Frank Sinatra(1915-1998)

     Unquestionably one of the great musical treasures of popular music, Frank Sinatra was much more than just a singer. As a public personality, Sinatra helped defined an age along with his cohorts in the "Rat Pack" during the 1960's. As a curious and casual alternative to the emerging hippie culture, Sinatra and his hipsters made great copy for the ever hungry burgeoning tabloid press. But you have to give the man his due as a Hollywood star.
     With a career starting as a light-weight singer in musicals made for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Sinatra's best known films of the forties co-starred hoofer Gene Kelly. Anchor's Aweigh, Take Me Out to the Ball Game and On the Town were wonderful, ebullient movies. When 1950 around, there seemed to be less demand for the talents of Sinatra and after a couple of minor films that were less than successful, the actor felt his screen career was in serious jeopardy. Then came From Here to Eternity. Sinatra lobbied hard for the role, practically getting on his knees to secure the role of the street smart punk G.I. Maggio. He sensed this was a role that could revive his career, and his instincts were right. There are lots of stories about how Columbia Studio head Harry Cohn was convinced to give the role to Sinatra, the most famous of which is expanded upon in the horse's head sequence in The Godfather. Maybe no one will know the truth about that. The one truth we do know is that the feisty New Jersey actor won the Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor for his work in From Here to Eternity. It was no looking back from then one.
     Sinatra's film career found a new edge in serious roles. This is my favorite Sinatra. The dark Sinatra. The Sinatra of Suddenly leading a gang in an attempted presidential assassination. Or Frankie Machine, the drug addict  card dealing would-be drummer beating a tattoo of desperation in The Man with the Golden Arm. Or the moody writer, Dave Hirsh in Some Came Running. The Manchurian Candidate is the last of Sinatra's best work. As Major Bennett Marco in the 1962 film, Sinatra found himself embroiled in an exciting project, once again about an assassination attempt. This time Sinatra was the good guy and his work was terrific. Through the years to his final feature film role in 1980's The First Deadly Sin, it seemed like Sinatra was more or less sleepwalking through the movies. His heart was elsewhere, and he continued to entertain for live audiences who were thrilled to experience the singing icon in person.
     So, another of the great stars of yesteryear passes on into Hollywood legend. Sinatra was an amazing force, a survivor and a fighter that thrilled audiences in song and film. There will never be another "Chairman of the Board."

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