Yes. Yes, it is true. For the second week in a row now I have missed my Frank Thursday post. I can’t even believe it, honestly. I’m quite bitter about the whole situation. Last week I was deathly ill and this week there was no internet connection all day yesterday. Not any other day of the week, of course, just Thursday. Luckily though, last Thursday when I was ill I watched an undisclosed number of Frank movies, so today as I catch up on yesterday’s post I had to decide which one to tell you about. And though they were all very good, of course, it actually wasn’t a very hard decision.
High Society (1956) is a movie which features Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, and Grace Kelly. With a cast like that, you know that the movie’s got to be dynamite. But it actually is! It is definitely one of my all time favorites, and so much fun!
Grace Kelly plays Newport, Rhode Island socialite Tracy Lord, who is divorced from her highly successful jazz musician first husband Dexter, played by Crosby. She is about to be remarried, and Spy magazine sends a reporter by the name of Mike Connor, played by Frank, and his photographer to cover the wedding. Well, by the end of the movie Tracy finds herself about to be married but in a position to choose between three very different men. The movie has many different wonderful musical numbers, including Sensational which Frank’s character sings to Tracy at one point in the movie.
The movie is an absolutely marvelous one, and is actually the last one that Grace Kelly made before going to Monaco to marry Prince Rainier. Watch it, love it, and Happy (late) Frank Thursday!
And on our countdown we have officially reached 4 more days! 4 more days until Frank Sinatra Day everyone! Since there were no particular requests on yesterday’s post for further countdown posts, today I’ll begin something special. With 4 more days left, I’m going to begin (drum roll, please) 4 Ways Frank Sinatra Has Influenced Your Life. (I mean, it may still be a working title a little bit, and the acronym certainly doesn’t make sense but…) Yes, that’s right! Today I’ll begin to specifically tell you ways that Frank made this world wonderful, and how he influenced your life in the process.
So, for today’s Reason #1: Frank redefined fame.
When Frank rose to the top, being famous was something completely different. Stars were usually neutral politically to avoid losing popularity or support. And the solo artist wasn’t really a thing, honestly. There were people like Bing Crosby of course, wonderful Bing who was Frank’s idol. But in general there was really only so far an artist could go without a big band behind them. But when Frankie came to town, young Frankie with his unruly hair and floppy bow ties, things began to change. Frank came right out and declared that he had a party affiliation, he came right out and said that he was Frank Sinatra and that was that. It didn’t matter that he might lose popularity or even his career over it, he was honest from the beginning about where he stood. That was something pretty unknown to Hollywood at the time.
And more than that, Frank was politically active. He campaigned for presidents and gave speeches against racism in small towns. He showed other people in Hollywood that being famous was more than having your face on a record or the silver screen, that they could try and make a difference with the influence that they had. They could support things and raise awareness, and it could change the world for the better. He helped raise money for all sorts of charities throughout his entire career to the tune of $1 billion and throughout his life gave away millions anonymously. Post-WWII, Frank was one of the ones who tried to rally America into helping to save Europe’s Jews from the horrors of the Holocaust.
And these are only a few of the things that Frank did personally to help make the world a better place. The influence that he had on others to do the same was tremendous, and too far reaching to really understand. You can say that this would’ve eventually happened in Hollywood, of course, but Frank did it way before it’s time. He spoke out against or for controversial ideas and opinions when it wasn’t alright to do so. And with that, he helped to form a different world for all of us.
And here we are, with only 14 days left! My excitement has definitely gotten ahead of me and I keep trying to remind myself that there is still some time to wait until Frank Sinatra day, but I feel like a little child at Christmas. (Not that I don’t still act that way at Christmas time, but that’s a different story entirely.) Today, we’ll continue with our narrative of Frank. Yesterday, I shared with you the story of his birth, now we’ll continue on to the teenage years.
Frank knew fairly early on that he wanted to be a singer. It came from watching Bing Crosby perform. I don’t know, of course, exactly what happened in that moment. Perhaps Frank’s blue eyes lit up and he just knew that he would be on that stage someday. Whatever the case, Bing Crosby became Frank’s idol. Growing up close to New York City, Frank had the privilege to mix with a lot of singers and bands as he began making his way into the scene, and he knew great talent when he saw it. When he found somebody with great talent, he knew to learn from them.
What is fascinating about Frank’s early obsession with music and musicians alike is that it never waned. Even being a teenager, Frank always knew that he wanted to be a singer. Frank dropped out of high school, where he was a member of the glee club, to begin singing. His mother Dolly was good to support him in that dream, too. Even in the midst of the Great Depression, the family was able to do well because of Dolly’s heavy involvement with the local Democratic party. She was able to find work for her husband and Frank, too for that matter. When he wasn’t working on the docks, he was working on his singing and wearing a cap like Bing Crosby.
The beginnings of his career with the Hoboken Four and the Tommy Dorsey band didn’t happen for Frank until his twenties, but his teenage years were definitely influential for him. They were the birth and nourishment of a dream. At this point, he may have just been Frankie, the skinny kid next door. But he was coming.