The Greatest Stories Ever Told (in Esquire)
October 11, 2003 10:12 AM   Subscribe

The Greatest Stories Ever Told (in Esquire) The magazine picks six candidates to be the best story from its first 70 years. Gay Talese's "Frank Sinatra Has a Cold" was their choice as the best.
posted by kirkaracha (6 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
What? No Sedaris?!
posted by bcwinters at 10:37 AM on October 11, 2003

In journalism school, we studied "Frank Sinatra Has A Cold" for about two weeks. It was the only worthwhile experience I got out of the school.
posted by jpoulos at 11:33 AM on October 11, 2003

We studied Frank Sinatra Has A Cold in one of my classes in journalism school. I love that story.
posted by SisterHavana at 11:41 AM on October 11, 2003

What? No Sedaris?!

Compared to something like Tom Wolfe's story on race car driver Junior Johnson — Ggghhzzzzzzzhhhhhhggggggzzzzzzeeeeeong! — David Sedaris is pretty mild stuff. Like Seinfeld, he's sometimes funny, but mostly a product of our anemic times, and I wonder how long in the future we'll be reading / listening to him.
posted by LeLiLo at 3:15 PM on October 11, 2003

That Sinatra piece was electricity, bottled, carbonated, and shaken up on the way to you. (I first learned of Talese during the "hands-on-research" controversy over Thy Neighbor's Wife, a then-shocking tour of swinging America; only later did I become aware of his legitimate chops as one of the century's best magazine writers, and a key influence of better-known-today authors such as Tom Wolfe.) I'd never heard the Ellison anecdote, although I dimly recall something about him and Sinatra perhaps told from his point of view and characteristically downplayed. (It's worth noting that Ellison was a new-journalism precursor himself, and as a young author apparently masqueraded as a teenager and joined a New York street gang to write about it.)

In any case, I was at a film screening this evening where the one-time up-and-coming actor Kerwin Matthews came up. As third billing on the Tracy-Sinatra vehicle The Devil at Four O'Clock, he claims that the opening earthquake set was completely constructed in Hawaii, scene of much of the filming, but Sinatra grew bored with life on the island and just before the sequences were to be shot turned up missing -- in Los Angeles. The entire production decamped to a Hollywood studio set for the duration. Matthews claims that Tracy never spoke to Sinatra again for the rest of his life. I can't vouch for its veracity; this is third-hand. But it's certainly in keeping with other accounts (for which see why the Brad Dexter of the Talese piece was soon himself to have it out with the man: a strikingly similar story).
posted by dhartung at 10:01 PM on October 11, 2003

Thank you, thank you, thank you, baby. What a great read!
posted by moonbird at 2:44 PM on October 12, 2003

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