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Monday, 30 October, 2000, 15:15 GMT
Sinatra 'loathed' My Way
Tina Sinatra
Tina Sinatra: Her father's career always came first
Frank Sinatra was one of the greatest entertainers of the 20th Century and since his death his life has been surrounded in myth. His daughter Tina Sinatra told BBC Hardtalk's David Jessel about the man she knew.

The song My Way perhaps best illustrated the life and the death of Francis Albert Sinatra.

The song is a hymn to individuality and egocentricity and has become the chosen lament at funerals and bars across the world.

But his daughter Tina Sinatra says the legendary singer came to hate the song.

"He always thought that song was self-serving and self-indulgent," she said.

Frank Sinatra
Ol' Blue Eyes: Frank Sinatra mixed with politicians and mobsters
"He didn't like it. That song stuck and he couldn't get it off his shoe.

"He didn't love it."

Sinatra, who died last year, lived his life to the full, marrying four times and enjoying a singing and acting career that brought the trappings of wealth and power.

At the height of his fame he mixed with the stars, with presidents and with mobsters.

But, as his daughter explained, he was beset with doubt and insecurity, and later guilt at the way he had behaved as a father.

Rat Pack

"He did the best he could do [as a parent].

"It was not always enough but the bottom line was that career would be first.

"We, as children, had to realise that from a very early age.


I'm not suggesting he didn't know mobsters, I'm just saying he didn't drive the getaway car

Tina Sinatra

"He was sorry he couldn't have done better in staying with Mom [Nancy Sinatra] and not being a better parent."

The singer walked out on his first wife, and his three children, to marry Ava Gardner.

Sinatra was the de facto leader of the Rat Pack, a loose gathering of entertainers hell bent on hell-raising.

Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr, Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop were five friends whose drinking exploits and movie-making talents were legendary.

But just as Sinatra was enmeshed in allegations of Mafia corruption, so were the Rat Pack.

"They were just big boys behaving badly but always in good fun and never hurting anybody," said Tina.

"They were all like that, it was not just Papa. They had a ball together."

The stain on the Sinatra legend is that allegation of involvement with the Mafia.

"You hate to tamper with myth," said Tina.

Mobsters

"It started in that romantic time when politicians, entertainers and the underworld were very linked.

"They [entertainers] were hired by club owners and the club owners were mobsters.

"He was not one of them.

"He had no criminal allegations ever. He was never accused of anything. It was just that he was the most powerful entertainer and he was Italian and he played nightclubs.

"I'm not suggesting he didn't know them, I'm just saying he didn't drive the getaway car."

One of the more notorious mob stories involving Sinatra ties in the powerful Kennedy fan.

Sinatra is said to have been asked by John F. Kennedy's father, Joe, to ask the mob if they would encourage their unionised workers to vote for the young Democrat.

But Tina Sinatra denied that this was proof that her father had a deeper relationship with the Mafia.

She admitted that her family descended into in-fighting over Sinatra's legacy after his death.

She said her father's fourth wife, Barbara, was "scheming" to control his estate.

She said: "I wasn't going to let my father's masters and the use of his name, image and license fall to anyone who wasn't a bloodline.

"The split had to be made during his lifetime so that she [Barbara] couldn't violate that."

HARDtalk with Tina Sinatra is on BBC World on Monday at 1930GMT and 2330GMT and on BBC News 24 at 2230GMT.

See also:

26 Jan 00 | Entertainment
Sinatra's 'first recording' found
08 Dec 98 | Americas
Sinatra files to be released
09 Dec 98 | Americas
Sinatra offered to be FBI agent
22 May 98 | Sinatra
Sinatra's no contest will
15 May 98 | Sinatra
Sinatra - leader of the Rat Pack
16 May 98 | Sinatra
Sinatra suffered heart attack
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