10 Surprising Facts About Frank Sinatra You Probably Didn’t Know About!
Francis Albert Sinatra was an American singer, motion-picture actor, and producer. Frank was born in Hoboken, New Jersey in 1915, and he died in Los Angeles in 1998 from a heart attack at the age of 83. He was married four times and had three kids.
Frank was one of the most influential and popular music artists of the 20th century, and one of the best-selling artists of all time. His records have been sold over 150 million times worldwide. His personal life was very public, and he quickly became one of the most sought-after performers in the entertainment industry. (1)
In this article, we’ll cover some of the most fascinating facts about Frank Sinatra’s life and work you probably haven’t heard about before. Without any further ado, let’s dive right in!
1. Frank was the son of Italian immigrants
Even though Frank was born in Hoboken, New Jersey, he comes from an Italian family. His mother, Natalina Garaventa, was a daughter of a lithographer from Genova. She worked as a midwife, and according to some reports, she also operated an illegal abortion service for Italian Catholics. Dolly was also a very influential figure in Hoboken’s local Democratic party circles. (2)
Frank’s father was Antonio Martino “Marty” Sinatra, who was a bantamweight boxer. Once he stopped boxing, he became a firefighter, which he did for 24 years. (3)
2. Frank Sinatra was one of America’s first teen idols
While today it’s quite common to have a new set of teen idols each year, something like this was quite unusual when Frank was starting his career in the 1940s. He was one of the first singers in America to have such a large following among teenagers, and to induce the first known instance of the so-called “teenage culture”. His performances were soon followed by large groups of screaming teenage girls, which is something we see often today for many different artists.
In one instance, Frank said “The sound that greeted me was deafening. I was scared stiff. I couldn’t move a muscle.” (4)
3. Some of his screaming fans were paid to be there
Another one of the unusual facts about Sinatra is that some of his screaming fans were paid to create excitement. As Sinatra’s popularity was raving through America, his publicist, George Evans, noticed some patterns in what makes his popularity grow. Most of his fans were teenage girls, and they were recognizable by the Catholic school-style bobby socks that they used to wear rolled down to their ankles.
George auditioned girls to find the ones who can scream the loudest and strategically placed them in the audience to help whip up excitement before and during the show. The teenage girls were paid $5 per performance. (5) (6)
4. The FBI kept a file on him
As Sinatra’s popularity grew, so did the mass hysteria for his appearances and performances. One day, a radio listener who was concerned about this, wrote to the FBI. His letter read “The other day I turned on a Frank Sinatra program, and I thought how easy it would be for certain-minded manufacturers to create another Hitler here in America through the influence of mass hysteria.”
At that moment, J. Edgar Hoover decided to start a file on Sinatra. He was also investigated because of a suspicion that he paid doctors $40,000 to declare him unfit to serve in the armed services.
In addition to all of this, the FBI kept a close eye on him because of alleged ties to the mafia. The Bureau followed him for almost 5 decades and had a 2,000 document file on the singer. Sinatra denied any wrongdoing for his entire life, but his image never changed. (7)
5. Sinatra was a close friend of President John F. Kennedy
Sinatra and JFK were friends for years, and Frank even helped with Kennedy’s presidential run campaign. An alternated version of Sinatra’s song “High Hopes” was used as a campaign song.
Due to Sinatra’s alleged connections with the mafia, their relationship suffered a falling out. When Sinatra heard of JFK’s assassination, he spent several days crying in his bedroom. (8)
6. He attempted suicide several times
In the early 1950s, Sinatra started to become overwhelmed by his fame, and his troubled marriage with Ava Gardner. One day, he was walking through Times Square, when he saw a crowd of girls waiting to get into a concert by a new singing sensation, Eddie Fisher. He left the scene feeling washed up, went to his apartment, put his head on the stove, and turned on the gas.
However, his manager found him, lying on the floor and sobbing, before anything bad happened. In the years to come, Sinatra will try killing himself three more times. All of them after fights with his second wife, the actress Ava Gardner. (9)
7. Sinatra was married 4 times and had 3 children
The four marriages are among the most popular facts about Frank Sinatra. During his 83 years lifetime, Frank was married to 4 different women. His first marriage was to Nancy Barbato, with who he had three children – Nancy, Tina, and Frank Jr.
His second marriage with the actress, Ava Gardner, was probably the most turbulent one. They had no kids, but a recent book by Tom Santopietro claims that Ava had two abortions without letting Frank know about them. She claimed that a sane lifestyle necessary for raising children just wasn’t possible with him. The couple soon got divorced after a couple of turbulent years. (10)
Frank’s third wife was Mia Farrow, with whom he was married for only two years. The marriage was very controversial because Mia was only 21 at the time, and Frank was 50 years old. Initially, Frank asked Mia to give up her acting career for him, which she did agree to.
She went on to follow Frank on the shootings of several movies, but she soon got tired of doing nothing and signed to star in Rosemary’s baby. In the meantime, Sinatra cast her for a role in his movie, The Detective. The problem occurred when the filming of Rosemary’s Baby ran over its schedule, and Frank cast another actress for Mia’s role. While she was still shooting the movie, she received the divorce papers from his lawyers. The two got divorced in 1968 but remained friends for the rest of Frank’s life. (11)
Sinatra’s fourth wife was Barbara Sinatra, an American model, with who he was married for over 20 years until his death. (12)
8. Frank Sinatra threatened to have Woody Allen’s legs broken
After Sinatra got divorced from the actress Mia Farrow, the two of them remained close friends for the rest of Frank’s life. Later in life, Mia Farrow was in a relationship with Woody Allen for 12 years. Their relationship ended with a scandal that was revealed in 1992. It turns out that Allen had an intimate relationship with Soon-Yi Previn, Mia’s adopted daughter, who was 21 years old at the time.
In her biography, What Falls Away, Farrow revealed that when Sinatra heard of the affair, he offered her to have the filmmaker’s legs broken. (13)
9. Frank Sinatra hated some of his most popular hits
One of the most surprising facts about Frank Sinatra is that he hated two of his very popular hits. Frank’s fourth wife, Barabara, revealed that he hated some of his most loved songs. He would claim that “My Way” did absolutely nothing for him, and that “Stranger in the Night” was a “piece of sh*t” and “the worst f*cking song I’ve ever heard.”
Even though he hated these songs, they were some of the most popular ones. The song “My Way” has been covered by more than 60 artists, including Aretha Franklin, Elvis Presley, and Sid Vicious. (14) (15)
10. Several people died after they performed “My Way” in The Phillippines
One of the most intriguing facts about Frank Sinatra is that one of his songs caused a series of murders. A strange phenomenon, called the “My Way Killings” has occurred in the early 2000s in the Philippines. At least 6 people have died after performing the song in karaoke bars. These killings drew attention in 2007 when a 29-year-old man was shot by a security guard at a bar in San Mateo. While the man was singing, the guard complained that the singing was off-key, but the singer refused to stop singing. This triggered the guard to pull out his pistol and shoot the singer.
Over the years, several different theories have emerged, from the song being sung among bars where violence and heavy drinking is common to aggressive lyrics of the song.
Many Filipinos refuse to sing the song in public, to avoid troubles and out of superstitious fear. As of 2007, many bars have removed the song from their playlists. (16) (17)
There you have it – those were some of the facts about Frank Sinatra you probably didn’t know about. Now tell us – did we miss anything? What are your favorite facts about America’s first teen idol?
While you’re here – don’t forget to check out our collection of Frank Sinatra’s quotes!