Ol' Blue Eyes Only
"The best revenge is massive success," Frank Sinatra once said, and he certainly got that. Here, in honor of his birthday, are 18 things that might surprise you about the bobby-soxers' idol who became Chairman of the Board.
He Nearly Didn't Make it
Francis Albert (seen here on the day of his First Communion) was initially thought to be stillborn. As a doctor attended to his ailing mother, his grandmother Rose held the baby under running water until he finally started to breathe.
He Couldn’t Read Music
And yet even managed to conduct an orchestra from time to time.
He Refused to Change His Name
Bandleader Harry James wanted his new young crooner to go by the cooler-sounding "Frankie Satin," but Sinatra would have none of it.
He Loved Orange
It's "the happiest color," Sinatra said.
He was an adulterer at 23
This infamous mugshot stemmed from his being arrested for adultery, a crime in 1938. Sinatra stood accused of seducing "a single female of good repute." He was released on $1,500 bond, and the changed were later dropped after authorities learned that the woman in question was married.
He Loved Grilled Cheese
A grilled cheese sandwich (later linked to an active sex life) was reportedly the last thing he ate before dying.
This piece was completed in May 1992, shortly before Sinatra learned that his best friend Jilly Rizzo had died in a car crash. "After Jilly's death," said pal Tony Oppedisano, "I never saw him pick up a paintbrush again."
He Was an Early Champion of Civil Rights
He performed and became friends with black artists like Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington and Count Basie (seen here) and refused to play whites-only clubs. In 1945, Sinatra made short film in which he spoke against racial intolerance. He later gave financial support to Martin Luther King.
There’s an Asteroid Named After Him
For real. Its actual designation: "7934 Sinatra."
He Liked Joe Piscopo’s Impersonation of Him
But not Phil Hartman's.
He’s on a Stamp
It's a 42-cent U.S. Postal Service commemorative stamp, issued posthumously in 2008.
He Wasn't Wowed by Brando
Sinatra referred to him as "Mumbles" and considered him "the world's most overrated actor."
He Attempted Suicide
It happened during his stormy love affair with Ava Gardner, his wife from 1951–1957. One night, after she refused to sleep with him, Gardner was just dozing off when she heard a gunshot in the next room—Sinatra had fired into a pillow. "At least his overdoses were quieter," she recalled in the Daily Mail. Had he actually tried to kill himself on other occasions? "All the f---ing time,' the Golden Age actress said. "It was a cry for help. I always fell for it."
He Loved Dogs
His mother wouldn't let him have one as a child. As an adult, he had plenty of them.
He Loved Mia's Pixie Haircut
Legend had it that Sinatra was so angry when his young bride cut off her blond tresses that he had her served with divorce papers. In 2013, Mia Farrow corrected the record, noting that her late husband "loved the cut, and so I kept it short." (Back in the '60s, Sinatra's ex Ava Gardner offered her own sardonic take: "I always knew Frank would end up in bed with a boy.")
He Could Have Starred in 'Die Hard'
Because Bruce Willis's character was based on one that Sinatra had played in the 1960s, 20th Century Fox was contractually obligated to offer him the role. He passed.
He and 'Seinfeld' Went Out on the Same Day
Sinatra died on May 14, 1998, the same day the "Seinfeld" finale aired on NBC. He was 82 years old.
He Hated "Strangers in the Night"
It didn't matter that the 1966 single was one of his few No. 1 hits. He wasn't crazy about "My Way" either. But he loved the Beatles' "Something," which he called "the greatest love song of the past 50 years."
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