Frank Sinatra Jr, who has died aged 72, did not make things easy for himself when he decided to forge a career as a singer, performing in the style of the most famous entertainer of the 20th century, who happened to be his father. Although the name opened many doors, the comparison could never be in his favour. Not surprisingly, he lacked distinctiveness. The times had changed, too, and younger entertainers were expected to move with them.
Famous from birth as the second of the three children — and the only son — fathered by Frank Sinatra with his first wife, the former Nancy Barbato, Frank Jr made his greatest impact on the public consciousness in , when he was kidnapped by a gang of three men and ransomed for almost a quarter of a million dollars.
His father was then at the peak of his fame, a confidant of presidents and holding court with the Rat Pack in Las Vegas, and the affair made headlines around the world. Born in Jersey City while his year-old father, still in the flush of his early fame, was away in the Hollywood studios, he was named after Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a man greatly admired in the Sinatra household. This was a time when fans would camp outside the home in Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey; that spring the family moved to California, first to a house inside walled grounds in the San Fernando Valley that had formerly belonged to Nancy Astor.
His features were familiar, but they lacked the compelling gauntness or the special light in the eyes that had transfixed a generation of bobbysoxers. They became increasingly unfamiliar to his father, who was spending large amounts of time away and eventually, after flings with Lana Turner , Marilyn Monroe and others, embarked on a serious relationship with Ava Gardner , who would become the second of his four wives.
Although always well provided for, and the recipients of paternal visits at Christmas, the Fourth of July and birthdays, the family grew up aware of him, like the rest of the world, largely through the sound of his voice on national radio. At 19, Frank Jr joined the Dorsey band. The newly widowed Jackie Kennedy found time to write his father a letter saying how happy she was to hear of the release.
In March , three men — John Irwin, a house painter, Barry Keenan, an unemployed salesman, and Joseph Amsler, an unemployed shellfish diver — were convicted of the kidnapping and sentenced to prison terms. For many years afterwards Frank Jr had to put up with rumours that the whole business had been arranged in order to generate publicity for his father. He resumed his career, which continued on its quiet way until the late s, when he joined his father on the road, maintaining a discreet presence as the spotlights played on the ageing star, in whose delivery and demeanour the first signs of dementia would soon be apparent.
His marriage to Cynthia McMurrey ended in divorce two years later. He is survived by his son, Michael, from a previous relationship; by his mother; and by his sisters, Nancy and Tina. Facebook Twitter Pinterest. Topics Frank Sinatra. Pop and rock obituaries. Reuse this content. Order by newest oldest recommendations. Show 25 25 50 All. Threads collapsed expanded unthreaded.
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