health and possible terminal conditions ran rampant in the media. In true Sinatra fashion his family respectfully denied the claims and asked that the public just let The Chairman have some space. On May 14, 1998, the end arrived. Sinatra suffered a heart attack and passed forward; beyond the world that treated him both beautifully and cruelly. In his place he leaves an emptiness that we at the O.B.E doubt another person will ever fill.
In the end kiddos it comes down to this: Lots of folks become celebrities 'cause they sing well, can act well, they discover or invent something wonderful or they are some major political persona (and, believe it or not, we really do respect all that). However, Francis Albert Sinatra became famous for singing and acting but became a celebrity, no AN ICON, for being a human being in every sense of the word. He became known for his voice but well known for his attitude. He was liked for his performances but LOVED for his friendships, his generosity and his kindness. He was a stand-up man in a world of slouch down boys. In the end, we may never live the rich, free, full life he had...but damn-it-all if we can't try to have the dignity this guy did. 'Cause quite frankly, that is what it is to be a human.
Hey, sorry if we got a little soft on you Death Watchers, but Frank really holds a warm spot for the O.B.E. It takes a certain type of sick delusion to do up a web page like ours. But, that doesn't make us devoid of the ability to recognize greatness when we see it.