The singer and actor Frank Sinatra (December 12, 1915 – May 14, 1998) is one of the most legendary entertainers that has ever lived. As one of the founding members of the infamous Rat Pack, Sinatra became part of the high-rolling entertainment elite, schmoozing with the rich, famous and powerful and getting involved with political issues, such as promoting desegregation and supporting John F Kennedy’s presidential ambitions.
Throughout his career, Sinatra won eleven Grammys and an Oscar for his work, as well as some civic awards, such as the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal, for his political and humanitarian efforts.
Francis Albert Sinatra was the only child of Italian immigrants Natalie and Anthony Sinatra. Frank’s later social, ethical and political involvement was likely inspired by his mother, who was influential in their neighbourhood in Hoboken, New Jersey, and local Democratic Party circles, despite running an illegal abortion clinic from their home. Frank was a high school dropout, having spent only 47 days there before being expelled due to his rowdy behaviour.
Frank was 20 by the time he got his first break in the music industry. His mother persuaded a local band, The Three Flashes, to let him join. The band changed their name to The Hoboken Four upon Sinatra’s arrival, and, shortly after, they won first prize – a six month touring contract - on the radio talent show Major Bowes’ Amateur Hour. Despite this success, Sinatra left the band and returned home to work as a singing waiter at the Rustic Cabin in New Jersey. It would be four years before another opportunity came along.
In June, 1939, Sinatra was hired on a one-year contract by Harry James to sing for his band. In November, however, Sinatra was asked by Tommy Dorsey to sing for his group instead. Harry James, seeing that this would be a big opportunity for Sinatra because Dorsey and his band were already popular, gracefully let Sinatra go. In his first year with Dorsey, Sinatra released over forty songs. In 1942, Sinatra left them to pursue a solo career, to great, world-renowned success. Throughout signing to, and leaving, major labels such as MCA, who bought out his contract with Dorsey - which had entitled him to a third of all Sinatra’s lifetime earnings – and setting up his own label, Reprise Records, Sinatra sold around 150 million records and acted in more than sixty films and television programs.
Sinatra died of a heart attack in Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre, Los Angeles, in 1998. The epitaph on his gravestone reads, “The Best Is Yet To Come.”
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