On this day in 1998, Francis Albert Sinatra, the first bona fide superstar in American popular music, succumbs to a heart attack in Los Angeles, CA. Born in Hoboken, New Jersey, on December 12, 1915, Frank Sinatra rose to fame singing big band numbers with Tommy Dorsey and others, meeting great success in the ’40’s, and creating the bobbysoxer sensation single-handed.
After his appeal began to wane later that decade, Sinatra reinvented himself as a suave swinger with a rougher, world-weary style; heartbreaking material of loss and longing, known as the saloon songs, together with lighter fare, helped launch a spectacular comeback in the 1950’s. Appearing in over 58 films, Sinatra won a supporting actor Oscar for “From Here to Eternity,” was nominated again for “The Man With the Golden Arm,” and produced and appeared in various hits and misses well into his middle age.
Sinatra left behind a massive catalog of work that includes iconic tunes like “Love and Marriage,” “Strangers in the Night,” “My Way” and “New York, New York,” and more emotive numbers such as “Only the Lonely” and “Ebb Tide.”
Despite his life’s blemishes, Sinatra’s sense of mid-century style, and his version of man-code have come to represent the epitome of cool. Bill Zheme’s book “The Way You Wear Your Hat: Sinatra and the Lost Art of Livin'” has been gifted by this writer and other dads to their sons as a hopeful manual on getting by in life with some common sense, drive, decency and panache.