Oh! Look At Me Now!

12 more days, everyone! 12 more days until Frank Sinatra Day! And that being the case, we have a story to continue! Today we’ll be visiting the explosion of a career, a little bit of wartime controversy, and the story of the bobby soxers.

Frank surrounded by bobby soxers upon his arrival in L.A.
Frank surrounded by bobby soxers upon his arrival in L.A.

Frank began his solo career in 1942, and was pretty much met with instant success.  In the years 1943 through 1946 he had 17 different Top Ten Singles. In New York City he was the king of music, and with it came the bobby soxers. The droves of teenage girls that ran out to see “Frankie” and idolize him were outstanding. According to the stories, the teenagers would wait in line for hours and hours and ambulances had to wait outside the concert halls and there were specific people in the theater with ammonia because so many girls would faint during the performances. Events like this earned Frank the nicknames “Swoonatra” or “The Sultan of Swoon”.

Navy soldiers on shore leave throwing tomatoes at a picture of Frank.
Navy soldiers on shore leave throwing tomatoes at a picture of Frank.

But it wasn’t all glamorous. Right as Frank started his solo career, the United States entered World War II. Like many other young men of 27 years, Frank was drafted. However, he was given a 4F because of his punctured eardrum. But with that you have the controversy. Many people, and mostly soldiers, resented this and thought that Frank had paid off the draft board. He had, after all, just begun a solo career with a lot of promise and if he went off to fight the war, there weren’t any guarantees that he’d return. Because of the huge controversy this caused, Frank went through the physical examination several times. In the end, he wasn’t able to serve as a soldier. It was something he always regretted, too, I think. Frank was always exceedingly politically active, and whatever the controversy says, he loved his country. But, I’ll get to that later in the countdown.

At any rate, he wasn’t the most loved man in America because of the wartime controversy, yet his career continued to soar. And eventually he went on an overseas tour and performed for soldiers. He also performed in a ten minute short, The House I Live In (1945) which promoted racial tolerance and unity on the home front. He received a special Academy Award for it. He also spoke out for the Jewish cause, and raised his voice to rouse America into helping to save Europe’s remaining Jews. He was a strong supporter of Jewish causes his whole life.

Frank in 1943
Frank in 1943

Besides all of the wartime humanitarian work, Frank continued to sing and record. But that isn’t all. He made his movie acting debut in 1943 in the film Higher and Higher. It was a fun little musical in which he played himself, the crooner next door. From there he went on to be in other wartime musicals with Gene Kelly. During this time he also moved from Hoboken to L.A so that he could focus more on his acting. He became a resident of California and Nancy eventually joined him there with their daughter and son, Frank Jr., who was born in 1944.

To anybody who had known Frank even in the big bands, he was an entire world away from that now. Not only was his singing career shooting off, but he was acting and being a humanitarian on top of it all. For now, things were only going  higher and higher for Frank.


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