Sinatra: All or Nothing at All (2015–…): Season 1, Episode 1 - Part 1 - full transcript

Are you wondering how healthy the food you are eating is? Check it -
Frank Sinatra, dead tonight at the age of 82,

which brought to an end a remarkable life

that was on one kind of stage
or another for six decades.

Idol of mine and millions,

and a great Italian-American,
a great American.

And great actor, by the way.

I think every American would have to smile
and say he really did do it his way.

They dimmed the lights on the Vegas strip
in his honour.

Here, and in dozens of cities
across the country,

radio stations have been playing
nothing but Sinatra.

My first recollection of Frank's voice
was coming out of a jukebox.

It was in a dark bar on a Sunday afternoon

when my mother and I went in
searching for my father.

And she said, I'll always remember,
"Listen to that.

"That's Frank Sinatra, he's from New Jersey."

And while his music became synonymous
with black-tie, good life,

the best booze, women, sophistication,

it was the deep blueness of Frank's voice
that affected me the most.

He was the poet laureate of loneliness.

His songs were haunted by it.

For all his fame, he loved solitude.

We don't know
what he thought about his own life

because he never wrote it down in a book.

But there was one mysterious moment
when he gave us all a clue.

It was when, at the very peak of his career,
he suddenly decided to retire.

The beginning of March that year
I was working somewhere in Florida

and he called me and he said,
"I think I'm gonna hang it up."

One afternoon by the pool,

Dad was with his black flair pen,

making his music list, his song list.

He never showed the set list to anybody.

But in the run-up to the show,
at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles,

he must have been thinking about it.

Eleven songs to tell the story of a life.

Ladies and gentlemen, Frank Sinatra.

And this was the beginning.

The night itself was star-studded
and exciting

and sad and a lot of mixed emotions.

What startled me about that film was that
it has that rough, hand-held look to it.

And how appropriate that it should be
at this particular event,

that we don't see the concert film of Sinatra
where everything is perfectly controlled.

You can hear the guy backstage
kicking the chord out of the socket,

and suddenly the mic goes bad.

People holding those cameras
were as swept up in the moment

as everybody in the audience or the people
on stage, the orchestra, Sinatra himself.

They knew this was the end of the line
for this great artist.

These were some of the

milestone points in his career, musically.

Going back to the very beginning,

there have been conflicting stories
about your childhood in Hoboken,

quoted by people
who've done interviews with you.

There's this kind of general version
of the near-slum conditions in Hoboken.

And then there are others.

There was an article some years ago
by a very good magazine writer

who said that this isn't so.

That all the toys you needed,
that you even had a Chrysler at the age of 15.

Most of the biographies I've read,
or articles I've read,

pardon me, about my young days
or my childhood

were rather dreamed up, rather fictitious.

I have read many of them,

and I said to myself, "I don't remember this.
This is really strange."

I was born in 1915, on December 12th,

and I weighed 12 and three-quarter pounds.

And when I was removed from her womb
by a midwife, there was a problem.

I didn't wanna come out of there.

And finally they sent up a flare for a doctor.

And upon removing me,
I was pretty well damaged

at my left side of my neck and ear and face.

And my grandmother,

who had more sense than anybody
in the room, as far as I'm concerned,

because she knew what to do with me.

And she stuck me under the ice-cold water
in the cold water flat,

and, apparently, got some blood moving
around and whacked me around a little bit.

And I have blessed that day, that moment,

in her honour ever since.

Hi, I've been able to contact
Mr and Mrs Martin Sinatra.

- Hello, Mrs Sinatra.
-Yeah, hello.

Here's Mr Gardner just one moment.

- Hello, Mrs Sinatra.
-Hello, Mr Gardner.

It's certainly nice to talk to you
and to have you come to the phone.

I know the last time Frank was in town
you weren't feeling very well.

And you fully recovered now?

Well, yes. I feel pretty well now.

And Frank called me only recently
while I was in the hospital.

- I was an only child.

And she was tough on me.

I mean, she was very strict with me,
my mother was always strict.

She told me to stay away
from the railroad tracks,

because a kid, one time, one day,
a kid lost an arm.

About three years later, another guy,
little guy lost his leg.

And if she found out that I was down there,

the railroad tracks,
she'd whacked me around.

Out of fear, only out of fear.

I think the first thing that I was ever
conscious of,

was the drive that she had all the time.

Her constant seeking, it was to do better,
to constantly do better.

Dolly Sinatra was an earth mother.

Everybody became her son, her daughter.

Everybody's problems became her problems.

And that went from psychological problems
to physical problems.

Grandma had become a midwife
in her neighbourhood.

When there were families
with children they couldn't afford to feed,

then was it right to bring another child
into that neediness?

And she was a good Catholic.

I don't think she thought
that abortion was a great thing.

But I think, in those days,
in that Depression, it was necessity.

She did what needed to be done.

My father was withdrawn, he was a shy man.

He spoke perfect English,
but he couldn't put words together.

He would still a "dees, dems and dose".

Remember that he had to be intimidated
by my mother's innate knowledge.

She was innately bright, my mother was.

They both came over,
different families came over

and they came into Ellis Island.

One from Catania, and the other from Genoa.

The Genoese were the original bankers,
they were lawyers.

And she used to say to me,
"I think that I'm half Italian, half Jew."

I said, "Maybe you are, Ma."
She said, "Well, I'm smart."

She said, "That's where they came from,
where I came from."

And consequently she succeeded.

She made her way in life,
she did very well, considering.

When Sinatra was young,

being an Italian-American
was being the object of bigotry.

You were part of a minority group,

one that was stereotyped as being

either comical and absurd,

the organ grinder with the monkey,

or dangerous and threatening,
the guy with the submachine gun.

And of course, Sinatra, growing up
where he did, when he did, understood

that that guy with the machine gun was real.

My father at the time was rarely at home,

because he was a protector
for the bootlegging trucks.

They used to have a car that would
follow the trucks so it wouldn't get hijacked.

During Prohibition, my grandfather
had taken a job as a lookout on a truck

that carried 90 proof contraband.

And, apparently, the truck was hijacked
by a rival gang mob,

and he didn't duck fast enough
and somebody hit him on the head,

and he had a skull fracture
and he was bleeding everywhere.

And my father, as a little boy,
woke up and saw this.

In those days there were sayings.

In order to be an attorney, or an accountant,
you had to be a Jew.

In order to be a singer,
you had to be an Italian.

In order to be a prize fighter,
you had to be Irish,

which is why he took
the name Marty O'Brien.

I was about eight or nine years old,
the old man opened a saloon.

It was called Marty O'Brien's bar.

The bar that they ran,
they didn't run it as the Sinatras.

They took an Irish name.

Because the Italians were lower
than the Irish in Hoboken, right?

Dolly. He said she was the kind of woman

who kept a little club behind the bar.

If somebody gave her some shit,
she hit them with the club,

put it under the bar and kept talking.

They had in the bar a piano with a roll in it.

You put a nickel in it,
it would play the songs.

And occasionally, one of the men in the bar
would pick me up

and put me up on the piano
and I'd sing with the roll.

And it was a horrendous voice, terrible.

I mean, it was like a siren.

You know, "Honest and truly I'm in love you."

Way up there, like that.

It's a wonder I ever got anywhere
starting that way, is what kills me.

So one day I got a nickel, or a dime,
whatever it was.

And I said, "This is the racket.

"This is what you gotta be doing."

In my hometown, the city was, as I said,

the square mile was almost
divided in quarters.

One quarter was Italian,
another quarter was of the Jewish families,

except that we were also intermingled
in the tenement houses.

Then the other quarter was the Irish,
who politically ran the city.

They were out-voted any day of the week.

But for some reason,
when election time came,

they would give coal and give some clothing
to all of the other families,

and they would vote
for the Irishmen all the time.

And the blacks, of course,
were kept in one part of the town.

They were such a small matter
that we never knew they were there at all.

I don't remember too many black children
in my classes.

I think it's easy for us to forget
that he was also a boy and a young man

at a time when everybody's life was difficult,
when everybody was at risk.

The Depression was an all-encompassing
experience for anybody who grew up in it.

And above all,

it caused you to realise that life was hard.

It was not just gonna be hard
for you to make a living,

it might actually be hard for you to survive.

This was not theoretical
for somebody like Sinatra, it was real.

It shaped his whole idea of professionalism,

of his feeling that he had to be
the best performer,

the best professional
that he could possibly be.

Because if you're going to survive
in the '30s,

you had to do it by working very hard
and being very lucky.

In Italy, there were 55

discreet dialects of the Italian language.

My grandmother spoke all 55.

This put her in a position where people came
to her as the neighbourhood interpreter.

The next logical step in the '20s,
she went into politics.

Then, they wanted to reward my mother
and give my father a job

on the city payroll, right?

A cop or a fireman, right?
So she made him a fireman.

Hoboken had about six movie theaters,
in only one mile square.

We had the Lyric Theatre, the U.S. Theatre,

the vaudeville houses with the movie.

We had the Rialto, we had the City Theatre

and every time I saw somebody,
I wanted to be them.

I wanted to be a ventriloquist and then
I saw jugglers and all that kind of jazz.

But I am still thinking about singing.

I never lost that thing
about singing back here.

And I went to see performers. I mean,
not anybody famous, until I saw Bing.

Bing Crosby was the first
great pop singer in America.

And the first white singer
to completely internalize

the innovations of jazz which he got
directly from Louis Armstrong.

Sinatra heard these things and he said,
"That's what I want to do."

"I want to be like that."

I started singing more in school
with the dances on Friday nights.

Every other Friday night,
we had to dance in the gymnasium.

People would say to me,
"Hey, you're pretty good."

And that began to register in my head.

When I went to the publishing houses,

they would give away free orchestrations
if they knew you,

complete stock orchestration.

And I built a library and then I saved enough
money and I bought a public address system.

Because before that,
I sang through a megaphone.

- You wouldn't know what that is. It's a...
-Rudy Vallee, yes.

- That's what you sing through.
-You actually used a megaphone?

And guys would throw pennies,

to try to see if they could get me
to swallow the pennies.

- A lot of fun, those days.
-Try it with shot glasses.

But I used to move a great deal.
They couldn't hit it.

Then came the microphone age
and I thought,

"Geez, if I could save some money."

So for $60, I bought a whole outfit.

The microphone allowed
for a new kind of singing

because it magnified the voice

so you didn't have to project.

What Sinatra sang
was this longing and passion

that was controlled in song.

When did you first discover that Frank
found out that he could sing?

Well, I first discovered it when he didn't
want to go to school any more

outside of just going into
these glee clubs all the time.

- How old was he at that time?
-At the time he was about 16.

And naturally the principal sent for me
and said he was just taking up space.

Was there a family crisis
when you dropped out of high school?

It was disastrous, absolutely disastrous.

My dad, you know, who never had
too much of a formal education

was terribly disappointed.

He just couldn't understand it.

I pleaded with him, I said, "You got to give
me a chance to work in what I want to do."

And he said something about,
"Sure, a chance."

He said, "Ten years from now, you'll still be
looking for a chance, you'll be a bum."

Where did you first meet Frank?

In Long Branch, New Jersey,
which is on the coast.

I knew his family,
his aunt and uncle and their children.

Across the street,
Nancy's father and mother had a house

and I saw this very pretty little girl
sitting on the front stoop.

And he called across the street saying,
"Hi, what are you doing?"

And I said, "I'm giving myself a manicure."

He said, "Would you give me one?"
I said, "Sure."

And I gave him a manicure
and that's how I met him.

Well, I have a funny feeling
that she may have had eyes for me

because she was sitting there all alone,
just staring across the street.

He lived in Hoboken which is 4 miles
from Jersey City and I'd never been there.

So he called me after we met
and he started to come over.

And we went together for four and a half,
five years, or five and a half years,

I can't remember exactly.

I know that before Major Bowes
we were going together.

We are proud indeed of the brilliant careers
that have been launched

through the radio forum in New York City.

To get a start, there was a man on the radio
called Major Bowes,

who had an amateur programme.

And you went and you auditioned.

I went over and I auditioned,
and they said, "Okay,

"we'll put you on the radio."

And there were three other kids from
my hometown who made up a trio

called the Three Aces,
very intelligent title for a group.

Three Aces. Oh, boy,
they took a lot of time to think that up.

Major Bowes loused that up by saying,
"You're gonna be the Hoboken Four."

That took care
of that whole situation like that.

We have now the Hoboken Four.

They call themselves
the singing and dancing fools.

- Who'll speak for the group?
-I will, I'm Frank.

We're looking for jobs, how about it?

Everyone that's ever heard us, likes us.
They think we're pretty good.

All right, what do you want to sing,
or dance or whatever it is that you do?

- We're going to sing Shine.
-All right, let's have it.

Hoboken Four.

We performed and we won the first prize
and we went out on the road

all over the United...
Mostly over the United States, anyway.

And we started out on the train,
our first stop was Chicago,

and I remember,
I was getting 75 bucks a week.

And I sent most of it home

because we were living in the best hotels
in the United States for a dollar a night.

But then, when we got up around Seattle,

I decided that I'd had enough.

Well, I got homesick and also I wanted
to go back to what I really started to do.

To become a solo singer,
I didn't want to be a part of it any more.

And I told the guys and they stayed.

Well, you know, he used to write me letters,
he was lonely, I'll tell you that.

- Did you keep those letters?
-I tore them all up.

I kept one.

I had enough money
and I bought a plane ticket.

When I landed in Newark,

Nancy's brother borrowed a car
and they came out and met me at the airport.

Then, of course, that's when I began
to have trouble with my family.

I wasn't doing well because, you know,

if an orchestra got a job
on a Saturday night to play,

they had four men or six men,

they didn't have enough money
to hire a singer.

But a lot of guys I knew, they'd say,
"Hey, listen, come on over and sing

"if you want to sing,
but we can't give you anything."

So I did.

Shortly following that was when my old man,
one morning, woke me up

when he came off the night shift

and he, at this particular morning,
said to me,

"Why don't you just get out of the house
and go out on your own?"

It's really what he said, "Get out."

And I think the egg was stuck in here
for about 20 minutes.

I couldn't swallow it or get rid of it, anyway.

My mother, of course, was nearly in tears,

but we agreed that it might be a good thing.

And then I packed up a small case that I had
and I came to New York.

When Frank Sinatra was young, New York
was the center of American popular music.

The radio networks at that point
were centred in New York.

The music business itself, Tin Pan Alley,
these were centred in New York.

As a young man, in New Jersey,
New York would have been Oz.

The magic city that he looked at
from a distance and say,

"This is the place that I have to go
in order to become

"what I want to become."

I just kind of bummed around.

I had about $60 in a savings account,
and I just hung around, I got odd jobs.

I used to hang up at publishing houses,
the music publishing houses

and I got to know
Jimmy Van Heusen, Sammy Cahn

Saul Chaplin, and all those guys,
that's how far back we go.

Jimmy Van Heusen was a piano player

who would teach the singers
the company's new songs

so that they could do it on the radio.

But I wasn't a big enough of artist

to be taught the song
by a guy like Van Heusen.

Couple of times,
when I was really kind of short,

I bunked with a musician of one of the bands
in the Forrest Hotel.

About that point

was the Christmas that came
that I went home.

And I thought my old man was on
24-hour shift but I had the day screwed up.

He was off 24 hours and he was at home.

And I brought two presents over
to leave them there,

because he didn't speak to me
for a long time, he wouldn't talk to me.

And he met me at the door,

and of course, it was a great homecoming.

He started to cry and I was teary
and it was just marvellous.

But several months
after the Christmas incident,

a musician friend of mine told me
there was a joint called the Rustic Cabin

and they were forming a new band
and they were looking for a boy singer.

I went up and auditioned
in Englewood Cliffs,

up near the George Washington Bridge.
I got the job at the Rustic Cabin.

Shortly after that, we got word

that the WNEW Dance Parade was going
to pick up the Rustic Cabin.

Every night of the week, 11:00 to 11:15

or 11:15 to 11:30, whatever it was.

Suddenly my dad became
the proudest man in the world.

He couldn't wait to tell everybody
or anybody that I was on

a 15-minute dance remote programme

from New Jersey
in some roadhouse somewhere.

And they'd all sit around the radio
to listen at 11:00 at night for 15 minutes.

And in those days, I couldn't sing
my way out of a paper bag

but they thought I was a big star, you know.

Anybody who got on the radio in
the early days of radio was a very big star.

On my night off at the Rustic Cabin

was when I would take Nancy out
and we would go to see somebody.

I was always going out to see
somebody else work.

That's when I ran into one of the men
in the music business, said to me,

"Listen," he said,
"why don't you take some lessons?"

And I said, "What kind of lessons?"

He said, "Vocal lessons,
you know, guys do that."

I said, "Well, where do you find these guys?"

He said, "There's a guy up over
the Brass Rail Restaurant."

He said, "His name is Quinlan,
he's an old drunk."

He said, "He used to be at the Met
and he got kicked out of the Met."

He said, "You ought to go and talk to him."
So I went up and he was surly.

I think he was hungover anyways.

He said, "Who are you,
and how long you've been singing?

"Why do you want to be a singer?"
And all that kind of stuff.

I said, "Well, I'd like to be a singer because
I feel that I have an idea about singing."

"Oh," he said, "you already got an idea?"

He said, "Then why do you need me?"
I said, "What I mean is,

"I just need some direction."
He said, "I'll tell you what we'll do.

"If you can handle $3 a week,
I'll give you three lessons a week."

I started three lessons a week and I couldn't
wait to get there, every time I had a lesson.

I couldn't wait because I knew
that I was learning something.

He was teaching me the proper way to sing.

I still use the same exercises
and I've developed some of my own.

Matter of fact, I once put out a book with him.
We put out a paperback,

vocal calisthenic book, after I made it.

And we had drawings made
of the mouth formation.

The "ee" sound and the "oo" sound
and the "uh".

There's no such thing as the "ah", it's wrong.

Never sing "ah", you sing" uh". U-H. "Uh".

That's up the roof of the mouth
into the mask.

If you sing "ah", it goes back into the throat
and it can break. it can snap.

- Now, that's my first vocal lesson with you.
-I am ready.

And you'll get a bill next week.

I worked with him for a long time
and then I began to get the jobs.

I got a couple little jobs, I went to WNEW,
I didn't get any money but carfare.

And Dinah Shore and I split a half-hour.
She had 15 minutes, I had 15 minutes.

Don't you remember the early, early, early,
early show we used to do on WNEW?

Do I?
Every time I think about them, I get tired.

Imagine having to sing love songs
at 6:00 in the morning?

- Yeah.
-And not even finishing the chorus.

- There was never enough time.
-And put all the emotion into it.

- Yeah.
-We were lucky, though,

-'cause they used to give us free coffee.

And who could afford breakfast
in those days?


Now I was on the air, twice.

Once at night and one in the morning.

And then I got fan mail.

And I'd get little postcards, two postcards,
three postcards.

Girls would write to me, you know,
penny postcards.

And I'd go and look in there right away
and see how much mail,

if it'd get any bigger
and it never got any bigger.

People began to hear me.

And they were saying,
"Jesus, you're getting better.

"You're really...
We see the difference in what's happening."

He's singing about youthful,
essentially naive romance.

And he's doing it in a voice
that is distinctly different

from what anybody else
was doing back then.

It is so clearly the voice of a young man.

The ambition of being the greatest
pop singer of his time, of his generation,

was an ambition that couldn't have existed
in Sinatra's imagination when he was young.

Do you remember
when he asked you to marry him?


See, he was supposedly involved with
other girls while we were going together,

and I really don't know if that was true.

But he, believe me, wanted to get married.

When Nancy and I got married...
The Italian custom is to...

The bride has a satin, a white satin bag
with a drawstring on it.

And you give envelopes,

which is the most sensible thing,
by the way, in the world.

Instead of a whole bunch of phoney gifts
you can never use.

And all the song guys chipped in.
I think there were almost 30 of them.

And they put like $2 apiece or something,

and they gave us $60 for our wedding,
$50 or $60.

Sweet, you know, really touching.

I got married in '39, 1939.

I took a course in secretarial work.

Think I was earning...

I don't remember, very little a week.

She was making $22 a week and I was
at the Rustic Cabin making $15 a week.

And the minute we married,

the career started to get better all the time.

We finished our last show
at the Paramount and went home.

And I turned the radio on.

And I heard this remote coming
from the Rustic Cabin and I heard a singer.

So I said,
"Well, gee, this kid really sounds great.

"Maybe I'll take a run out there,
and see if I can see him and listen to him."

Harry James is listening to me
all the time and I don't know this, you see.

He was with Benny Goodman,
he was the first trumpet player.

He said to me,
"We're all gonna start our own band.

"How soon can you get out of here?"

I said, "I have no contract here."
I said, "How about tomorrow?"

"How about tonight?"

So, now I leave and I go with Harry.
We go on the road.

When you're on the road with a dance band,
you're moving all the time.

I mean, you're actually going all the time,
you know?

And you could try things.

And nobody's saying,
"Well, what are you doing?"

Harry knew what I was doing,
he knew I was reaching, trying to find things.

Like a pitcher, you're trying a new curveball.

He had no arrangements laid out for me yet,
so we were faking things.

And we would do Embraceable You
and the band would kind of fill in with notes,

and Harry would noodle with the trumpet.

And Stardust, which I hated,
'cause everybody used to sing it

and I had it up to here.

And a lot of the wives
was like baseball wives.

They all came across the country in the car.

I met him in Chicago,
that's where Nancy was conceived.

Our plan was not to get pregnant that fast.

In those days, there wasn't much money,
and we were paying off a new car.

And I'm pregnant and he's worried,
you know?

He's always thinking ahead.

This man thinks a great deal,
always did as a kid, even.

He always had an ambition.

He said he wanted to be

very big in the industry. He wanted to be...

When he saw Bing, you know,
he felt that that was his ambition.

And Bing Crosby
ruled the airwaves completely.

I mean, every radio show, in those days,

had 15, 20 minutes of Bing Crosby.

A single record, it's called White Christmas,

to this day, it's the biggest record
that ever sold.

Sold 50 million records.

All the time I was with Harry,
I just kept thinking about the next step.

I'd listen to Tommy Dorsey's band
and I'd listen to this singer with the band.

Jack Leonard was with the band.
But I had heard through the grapevine,

Tommy tried to screw him out of $3,000
and they were fighting.

To my knowledge,
I was the first guy to tell Tommy about Frank.

Friend, girlfriend, she said,

"Frank Sinatra has a record out,
called All Or Nothing At All."

And she said, "it is fantastic."

And I mentioned that to Tommy.

When I quit,
the first guy he contacted was Frank.

He said, "How'd you like to work for me?"

I said, "Jesus, Tom." I said, "I got
a two-year deal with Harry and I don't know."

I said, "I'm dying to sing for you."

'Cause Tommy was... He and Glenn Miller,
they were the two top orchestras.

So I didn't sleep all night.

My eyes were jumping, I was so excited.

I went to the theatre very early.

I was just sitting in the dressing room
and Harry came.

I finally got up and I walked into his room.
And I walked in and I walked out.

I walked in and I walked out.
"What are you, nervous?"

I said, "Well, Jesus, I am nervous, Harry."

I said, "I know what I'm gonna ask you
is a very tough thing."

And he said,
"Tommy Dorsey wants to hire you."

He was still signed with me.

I hadn't given him a written release,
I just said, "Sure, go ahead, Frank."

'Cause really, I mean,
I have always lived that way.

The word is stronger than the pen with me.

I was so happy.
And that even affected my singing now.

It began to get it more lofty than it was.
And I was doing better things.

I joined Tommy
with a lot of malevolence in the band.

A lot of bad vibes.

They resented me for the fact
that their friend Jack Leonard quit.

When you're with a band, it's very clicky.

And when a new person comes in, it's like,

"You prove yourself, kiddo,
before you become one of the group."

We were just sitting on the bandstand
when Tommy announced this new singer.

Out on stage walked this very skinny,
unprepossessing-looking young man.

And I thought, "WOW."

He sang about eight bars,

and that whole theatre became so quiet
you could've heard a pin drop.

You just knew that you were hearing
something quite unique.

Tommy Dorsey had this incredible,
incredible breath control.

Without breathing...

I watched him
and I could never see him breathe.

Sixteen bars at a time,
I wonder how he does that.

If you can visualise, a trombone player
holds the mouthpiece,

he was breathing in the corner of his mouth.

And that was my theory,
"Do not break a phrase, if you can do that.

"And keep the audience listening
for the rest of the phrase."

He wouldn't be able to sing
four lines of that song.

There was a seamlessness, a smoothness.

And not one person
is looking at anybody else.

And they are completely
under the spell of Sinatra's story.

We came to Los Angeles
to open the Palladium,

a great new dance hall.

We got bombed,
everybody did the night before and

I remember the bellboy came in,

said, "Hey! Everybody awake yet?
We're in a war with Japan.

"They bombed the Pearl Harbor."

With the unbounding determination
of our people,

we will gain the inevitable triumph.

So help us God.

Now we were getting angry.

If I had been single, I probably would have
said, "Hey, I want to volunteer."

But I had a child.

Dad was in Hollywood with the band
when I was born, back in Jersey City.

Band singer Jo Stafford recalled
that he was so excited

that all he did
was talk about his new baby girl.

Oh, my God. it was beautiful.

I was first in the family of seven children
to have a baby,

and the whole family spoiled her, loved her.

And he was wonderful with her.

He loved it.

It was a different era, it was a sweet era.

It was a dance era.

And you did a ballad with long lines,

so that you could hold the girl
real close and dance.

Frank had a style, almost a sexy style.

Very warm.

With those eyes and that smile,

it was almost like he could pinpoint them
at one particular girl.

They just fell in love with him.

The kids were just enamoured of Frank.

And you could hear,
when Tommy would be playing,

the kids were aware that
there's a modulation for Frank's vocal,

and nobody would be dancing,
they'd all just crowd around the bandstand.

The kids came not to see
Tommy Dorsey any more.

It wasn't Tommy that was getting the crowd,
it was Frank that was getting the crowd.

And that's what Tommy couldn't stand.

If you've got an organisation and
the boy singer is taking it away from you,

who needs that action?

So there was a conflict.

He kept trying to push him down,
and Frank wouldn't let him.

In 15 months he became
the hottest new singing star in the country,

especially among teenagers.

It was pandemonium all the time, chaos.

The reaction from the crowds in those days
was absolutely phenomenal.

I mean, they were screaming
and yelling and screaming.

The kids would scream
every time I'd come out on the stage.

How are you, Frank?

I feel fine, Mr Crosby.

Let's declare a little moratorium
on the formality, Frankie.

Just call me Bing.

No, I wouldn't dream of calling
a man of your years by his first name.

Now, I figured that Crosby
was the only man on top.

He was the only guy on top
and I thought to myself,

"Somebody's got to challenge this bum.
Sometime or other it's gonna happen."

So I began to think to myself,

"Jesus, why don't I do it for myself?

"I mean, I know this guy has signed me
and I got a deal with him."

Tommy was a man
who was more of a proprietary attitude.

Tommy was almost like a father.

And if a guy left,
he was a son who was leaving, you see.

After the first year I was with him, I said,

"Tommy, I think in about a year
I'd like to leave the band."

And he kind of laughed at me,
just grinned at me.

And after four months went by,
I said it to him again.

But he didn't smile too broadly this time.

Said, "I don't want to talk to you,
God damn it."

He said, "You fucking ingrate."

I left Tommy's band, signing a piece of paper

which said he gets the rest of my life
one-third of my salary.

He sued me,

and I've been accused that the mob
got me out of the band.

Some unidentifiable creature

went to Tommy Dorsey, said,
"You better let him out of the contract."

Well, that never happened.

The man that straightened that out was

the secretary of the American Federation
of Radio Artists.

Then he went to Mr Dorsey, he said,

"I think we can come
to a settlement quite simply."

Tom said, "No, no, no."

He said, "I want one-third of his salary
for the rest of his life, as long as he lives."

Then Jaffe said to him,
"You enjoy playing music in hotel rooms

"and having the nation
hear you on the radio?"

He said, "Sure, I do."
He said, "Not any more, you won't."

He never said goodbye to me or nothing.

And I didn't know where I was going.

I didn't know where I was going,
but I went home.

I bought a little house
for Nancy and myself in Hasbrouck Heights.

And I was just happy to be home.

Nancy was now two years old.

I spent about three, four weeks
just sitting at home.

And I can just picture, you know?

They were poor times but they were good.

Always. As poor as they always were,
they were never that bad.

'Cause then when the real work started,
he worked like a dog.

I was living in Hasbrouck Heights,

and I found out there was a theatre there
where they had vaudeville,

and I went around, spoke to the manager.

And I said, "I'd like to play here
for a couple of nights, maybe a weekend."

He said, "Okay."

Each booker from the theatres in New York,
the Roxy, the Strand, the Loew's State,

the Paramount,

they sent their scouts over
to see what all the noise was about.

Why were the kids screaming and yelling
and running up and down the aisles.

The Paramount Theatre manager said,

"I would like you to open at New Year's Eve."

And he said, "You've got Benny Goodman's
orchestra and a Crosby picture."

And I fell right on my butt.
I couldn't believe what he said to me.

And in those days, they called you,
"An extra added attraction."

I got into New York
and I look at the marquee.

Holy Christ.

So we get ready to go and I'm excited
and it's the opening day.

And this is the moment
that's gonna make me or break me.

If I'm not good in the Paramount Theatre,

under these circumstances I'm dead.

Jesus, I was nervous.

Benny did a whole section of music,

and then he would finish that section
with Sing, Sing, Sing.

And it would get rowdy,
it would tear the joint.

It ran about eight minutes.

He finished Sing, Sing, Sing
and he took a bow.

And he went over to the microphone
and he said, "Now, Frank Sinatra."

And they screamed like a banshee.

He turned around and looked at the audience
and he said, to nobody,

"What the fuck is that?" he said.

There was one girl that was
making so much noise

and screaming so much and I wanted her out.

'Cause I thought she would precipitate a riot.

And I tried to pull her out
and she was like a tigress.

So I called some of the guards.
I had four guards

pulling her out and carrying her,
and she wouldn't go!

I mean, there was nothing that you can do
when you have 3,000 people

standing up and screaming at something.
What you gonna say? "Sit down"?

I mean, this was the kind of hysteria
that came there.

The next day, the reviews came out,
they were very kind.

I mean, business was mobbed.
it was holiday season.

New York was jumping.

I was booked for two weeks.

Parents would take the children into
the theatres at 4:00 in the morning

and wait with them until daylight.

And what a difference
in a child in those days.

I mean, they used to come scrubbed up,

their pink cheeks, with their hair combed
and the bobby socks.

It was incredible, it was like mass hypnosis.

That was the thrill of our life.

We used to go for 35 cents
and sat there all day.

We were poor, but we always had money
to go to the Paramount to see Sinatra.

When he'd walk out and then the band
would play the intro to the songs,

you'd get goose bumps.

It was little wonder that throughout
the nation,

feminine listeners formed
Frank Swoonatra fanclubs.

And one organisation called itself

the Sighing Society of Swooning
Sinatra Slaves.

The Voice, as he was nicknamed,
was no flash in the pan.

When Frank Sinatra was becoming famous,

movies were the ultimate tool
of creating celebrity.

But after the Depression, not everybody
could even afford a ticket to the theatre.

But everybody in America, pretty much,
either had a radio

or had access to one
and you could use it for free.

Here's Your Hit Parade!

Here's Frank with your fifth place favourite,
Swinging On A Star.

The Hit Parade came along.

The next thing happened, I'm still at
the Paramount, there's a new club opening

on 57th Street called Riobamba
and they called and made an offer.

I said to my agents,
"Gee, that sounds interesting."

They said, "We don't think so.

"'Cause you're a Coca-Cola seller
and this is a champagne joint."

I said, "I'm fucking well ready for anything
right now." I said, "Book 'em."

it all happened in like a period
of two to three months.

The opening at the Paramount,
the Riobamba and the Hit Parade.

The show at the Paramount, I came off
the stage at about a quarter of 9:00

and the radio show went on at 9:00.

And it was like you put an animal in a cage.
The ambulance would back up

up on the sidewalk, they'd open the door
like that so I could jump in,

as it pulled away a bit,
they would close the door,

because there were thousands
of kids in the street.

And in the ambulance, they would have
a malted milk and a sandwich

and I would devour that by the time I got
the ten blocks up to the radio station.

I was so busy working,
I was really working my ass off

trying to help out with the war effort,
the best I could.

Super war bond salesmen say,
"Let's all back the attack."

It's an auction, with the biggest buyers
of war-bonds getting souvenirs.

20,000, Bob Hope has got Seabiscuit's shoe,
worn when he won the Santa Anita Handicap.

Do you think it will fit me?

Now war-bond buyers get orchids
with the Voice as the pin-up boy.

And we have a squeal with each orchid,
ladies and gentlemen.

The super war-bond special
is the duet of the century.

Ruth Lowe, who was a Canadian woman,
her husband got killed.

He was a Canadian flyer, right at
the beginning of the war, he got killed.

She wrote that song and brought it down
personally to New York.

That song, it followed my dad his whole life.

And I think it probably was because so many
people identified with it in the first place.

You know, with their personal losses.

I was declared a 4-F.

I got a reject slip from Uncle Sam because
of a perforated ear-drum from my birth.

Then the press started to work on me.

"Who the hell is he not to be in the service?

"Boys are getting killed in Europe

"and this guy's singing songs
to their wives and their girlfriends."

I'm stationed in Foggia, Italy, and all
we knew overseas about Frank Sinatra was

he was not serving because
of a punctured ear-drum

and the women were crazy about him,

so our girlfriends, our wives were nuts
about Frank Sinatra.

There was a great dislike, at the least,
for this figure.

The real creeps were the guys who were
in uniform but had safe jobs in

Fort Dix, Fort Totten in Long Island.

They were the guys who threw the tomatoes
and the eggs at the big sign

up the marquee at the Paramount Theatre.

It was childish. They would not have
the guts to face me alone.

But I got the second notice.

And I had to reappear for the exam,
I couldn't believe it.

In other words, I wasn't being treated
like an ordinary citizen.

I was a special case, all of a sudden, right?

I went to the Newark armoury
with 6,000 other guys,

and there were cameramen and radio guys
and a thousand people on the street.

The kids, you know, "Frankie, baby,
don't let them push you around",

and all that kind of jazz.

And when I got finished,
they put me in a station wagon

with two rifled infantry men

and a driver and took me
to Governors Island.

First of all, when I walked into the ward,

they knew I was coming.
Word was out that I was coming

and these guys were kind of
lolling on their beds,

and they walked toward me,

and one guy shook my hand and said
"I'm glad to meet you, I've been a big fan."

He said, "You need any magazines,
or comic books, I got a lot of stuff."

Well, you know how many phone calls
I made? I must have made 700 phone calls

to everybody's family,
all over the United States!

Because they would call their family
and put me on.

And there were about
seven phone booths there

and the kids would make them one at a time.

I'm running from one booth
to another making a call.

"Hello, Mrs so and so or the wife of the guy...
Hello, Angie, he's fine.

"He looks great." "Are you sure?"

"Oh, my God! You're calling me?
It's really you?"

"Yeah, sing something!"

The next afternoon,

I get word to go down
and see the psychiatrist.

And he said, "Before we do anything,

"I got an 11 year old
who is absolutely crazy about you."

And I signed it to his little girl.

He put it away and said,
"I've read your whole medical report."

Even a rifle shot can deafen you
if the guy is next to you.

That's why they reject people
with holes in their ears.

He said, "I'm recommending

"that you are absolutely rejected
from the service."

He said to me, "Now, why don't you go back
to your ward,

"get yourself dressed
and go back to New York."

I got on the ferryboat,
put my coat collar up like this,

the snow on my face,

and suddenly the city began to come alive

through the snow,
the lights at Wall Street downtown,

all the buildings are lit.

I started to cry.

Frankie was born at the Margaret Hague
Hospital in Jersey City.

Somewhere along the line, Daddy said
he named him for Franklin Roosevelt.

So it was Franklin Wayne Emmanuel Sinatra.

My brother says it's Francis.

I think he was putting you on, hon.

My name was never Franklin and I was
not named after Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

But Dolly Sinatra said he was
the greatest president that we had ever had.

Her son began to believe it.

And when he became famous,

he worked for Franklin D. Roosevelt
many, many times.

I came out for Roosevelt. I loved him.

And then I went on,
and I worked my ass off for him.

Orson Welles and myself
did a lot of the campaigning

and particularly if it was a large Italian area.

We did one in Jersey,

with all of the dagos in the audience,
almost all Italians.

Then I said, "if you don't vote for this man,
you're all gonna be in a lot of trouble."

I didn't make any kind of a fancy speech.

And then Welles would walk out.

And he was dynamite.
He was absolute dynamite.

There was great criticism heaped upon me

because I was so active
in that particular campaign for Mr Roosevelt.

Newspaper writers
like Lee Mortimer and Westbrook Pegler,

who were never in favour
of the Democratic position,

they suddenly began to attack Sinatra.

I was stamped.

They stamped me a communist right away.

I said, "Bullshit."

I said, "I don't know who you are,
but you are wrong."

- Yeah?
-Good morning. My name is Frank Sinatra.


Dad did the first picture at RKO
called Higher and Higher.

My family was still at home,
but I looked for a house.

That point Nancy put our house
on the market.

And I called her.
I said, "I found a great house."

And I couldn't have been happier

because I loved California.

Lovely, lovely.

It was right on the lake.

We had a kayak, a canoe.

Toluca Lake was so beautiful.

We had a wonderful life there.

Dad came home a lot.

He wasn't just a voice on the radio.

I was home. I'm thinking I've done a movie,
and I'm gonna do another movie.

And then I didn't get many movies
down at RKO,

because Mr Mayer saw me
at a big old building downtown, the Shrine.

Metro used to buy the whole row.

And I'm standing up there singing.
I've never met Mayer.

And I see him sitting there and he's crying.

And he whispered something
to the guy sitting next to him.

Mayer said, "I want that boy."

I went to Metro and I got $130,000 a picture.

A problem arose when I started at MGM.

We did a picture called Anchors Aweigh.

What struck me at first about Frank

was that here was the best known,
most popular performer in America,

and the first two pictures he made at RKO

were, let's face it, flops.

So I said to him, "Frank,
there's one big thing you have to do.

"You can't be thought of as a guy
who just stands there.

"You don't have to be a great, great dancer

"but you have to move,
you have to dance a little bit. Period."

I said that means a lot of sweat and work.

He said, "Great. When do we start?"

He worked as if he were training
for the heavyweight championship.

He really worked very hard.

I did four vocals in Anchors Aweigh.

They said, "Well, Mr Sinatra,
who do you want to write these songs?

"The Gershwins, Kern, Porter,

"Oscar Hammerstein, Rodgers?
Who do you want?"

He said, "Sammy Cahn."

And they said,
"We don't mind hiring him. Who is he?"

And Sinatra typically said,
"Since you're not singing the songs,

"don't let it bother you."

And they said,
"You know we've got about 10 arrangers?"

I said,
"No, no, sorry, I have my own arranger."

Axel Stordahl, whom I now had engaged,
who would not leave Tommy.

I finally convinced him.

I got him $1,250 an arrangement.

He said,
"I never saw so much money in my life."

Anchors Aweigh opened to rave reviews
and big box office around the country.

Overnight Frank Sinatra
became a major movie star,

having already become
a recording and radio star.

At that point his attitude was

fate has now suddenly
put me into the position

to do something about unfairness.

In his lifetime,

he had seen abject poverty.

He had seen terrible things done to people.

And it upset him.

I was living in Harlem,
and my family was on welfare.

We were just a hoofing act.

And Frank found us,
and we went into the Capitol Theatre

and he paid us $1,750.

All the money in the world.

And Frank would come out,
open up, sing a couple of songs,

then he introduced us.

You know, he'd say little things like

"I want you to keep an eye
on this little kid in the middle."

He said, "Boy, he's gonna be something
one of these days.

"You watch him. He burns the stage out."

Frank has been
one of the main moving forces with me

'cause he stood up and was countered
long before it became fashionable.

Putting his convictions on the line,

Dad played himself in The House I Live In,

a 10-minute short made in 1945.

And it fitted me to a tee because
I was involved in anti-bigotry motions.

We got 10 little kids,

and then you hear the rumpus
in the alley outside,

where they back up one little boy.

They don't use any words on him,
but you know

they're either saying "you guinea bastard", or
"you Jew bastard" or something to him.

And I do a little short speech.

My dad came from Italy.

But should I hate your father because
he came from Ireland or France or Russia?

Wouldn't I be a first class fat head?

That film deeply moved me.

It was one of the most engaging documents
that I had ever seen on the issue of race.

A lot of movies had been made
before that time

that attempted to deal
with the issues of race.

But nobody from the height of pop culture
had done it quite the way Sinatra did.

Think about that, fellas.

Use your good American heads.

Don't let anybody make suckers out of you.

Well, gotta go to work.

What do you work?

- I sing.
-You're kidding.

Come here.

Now, you all stand here
and no hissing allowed.

As an Italian-American growing up,

the most virulent, anti-Italian thing
was still in the land.

Stereotypes of a fractured English,

Life With Luigi radio shows.

Dear Mamma Mia!

Sinatra, he's a very big singer
and he's ltaliano born.

For him to come along and deal with that,

to insist that he was going

to change the way people thought about
Italian-Americans through his diction,

which was impeccable on those songs,

through the style
that he presented himself with,

I think was crucial.

New Oscars
for Hollywood's top moviemakers.

At Grauman's Chinese Theatre,
over 2,000 stars are on hand

for the 18th annual motion picture
Academy Awards.

The Frank Sinatras.

He is honoured with a special award
for his short The House I Live In.

The last day of World War ll.

Here and across the nation,
yes, from coast to coast,

uncorks the pent-up emotions
of almost four years.

Downtown they see sailors lift automobiles,

soldiers kiss pretty girls

and the carrying off of beautiful maidens.

Hollywood was Dad's oyster,

and he was befriending
a wide circle of the famous.

During this heady period
of newfound stardom,

he was seen around town
squiring sweater girl Lana Turner

and starlet Marilyn Maxwell,
among other women.

All the rich, glamorous girls
were after the celebrity.

He was attractive.

He was oriented that way in a way.

He thought he had to possess
any woman he thought attractive.

A lot of men are like that.

And they get that way more so
with more success.

With Frank,
it was the martinis in the dressing room.

The lavishness,

gold cigarette lighters.

"Let's have fun.

"Where are the laughs?

"Where are the people in this new world
that I love?"

Nancy was always the Italian wife.

The house has got to be spotless.

If you want peppers or pasta,
the sauce is made.

And I'll have the kids and we'll raise a family.

And that was what was important to her.

On the last day of 1946,

my mother discovered a diamond bracelet

in the glove compartment
of the new Cadillac convertible

that Dad was teaching her to drive.

Figuring it was a gift for her,
she said nothing.

But that night
at the family's New Year's Eve party,

she spied Marilyn Maxwell
wearing the bracelet.

I said to her, "I know where you got that."

She just walked out aghast

that I would be brave enough.

She went and told Frank.

And Frank said to me,
"You know, you should apologise."

And I said, "Frank, you're mixed up.

"She has to apologise to me."

I feel it was like part of growing up,

that he would eventually
have his fill of all this routine

and appreciate what he had.

Then we made up,
and he said, "it's gonna be different.

"It's gonna be better. It's gonna be fine."

"Nancy," I said,
"it's Valentine's Day coming up.

"And I'm finished with my work
here in New York.

"How would you like to be my valentine
in Acapulco?"

She said, "That would be marvellous."

Now, in the meantime I went to Miami.

But the next morning was a shitty day,

and I said, "I'm not gonna sit down here.
I'm gonna go where the sun is,


And I checked into the famous hotel,
Nacional Hotel.

We went down to the bar,
and 66 gangsters were standing there.

Forty-eight years of good behaviour.

And I knew several of the fellas
from New Jersey and New York,

including the Fischetti brothers.

They were Capone's guys when he was alive.

They were really tough.

That time the boys were dealing with Cuba,

they handled
all the gambling up there, right?

And one of them said,
"Hey, Frank, come here.

"I want you to meet Charlie Luciano."

And I said, "How do you do?"

Charlie "Lucky" Luciano.
Shackled to his henchmen,

the overlord of a $12 million a year vice ring
goes to prison.

And when he got out, he was deported.

The United States Bureau of Narcotics
didn't like the fact that he ended up in Cuba

because they didn't want him setting up
an operation so close to their shores.

This is in the '40s.

Lucky Luciano was being watched closely.

And of course it went on the wire service
that I shook hands with Charlie Luciano.

Writers picked it up and all that crap.

And that was the public's first taste

of what became Sinatra's persona
for the rest of his life.

Buddies with the mob.

From that moment,
I couldn't beat these guys.

See, they went to press every day.

- Then of course at that point...
-Lee Mortimer picked up a picture...

...getting off the plane.

And then the FBI got the photo
from Mortimer,

who was a famous muckraking journalist,

who was trying to identify
the people in the photo that are with Sinatra.

They start to dream up all these things
about me.

Said I went to Cuba and delivered $2 million,
and I brought back drugs into the country.

Now, my luggage of course is
on the aeroplane,

but I carried a sketchpad
in a thin attaché case.

Now, this was the bag I was
supposedly bringing the $2 million in, right?

There's no evidence of it!

The only mentions of it
in government documents

are recounting that it's been in the press.

The investigators,
they would read something in the press

and then investigate it,
giving it the patina of truth.

It was in some ways a vicious cycle.

It led to yet another investigation
of his arrest in the late '30s.

But that was an old, old charge,
way back when I was a kid,

when I first got the job at the Rustic Cabin.

Some dame claimed that I'd seduced her
and she was pregnant.

She wasn't pregnant at all.
She was a hokey fan.

We went to the courtroom,

and my mother
who was a nurse and a midwife

said to the judge,
"I'd like to examine this woman."

And all of a sudden there was no case.

They threw everything out.

You see those things were driving me crazy,
in that period.

Bogie once said,
"You have to remember one thing, Frank.

"There's only one way
that anyone can fight a newspaper.

"And that's with a newspaper.

"If you have altercations with the press,
you're gonna be fighting a losing battle."

And this was Humphrey Bogart's
sage and sane advice,

which his friend Frank Sinatra
promptly proceeded to ignore.

Peggy Lee was opening at Ciro's

and Ciro's was one of the in-joints to go to.

She was marvellous.

And behind us I knew an Oriental voice.

She said, "That's Frank Sinatra."

And I hear the male voice say,
"Yeah, I saw that guinea bastard."

I didn't know who it was.

I just kind of rounded,
and sure enough it's him

'cause I had seen his picture
on the top of the column.

I hear the chairs being scraped on the floor
and they get up.

Peggy went off stage and people
were still applauding and all that stuff,

and I said to everybody at my table,

"Excuse me a minute."
And this after he'd been bludgeoning me.

He called me a red,
he called me a communist.

He did everything he could.

I had enough of him. I had it up to here.

So I walked out
and I tapped him on the shoulder.

He turned around.

I hit him so fucking hard,
I broke the whole front of his face,

and he banged his head.

And the son of a bitch, he was funny,

he said, "I'll write about this,"
and he takes a piece of paper out.

"You're gonna do more than that," I said

"I'm gonna bury you
right under the street like this."

And before I can make another move,

two guys grabbed me
and they walked me right back in the club.

The people were running outside
to get an ambulance

and all that kind of bullshit.

And I just walked through the whole crowd.

There were no charges, no arrests,
no nothing.

He just wanted a civil suit.

$9,000 judgment.

That was it. Nothing ever happened.

As a matter of fact,

what I did to him through the ensuing years,

every time I saw him at a restaurant,
I'd spit at him

and dare him to get up
and take a punch at me.

Can you be objective and tell me
what kind of a father you are?

Or is that too tough?

Yeah, it's a tough question.

Tina was the California girl.
She was born in Los Angeles.

Dad nearly went crazy
going through red lights and stop signs

to get to the hospital.

He wanted a girl,

and she was born on Father's Day.

That's how lucky he is.

Tina as a child, growing up,

never got to spend a lot of time with me.

You know, I was probably a stranger to her.

"Who's this guy? Comes in every six months,
he comes to see me?"

He was away so much of his career,
you know,

that the real great experience
of being the son of this man,

as far as I am concerned,

didn't actually come until later years.

I think that Dad, when he was rushing
and going on with his career,

knew that I was there taking care of the kids,
and he didn't have to worry about it.

Daddy wanted me to have a lot of children.

The way things were going,
I knew that it was not looking right.

I figured I'd be stuck having to care for more.

Now, about that time,

is when I got tied up with Ava,
somewhere in there.

Well, the first time we met was 1943.

I was out with Mickey.

We were married then.

Frank came over to the table.

Jesus, he was like a god in those days.

If gods can be sexy, he reeked of sex.

He said something like,

"if I had seen you first, honey,
I would've married you myself."

I paid no attention to that.
I knew he was married.

He had a kid, for Christ's sake.

The next time we met was when we had
that famous Metro group picture taken.

He was a terrible flirt.

He couldn't help it.

I took a look at her and I said, "Jesus,
you got prettier than the last time I saw you."

This was not the young little girl
from Carolina at the studio.

This was a woman who was glorious.

She had an air
that the other girls didn't have.

No question.

Very natural and of all the stars of that time,

she had less star mannerism
than anyone I ever met.

She was sort of one of the boys.

I think she pretty much was always with men.

Here's your drink, lady.

I said, here's your drink, lady.

Thank you very much.

I think a lot of his fantasies
were bound up in her.

I think he brought to it
what a young man brings to that almost

unbelievable romance that may never happen
to him kind of thing you do fantasise about.

Lana Turner told me,

"I've been there, honey. Don't do it."

I should've listened to her.
The girl had been around.

But he was good in the feathers.

You don't really listen to what people tell you
when a guy is good in the feathers.

He is a disciplined man in many respects,

but he's never disciplined emotionally
about women.

I think that that did him in.

He would come home once or twice a week
and see her all the time,

and figured it was gonna keep me quiet.

And I couldn't handle it, I was sick.

I was breaking down.

He was never looking for long-range things.

It was always for the moment.

Foregoing gossip columnists,

they write that your marriage is in trouble,
these kinds of things.

Normal people don't read
about these kinds of things.

What're you gonna say
about gossip columns?

Hedda Hopper, Louella Parsons,
Sheilah Graham

and other nationally syndicated columnists

had already been berating my father
for a host of extramarital affairs.

He could ignore columnists very easily.

But Louis B. Mayer warned
that he would cancel his contract early.

Dad responded.

He moved us closer to his work

to a $250,000 mansion
not far from Hollywood.

But he continued to see Ava.

Mr Mayer was a man who was
completely void of a sense of humour.

And I was always doing pranks
and having fun and all that stuff.

And Mayer loved to have people...

Well, not people, me,

come to his office whenever he was lonely.

He had a white Formica desk,
looked like Howard Hughes' cockpit.

And I'd go in and sit down
and hold my hat in my lap and...

In a period of five years,
I bet I was there 50 times.

He had a string of wonderful race horses.

And he also had horses that he would ride
on Sunday afternoons, his own horses.

And one Sunday something happened
that spooked the horse,

and he had a fractured pelvic bone,

and he was in a cast from here to his knees.

We felt badly about it

and we were sitting around
commiserating about the fact

that it would take him a long time to heal
because he had fallen off the horse,

and I said, "No, he didn't.
He fell off Ginny Simms."

He was courting this girl named
Ginny Simms, you see, fellas and girls.

And I get kicked out of the studio.

That's it.

Frank Sinatra found himself
in the unhappy position

of being considered finished.

His record sales slumped severely.

Now, is this true?

Earned $11 million in six years,

but you spent money like crazy
and you couldn't pay your taxes?

Had you spent all your money?

- Pretty much all of it.

I mean, I was broke.

It was an enormous sense of foreboding

in the American psyche
immediately after the war.

What was going to happen next?

Would we really be able to sustain the peace

that we finally achieved in 1945?

Or was the roof going to fall in on us
even more than it had before?

You see anxiety in
Abstract Expressionist painting.

You see it in bebop,
a jazz of extreme intensity of style.

But American commercial popular music

responded to this anxiety
with the musical equivalent of comfort food.

When I wasn't doing that well
with the record business,

'cause Mitch Miller was put in charge.

And he decided to bring into the world
a new kind of music

which was a hokey-pokey kind of music.

And I just resented it.

Frank Sinatra finds himself
being produced by Mitch Miller,

who had a kind of perverse genius

in gimmicky pop records
that sold by the car load.

And Miller expected him
to make records like this.

He says, "I won't do any of that shit."

So, what do I do?

Who tells Sinatra what to do?

Who ever told Sinatra what to do?

He made it his business going through

the deterioration,
aesthetically of the music at that time

and still finding good songs to record.

I was 14 at the time
and I was allowed to drink

in McMillan's at 94th and Third.

And I had loaded the jukebox
with Sinatra stuff.

And suddenly...

The Birth of the Blues literally
brought me to my knees.

The singing is so virile, sensational.

It's one of the great Sinatra records.

I played it over and over.
Dimes, dimes, dimes.

Drinking and drinking and drinking,
a 14-year-old.

He was abuzz in my young life.

But he wasn't selling records,
no one was going to see the movies,

and he was making everyone angry with him,
he owed a lot of money.

People don't remember the climate then.

Frank made so many good records
at that time that did not sell.

His behaviour made him persona non-grata,

and I thought, "if you can't sell a good one,
let's try novelty."

So I said, "Okay, I'll do it your way now."

"I'll do the songs. Let's see what happens."

My heart wasn't in it and I didn't even
understand what the hell I was doing.

When his records didn't sell
and it came time for his renewal,

Columbia just didn't want to re-sign him.

It ended up finally as a very unhappy parting.

They were, I think, very happy
to get rid of each other at the time.

If somebody in my family left me
a lot of money,

I probably would never have worried about it.

But I think I was concerned

that I can't take care of my problems,
my family and everything.

I was working hard to pay bills.

I was working too hard.

Three shows a night at the Copacabana
and I got booked at the Capitol Theatre.

Every week was a week of Mondays.

And it rained every Monday,
that kind of feeling.

I was hurting, I was struggling,

but I was managing to make it because we
lowered the keys, all that kind of stuff.

And a perfect setting for what happened.

It was a February blizzard night,
big snowfall.

Sixty people in a room
because the weather was so bad.

Suddenly I felt some kind of a snap,
something in my throat

and I went for a note and nothing came out.

I could feel myself
swallowing my own blood.

I looked at the audience
and they looked at me,

and everybody knew that
something quite serious had happened.

And I leant in to the microphone
and I said, "Good night."

And I walked up the stairs
and I went right to the hotel.

A lot of his friends
and lot of his associates just left him.

All the guys that made hundreds
of thousands of dollars with me

never called and said,
"What can we do for you?

"Do you need any money?"

At that point I had nobody.

The only guy who ever talked to me was
Jimmy Van Heusen

and he'd give me a few dollars for my pocket.

He was in a terrible state.

His ego and his self-esteem
were at the lowest ebb.

And particularly bad because
mine was frankly at the peak.

This is appropriate for me because

having been a saloon singer all my life,

I've become an expert on saloon songs.

The kind of things that

cause men to cry in their beers.

Because they're in trouble with their girls.

And they seek little bars

and it's really a caricature
of one such person.

It was another one of those nights when
I ended up refusing to sleep with Frank.

I was half asleep in my room across the suite

and I heard this gun shot.

It's scared the bejesus out of me.

I didn't know what I was going to find,
his brains blown out?

He was always threatening to do it.

Instead, he was sitting on the bed
grinning like a goddam drunken school kid,

a smoking gun in his hand.

He'd fired the gun into the fucking pillow.

What a night that was.

It was a cry for help.

I always fell for it.

And they were together
late one night in the car

and I could tell they'd both been drinking.

We had a buzzer at the gate

and he said, "Nancy, will you please tell Ava
that I've asked you for a divorce?"

I said, "Frank, you're out of your mind."

And I hung up.

Wouldn't tolerate it.

And she was a real bitch, too.

In the beginning the press had been
really condemning Frank and Ava,

and condoning Nancy for her conduct.

Over time, I think that began to change.

The press flipped.

Mom began to take flack
for keeping Romeo and Juliet apart.

But she got legal guidance
and she let him go.

I thought by letting him go
that they would end their romance.

And in time I always felt he'd come back.

Always felt that.

Only days after his divorce from Nancy
became final,

we had gotten married.

We were really, deeply in love,
almost too much in love.

Things all of a sudden didn't fall in place.

She was working at Metro.

Picture here, picture there.

Then came a job to do a picture in Spain.

This is Pandora.

She was bold and beautiful.

Desired by every man who met her.

He was having a very bad time
with Ava Gardner.

She was terrible to him, terrible.

Just grinding her feet

into his face in the dust, you know.

This was a turmoil
that the whole world knew about

when I was chasing it around the world,

that I was borrowing money
to go visit with her.

I was running away from Frank.

Desperately trying to break up with him.

I knew that I just couldn't
live with him any more.

I still loved him,
but the marriage was never going to work.

The trouble was,

Frank and I were too much alike.

He met his match with her.

She was sexually free and gorgeous.

She couldn't be conquered.

The fact the we were no longer
in the same city, let alone the same country.

That took the bottom out of everything.

I became an out and out drunk.
I mean, I was bombed all the time.

God bless Tootsie's,
I never paid a tab at Tootsies.

So at 4:00, of course this night,
"Hey, dago", he said. "You better go home."

Now he was on 52nd Street,

I was staying at Jimmy's, 57th Street.

I walked out and it was like 20 degrees.

So I started walking,
and walking and walking.

Suddenly I don't know where the hell I am.

'Cause the booze really hit me.

It really hit me like a sledgehammer.

And the next thing I know,
there was a flashlight in my eye

and somebody was shaking me.

"You're gonna have to get out of here.
Come on, get up."

And the cop grabbed my arm
and then he looked at me.

"Are you Sinatra?"

I was in somebody's car in New York.

We stopped at a light and I saw him coming
past the Capitol, like this,

walking down the street,

coat collar up, a hat and was alone.

It was the first time
I had ever seen him alone.

And nobody was stopping him
and nobody was doing anything.

And nobody cared.

And nobody cared.

Is the man going to talk about his dark ages,
when his career had that little stroke?

When his voice ran away from home?

When his records started selling
like used Edsels.


The man is an incorrigible optimist.

A firm believer in cliches.

He has a philosophy about trouble.

Don't feed it, maybe it'll go away.

Sure, I've met frustration
and I don't like him either.

I know discouragement, despair
and all those other cats.

But I guess I knew that sooner or later
something good was bound to happen to me.

And here's one of the best things
that ever did.

When I read the book From Here To Eternity,

I said, "I gotta play Maggio."

I've known 100 Maggios
in my neighbourhood.

And I may have been one.

When the news broke in the trade papers that

Columbia had bought it
and they were going to make the film of it,

I spoke to Harry Cohn,
who was then the head of Columbia Pictures,

and I said, "I'd like to play that."

He said, "You've never done a dramatic role.

"You're a guy who sings
and dances with Gene Kelly."

And I said, "But that's the kind of thing
I think I can do."

Sinatra from the beginning
kept sending cables to Harry Conn and to me

calling himself Maggio,

signing Maggio.

Saying that he was the person
to play that part.

But I do suspect that Ava

went to Harry Cohn and said,
"You gotta give him the job.

"Or he'll jump off a building or something."

Their marriage was not going swimmingly,
but he had to get back on his feet.

She knew that better than anybody.

She placed a call to Harry and said,

"You know who should play Maggio,
don´t you?

"That son of bitch husband of mine."

It's pretty funny, yeah.

So finally they said,
"All right, let's test Sinatra."

Sinatra came up to my office
on the day of the test

and said, "How do I play this scene?"

I said, "it's easy. All you do is make them
laugh and cry at the same time."

Anyway he went down and he made the test.

There's a scene where I'm talking
to the hooker in the bar.

I just did what I thought
was a natural thing to do.

And we did it once, it was very short.
I don't think it was more than three minutes.

And they said thank you very much and I left.

When I heard that Eli Wallach,
who's my dearest friend,

and one of the finest actors in the world...

When I heard that he tested for it,
I said forget it.

He gonna win it because
he's a seasoned actor

and he's really good, a fine performer.

For years and years there's this story

that Frank Sinatra got the role
in From Here To Eternity

'cause his mafia friends threatened
the producers of that movie.

If I had this part in the picture, you know,
it puts me right back up on top again.

I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse.

That's absurd.

The Godfather thing is...

The Godfather thing is a wonderful story.

It just doesn't happen to be true,
as documentary.

Wallach's agent asked for twice
what Wallach had made

and Cohn absolutely refused to do that.

That was not the way
that Harry ran his studio.

But I said, "Let's go back
and look at the Sinatra test again.

"Maybe it's better than we thought it was."

Wallach looked like prize fighter,
like he can take care of himself.

Sinatra looked like a plucked chicken,
just pitiful,

and that helped the characterisation.

It was all there, you didn't have to play it.

So, we started to shoot the picture.

And all I did was go to work every morning,
be in bed at 10:30.

Once I got it, I said I'm gonna
work my ass off for this thing.

One, two, three, four.

One, two, three, four.

The best help I ever had
was from Monty Clift.

And Monty was a wonderful
dissector of the script.

And we made changes,
little tiny changes constantly.

A couple times I said to Fred,
"This is new to me.

"I wanna check with you to find out
if the approach I have is proper."

And he would brush me off
about the whole thing.

A month out in Honolulu with Freddy,

I said, "There must be something
missing in my script.

"It went from scene number 162 to 164."

And he said, "Well, do something.
What would a drunk do at the bar?"

And I said,
"Drunks do a lot of the things at bars."

Bartender! A whisky, a large whisky.

Excuse me.

Hey, buddy.


Hey, coming out, fellas,
the terror of Gimbels' basement.

Stand back there now.
Here we go, seven for daddy, five deuce.

Hey, seven.

Snake eyes.

That's the story of my life.

Sinatra was doing the movie for $8,000
for eight weeks' work,

which was okay if you're a mechanic,

but was not big star money.

I did it because I knew I was gonna survive,

and I knew that one day I was gonna wake up
and say, "Okay, it's all over."

I cleaned the house.

Clean sweep is what I did.

Got rid of my accountant.
I straightened myself out, I stopped drinking.

I was vice president in charge
of artists and repertoire

and Sinatra had hit bottom
and I mean bottom.

And Frank could not get a record contract.

And I didn't know Frank, I'd never met him
and I got a call one day

from the William Morris Agency,
a man named Sam Weisbord.

And he said,
"We've just taken on Sinatra as his agents."

He said,
"Would you be interested in signing him?"

And I said, "Sure."

And he said, "You would?"

I said, "Sure, there's talent still there.
Bring him in. I'd like to sign him."

On the 30th of April, 1953,

he recorded I've Got The World On A String
and Don't Worry 'bout Me

and didn't look back.

It was a brand new guy

and a certain confidence
after coming through hell

and getting a contract at Capitol.

When I went over to Capitol Records,

Nelson was what they call
the house arranger.

And he was writing for practically everybody,
all of the singers on the label.

And we got started pretty good
and we just left it that way.

Well, a lot of the things
that we laid out together

were done with his suggestive phrases.

Frank had enough background
in classical music

to be able to describe what he wanted.

He just became in charge of everything.

That control, which had always been
hovering in Sinatra's soul,

was now accepted.

I went to the art department,

I said, "Can you sketch me
a cover of a street corner

"with a guy leaning against
a lamppost smoking a cigarette?"

Then I sat with Nelson and I said,
"Okay, we want songs

"belonging to a title called
Songs for Young Lovers."

And that was the album.

And this thing took off like a goddam rocket.

From Here To Eternity marked
a change in his career forever,

because people were forced to accept him

as force in drama.

And I don't think they ever saw him like that.


Prew, listen.

Fatso done it, Prew.

He likes to whack me in the gut.

He asked me if it hurts.

And I spit at him like always.

I think what made people enjoy it and like it

was my inner love for doing it

and wanting it and needing it so badly.

I had to get out, Prew. I had to get out.

At Hollywood's Pantages Theatre, it's the
motion picture industry's night of nights.

And the film capital's top stars

turn out for the annual presentation
of the coveted Oscars.

Tell me about your recollections
of Oscar night.

I bought a gold coin with an Oscar on it,

like he was going to win.

And he came to my house for dinner

and he took Nancy and Frankie with him.

That was quite a night, I was 10.

I looked so cute in my navy blue suit.

Little Nancy was wearing my little urban cape
that he'd given me.

It was a thrill and he was jubilant.

And I said, "You're gonna get it."

The winner is Frank Sinatra
in From Here To Eternity.

That's a clever opening.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I'm deeply thrilled and very moved.

And I really don't know what to say
because this is a whole new kind of thing.

Song and dance man type stuff.

And I'm terribly pleased

and if start thanking everybody,
I'll do a one-reeler up here,

so I'd better not.

And I'd just like to say, however, that

they're doing a lot of songs here tonight
but nobody asked me...

I love you, though, thank you very much.
I'm absolutely thrilled.

He was very, very moved by that.
It stunned him.

I think that everybody was disappointed
there wasn't some extended celebration.

He wanted to be with himself.

And he said, "I just went home,
parked the car and I walked."

"And Walked."