Tina Sinatra recently said of her father, "Dad had no interest in writing a memoir: 'What good would that do?' he'd say. 'My life and music are the whole of me.' Of course, he was right. Film was the only way to go. His music transcends time and intensifies what the screenplay reveals in words." Tina was referring to the 1992 mini-series, Sinatra, in which she served as executive producer and had the blessing of 'Ol Blue Eyes himself.
As a series of Sinatra films and CDs are reissued to commemorate the tenth anniversary of his death, Warner Brothers has released Sinatra - The 2-Disc Collector's Edition. With no autobiography or truly authorized biography available, Sinatra stands as the most definitive portrait of Frank Sinatra from the Sinatra family that the public is likely to get.
Sinatra stars Philip Casnoff in the title role, and covers the singer's life from his childhood in Hoboken, New Jersey up through his triumphant return from retirement in 1974. Frank came from a pretty hardscrabble background. His parents, Dolly (Olympia Dukakis) and Marty Sinatra (Joe Santos) ran a saloon during prohibition and Frank was expected to be tough. While he stole cigarettes and did mischievous things like the other boys in the neighborhood, he wanted to be a famous singer from an early age.
Frank met his first wife, Nancy Barbato (Gina Gershon) and went to work for her father while secretly taking voice lessons in the city. After falling asleep on the job, Sinatra decides to quit and pursue singing full time. After quitting the job, Barbato's father forbade Frank from seeing his daughter. Still, the couple saw each other secretly and eventually married. Barbato married Sinatra even though he admitted being unfaithful to her on more than one occasion, even before they had exchanged vows. Nancy must have really loved Frank, because she bore all his children--Nancy born in 1940, Frank Jr. born in 1944, and Christina "Tina" Sinatra in 1948--she stayed married to Frank and only sought a separation after his relationship with actress Ava Gardner became too serious to ignore. Frank and Nancy Sr. were divorced on October 29, 1951.
Sinatra got his first big break in June of 1939, when Harry James signed him to a one-year contract as the orchestra's singer. Nancy traveled with Frank on tour, but was forced to leave the road when she became pregnant with the couple's first child. The James gig was to be short lived, as Harry let Frank out of his contract to join Tommy Dorsey's orchestra. It was during his time with Dorsey that Sinatra would develop the singing style that would get him dubbed simply, "the voice." In late 1942, Sinatra left Dorsey to launch a solo career that would be rivaled by no others in that era.