|Hoodlum From Hoboken|
We remember The Voice
Hoodlum From Hoboken
By: Jeff Booth
My thoughts on Sinatra, in my opinion, the greatest entertainer of all time. What couldn't he do?? First, let me say that it was a friend turning me on to Frankie years ago that sparked my interest in all things swing related, especially in the 40's....the music, the clothing, etc. As you've probably figured out, the Frank that I like most is the 1940's Frank.
Let me say first, that I am biased. After he suffered a vocal hemmorage in the early 50's, I think his voice became a bit raspy and his phrasing changed a bit, which I didn't like nearly as much. I also favor his arrangements from the 40's, mostly courtesy of Axel Stordahl. My favorite examples of his voice are the four songs he did for his first movie, Higher and Higher ("I Saw You First", "The Music Stopped", "A Lovely Way To Spend an Evening", and "I Couldn't Sleep a Wink Last Night"). I also think that the two albums "The Voice", and "Put Your Dreams Away" are absolutely brilliant. His voice was so smooth then and nobody before or since has been able to come close to the wonderful phrasing he had back then. My favorite movies are probably Step Lively and On The Town.
Something else that people often neglect to mention about Sinatra is the fact that in the 40's he was a crusader for racial and religious tolerance. He was given a special Academy Award in '45 for his short film The House I Live In on that subject, and toured around speaking at schools about those issues.
A little thing that I think sums up the Frank that we all know and love was an incident that took place in the mid '40's in a small club where Cozy Cole was performing. As two guys stood in front of his table, obstructing his view, Frank asked them politely to move, and they made some rude remarks about Negroes and those who considered them as friends. Frank promptly knocked one to the floor and the other ran!
As for what we're left with now that he's gone..... We have a
lifetime of great music, movies, and my personal definition of
cool. Also, for you hardcore Sinatra fans, there is a recording
from '35 and '36 of the Hoboken Four, his first singing group,
and a five record set of his famous 1943 Hollywood Bowl concert
that it is rumored that only he owned copies of. Maybe these
will come to light sometime in the near future. If anyone finds
out, let me know.
Sinatra and Trudeau
By: Frank Morra
In the early 1980s, Garry Trudeau, author of the Doonesbury comic strip, used to run a series that was highly critical of Frank Sinatra. The emphasis was on Sinatra's supposed gangland connections. This pushed two of my "hot buttons" --- Italians are inordinately sensitive on two subjects, Sinatra and the Mob
My response was to write a very polite letter to the Editor explaining that Trudeau was confusing Frank Sinatra with the "Johnny Fontaine" character in the Godfather book. Almost every professional entertainer in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s had to have some dealings with organized crime, because these were the people who owned the entertainment industry. From what we know of the Cotton Club, the Stork Club and New York nightlife in general, it is a certainty that all entertainers had to have some gangland connections.
There has never been any serious evidence produced that Sinatra had mob connections of any serious or formal nature.
The Post dutifuly printed my letters and Trudeau kept hammering at Sinatra. (Mike Henry actually managed to find them, so they will appear here soon) My third letter was sent in the summer of 1985. Some weeks later, I received a letter from Frank Sinatra. It just says:"Thank you for your kind words.
--- Frank Sinatra
Needless to say, this is one of my prized possessions...
Being an Italian-American male, born in 1944, I am often asked "Was your mother crazy about Frank Sinatra?" My response is "No -- my mom was crazy about Perry Como, and I am named after my dad (Frank Sr.) and he was named after Frank D'Annunzio the man who got my grandfather out of digging ditches for the IRT Subway and into the railroad business."
On the other hand, my youth was spent in an Italian neighborhood where Sinatra's photograph was displayed along with pictures of the saints. I actually thought that St. Francis was the guy who sang "The Way You Wear Your Hair" and that St. Joseph played for the Yankees and got a hit in 54 straight games.
Sinatra and DiMaggio were living proof that Italians could make it in American society --- what was more American than Baseball and Pop Music? And, Sinatra was a sex-symbol to boot! All of those pretty little blonde girls fainting at his feet did wonders for my self image. My parents had a great fear of "American People" --- when I got razzed by the kids when we moved to the suburbs, I always thought of Sinatra.
I sort of wish I had been named after him. I can always be thankful that I was not named after Pierino (Perry) Como.
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