Ol’ Blue Eyes, Chairman of the Board… and Boudoir Singer? An icon, Frank Sinatra will always have a place in the collective hearts of music, film an pop culture fans. Nobody had a voice like that and few held the power-of-association the kid from New Jersey grew up wielding. Many rumors have circulated throughout his illustrious career – mob ties, love affairs, etc. – but now a new book has arrived that will either shock readers or merely provide more insight into the nuances we already thought might be true.
To better explain, Sinatra was of an era where an almost angelic or pure facade was cast on celebrities. Old Hollywood. The stuff of tabloids was, in many cases, suppressed – whether true or imagined. in reality, there were some things going on that, at the time, would have caused the public to gasp for air.
The authors of Sinatra: The Boudoir Singer have compiled celebrity quotes, photos and insider rumors regarding the crooner’s past. There are chapters covering everything from Frank’s love interests to his relationship with mob bosses. But, there are more than a few instances where the book delves deeper into Sinatra’s alleged “extracurricular” activities – the ones that would never have been spoken aloud during his heyday.
Danforth Prince, founder of Blood Moon Productions & co-author of this and several other books, says that this particular book, while certainly filled with the seedy gossip, is by no means intended in any disrespectful manner.“I am absolutely NOT trying to de-throne Frank Sinatra from his deservedly elevated perch,” Prince explains. “Far from it, as I consider him engaging, supremely talented, and fascinating. I really believe that this more accurate portrait will make many of his fans like him even more.”
In his own words… Danforth Prince speaks on the rhyme and reason behind Sinatra: The Boudoir Singer -
So many celebrities to choose from… why Sinatra?
Much of that is a function of the childhood perceptions of the book’s primary author, Darwin Porter, as noted in the Author’s Bio, beginning on page 421. Ever since his dear, very alluring and occasionally promiscuous mother disappeared into the Miami night with young Frank back during her employment by Sophie Tucker on Miami Beach during that resort’s entertainment heyday, Darwin has been fascinated by everything associated with the very charismatic Frank Sinatra. Yes, Darwin credits that $10 bill bestowed upon him by Frank to “get lost” as part of the source of his ongoing fascination.
A lot of what’s said in the book seems to fit the stereotypes some people have of celebrities from that era – only most of it was suppressed (explicit details at least) from the general public. While on the other hand, there are people who sort of live in bubble or imagine such icons as angelic. Do you think the info in the book will change the public’s views of Sinatra – good, bad or not at all?
After nearly a decade of transforming occasionally tawdry oral histories into published, indexed, and carefully sourced texts that might, in a stretch, even be viewed as historical source material for future generations of scholars (Yes, I realize how pretentious that sounds, but we at Blood Moon interpret ourselves as historians and sociologists more than as muckrakers) I am endlessly alert to how Hollywood aficionados fall into one of two distinct categories:
1) Those who retain illusions about Hollywood virtue and propriety (and who will defend those ideas with vigor and/or venom), and
2) Those who abandoned those illusions years ago and who hunger and thirst for corroboration of their belief that movie stars (and politicians) are not/ were not angels, and that many of America’s core values might have been based on studio-supported false information, mock heroes, and—if you’ll forgive the theological reference, “false gods.”
Of all the fascinating and controversial information within the book, one particular allegation regards a role Sinatra possibly had in ‘blue movie’ during the so-called “lost” years of his history. If this is true, do you believe such a film will ever surface?
Who knows? If such a film does surface, it won’t be the first time that one of Blood Moon’s amplifications of a whispered secret into a printed (and library-indexed) text leads to a broader recognition of Hollywood “irregularities” from people we’ll probably never meet. Maybe this exposure of the story will prompt somebody’s grandchildren to actually clean out an attic or two, or perhaps look carefully at Uncle Vito’s celluloid collection.
Other chapters detail the “mob” associations Sinatra had. It’s also interesting the mentions of Lucky Luciano believing Dean Martin resembled or should play the gangster in a film. Sinatra and pals often dismissed having personal/business relationships with the mafia – what will readers learn about mafia ties from the book?
As I understand it, the Mafia today is a vastly different and more de-centralized entity than it was during the mobster heyday of Frank Sinatra. Darwin Porter has brought to the light of publication many fascinating anecdotes. Other writers and/or historians will certainly run with the football to more distant goalposts. The Mafia-centric chapter within the book that I think is particularly important, historically, is “Frank Sinatra’s Mobster Mambo– Hot, Tropical Nights with the Mafia.” It’s a superb piece of original research and historical recollection by Darwin Porter, who worked as the Key West Bureau Chief for The Miami Herald in the late 1950s, and made the 90-mile crossing from Key West to Miami almost every other weekend. Much of the information in that chapter was gathered firsthand by Porter, and never before has anything like that appeared in print—and certainly never in association with anything ever published about Frank Sinatra.
Of all the ‘dirty’ details contained within the book, is there anything that you found most salacious or shocking?
The book is NOT universally “dirty.” It is a realistic, carefully documented portrait of an earthy, charismatic entertainer who flourished in a promiscuous (media-hip) environment on the dawn of the sexual revolution. It contains many tender portraits of Frank that complement the more salacious ones: An example involves his support and empathy for Billie Holiday, among others, and his many acts of random loyalty.
The stories I find personally amazing, much more amazing than the revelations involving “mere sexuality” are the anecdotes reflecting the martini-fueled macho of America at the height of its Imperial Age. The Rat Pack as spearheaded by Frank became America’s foremost expression of “Unapologetic Machismo without Guilt.” By today’s feminist-influenced standards, even though these events transpired 50 or 60 years ago, behavior like that reads like something from a way-bygone age.
The developers of AMC’s (American Movie Classics) MAD MEN understood this completely, and built an entire series around an exploration of how spectacularly gender-related politics have changed since the 1950s. Flies in Frank’s macho ointment included the “rebellious” resistance of two of his wives, during particularly tumultuous marriages. Most famously, these included violent interludes with the gorgeous (and very liberated) spitfire Ava Gardner, and the more adolescent rebelliousness of “ flower child,” Mia Farrow.
What are the episodes I find most fascinating in the book? They involve Frank’s easy fluidity and crossovers from the entertainment industry into the world of national politics. This was partly the result of the almost obsessive satyriasis of the “ULTIMATE Movie Star” (JFK), and the coincidental links between the worlds of Show-Biz (i.e., Peter Lawford) and the political ambitions of the Kennedys and then the Reagans. Frank’s migration into a spotlight much bigger than “merely” the music industry, for me, is one of the really fascinating evolutions of his life.
What would you most like readers to take away from this book?
I suppose my hopes for that involve my particular form of activism, based on my perception that the information we were fed as children in the Middle West about home, hearth, patriotism, and role models couldn’t possibly be as far-fetched as it was presented during the Age of Sputnik. As America searches for a new identity during these troubled times, it’s helpful, albeit unsettling, to realize that at least some of the role models fed to us as consumers might have been based on false premises and false reportage.
I am absolutely NOT trying to de-throne Frank Sinatra from his deservedly elevated perch. Far from it, as I consider him engaging, supremely talented, and fascinating. I really believe that this more accurate portrait will make many of his fans like him even more. And it is also my hopes that other scholars and/or readers will dovetail the information, and more importantly, the calculated sense of irreverence for the established myths, into other accounts, past and forthcoming, about America during the peak of its Empire, for a wiser, and perhaps sadder, sense of America’s “Manifest Destiny” as a role model, however flawed, for the rest of the world.
Perhaps most of all, we’re relaying oral histories, many never before recorded, about an American success story that is absolutely inseparable from a distinct and gone-forever era. As such, we consider it a historical overview of information that might shed an additional light upon the American past.
Sinatra: The Boudoir Singer, and other Blood Moon Production titles are available at most of the online booksellers sites.