December 12th, 1915 in Hoboken, New Jersey
May 14th, 1998 in Los Angeles, California
Jazz, Pop, and Movie Star
- Chairman of the Board
- The Voice
- Ol’ Blue Eyes
The son of a fireman and a political organizer, jazz singer Frank Sinatra grew up in New Jersey, where he taught himself to sing. He had a lot of time on his hands to do so, after being kicked out of high school for bad behavior.
Tommy Dorsey Band:
In his late teens, Sinatra began singing, doing standup comedy, and emceeing events at bars and clubs around Hoboken. He soon began singing with small-time professional groups, and briefly had a slot on a local radio station. At a concert in Chicago in 1939, bandleader and trombonist Tommy Dorsey heard Sinatra perform, and asked him to join his band.
Solo Career :
Sinatra developed a following during his stint with Dorsey. He recorded fervently with the band, and his records sold millions of copies. In 1942, he was eager to leave Dorsey and strike out on his own. To get out of his contract, he pledged a hefty sum of his future gross earnings to Dorsey. Columbia records signed him in 1943, later got Sinatra out of his contract with Dorsey for good, by paying Dorsey $60,000.
Throughout the 1940s, Sinatra heightened his success by appearing in several hit films. His first was 1940’s Las Vegas Nights
. in 1945 he won an Academy Award for his role in the film The House I Live In
. He also joined Gene Kelly for three popular movies: Anchors Aweigh
(1945), Take Me Out to the Ball Game
(1949), and On the Town
Career Slump, New Personality:
The 1950s proved to be difficult for the star vocalist. He began to lose his appeal among young audiences, and Columbia dropped him in 1952. Capitol records signed him, and sought to reinvent his image. He shed his pop star aura and acquired a dark and emotional new “swing
” character. During this period he recorded the albums Swing Easy!
(1954), In the Wee Small Hours
(1955), and Come Fly With Me
In the 1960s, Sinatra continued to see commercial success. He created his own label, Reprise Records, and recorded with some of the stars of jazz and popular music, including Duke Ellington
and Antonio Carlos Jobim
. He often sang in Las Vegas venues such as the Sands Hotel and Casino, and is credited with helping to end racial segregation in Las Vegas clubs. He would refuse to sing anywhere that didn’t allow blacks to attend or perform.
Later in his career, Sinatra performed and recorded a series of duets with pop and jazz singers, including Ella Fitzgerald
, Lena Horne
, Tony Bennett, Barbara Streisand, and even Bono of U2. In 1998, at age 82, he died of a heart attack in Los Angeles, California, as an American cultural legend.