Sleep warm, Frankie
March 18, 2016 5:12 AM   Subscribe

Francis Wayne "Frank" Sinatra, better known as Frank Sinatra Jr, died March 16th 2016 aged 72 of a heart attack while on tour in Florida.

Born to Frank and Nancy Sinatra in New Jersey, Frank Sr wished him to be named after Franklin Roosevelt, coming to the end of his 3rd term as President of the United States at the time of his birth.

While at Harrah's in Lake Tahoe, Sinatra Jr was kidnapped by three men and released after two days when Sinatra Sr paid a $240,000 ransom after an initial offer of $1 million was rebuffed. Quickly apprehended, the men were sentenced to long prison terms and the money returned. The leader of the group, Barry Keenan, was later found to be insane at the time of the offence. A rumour that the kidnapping had been arranged by Sinatra Sr to boost Jr's singing career was proven to be false.

For many, following the same career path as arguably one of the most successful American popular music singers in history would be too daunting to contemplate. Not so for Frank Jr, who despite comparatively moderate success was noted as being a singer with "real feeling for the lyrics... and such a knack for investing in a song with style and personality".

Sinatra Jr himself said to the Washington Post in 2006 "I was never a success, never had a hit movie or hit TV show or hit record. I just had visions of doing the best quality of music."

Starting in his teenage years, Sinatra Jr performed at local clubs, becoming a vocalist for Sam Donahue's band and learning at ropes from jazz supremo Duke Ellington. By 24, he had performed in the majority of US states and in 30 countries as well as beginning to appear on television.

In 1976, Sinatra Jr composed a 15 minute song and monologue called Over the Land, now at the National Archives.

In 1988, he became Sinatra Sr's musical director, putting his own career on hold as his father began to enter his twilight years.

1989 saw Sinatra Jr start to branch out from his more traditional past work with a collaboration with pop group Was (Not Was), and the beginnings of a move into a new era of television came in the mid-90s first with an ultimately declined role on Star Trek DS9 and then a guest-star spot on short-lived Baywatch spoof Son of the Beach.

His father's mob connections were sent up in his appearance in 2000 on The Sopranos, but Sinatra Jr was introduced to a whole new generation in his appearance on the fourth season Family Guy episode "Brian Sings and Swings" in 2006, with several tunes performed including the show's theme song over the end credits and a return in 2008 episode "Tales of a Third Grade Nothing".

An accomplished composer, Sinatra Jr penned multiple songs including well-received Black Night and Spice. His last album That Face! was released in 2006 to an ultimately warm reception, despite the continued comparisons to his father.

Sinatra Jr's own family life is a little murkier with his denial of a son Frank Sinatra III born in 1978 brought to the fore in a 2010 hospitalisation. Son Michael was born in 1987 and worked in Japan teaching before a recent return to the US as a Disneyland cast member. Sinatra Jr was previously married to Cynthia McMurry from 1998 to 2000, who had worked as the Sinatra family's lawyer.
posted by NordyneDefenceDynamics (18 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Coincidentally I just read Frank Sinatra Jr. Is Worth Six Buddy Grecos linked from Longform. An interesting story about someone I knew nothing about.
posted by bendy at 5:20 AM on March 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

When I saw this news I had hoped that he had a son named Frank. I looked and only saw Michael. I was disappointed as I had hoped we could see a Frank III & Hank III tour.

Though it looks like there *was* a possible Frank III(?)

I still have some vague hope.

Other than that, RIP. He certainly wasn't his old man, but he was his own man and he could still croon quite well.
posted by symbioid at 5:21 AM on March 18, 2016

Sinatra Sr paid a $240,000 ransom after an initial offer of $1 million was rebuffed

I know what you meant but this sentence sums up the kind of comedy premise I love.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 5:29 AM on March 18, 2016 [4 favorites]

Nancy Sinatra, Sr. (Frank's first wife and Little Frankie's mother) is still alive at 98 years of age.
posted by briank at 5:39 AM on March 18, 2016 [6 favorites]

No disrespect, but I saw a thing on twitter where some local newscast was announcing the news over a picture of Joe Piscapo.

posted by Trochanter at 5:43 AM on March 18, 2016 [3 favorites]

Looking for more info about the kidnapping, I came across this website yesterday. Jan & Dean (Two Girls for Every Boy, Dead Man's Curve)were friends with Keenan and were involved tangentially:
The case is infamous, and the tale has been told in vivid detail. Bungling criminals, agitated mastermind, insanely good luck at road blocks, a thoughtful and cooperative captive, one suspect's numerous stints in the trunk of the getaway car, Sinatra Sr.'s command post at the Mapes Hotel in Reno, the phone calls, the $240,000 ransom drop, and Junior's release near his mother's home in Bel Air. In all, a harrowing seven days in December.

The saga has been presented as comic farce. Indeed, it was a sensational case with big headlines — a poster caper for the word bizarre. The suspects (Keenan and two accomplices) were dubbed "rank amateurs" by the prosecuting attorney. The country (suspects included) was still reeling from the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in November. Jack Ruby had shot and killed Kennedy's assassin on live television two days later, and the Sinatra kidnapping headlines followed less than a month after. In this uncertain and turbulent climate, many thought America was falling apart, her citizens losing their minds.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 5:49 AM on March 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Oh holy crap. I RTFA and in fact the original ransom WAS $240,000, Frank DID offer a million, and his offer WAS rejected.

Why has there not been a movie about this?
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 5:55 AM on March 18, 2016 [3 favorites]

OK, I'm done here. Stealing Sinatra starring William H Macy, 2003
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 6:10 AM on March 18, 2016 [4 favorites]

Also, Frank Jr. did a great job on the Gumby Theme for the 1989 Gumby Album, a tribute to Art Clokey [Art previously].

posted by foonly at 6:11 AM on March 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

An impossible mantle to bear, and he did it well.

Rest easy, Frank Jr.
posted by Capt. Renault at 6:28 AM on March 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

posted by Splunge at 6:51 AM on March 18, 2016


Wedding Vows In Vegas (the abovementioned Was Not Was song) is haunting and well worth a listen.
posted by oneironaut at 7:52 AM on March 18, 2016

posted by Ber at 7:52 AM on March 18, 2016

Aw man, Seth Macfarlane must be pretty bummed.
posted by Mooseli at 9:25 AM on March 18, 2016

posted by luckynerd at 12:28 PM on March 18, 2016

He certainly wasn't his old man, but he was his own man

In some ways, he was a better man.

posted by oneswellfoop at 2:29 PM on March 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Stealing Sinatra starring William H Macy, 2003

"No, but, Frank, see, I was bringin' you this deal for you to loan me the money to put in. It's my deal here, see?"

posted by rhizome at 6:57 PM on March 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Frank Sinatra Jr. was a fine musician in his own right; he'd probably have had a far more noted career if he'd been named John Smith --- it's damn near impossible to not be overshadowed by a legend like his father, especially in the same field.

(I remember reading once that some people actually believed Frank Sr. had arranged the whole Frank Jr. kidnapping as a publicity stunt to boost to his own career: very much not true. Not saying Frank Sr. was the nicest dude on the planet, just that he was a fiercely loving and protective father who'd never risk one hair on his kid's head like that.)
posted by easily confused at 5:18 AM on March 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

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