100 Years of Frank Sinatra: The Man Behind the Music

Frank Sinatra was the Chairman of the Board, Ol' Blue Eyes and The Voice. But "Slacksy O'Brien?"

Little known stories uncovered about the late entertainer's life and rise to stardom on milestone anniversary

Ol' Blue Eyes influenced generations of singers and continues to do so, CBC's Tashauna Reid reports 4:12

Frank Sinatra was the Chairman of the Board, Ol' Blue Eyes and The Voice. But "Slacksy O'Brien?"

That was an early nickname for Sinatra in the Hoboken, N.J. neighborhood where he grew up because, as a youngster, he wore nice clothes.

Some young-at-heart residents of Hoboken might be raising a glass to the award-winning singer and actor on Saturday on what would have been his 100th birthday.
The late Frank Sinatra performing during a concert on his 75th birthday in 1990. Sinatra died in 1998 at age 82. He would have celebrated his 100th birthday Dec. 12. (The Associated Press)

A look back at a century of Sinatra:

From here to eternity

Francis Albert Sinatra was born on Dec. 12, 1915, in the Hudson River waterfront city that was home to German, Irish and Italian immigrants.

His father, Anthony, was a boxer who fought in Irish gyms as Marty O'Brien before becoming a firefighter and tavern owner. His mother, known as Dolly, was connected to the local political machine.

Even though the family initially lived in a cold-water apartment at 415 Monroe St., they eventually had such luxuries as a radio, telephone and car while his mother made sure her son had nice clothes, Hoboken Historical Museum director Robert Foster said.
This 1974 photo shows Frank Sinatra performing in New York. Sinatra would have celebrated his 100th birthday on Dec. 12. (The Associated Press)

Start spreading the news

The high school dropout delivered the Jersey Observer newspaper and worked at a shipyard.

The car — and a driver's license in which his name was misspelled SINTRA — helped gain him a spot in 1935 with the singing group the Hoboken Four. They won first prize on a national radio program for amateur entertainers.

He became a singing waiter at The Rustic Cabin in Englewood Cliffs, where he met songwriter Cole Porter, and forgot the words to Porter's hit, Night And Day, the 100 Sinatra website said.

Radio led Sinatra to big bands and stardom.

Strangers in the night

Sinatra offered his assistance to the FBI in 1950, according to a confidential memorandum obtained in 1998 by The Associated Press. It showed Sinatra felt there was an opportunity to "do some good for his country under the direction of the FBI." He was "willing to do anything even if it affects his livelihood and costs him his job," the memo said. The FBI turned down the offer.
The late Frank Sinatra, at left, helps his mother as they leave a funeral service for the singer's father in 1969. (The Associated Press)

The file also contained Sinatra's mug shot, taken by the Bergen County Sheriff's Office in 1938, after his arrest on a seduction charge that was later dropped.

Luck be a lady

Sinatra's Rat Pack persona is associated with Las Vegas, but he gets credit for filling Atlantic City's casino showrooms with top talent after he appeared in 1979 at the city's first casino, Resorts International.

Following a show at Atlantic City's Golden Nugget in 1983, Sinatra and Dean Martin demanded a blackjack dealer break the rules, costing the casino a $25,000 US fine.

A commissioner called Sinatra "an obnoxious bully" with a "bloated ego."

Sinatra scrapped an engagement and his lawyer issued a statement saying, "He will not perform in a state where appointed officials feel the compulsion to use him as a punching bag."
Entertainer Frank Sinatra, left, walks with his lawyer in 1970 after testifying before a commission that was investigating organized crime in New Jersey. (The Associated Press)

His last engagement in Atlantic City was at the Sands in 1994.

Drink up, all you people

People left flowers near the plaque where Sinatra's first home once stood when he died in 1998 at age 82 and the city held a memorial Mass at St. Francis Roman Catholic Church, where Sinatra was baptized. Whatever real or imagined slights felt by some residents were forgotten.

Sinatra was inducted in the first class of New Jersey's Hall of Fame in 2008. A park and the city's main post office bear his name.

The Postal Service in 2008 issued a 42-cent stamp with his image, taking the rare step of holding three ceremonies in Hoboken, New York and Las Vegas.

But for a saloon singer who usually had a drink on stage, Sinatra's ultimate honor came from Jack Daniel's, which introduced Sinatra Select whiskey in 2003.
In this 1996 photo, A 10-year-old girl dusts off the sidewalk plaque which had just been dedicated to Frank Sinatra in his hometown of Hoboken, N.J. (The Associated Press)

To honor the 100th anniversary of Sinatra's birth, Jack Daniel's produced 100 barrels of 100-proof Sinatra Century, which retails for $499.99 and includes an unreleased Sinatra recording.


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