begin the 2010s with a couple
of books which seriously consider Frank's talents as a singer, and yet
another book on Frank's Hollywood years. Barabra Sinatra takes a
turn at writing an "insider" biography, and more garbage is shoveled
onto Frank's stellar legacy.
Celebrity Profiles Publishing Company; 420 p.
Released May 15, 2010
Event may have
been his best ever. His 70s voice was built of a towering
strength of voice that tattooed his audiences memory bank deeply and
significantly. They would talk about it for years to come as
talk about it now. Don't forget, this Sinatra singing event
attracted over 20,000 ticket holders. Besides, the second
audience was listening around the world.
song quality exceeded the recordings of many of the same songs recorded
earlier. This was 1974 with Frank Sinatra in top form.
The concert was held in the middle of a boxing ring...
loves Christmas, he loves birthdays, he's patriotic and he loves to
He could have sung children's nursery rhymes and they
would have loved him without "My Way" or even "Chicago."
"towering" disappointment Sinatra Singing
turned out to be. Filled with some of the clammiest, stilted
prose I've ever encountered, author Richard Grudens (who's published a
truckload of swing-era biographies over the years), somehow managed to
get this clunker of a book past any proof-readers or fact-checkers and
even managed to connive singer Jerry Vale into penning an introduction,
writing over 400 pages of trite, misinformed, repetitive junk.
I haven't been this appalled by an author's writing since Ed
Starkey's My Life, My Way
which was a nadir of Sinatra biographies, but Gruden's Sinatra Singing
is close to matching that infamous work. Ostensibly a book
that is supposed to dissect and examine Sinatra's singing style and
influence, the book quickly dissolves into a superlative-filled
hagiography, with Grudens attempting to one-up himself in finding new
adjectives to lob Sinatra's way. The author fattens up the
overstuffed text with numerous sidebars, some of them only thinly tied
to Sinatra, with several dozen one-to-two page written
tributes/biographies of other artists, from the obvious (Don
Costa) to the inexplicable (Bruce
Springsteen?) But it's the writing that dooms this book -
trite, filled with typos and inaccuracies (Grudens claims that She Shot Me Down is
album - I guess he never heard of L.A.
Is My Lady or the Duets
and a cluttered, messy layout that looks inviting, but ends up
adding to the incoherence of the whole. The one
recommendation for this book are the many first-person accounts of
various artists who credit Frank in some degree for their own careers -
these letters, written at Gruden's request, are heartfelt, sincere, and
occasionally touching - while Grudens contributions are plastic,
shallow, and clumsy. What makes
all the more tragic is that Grudens evidently has the inside sources
with which to create an insightful book, but sadly lacks the basic
skills to weave a compelling narrative. Sinatra:
Hollywood His Way By
Running Press; 336 p.
Released October 12, 2010
rude, inconsiderate, uncooperative, and ungrateful," but also "quietly
generous and considerate without even expecting thanks," wrote Los Angeles Mirror News
reporter Kendis Rocklin of Frank Sinatra in a mid-1950s profile.
In other words, the mercurial star was perfect casting for the
titular Pal Joey.
Considerably softened from his origins in a series of New Yorker stories
and the hit 1940 Broadway musical that made Sinatra's friend Gene Kelly
a star, this Joey Evans is a devil and angel, a heel who is all heart,
and a role Sinatra could wear like a well-tailored suit." - pg. 154
REVIEW: Sinatra: Hollywood His Way by author
Timothy Knight is a handsome, well-laid-out film-by-film examination of
Sinatra's decidedly spotty film career from Higher and Higher to The First Deadly Sin,
as well as a short appendix at his "other" film work, including cameos
and shorts. While this coffee-table sized book is an easy read,
and filled with color and black and white photos from each film
discussed, it's also a bit shallow - giving each film about
four-to-five pages, but most of the space taken up by graphics, rather
than in-depth information. There's usually a bit of an
introduction to each film, followed by a brief, albeit thorough plot
summary, a paragraph or two of the author's review, and perhaps a bit
of popular opinion and box-office success mentioned in closing.
It's all very brisk and breezy, but size and heft of this book
feels like too much gilding of the lily - the presentation is lusher
and more expensive than it needs to be. There's a smattering of
trivia included - gossipy behind-the-scenes info and catty newspaper
articles sprinkled throughout, which adds to the easy, conversational
tone. It's a good, solid look at the whole of Frank's film
career, and if it wasn't so awkwardly oversized and overstuffed, I
might recommend it more freely - but there are other, better
examinations of Sinatra's film oeuvre out there - and I suspect this
one will be joining the overstock shelves at budget prices soon.
The Voice By
Doubleday; 688 p.
Released November 2, 2010
author James Kaplan redefines Frank Sinatra in a triumphant new
biography that includes many rarely seen photographs.
Sinatra endowed the songs he sang with the explosive conflict of his
own personality. He also made the very act of listening to pop music a
more personal experience than it had ever been. In Frank: The
Voice, Kaplan reveals how he did it, bringing
than ever before to the complex psyche and turbulent life
behind that incomparable vocal instrument. We relive the years 1915 to
1954 in glistening detail, experiencing as if for the first time
Sinatra’s journey from the streets of Hoboken, his fall from
the apex of celebrity, and his Oscar-winning return in From
Here to Eternity. Here at last is the biographer who makes
the reader feel what it was really like to be Frank
Sinatra—as man, as musician, as tortured genius. To read
excerpts, click here.
not as sour and mean-spirited as Kitty Kelly's infamous biography,
James Kaplan's higher-minded, but still trash-slogging biography of
Frank Sinatra manages to bring Kaplan's unique voice to his subject,
but ultimately proves to be a depressingly familiar read. Although
heavily annotated, this first in a two-part planned set on Frank's life
takes much of it's material from previously published accounts,
including Nancy and Tina's biographies of their father, former
employees, newspaper and magazine articles and interviews, and close
associates. While all of this thoroughly-documented source
material lends an air of respectability, Kaplan still fails to bring to
light Sinatra's force of personality - the material dances all around
him, and the occasional "revelation" (such as an embarrassing reveal
that Frank's underwear had to be specially tailored to accommodate his
oversized ...prowess) merely add to the sheen of distasteful reveals
which overpower Kaplan's attempts to analyze (and psychoanalyze)
Frank's appeal. Despite Frank's life-long air of confidence and
brashness, Kaplan concludes that Frank was, at heart, insecure; a
premise which he labors mightily to establish, without success.
And since its basic premise about Frank is flawed, the entire
book becomes an exercise in the reader's patience. It doesn't
help that the author's prose is so mannered - Kaplan's fingerprints are
all over the text, and his voice is intrusive - a bit like hearing a
self-proclaimed expert ramble on and on at a dinner party. After
the disappointment of this book, I'm beginning to think that a
decent biography of Frank Sinatra is nothing more than a pipe dream.
Lady Blue Eyes: My Life With
Frank Sinatra By Barbara Sinatra
Crown Archetype; 400 p.
Released March 1, 2011
From her own humble
beginnings in a small town in Missouri to her time as a fashion model
and her marriage to Zeppo Marx, Barbara Sinatra reveals a life lived
with passion, conviction, and grace. A founder of the Miss
Universe pageant and a onetime Vegas showgirl, she raised her only son
almost single-handedly in often dire circumstances until, after five
years of tempestuous courtship, she and Frank committed to each other
wholeheartedly. In stories that leap off the page, she takes us
behind the scenes of her iconic husband’s legendary career and
paints an intimate portrait of a man who was variously generous,
jealous, witty, and wicked.
REVIEW: Yes, it's taken me a
long time to review this book but anyone who frequents this site knows
that I'm not a fan of Sinatra biographies, even ones by those who have
close family ties. Usually, there's too much of an axe to grind
with someone, or a self-serving agenda that throws more light onto the
bruised psyche of the author than the subject. And Lady Blue
Eyes, by Frank's last wife Barbara Sinatra is sadly no exception.
Her writing reveals Mrs. Sinatra as an manipulative socialite who's
unapologetic about her affairs, the bearer of an iron fist in velvet
gloves, and she posesses an utter disregard of Frank's natural children
in favor of her own. She lightly glosses over the many family
controversies, always putting herself in a favorable light, while
ignoring the glaring accusations made by Tina and Nancy Sinatra; she
revels in dropping names of famous people and places; and gleefully
spends paragraphs in minute examinations of expensive gifts that she is
given, and comes across as nothing more than a grasping, vain
ladder-climber who is a master at crafting an icy facade for the world
to see. The Frank Sinatra she presents is a flat portrait - he
comes across as cold, powerful, unaffectionate, and driven, with
moments of generosity flaring briefly out, and his slow decline in old
age is brushed over in maudlin strokes. Make no mistake, this is
an autobiography of Barbara, and whether she intended it or not, the
author doesn't come across all that well. Shallow, star-struck
fans will eat this up, but there's precious little Frank here, and lots
of empty vacuum filling up the spaces.
Frank Sinatra, The Boudoir
Singer: All the Gossip Unfit to Print from the Glory Days of Ol' Blue
Eyes By Darwin Porter
and Danforth Prince
Blood Moon Productions; 408 p.
Released March 6, 2011 ZERO STARS
time I sing a song, I'm actually making love on stage. Call me 'The
Boudoir Singer,' or so claimed Frank Sinatra. The crooner's career
spanned more than half a century, earning him millions of fans. His
boudoir conquests involved some of the most stunning women of the 20th
century. But exactly who was this mercurial, enigmatic man? Darwin
Porter, America's leading chronicler of Golden Age Hollywood, turns
over more than a few boulders in Sinatra's secret garden, especially
for those who thought they'd heard it all. For the compilation of this
compendium of show-biz scandal, Darwin Porter, former bureau chief and
entertainment columnist for The Miami Herald, drew upon a treaure trove
of celebrity contacts he accumulated over the decades.
REVIEW: For an book that
claims to be "unapologetic" and "unauthorized", I still feel after
browsing through it that an strong apology is required, and perhaps
some harsh legal action by the Sinatra family is in order as
well. Blood Moon Productions, the publisher of this series, has
as it's motto: "Applying the tabloid standards of today to the scandals
of Hollywood's Golden Age", which tells you not only how rapacious this
book is, but also their non-existent moral standard. Salacious
books about Frank Sinatra have been in the literary waters since 1961,
with the hilariously off-kilter Hollywood's Loveable Rogue - Frankie: The Life and
Loves of Frank Sinatra by Don Dwiggins. But how far
society has fallen in the last fifty years. Now, instead of
humorous prose, we have pornographic garbage. I can't even supply
a quote from the book, since every page is intent on sleazy,
undocumented episodes that aims for the lowest common
denominator. Fowl language, graphic sexual scenes, and endless
phallic fascination is the sum total of this book, and the authors,
Darwin Porter and Danforth Prince, should be appalled of wasting so
much energy and time on producing this worthless book. Nothing
here is verified; there's no sources listed for their claims, but
there's sure a lot of famous people being quoted - the book is nothing
but attributed quotes, all without an ounce of evidence. A sad
and pathetic book.
Sinatra and Me: The Very Good
Years By Tony Consiglio
(as told to Franz Douskey)
Tantor Media; 326 p.
Released November 9, 2012 REVIEW
Not many people were allowed inside
Frank Sinatra's inner circle. But Tony Consiglio was a boyhood friend
of Sinatra's who remained his friend and confidant for over sixty
years. One reason Sinatra valued Tony s friendship is that he could be
trusted: Sinatra nicknamed him "the Clam" because Tony never spoke to
reporters or biographers about the singer. From the early days when
Sinatra was trying to establish himself as a singer to the mid-1960s,
Tony worked with Sinatra and was there to share in the highs and lows
of Sinatra's life and career.