Died: March 16, 2016 (at age 72)
Francis Wayne "Frank" Sinatra (January 10, 1944 - March 16, 2016), professionally known as Frank Sinatra Jr., was an American singer, songwriter, and conductor.
He was the son of singer and actor Frank Sinatra and his first wife, Nancy Barbato Sinatra; the younger brother of singer and actress Nancy Sinatra; and older brother of television producer Tina Sinatra.
Francis Wayne Sinatra was born January 10, 1944, in Jersey City, New Jersey, into the household of one of the most popular singers in the world, Frank Sinatra. The younger Sinatra, who was not technically a "junior" (as his father's middle name was Albert) but was nonetheless known as Frank Jr. throughout his life, hardly saw his father, who was constantly on the road, either performing or working in films. However, Sinatra recalled wanting to become a pianist and songwriter from his earliest days. His father wanted to name him after Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was President at the time of his birth.
Sinatra was kidnapped, at the age of 19, on December 8, 1963, at Harrah's Lake Tahoe (room 417). He was released two days later after his father paid the $240,000 ransom demanded by the kidnappers. Barry Keenan, Johnny Irwin, and Joe Amsler were soon captured, prosecuted, convicted, and sentenced to long prison terms for kidnapping, of which they served only small portions. Mastermind Keenan was later adjudged to have been legally insane at the time of the crime and hence not legally responsible for his actions. Famed attorney Gladys Root represented one of the three men.
A rumor at the time was that Frank Sr. arranged this in an attempt to gain publicity for his son's fledgling singing career - a rumor believed to have inspired the plot for the Hawaii Five-O episode "Tiger by the Tail" - but this was proven to be false. The kidnappers demanded that all communication be conducted by payphone. During these conversations, Frank Sr. became concerned he would not have enough change. This prompted Frank Sr. to carry ten dimes with him at all times for the rest of his life; he was even buried with ten dimes in his pocket.
At the time of the kidnapping, Frank Sr. and the Rat Pack were filming Robin and the 7 Hoods. The stress of the kidnapping, in addition to the assassination of Sinatra's close friend John F. Kennedy just a few weeks previous, caused him to seriously consider shutting down production completely, though the film was ultimately completed.
By his early teens, Sinatra was performing at local clubs and venues. At age 19, he became the vocalist for Sam Donahue's band. He also spent considerable time with Duke Ellington, learning the music business.
Sinatra spent most of his early career on the road. By 1968 he had performed in 47 states and 30 countries, had appeared as guest on several television shows, including two episodes of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour with sister Nancy, hosted a 10-week summer replacement show for The Dean Martin Show, had sung with his own band in Las Vegas casinos, and had been the opening act for bigger names at other casinos. During that time, he gained a reputation for rigorous rehearsals and demanding standards for his musicians.
Sinatra appeared in the Sammy Davis Jr. drama A Man Called Adam in 1966. Sinatra also appeared on the television crime drama Adam-12, in the episode (originally broadcast on March 13, 1974) titled "Clinic on 18th Street." He played a deputy district attorney named Gino Bardi.
The National Archives now houses a fifteen-minute song and monologue composed by Sinatra in 1976, Over the Land. It evokes the memory of the nation's flag and the nation's experiences with the flag since the War of 1812.
Starting in 1988, at his father's request, Sinatra placed his career on hold in order to act as his father's musical director and conductor. Poet/vocalist Rod McKuen said this:
As the senior Sinatra outlived one by one all of his conductors and nearly every arranger, and began to grow frail himself, his son knew he needed someone that he trusted near him. was also savvy enough to know that performing was everything to his dad and the longer he kept that connection with his audience, the longer he would stay vital and alive.
In 1989, Sinatra sang "Wedding Vows in Vegas" on the Was (Not Was) album, What Up, Dog?, later performing the song with the band on Late Night with David Letterman.
During the 1995-1996 television season, Sinatra was offered the role of Vic Fontaine on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Despite being a fan of the show and finding the role interesting, he turned it down, declaring that he only wanted to play an alien. James Darren accepted the part, after demurring at first because he found descriptions of the part too "on the nose", changing his mind when he read the script.
Sinatra guest-starred on an episode of Son of the Beach in the episode "You Only Come Once", playing the villain Stinkfinger, and he sang his own theme song for the character. He had a guest spot playing himself on The Sopranos, in a role either mocking or acknowledging all the stories about his father's involvement with the mob - he lets Paulie Walnuts refer to him as the "Chairboy of the Board." His sister, Nancy, also appeared as herself in a later episode.
Sinatra appeared in a 2006 episode of Family Guy, "Brian Sings and Swings" (Season 4, Episode 19), where he was introduced as the "Member of The Board". He performed several tunes during the show, accompanied by Stewie and Brian. During the ending credits, he sang the Family Guy theme song. He also recorded a commentary for its DVD release. He returned in a 2008 episode, "Tales of a Third Grade Nothing" (Season 7, Episode 6), where he sang with Brian again, with Stewie returning as a sideline investor supporting the duo. A third episode featuring Sinatra, "Bookie of the Year" (Season 15, Episode 2), aired posthumously on October 2, 2016, and was dedicated to his memory.
In 2006, Sinatra released an album titled That Face!, including the songs "You'll Never Know" and the self-penned song "Spice."
Sinatra made a brief cameo appearance in the series premiere episode of the 2010 CBS legal comedy-drama The Defenders, as well as the show's series finale.
On August 17, 2015, Sinatra sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" at Yankee Stadium. His father's recording of "Theme from New York, New York" is played following the end of every Yankees home game. He performed the song at the 2014 Belmont Stakes.
Sinatra's song "Black Night," written and sung by him, was used as the theme song to Rick Alverson's 2015 feature film Entertainment, starring Gregg Turkington and John C. Reilly.
Sinatra married Cynthia McMurry on October 18, 1998; they divorced on January 7, 2000. He is survived by a son from a previous relationship, Michael Sinatra, born March 1, 1987, a college professor who, as of 2012 lived in Japan.
Sinatra underwent surgery for prostate cancer in January 2006.
On March 16, 2016, the Sinatra family released a statement to the Associated Press that Sinatra had died unexpectedly of cardiac arrest while on tour in Daytona Beach, Florida, at the age of 72.
Sinatra said that his famous name had opened some doors, but "a famous father means that in order to prove yourself, you have to work three times harder than the guy off the street."
Music critic Richard Ginell wrote of a 2003 concert by Sinatra:
Sinatra Jr. might have had an easier time establishing himself had he gone into real estate. But his show made me awfully glad he decided music was his calling. There aren't too many singers around with Sinatra's depth of experience in big band music, or his knowledge of the classic American songbook. There are even fewer with such real feeling for the lyrics of a song, and such a knack for investing a song with style and personality.
Sinatra composed several songs, including:
- "Believe in Me"
- "Black Night"
- "What Were You Thinking Of?"
- Young Love For Sale (1965)
- The Sinatra Family Wish You a Merry Christmas (1968) - 4 tracks
- Spice (1971)
- His Way! (1972)
- It's Alright (1977)
- As I Remember It (1996)
- That Face! (2006)
- Dora Hall - Once Upon A Tour (1971)
- Pat Longo's Super Big Band - Billy May For President (1983)
- Was (Not Was) - What Up, Dog? (1989)
- Gumby (1989)
- Frank Sinatra - Duets II (1994)
- Pat Longo's Super Big Band - Here's That Swing Thing (1994)
- Louise Baranger Jazz Band - Trumpeter's Prayer (1998)
- Steve Tyrell - Songs of Sinatra (2005)
- Patrick Williams - "Home Sweet Home" (2015)