The Single Man

I suppose I didn’t really think it would happen. Even yesterday I had my doubts. But…oh! my! goodness! Frank Sinatra Day is a mere 1 day away! TOMORROW!!! Tomorrow, everyone, it’s happening tomorrow! I am so excited that I really don’t know what to do with myself. And so, today we conclude our countdown. We’ve been going over 4 Reasons Frank Sinatra Has Influenced Your Life, and today we’ve reached our last one.

One of those pictures taken at just the right moment. One of my favorites.
One of those pictures taken at just the right moment. One of my favorites.

So, for Reason #4 (though last, certainly not least important and probably not what you were expecting at all): Frank was just a man.

I know that I tend to go on and on about Frank and how wonderful he was and all of that, and I’ll probably continue to do that for forever. But at the end of the day, Frank was just a man. He grew up in Hoboken, New Jersey and was fortunate enough to realize his dreams. He could’ve easily ended up in an office somewhere and the name Frank Sinatra wouldn’t have meant that much to the world. The difference is that his name does mean something to the world. He didn’t just end up in an office somewhere. He may have just been one man among many, but he made something of himself.

Frank Sinatra never, ever stopped trying. And you shouldn’t either. It is an extremely powerful lesson that he taught to many people. He changed the world he lived in in countless ways because he was not afraid to reach for something beyond the horizon. He became so much more than an influential musician, actor, and humanitarian because he saw beyond the rooftops of Hoboken and knew that he could “make it there”.

When all is said and done, Frank was just one man. But that never stopped him. And because it never stopped him, the world is a different place.

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It’s A Wonderful World

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.

Frank at the 1971 Oscars with his Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.
Frank at the 1971 Oscars with his Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.

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.

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.