December 12, 1915 – May 14, 1998
“I feel sorry for people who don’t drink. When they wake up in the morning, that’s as good as they’re going to feel all day.”
Frank was born on December 12, 1915, in Hoboken, New Jersey. The house was located at 412 Monroe Street and has since been torn down.
Hollywood is not the only place in the world that disrespects its history. (BTW, when did disrespect become a verb? Ricki Lake?) There is a plaque to commemorate the event, located at the front of the property.
Thanks to Stacy Weinstein for those photos. Stacy tells me that the next building over is a bar called, “From Here to Eternity.” It’s been closed due to a zoning dispute with the town. Now if Frank were alive…
Best song? Some would say “New York, New York” – some would say “My Way“. My particular favorite is “This Town“. So finger snappin catchy. You don’t have to buy it, but if you click the Amazon link, you can hear :30 of it. Thanks to my Honeybee friend for turning me on to it.
To some (Connie Chung), Frank was nothing but a boozer and a womanizer. To others, he was a GOD – and a boozer and a womanizer.
Frank was doing a concert in Richmond, Virginia on March 6, 1994 – when he collapsed on stage. He was singing “My Way,” when he fell off his stool, hit his head on the speaker, and landed on the floor. His son Frank Jr. was conducting the orchestra. “It took 10 years off my life,” was his comment. Paramedics said that there was nothing medically wrong with him, and a couple of hours later, Frank walked out of the hospital, and took his private jet back to California. I think this was the beginning of the end.
On November 1st, 1996 – Frank was hospitalized for a pinched nerve. He entered under the name Albert Francis, and was put into room 8016 of the VIP wing at Cedars Sinai.
He also had a slight case of pneumonia and was hooked up to a heart monitor. He was released after 8 days.
Frank lived with fourth wife Barbara, at 915 North Foothill Road, in Beverly Hills.
Here are the gates that the ambulance no doubt whisked him through on the last night of his life.
Thank you to my pals Mark Cramer, Lilieth Lawrence and Janet Schiessl for those photographs.
In January of 1997 – Frank was hospitalized with an apparent heart attack. This was two days after being released from another hospital stay.
In late 1997 – Frank instructed his family that “no heroic measures be taken, to keep him alive.” He was losing it, big time. Reports basically all say that he was completely out of it. He didn’t know where he was, and he lost his motor skills.
On Thanksgiving of 1997, Nancy Sinatra put this posting on the Sinatra official website:
“We realize he has been through a lot in his 81 years and that God may have a schedule other than what we would like, but he is tough and who is to say that he won’t get back in the race? Maybe we can make a small miracle together.”
On his 82nd birthday on December 12th, Frank got 3 cakes: Banana, Coconut and Boston Cream pie. He received 100,000 greetings from around the world, on his website. I’m sure he enjoyed each and every one of them.
On January 23rd, he was taken from his Beverly Hills home, to Cedars again, for high blood pressure. The doctors brought it down, and he was kept over night, for observation, and returned home via ambulance the next day.
On February 11th, Frank was back in Cedars. Family members said he was going in for “tests” and that he was “doing okay.”
On May 14, he was resting comfortably in the downstairs bedroom of his home. His condition was stable. Above his bed were a rosary and a crucifix, given to him during last rites which were performed earlier. He told his wife Barbara to go out and enjoy dinner with friends. Just after 9 PM, Frank summoned one of his two nurses and complained of chest pains and dizziness. A few minutes later, he had a severe heart attack. At 9:14, the nurse called 911, and in 4 minutes, they were on the scene. At 9:35, they arrived at Cedars Emergency Room (thank you Terri).
At 9:30 Barbara was notified at her dinner table at Morton’s. One of the other guests drove her first to the Sinatra home (but they had left) and then to the hospital. By the time she got there, doctors had miraculously stabilized Frank. Barbara hugged him and told him to “Fight, fight, fight.” He whispered, “I’m losing,” closed his eyes, and died. It was 10:35 PM. According to one account, his last words were “I’m losing,” uttered to a nurse, shortly before his death.
Supposedly, doctors officially pronounced him dead, 15 minutes after he actually died, because 10:50 is the official time of death. I don’t know why.
Findadeath.com friend Natalie in Pittsburgh writes with this explanation: It took the docs 15 minutes to pronounce him dead, because in most hospitals nurses take care of the patient’s needs, and they only see the doc for a few minutes a day (basically to make sure that the patient is still actually breathing). When he died, the nurse said “He’s dead”, but had to call to see if one of his attending docs was in the hospital, then page said in-house doc, wait for his call back, explain to him that he’s dead, then convince said doc to come and actually set eyes on Mr. Sinatra and say with his own two lips, “He’s dead.” Sometimes it has taken me an hour to get an in-house or ER doc to come and pronounce a patient dead, I’ve had rigormortis setting in before I’ve been allowed to officially call them dead. Even fame can’t get you a doc when you need it. (Push this little button and the nurse will appear, although I always appeared.) Thanks so much, Natalie.
A doctor called Frank Jr (who was returning a video, and missed the call), Nancy and Tina.
Findadeath.com friend Kevin Kusinitz sends this piece of trivia in:
Nancy Sinatra was foolish enough to admit that the reason she wasn’t at Dad’s side when the curtain rang down was because she was home watching the final episode of Seinfeld, adding sadly, “I could have taped it!” Thanks Kevin!
That night, the Empire State Building in New York, NY, bathed itself in blue lights in memory of Frank.
Findadeath.com friend Ken Wert sends us this: Similar to the Empire State Building’s blue light tribute, the Cadillac division of General Motors took out an entire page ad in the New York Times after Frank died – it had a picture of a classic 1950s era Caddie with high fins and a picture of Frank – the caption read “Thanks for the Ride.”
Frank was taken to the McCormick mortuary in Inglewood, to be pumped full of the forever fluid. He was dressed in a blue suit. His body stayed there for 5 days. Mia Farrow visited the open casket in the mortuary, and I heard that she slipped a ring in that said, “Dream,” in the casket. Nancy announced this on the website, and pissed Barbara off royally. I don’t know if this is true either, but Nancy (with the worst plastic surgery lips I’ve ever seen – trout pout) put Tootsie Rolls, BlackJack gum and Cherry Life Savers in his pockets.
On Tuesday the 19th, there was a rosary service for Frank at Good Shepherd Catholic Church.
Frank’s casket was brought in, covered with 1000 gardenias. Pallbearers included Don Rickles and Steve Lawrence. Little Mass cards with a picture of Frank holding a puppy were handed out.
His body stayed in the church overnight, for the funeral the next day. The church was filled with white roses and cherry blossoms. Some of the attendees included a very large Liza with a Z, Jack Nicholson, Jack Lemmon, Mia Farrow, Dom DeLuise, Marlo Thomas, Tom Selleck, Bruce Springsteen, Lorna Luft (how did she ever free her schedule?), Faye Dunaway, Jerry Lewis, Bob Dylan, Vic Damone, Diahann Carroll, Debbie Reynolds, Larry King, Robert Wagner, Tony Curtis, Gregory Peck and Wayne Newton. Deep breath. Sophia Loren, Anthony Quinn, Ben Vereen, Jill St. John, Milton Berle, Tim Conway, Connie Stevens, Don Rickles, Kirk Douglas and Tony Danza also attended. Nancy Reagan showed up late, and the Secret Service made Ed McMahon move.
Robert Wagner spoke, and reportedly broke down sobbing. Frank Jr. spoke and said his father “lived to a ripe old age, and it certainly wasn’t because he took care of himself.” The rest of the spoiled ungrateful Sinatra children spoke as well. Midway though the service, Frank’s song “Put Your Dreams Away,” was played. Nancy Sinatra supposedly slipped a mini bottle of Jack Daniels into Frank’s casket (was there any more room?). Also stuck in the big box were a pack of Camels, a Zippo lighter and 10 dimes. I guess the dimes date back to the 1963 kidnapping attempt (long story, don’t take me there) of Frank Jr. He never wanted to get caught unable to make a phone call.
Afterwards, Frank’s casket was taken by hearse to Van Nuys,
then flown in a private plane destined for Palm Springs, to be buried in Desert Memorial Park.
His burial vault is bronze lined.
Frank left his wife Barbara most of his estate – and gave each of his kids a significant sum of cash and royalties. It’s legend that Barbara and the kids did not get along. A provision in Frank’s will stated that if anyone contested it, they would immediately be disinherited. A big ol “SHADDAP!” from beyond the grave.
In January of 2000, Frank Jr announced that he is dropping the “Junior” from his name. Now, imagine seeing “Frank Sinatra” on a billboard now. It just doesn’t seem right.
Trivia: The sign outside Frank’s Palm Spring Estate read, “Forget the dog, beware of the Owner.”
More: When Frank heard that Woody Allen was sleeping with Mia’s adopted daughter, he reportedly offered to break Woody’s legs.
Enough Trivia: “The Rat Pack,” was originally lead by Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. Just a bunch of drinking buddies that hung out at the Bogie/Bacall house in Holmby Hills, and included Judy Garland. Once Bogie died, Frank carried on the tradition. Made it his own, really.
Findadeath.com friend David Fowles took this snap of Frank’s star, in Palm Springs.
May 16, 2003: The post office in Hoboken, NJ, has been renamed after Frank to commemorate the fifth anniversary of his death. I’m sure he would have been flattered. Nancy Sinatra was on hand for the festivities.
August 2003: Findadeath.com friend Matt Andrews sends us this: Some new info from the Sinatra book that came out in June 2003. According to George Jacobs’ book (Frank Sinatra’s personal valet from 1953-1968), Sinatra had several personal quirks. He was a neat freak, never showering less than four times a day. He hated drugs, booze-good, drugs-bad (even though Peter Lawford and JFK did lines of cocaine at his Palm Springs home). He wore “elevator” shoes and had a morning “hairpiece ritual” that took 30 minutes every morning. He was apparently quite well hung. He had affairs with everyone including Marilyn Monroe, Greta Garbo, Lana Turner, etc, etc.
UPDATE February 2005, from Findadeath friend Eric: Regarding the Manson Family – Susan Atkins had this to say, “Frank Sinatra was on the list, they were going to hang him from a meat hook while playing his music, skin him alive & then make purses that would be sold in all the hippie shops in the district, that way everyone could own a piece of Frank Sinatra.”
I’m reading a book by Sinatra’s valet George Jacobs. Fascinating book. He didn’t consider Frank a racist, but Frank’s nickname for George was “Spook.” George is black. Dean Martin was Wop, Gene Kelly was Shanty, Cary Grant was Sheenie, Jerry Lewis was Jew, Laurence Harvey was Ladyboy and Johnny Mathis was the African Queen.
It’s a great book, and really blows the lid off of Frank and Mia’s marriage, and really REALLY REALLY goes after Joe Kennedy. Thanks for Mark and Donna for turning me on to that.
November 2003, my pal Lisa Burks sends us this great information about Frank’s bodyguard. Thanks Lisa. Top research.
WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO BANJO? — Remember back in 1976 when mobster-turned-informant Jimmy “The Weasel” Fratianno squealed in open court that Frank Sinatra (through Jilly Rizzo, ‘natch) had asked The Family to break the legs of his own bodyguard, Andy “Banjo” Celentano? This is the bodyguard whom Frank later claimed to have never known, despite Shecky Greene and others going on record as having had their clocks cleaned by the same man on Sinatra’s behalf. He said, he said, he said.
Anyway, The Weasel’s widely-publicized story goes that Mr. S. was none too pleased that Banjo had allegedly supplied behind-the-scenes tidbits to the National Enquirer, and was following up that no-no with plans to write a tell-all book. He supposedly wasn’t to be clipped — at least not right away — just roughed up enough to convince him to put down his pen. Hospitalization was the result of choice, says Jimmy, and it was a favor The Weasel & Co. were willing to do, if only they could find the guy.
Banjo was living with his wife and kids in Burbank, California at the time. Now, maybe it’s just me because I’m familiar with the area, but I can’t imagine how a 6-foot-plus, 240-pounder sporting a handlebar mustache, who has been described by his own daughter as being a dead-ringer for Tony Soprano, could blend in unnoticed in such a quaint hamlet. But, according to Jimmy’s authorized biography “The Last Mafioso,” Celentano wasn’t listed in the phone book so the job went by the wayside. (Editorial Note: Maybe the problem was that they were looking up “Celamtano” (sic) as he was repeatedly referred to in the book. Good thing for Andy that spell check and Google hadn’t been invented yet, yaknowwhatimean?)
According to “Last Mafioso” author Orvid Demaris, Weasel associate Mike Rizzitello was found to be carrying a piece of paper with Banjo’s name on it when he was arrested by Los Angeles police in January 1978. They questioned Jimmy about it, filed a report, but nothing was ever done about it because they and the FBI wanted to pick his brain about Bigger Fish for their frying pan. And, as it turned out, unbeknownst to just about everyone involved, Banjo was already dead by that then. Apparently they missed the October 11, 1977 front page story in The Burbank Daily Review titled “Sinatra’s bodyguard dies in city hospital.” *duh*
Author Demaris followed up on Banjo’s whereabouts, noting that his cause of death was a heart attack. But seeing as he writes about him as Celamtano I wasn’t convinced that he had pulled the right death certificate. So I went directly to The Celentano family with my concerns. His daughter, Toni, graciously sets the record straight here, exclusively for Find-A-Death readers:
“In response to your question about my father, he had heart disease and died of a massive coronary heart attack at age 58 — the same as all of his brothers who have since died the same death at young ages. As for a ‘contract being put out on my father,’ it’s all fabricated nonsense. My father held Frank Sinatra in high regard, and from what I understand, remained on good terms with Mr. Sinatra and his family until his death.”
As for the National Enquirer, Toni confirmed to me that they have several close friends at the magazine (she once published “Music Confidential” through the same company) and that Banjo did indeed write a few stories, but they were all decidedly pro-Sinatra. Nothing worth breaking bones over. She says that the book rumor, however, is false.
Coincidentally, on October 8th — about two weeks prior to my pursuing this story — Toni noted on her website this about her father: “Yesterday was the 26th anniversary of my father’s death. He died young of a heart attack and I remember how he used to joke that we’d all hang out at his grave for the first few months and then we’d stop coming around. That part is true, but I’ve never forgotten him.”
I don’t think he should be forgotten either — you can visit his grave cyberly here.
Oh, and for those Enquiring minds who want to know: Andy acquired his nickname early in life. Growing up he wore round glasses that looked like banjos.
Back to Frank:
Findadeath.com friend Ken Barocas sends this: “I heard Mia Farrow on the Howard Stern show, and Howard asked Mia if Frank offered to break Woody-Li’s legs. Mia said yes, adding “Frank is so sweet” (Wow!). Double wow. Thanks, Ken.
Hey Scott, I was reading Lisa’s tale about Sinatra’s bodyguard, and thought we’d all enjoy a spiritual moment with the following news, featured on imdb.com. The “big hands” are a clear sign that this is the return of the late, lamented Mr. C. -Dr. K.
Rachel Griffiths Gives Birth to Banjo
Six Feet Under actress Rachel Griffiths has given birth to her first child with husband Andrew Taylor, a baby boy named Banjo. Banjo Patrick Taylor was born in Melbourne, Australia on Saturday, weighing 3.4 kilograms – just a day after Griffiths presented an award to actress pal Toni Collette at the Australian Film Institute Awards. Griffiths’ publicist, Maria Farmer, said mum, dad and their baby were all well: “He’s very blond and has big hands.”
Thanks, Dr. K!
Also, that slag Barbara Sinatra is selling Franko’s death house, complete with furnishings!
Wanna see his mailbox? Of course you do!