Growing up on the streets of Hoboken, New Jersey, made Frank Sinatra determined to work hard to get ahead. Starting out as a saloon singer in many down-trotted bars, he got his first major break in 1935 as part of The Hoboken Four on a popular radio show, Major Bowes Amateur Hour. In 1939 Sinatra caught the attention of Tommy Dorsey and his orchestra. He sang the first ever No. 1 song on Billboard, I’ll Never Smile Again. That same year he married Nancy Barbato with whom he had three children, Nancy, Tina and Frank, Jr.
Sinatra. In 1942 Sinatra started his earnest solo career and instantly found fame as the number one singing star among teenage music fans of the era, especially the young women and girls who were referred to as the Bobbysoxers. In 1944 Sinatra’s acting career was beginning and he made a statement with a lead role in Anchors Aweigh (1945) alongside Gene Kelly. The following year Sinatra was awarded a special Oscar for his part in a short film against intolerance called The House I Live In (1946).
His career on high, Sinatra went from, recording his first album (The Voice of Frank Sinatra) at Columbia and starring in several movies. A scandalous public affair with Ava Gardner broke up Sinatra’s marriage. A second marriage to Gardner followed in 1951 was the start of a down spiral. Record sales dwindling, live appearances failing to sell out, and Sinatra’s vocal chords hemorrhaging live on stage their toll. Sinatra continued to act. Receiving the musical drama Meet Danny Wilson (1951) and fighting for, and winning, the coveted role of Maggio in From Here to Eternity (1953) increased popularity. He won an Oscar for Best Supporting actor and followed this with a profound performance as the deranged assassin John Baron in Suddenly (1954) and Academy Award nomination for Best Actor, in the powerful drama The Man With the Golden Arm (1955). On record Sinatra was also back on a high having signed with Capitol records and riding high on the charts with the album In the Wee Small Hours (1953) and the single Young at Heart (1954).
Throughout the 1950s Sinatra not only recorded a slew of critically and commercially successful albums, his acting career remained on a high as he gave strong and memorable performances in such films as Guys and Dolls (1955), The Joker is Wild (1957), Kings Go Forth (1957) and Some Came Running (1958). He also dabbled with producing in the 1950s, first bringing the western Johnny Concho to the big screen and, along with Frank Capra, A Hole in the Head (1959), in which he co-starred with Edward G. Robinson. Continuing this trend into the 1960s, Sinatra produced Ocean’s 11 (1960), Sergeants 3 (1963, and Robin and the 7 Hoods (1964) as well as starting his own record label, Reprise Records, in 1961.
Sinatra turned 50 in 1965 and, in many ways, his career once again peaked, recording the album September of My Years which won the Grammy for album of the year and making his directorial debut with the anti-war film None but the Brave (1965) His final acting performance in 1987 was as a retired detective seeking vengeance on the killers of his granddaughter in an episode of Magnum P.I. entitled “Laura”. On stage, Sinatra was as prolific as ever, playing both nationally and internationally to sold out crowds in stadiums and arenas.
In 1993 Sinatra stepped back into Capitol studios to record his final albums, Duets and Duets II (both of which were highly successful) Sinatra passed away on May 14th 1998. Frank Sinatra was a legendary Hollywood icon, a profound film actor, an iconic musician, and a well known ladies man. There were so many sides to Sinatra, that it’s hard to categorize him under any label. He was always himself, always living to the fullest. He was (like many celebrities) loved and hated, but that never mattered to him. Frank didn’t need anyone to like him. All he wanted was someone to listen and someone to care. That’s exactly what he got. “You gotta love livin’, baby, ’cause dyin’ is a pain in the ass.” -Frank Sinatra